Fish come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Because of this (delicious) diversity, it can, at times, be difficult to understand what part of a fish you should be using in different recipes or even which cut to pick up on your next grocery trip. Luckily, there are a number of common cuts of fish—no matter if you’re eating Tilapia, salmon or tuna—so once you’ve found your favorites, you should have no problem identifying them across the board.
Like beef or pork, there are many different cuts of fish. Some of these cuts go under different names or are specific to a certain species of fish. Because of this, it can be difficult to know which cuts of fish you should look for when eating in a restaurant or preparing a new seafood recipe at home. Here are the 6 most common cuts of fish with some tips on how prepare each.
A fillet is the meat cut from the sides of the fish. There are three types of fillets: whole, v-cut and j-cut with the latter two being the most popular. With both cuts, the pin bone is removed. In a j-cut, the nape – a small, thin, fatty piece of meat on the lower side of the fillet – has also been removed. Fillets from larger fish can be cut further into portions. The parts of the fillet that are left over are called pieces or “off-cuts,” which are just as good as the loins, but slightly less uniform. Fillets are extremely versatile cuts that can be seasoned, marinated, baked, fried and sautéed, and depending on the species, can be found skin-on and skin-off.
This cut is achieved by removing the head and inside of the fish, including the rib bones. Essentially all that will be left are the fillets attached to the skin. When opened and placed flat, the two fillets will still be attached in the center and will take the shape of a butterfly with its wings spread. Recipes normally require you to pan-fry or bake this sort of cut whole in order to lock in moisture and flavor.
Commonly used for small freshwater fish, a butterfly fillet is essentially two fillets attached by skin that when spread out, take on the shape of a butterfly. This cut is ideal for pan frying or baking.
Located above the spine, loins are the prime cut of a fish. This thick, flavorful cut is best grilled, but can also be breaded, baked or sautéed for a delicious meal. Tilapia loins are the thickest part of the fillet and come in narrow strips that are rich in flavour and pack a punch if prepared just right. Season loins well and cook them to your desired texture, much like you would a steak.
There are two types of loins – “natural” fillet loins from small and medium-sized fish and “cut” loins taken lengthwise across the backs of large fish like tuna, swordfish and shark. Whether “natural” or “cut”, loins are prime cuts of thick and flavorful meat without the waste of skin or bones. Loins can be sold whole or cut into large pieces such as medallions, and are great grilled, baked, or sautéed.
A fish steak,is a cut of fish which is cut perpendicular to the spine and may include the bones. Fish steaks are generally made from fish larger than 10 lbs so larger fish, such as tuna, swordfish,salmon, cod and mahi-mahi, are often cut into steaks.
Fish steaks can be grilled, pan-fried, broiled or baked.
The backend of a large fish closest to the tail is normally cut and sold separately. This portion is large enough to serve several individuals and is best seasoned and roasted. The cut is bone-in, and while it’s not the most common cut around, it’s still very flavourful and is certain to please a crowd at a dinner party.
While the whole fish may not exactly be a cut, it’s still quite a common way to cook a fish. Some cooks like to keep everything intact when they are working with the whole fish, while others prefer to gut it. To make things a little easier (unless you’re feeling especially brave), we recommend the latter. Regal Springs offers gutted, frozen whole fish that are delicious whether grilled, roasted or baked allowing you to whip up some very unique Tilapia dishes. Using the whole fish allows you to season or stuff your favorite variety, depending on how creative you want to get.
Cooking of fish
Fish is an excellent protein to serve because there are many ways that you can cook it, but not all methods of cooking will work for every type of fish. For example, some types of fish are too thick to cook under a broiler, and some types of fish are too delicate to deep fry. Here, we’ll break down different things to consider when deciding how to cook a fish, and we’ll show you the ideal of fish to use for each cooking method.
General prepreparation of fish before the actual cooking.
- Marinade the fish with salt ,lime juice and water for at least 20 minutes for reducing the strong smell of the fish..This is known as first marrination.
- Wash the fish thoroughly under running water ,drain well and keep them dry.
- Make the final marrination liqueur with salt.pepper powder,Dijon mustard,white oil,white wine or white viniger and marinade the fish for another 20 minutes.
- Now process the fish as per the instructions given in the recipe.
This method is suitable for whole fish such as salmon, turbot, trout and certain cuts of the fish on the bone such as salmon, cod, turbot, halibut, brill etc. In either case the fish should be completely immersed in the cooking liquid that can be water, water and milk, fish stock (for white fish) or a court bouillon for oily fish.
