Healthful Ways to Cook Fish Article -
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5 Healthy Ways to Cook Fish

Now you can save your butter for baking. We've got five healthier ideas for cooking fresh fish.

More delicate than meat, fish can dry out easily. To keep moisture in, cook fish quickly over high heat (grilling, broiling, or sauteing) or gently poach it in liquid.

Grilled Fish

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.

Poached Fish

This gentle cooking method is perfect for 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).

Steamed Fish

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.

Broiled Fish

When the weather's not right for grilling, try broiling instead. Broiling is great when you want a fast, simple, hassle-free preparation with delicious results. It gives fish a nicely browned exterior with the convenience of a temperature-controlled heat source. Just follow the basic grilling instructions above. For easy cleanup, line the broiler pan with a piece of foil.

Baked Fish

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.

Oct. 30, 2009 10:28 am
How do you select a good whitefish that can be broiled or baked. I have gotten it home and because it smells so 'fishy' have thrown it out without even trying it.
Nov. 9, 2009 8:45 am
My son caught a nice walleye how should I cook it?
Dec. 3, 2009 10:08 am
Some good "light" fishes that don't have a strong smell/taste are: whiting, flounder and tilapia. I also like catfish.
Dec. 23, 2009 8:18 pm
I saw a recipe for Salt encrusted fish- can you please post the recipe?
Jan. 19, 2010 10:02 am
So, how do you cook thin filets of a mild flavored fish like tilapia? Does it need a sauce to add flavor?
Jan. 20, 2010 1:44 am
I would like to learn how to cook fish better though, thanks for the advice Vietnamese spring rolls
Jan. 21, 2010 4:39 am
A good white fish that is harty and can be cooked all different ways is the sea bass, found fresh it doesn't smell or taste fishy at all.
Jan. 21, 2010 7:10 pm
My Family loves Tilapia, I bake it. before I prepare it I cut the brown line out of the middle then there's 2 small filets (just my preferance)1st: I place filets on fool lined baking pan sprayed with Pam. 2nd: sprinkle with Old Bay seasoning(Seafood sasoning)3rd: Crush some Club crackers very fine, and sprinkle on top of fish I put just a little on each, and melt butter, and pour slowly on each. Or you can do what my husband does and dredge filets in melted butter before placing on pan. Cook in preheated oven 325 til fish flakes 15-20mins. Then broil at 450 til topping browns to your liking, watch very closely at this time. Serve over rice, and I usually serve with slaw and Baked beans. Wonderful combination. Enjoy!!
Jan. 21, 2010 8:57 pm
i use rock fish,bbassa andpollock. light seasoned with garlic and onion powder. pepper or red crushed pepper [easy!] place on sprayed gill [olive oil ] over alum covered pan. just before placing in 350 oven i dash soy and worchestier or lemon pepper. spray lightly with olive oil and turn 5-7 min. let rest a few min.before serving with brown rice and green beans with lemon zwst and shaved onion dashed with oilve oil .
S.M. Smith 
Jan. 23, 2010 4:14 am
I occasionally enjoy the "dips" when eating certain fish. Could you post some recipes for the dips, including "low cal" recipes? I mainly buy perch, catfish. talipia & salmon.
Jan. 23, 2010 7:40 pm
I eat fish at least 3x's a week for my health. As an added bonus (and something so simple to do), I sprinkle salba seeds on top. There is so much buzz on omega 3's these days. Without really knowing the origin of the fish that you are eating, it is very difficult to determine if you are getting the optimum nutrients from your meal. By adding this salba grain, I more than double my intake of omega 3's, fiber, calcium, and antioxidants of what would normally be in my meal. Best part can't even taste it.
