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The Many Ways to Cook Fish (Part 2)

Fish is versatile when it comes to cooking although it may seem daunting at first. Like most things in life, practice makes perfect. It is important to consider two things: your preferred cooking method and the choice of fish.

Sous vide – cooking fish in a temperature-controlled water bath

EIGHT: Sous vide (pronounced sue-veed), which means “under vacuum” in French, refers to the process of vacuum-sealing food in a bag, then cooking it in a water bath to the desired level of doneness. Seasoning and herbs may be added before the pouch is sealed. This method delivers consistent quality, and it has been a technique used by restaurant chefs. These days, with affordable and easy-to-use sous vide precision cooking equipment, almost anyone can achieve consistent results. There are many advantages: since food is cooked in its own juices, it is moist, juicy and flavourful. There is no wastage as food does not dry out compared to other methods, and overcooking is not an issue.

Smoked fish exudes a pleasant woody fragrance that adds a different dimension to the dish

NINE: Heard of lox? Lox is a common name for cold-smoked salmon. Fish cured by smoking was originally a method meant to preserve fish. The types of fish used for smoking include salmon, mackerel, cod, haddock and tuna, to name a few. The fattier the fish, the more flavour it will absorb. Smoked fish is considered cooked, so it typically needs no further cooking. To have evenly smoked fish, the first and most important step is to brine it for at least two hours. Brinning the fish before smoking prevents it from drying out. It will also infuse the fish with flavour.

Traditionally, fish is being suspended in smokehouses over smouldering wood shavings. The fish is left overnight to be naturally infused with smoke. At home, smoked fish can be achieved by placing brined fish in a contained space filled with smouldering wood. Specific types of wood such as apple wood is usually chosen, which adds a delicious dimension to the final product. A word of caution: as smoked fish has a higher sodium content due to brinning, it should be eaten in moderation.

Air frying food requires little effort but yields a healthier dish due to little or no oil being used in the cooking

TEN: Thanks to the relatively recent increase in popularity of air fryers, not only are the unhealthy aspects of fried fish greatly reduced, you get that crispy texture that makes your seafood oh-so-delicious. Cooking fish in an air fryer is easy. A bit of seasoning, with or without batter, air fry the fish for about six minutes in 200 degrees, flipping it once or twice in between will do the trick. As a rule of thumb, the thicker the fish, the longer it takes to cook. Apparently, fish with thicker and firmer texture works best for this method.

Blackened fish makes an interesting dish on your dinner table

ELEVEN: Blackened fish, that was all the rage in the 1980s, may be the way to go if you’re bored with the usual methods of preparing fish. Simply marinate fish fillet in an oil-and-spice mixture for about 20 minutes, and in the meantime, heat up a cast iron pan to very hot. Melt a slice of butter in the pan and put in the fish, then watch the outside turn black. When it’s blackened, voila, your fish is done.

Slow-cooked fish is another popular choice for those who prefers less oily food

TWELVE: From what I've read, slow-cooking is another way to get moist and juicy tasting fish. The process is similar to poaching, and it’s basically done by having a small amount of liquid in the bottom of the pot, then setting the fish on something that’s going to keep it out of that liquid – like lemon slices – and letting the fish slowly steam.

Sashimi, consisting of raw slices of fish, is a Japanese delicacy

THIRTEEN: Having sashimi, technically, doesn't count as cooking fish. Nevertheless, many of us love our sashimi although we probably know one or two people who’d squirm at the thought of eating raw fish. Fish used raw for sashimi include tuna, sole, salmon, halibut, bluefin, red snapper, etc. While some fish are only available during certain seasons, others can be found all year round. However, sashimi is not just raw fish – the freshness, cut and quality of the fish are very crucial. Sashimi is a Japanese specialty which features thinly sliced fish, served with soy sauce and wasabi.

A word of caution: eating raw involves some degree of risk as bacteria and parasites might exist in uncooked fish.

Methods are aplenty when it comes to cooking fish, often dependent on the type of fish and know-how. With numerous interesting recipes that can be found in books and online, preparing a meal with fish is certainly achievable.

Do look out for one more part to the different ways of cooking fish. Meanwhile, have fun!

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