Home Attempt Restaurant Fish Deliciousness Failure
The other day i scored a couple nice, fresh black sea bass (about 1 lb each) at WFM. I always have this image that i'm going to take them home, stuff with some herbs, cover with oo, run under the broiler, and end up with restaurant-quality fish-- as served in the Greek places in Chicago and NYNY. So very not.
It comes out cooked well enough, but rather tasteless and bland. So. The ingredients are pretty good (herbs right from the garden), our broiler is very hot. What is the "chef's secret" here?
Hmm, your general description sounds right; I agree that it's also good to season them with salt and pepper and, as mentioned above, adding a couple of thin lemon slices to the herbs in the cavity helps as well before cooking them.
Couple of questions:
1. Have you ever cooked fish this way before?
2. How long did you cook the fish for?
3. Was the broiler at full heat before you put the fish in? (I can't assume this from your post)
I would usually have either grilled them on the outdoor gas grill over high heat for about 5-6 min per side or inside I would have pan-seared them and then put into a 250 oven to finish. I determine that fish cooked either way is done when it starts to flake and the inside is no longer pink; any longer will overcook them and remove moisture.
I like the way I cook fish at least as much as restaurant fish as I rarely use butter and even the best restaurants seem to use too much, IMO.
The fish should have been indescribably tasty so something's missing here.
PS, I also agree, as with anything new, that it may take a few times to get the idea so don't give up!
The broiler was up to full heat (it's electric, but browns very well). About 5 inches away for about 8 minutes. More salt and lemon-- especially in the cavity-- very good suggestions. I'll try oregano also. And keep at it. (Well, it wasn't <i>completely</i> tasteless. Just not up to what I'd like). Many thanks to all.
Salt, pepper, and panfrying seems to give me consistently good results with fish. I did some seabass like that not long ago and made some kind of sauce to go with it... maybe an herb vinaigrette or something along those lines.
You can also go the breaded route... season > flour > egg wash > herbs and panko bread crumbs > 350F in a half inch or so of olive oil does the trick pretty nicely when you're not dealing with skin. I did that with a tilapia filet the other night, and it came out great. If the skin's still on, it's usually best to cook with it still on.
I used to think cooking fish was hard until I actually started trying it. Just give it a few tries... The only real trick is getting good fish. Luckily, we got a good fish market recently.