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Jan 7, 2011 05:47 PM

fish: grill or nuke or bake or steam or pan-fry ... ?

I've recently become a fan of the extreme simplicity of microwaving fish, even when the underlying recipe is a "traditional" one. (The downside is I'm embarrassed to share recipes lest others realize how trivial my preparation was!)

I realize that heat can be applied many different ways. With fish, specifically, what are the tradeoffs? I know that grilling can char the outer flesh in a tasty way that microwaving won't. What else should I consider?


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  1. Seriously? Microwaving?

    Wow, please don't do it, and please don't tell people you do it.

    Each cooking method lends itself to different types of fish. Fattier, oilier fish can handle the grill, like tuna or salmon.

    If you have a more delicate fish, like sole, stick with poaching.

    So, the firmness, and oiliness of the fish should be taken into consideration as well as the flavor profiles you want to import.

    Until you give us more information of what you are looking for, or to do, we can't really help you out very much.

    3 Replies
    1. re: jameshig

      Data point:
      I eat tons of fish - all kinds. Orig from east coast where I grew up eating fish at least three times per week. One of the best fish dishes I have ever had was...MICROWAVED. Italian xmas eve feast of the seven seas or seven fishes or whatever it's called. Italian mama, along with hand cleaning squid, making mussels marinara, cioppinp style prep, several other fantastic dishes etc ALSO made a layered casserole type dish - fish, spinach, a tiny bit of parmesan, breadcrumbs, butter, lemon, garlic, spices. It was INSANELY good, and cooked properly. I couldn't believe it one bit when she told me it was nuked. I grilled her for almost half an hour straight, and her family laughed when I explained to them that I could not believe for one second that it was nuked each time they reiterated that it was a simple microwave prep. I STILL don't believe it, but as much of a fish snob that I am, that dish was absolutely stellar. And I'm not a snob about fish species as much as I am a snob about freshness, and proper cooking method. I love any fish, but if it's over cooked, or frozen for too long before cooking, I can tell right away. Jameshig, I wish you could have tasted this dish, you would have been astonished, I guarantee it. You might think I'm a rube, I know, even I still cannot believe how good this stuff was, but I swear, it was great. So, I'm not saying that I would ever microwave a fish, or that you are wrong by advising against it, I'm just adding an interesting data point that microwaved fish has a serious possibility of producing good results, believe it or not. Again, I still do not believe it, even tho I ate it, and absolutely loved it.

      1. re: jameshig

        i am attaching a link to a 6 year old thread on this board. the discussion is about microwaving a whole fish. if you read it, you will find that i tried it and found that (in the case of a whole fish) the process works well, but i was unable to impart any significant flavor to the fish.

        i can easily imagine that it would work very well in a casserole style dish where the fish has already been cleaned and boned as a fillet. i would love it if gordeaux would share her mother's layered fish recipe.

      2. I say if it tastes good do it. I have never tried microwaving fish but I try not to rule anything out. :)
        My favorite prep is sprinkle with Maldon salt and pepper and sear in a hot pan with a drizzle of olive oil. If it is super thick I flip it and then put it in the oven for a few minutes. The Maldon creates a crust that just makes it extra yummy.

        1. The skin! If the skin is meant to be eaten, it's the best part of the fish. But, it's yucky if you microwave it instead of putting it on a pan for that crispy skin.

          Some dishes call for only a part of the fish to be cooked, leaving some parts undercooked or rare. I don't see a microwave having that level of precision/control. Then again, it's not like that's done often.