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How to Cook Fish Perfectly With the 10-Minute Rule

If you usually shy away from cooking fish, you aren’t alone! Most Americans don’t meet the American Heart Association’s recommendation to eat two servings of seafood a week. What keeps most Americans away from fish markets is uncertainty about how to prepare it. Since fish cooks faster than other popular meat—like chicken and beef—many home chefs overcook it. Following the 10-Minute Rule is a simple way to master cooking fish to perfection.

cooking fish, fairfield ctWhat is the 10-Minute Rule?

The rule 10-Minute Rule or Canadian Cooking Method is simple: cook fish for 10-minutes per inch of thickness. Then, flip the fish only once, halfway through the cooking time.

Whether you plan to follow a recipe or not, start by measure the thickest part of the fish with a clean ruler. If you are making stuffed or rolled fish, wait to measure it until after you’ve finished preparing it.

Once you have measured the thickness of the fish, use that to calculate how long to cook it. For example, if a fish fillet is ½ inch thick, cook it for 5-minutes—turning it over after 2 ½ minutes and cooking it for another 2 ½ minutes. Or, if the thickest part of a fish steak is 1 1/2 inch thick, cook it for 15-minutes —turning it over after 7 ½ minutes and cooking it for another 7 ½ minutes.

No matter what the recipe you are following says, base your cooking time off the thickness of the fish you are cooking! Otherwise, your fish may turn out undercooked or overcooked since the thickness of fish varies widely from fish to fish.

The second part of the Rule—only flipping the fish once—is as important as the cooking time. Since fish is more delicate than other meats, it can fall apart if you turn it frequently. Another benefit of only turning it once is that you will get a nice sear, resulting in fish that is mouthwateringly delicious!

Does the 10-minute Rule apply to all cooking methods?

There are two instances when you will need to add additional cooking time after using the 10-Minute Rule. The first is if you are cooking fish in a foil packet. Secondly, if you are cooking fish in a sauce. In both cases, you should add 5-minutes to the cooking time.

How should I prepare fish?

There are many ways to cook fish. You can enjoy it grilled, broiled, baked, fried, or sautéed. Check out our Recipes for People Who Think They Hate Seafood for a round-up of delicious and easy seafood entrées. In addition, you can learn more about different cuts of fish here.

Whatever recipe and cut of fish you choose, always pat fish dry with a paper towel before seasoning, marinating, or cooking. Removing moisture from the outside of the fish will help it brown nicely or sear when you cook it. A good sear not only gives the outside a pleasant crunchiness it also locks in moisture.

If you aren’t a fan of the fishy smell or taste of some seafood, place the fish in a milk bath before cooking. The protein in the milk binds with the compound in fish that gives it a fishy odor and taste. Let thinner fish fillets bath in milk for 10 to 15 minutes before seasoning. For thicker fillets and steaks, leave them in the milk bath for 20 to 25 minutes. Your fish will have a sweeter smell and a brighter flavor afterward.

fresh fish market in old saybrook ctWhat are some helpful tips for buying fish? 

Whenever you buy fresh fish, pay attention to how it smells, looks, and feels. It should have a briny, or salty smell, like the ocean. It shouldn’t smell rancid or “fishy.” The meat should look moist and freshly cut. When you press it with your finger, it should quickly bounce back. If you can see your fingerprint for a long time, it isn’t fresh.

If you are buying whole fish, the eyes should be clear and slightly bulging. The gills should be red or pink and moist, not dried out and brown or faded. The scales should have a bright, metallic sheen and look firmly connected.

Visit City Fish Market to choose from the widest selection of fresh fish in Connecticut! We have been named the best fish market in Southern New England. Our knowledgeable team members are always happy to share cooking tips with customers and help you find the perfect fish for your meal.