Whole fish are covered with a cold liquid and brought to boil; cut fish are usually placed in a simmering liquid.
This gentle cooking method is perfect for all kinds of seafood. Poaching keeps fish moist and won’t mask the delicate flavor of the fish. To poach fish, use vegetable or chicken stock, or make a court-bouillon, a homemade broth of aromatic herbs and spices.
- Use a pan big enough to lay each piece of fish down flat.
- Pour in enough liquid to just barely cover the fish.
- Bring the liquid to a simmer, and keep it there.
- If you see any bubbles coming up from the bottom of the pan, it’s too hot–the liquid should “shimmer” rather than bubble. The ideal poaching temperature is between 165 and 180 degrees F (74 to 82 degrees C). Gently simmer until the fish flakes easily with a fork.
Steaming is another gentle cooking method. It produces a mild-tasting fish that is often paired with a flavorful sauce.
- Rub the fish with spices, chopped herbs, ginger, garlic, and chile peppers to infuse flavor while it cooks.
- Use a bamboo steamer or a folding steamer basket with enough room for each piece of fish to lie flat.
- Pour about 1½ inches of water into the pan.
- Place the steamer over the water, cover the pot, and bring the water to a boil.
- Begin checking the fish for doneness after 10 minutes.
When you’re grilling fish, keep a close watch. Fish only takes a few minutes per side to cook. If the fillets are an even thickness, sometimes they don’t even require flipping–they can be cooked through by grilling on one side only.
- Brush the fish lightly with oil or spray with nonstick cooking spray.
- Place fish near the edge of the grill, away from the hottest part of the fire. (Don’t try to lift up the fish right away; it will be stuck to the grill).
- Start checking for color and doneness after a few minutes, once the fish starts to release some of its juices.
- Flip the fish over when you see light grill marks forming.
This method is suitable for small whole fish, cuts and fillets. The fish is passed through seasoned flour, shallow fried on bit sides, and presentation side first in clarified fat in a frying pan. When the fish is placed on a serving dish or plate and is masked with nutbrown butter, lemon juice, slice of lemon and chopped parsley it is termed as meuniere.
Fish 1/2-inch thick is ideal for this method. Monitor oil temperature with a candy thermometer to ensure proper cooking: If oil is too cool during cooking, food will become soggy and greasy; if oil is too hot, food will become too dark or burned on the outside before the inside reaches the proper temperature.
- Heat enough vegetable or canola oil to 350 to 375°F to allow the fish to float once it’s done.
- Cut thicker fish into smaller chunks so fish will cook in the time it takes to brown.
- Sprinkle fillets lightly with flour. Dip in beaten egg. Coat with your favorite breading.
- Cook 3 to 5 minutes until lightly browned.
- Make sure pieces do not touch while frying. This could create steam, which causes a “soggy” coating.
- Drain on paper towel before serving.
Baking fish allows you to get the satisfying crunch of fried fish without all the fat. Just because it’s baked, though, doesn’t mean it’s healthy: watch the amount of butter, oil, mayonnaise, or cheese called for in the recipe.
Many fish, whole, portioned or filleted may be baked in a oven. In order to retain the maximum moisture it is necessary to protect the fish from direct heat.
- Whole fish
- Completely cover in a thick coating of sea salt and bake.
- Wrap in pastry and bake
- Stuff with a duxelle based mixture of breadcrumbs, herbs, chopped onion, shallots or garlic.
- Portions of fish
- Place in a buttered or oiled dish and bake slowly, basting frequently. In all case a suitable sauce can be offered with the fish.
Thick cuts of firm fish such as salmon, turbot, monkfish are suitable for roasting. The fish is usually portioned, lightly covered with oil and roasted in an oven in the usual way. Finely sliced vegetables and springs of herbs can be put in the roasting tray and the fish when cooked can be removed from the tray and the pan deglazed with a suitable wine to form the base for an accompanying sauce.
It is the process thought to have developed from the age old method of preserving fish by wind- drying.Anxious to hasten a process entirely at the mercy of the elements , prehistoric man may have hung fish on poles over wood smoke or peat smoke , thus speeding up the dehydration process and preserving fish.
There are two ways of smoking fish and each one produces a completely different result.’Hot smoking’ produces cooked , ready to eat fish.’cold smoking’ takes place at a much lower temperature and it produces a smoky tasting fish which usually needs to be cooked before it is eaten.