A Beginner's Guide to Cooking Fish - Part 1

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Koli women at Fish market

Introduction to Cooking Fish : Part 1

Cooking fish can be both exciting and nerve-wracking, especially for beginners. The love for fish often runs in families, with each household claiming that their fish dishes are the best. However, mastering the art of cooking fish requires patience, practice, and some essential knowledge. In this two-part blog series, we will explore the basics of cooking fish, from buying the freshest catch to marinating it just right. 

Buying a Fresh Fish

Fish Market Adventure:

Visiting a fish market is a unique experience, but be prepared for the distinct fishy smell that may linger on you throughout the day!  At the fish market, you'll find a wide variety of fish options, but if you're a beginner with a fondness for fish, consider starting with the versatile Pomfret.

Opt for Pomfret or Kingfish:

Pomfret is readily available and can be prepared in various delicious ways, whether in a curry, fried, or grilled. Alternatively, you can trust the Kingfish (Surmai). If buying Kingfish, select a few slices from a larger catch as they tend to have better flavor.

How to Choose Fresh Fish:

a) Examine the Eyes: Look into the fish's eyes; they should appear fresh, black, and sparkling. Dull or red eyes may indicate stale or rotten fish.

b) Check the Gills: Avoid fish with reddish water coming out from the gills. Fresh fish should have whitish-greyish gills.

c) Observe the Skin: For Pomfret, choose fish with silver scales and bright, shiny skin. For Kingfish, press the body gently; fresh fish will have tighter skin, while stale fish will have loose and wrinkled skin.

Pricing and Negotiation:

Fish prices are subject to demand and supply fluctuations, so there's no fixed price. Sharpen your negotiation skills, especially when dealing with local fisherwomen. Building a friendly relationship might score you the freshest catch.

Convenience Option:

If you prefer to skip the fish market experience, many brands and local vendors offer cleaned fish delivered to your doorstep. This ensures you get fresh fish without the hassle.

Marinating Fish

Fish is delicate and requires careful marination to retain its original taste. Unlike chicken or meat, it's best to marinate fish with only salt. Here's a general guide to marination times:

- Whole Pomfret: 45 minutes

-Cut Pomfret: 30 minutes

- Kingfish: 30 minutes

- Crustaceans (e.g., prawns, crabs): No marination needed

Wash off the salt. Remember, over-marinating fish with strong spices can overpower its natural flavors, so keep it simple with just salt.

In Part 2 of this blog series, we'll delve into the exciting world of cooking fish, exploring various cooking methods and delicious recipes to tantalize your taste buds. Stay tuned for more fishy adventures!