Techniques for Cooking Fish and Shellfish

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

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The many methods for heating meats and fish are described in detail in the previous chapter. Briefly, “dry” heating methods—grilling, frying, baking—produce surface temperatures high enough to produce the colors and flavors of the browning reactions, while “moist” techniques—steaming, poaching—fail to trigger browning, but heat foods more rapidly and can supply flavors from other ingredients. (Chinese cooks often get the best of both methods by first frying a fish and then finishing it with a brief braise in a flavorful sauce.) Fish don’t require long cooking to dissolve their connective tissue and become tender. The purpose of any given technique is to get the center of the fish promptly to the proper temperature without overcooking the outer portions.