Jan. 25, 2010 5:25 am
Do you use whole or ground salba seeds? and why?
Feb. 3, 2010 2:58 pm
My favorite fish from childhood is Flounder. Mum used to dredge in seasonedflour (salt & pepper) and then saute it in a little butter. Just til it flakes. She served it with a baked potato and a nice salad, and we all loved it. Simple.
Mar. 23, 2010 5:59 am
Need lots simple to fix fish dishes
Jun. 21, 2010 1:55 pm
i need a recipe for walleye ?????????????
Jul. 11, 2010 12:56 pm
Walleye or Pickeral Recipe - this is my most requested recipe, very simple, use amounts according to the fish you are cooking. Dip washed and dried fillets in appropriate amount of eggs well beaten (seasoned with salt, pepper, etc.), then in finely crushed saltine crackers crumbs (I use whole wheat variety. Put coated fillets on parchment lined baking pan or cookie sheet. Refrigerate until firm (approx 30-60 min). To fry - electric fry pan on 400 degrees (use canola oil), cook fillets skin side down until golden brown 4-6 min depending upon thickness. Using tongs, flip and cook another 2-3 minutes. Drain well on paper towels and put in warm oven until all fillets are cooked. Baked version - spray fillets lightly with canola oil (use spritzer), bake in convection oven 400 degrees approx 5-7 minutes, carefully turn, spritz other side and bake 3-5 minutes more. Serve hot with fresh lemon juice/tartar sauce, garden tomatoes, and sweet potato fries. Enjoy! please let me know how yo
Aug. 2, 2010 12:40 pm
Whitefish is usually a stronger fish taste, try cod, talapia or mahi mahi, for a milder flavor, cod is also universal and served in most resturaunts.
Judy A 
Oct. 8, 2010 2:24 am
An easy, tasty & healthy way to cook fish fillets: Spray a nonstick skillet with cooking spray. Cook the filets briefly on both sides, sprinkle lightly with salt, dill weed & a little fresh lemon or lime juice, cover, turn heat to low. Fish will cook in its own juices. It's done when just flaky. Only takes a few minutes to cook.
Cris W 
Feb. 24, 2011 2:41 am
My cousin taught me this simple way to cook orange roughy filets. Put two filets on a glass pie pan or a plate, brush with a bit of melted butter, sprinkle with cajun seasoning. Cover with plastic wrap or a microwave plate cover. Microwave on high for 6 minutes.Yum!
Mar. 10, 2011 2:22 am
Make sure you're buying fish that is sustainable!
Mar. 10, 2011 9:56 am
Thanks Melissa for mentioning that! Seafood Watch has a great iPhone app that I use at the grocery store.
Mar. 13, 2011 6:32 am
To Bake Fish: I lay it on tin foil, place thin lemon slices on top of the fish & add pepper. Seal the tin foil air tight, bake in 375 F. oven for 20 min. This is best with fresh fish. Delicious flavour & moist.
Mar. 20, 2011 1:05 pm
i live on the west coast of canada, i eat fresh seafood daily.........never seem to run out of appetite or ideas........a danger is to over-season or overcook. To truly enjoy FRESH seafood, it should be simple and to your own preferences regarding spices. A filet mignon doesn't need fatty over-baring seasoning, and neither does fresh seafood.
Mar. 30, 2011 6:45 pm
I love a good white fish. Cod is probably my favorite, but Roughy is also very nice. I had no idea that there was a 'White' roughy. It's wonderful! Marinated in orange, and lemon juice with a little soy. Perfect!
Jul. 8, 2011 12:55 am
I need an easy white fish recipe for about 200 people. Help!
Jul. 10, 2011 3:04 pm
Need to lower cholesterol levels..Why is it that fish reciepts all have high cholesterol? What fish is best to help wiht cholesterol? Thanks...
Sep. 23, 2011 7:38 am
thanks a lot for the tip! though i gotta ask, can you broil/poach/steam tilapia? its the only fish availble out here where i stay.
Sep. 28, 2011 8:34 pm
For Tilapia or any fish, put on a piece of foil to keep in the juices, brush on a little bit of butter or olive oil, squeeze on some fresh lemon or just lemon juice works, add some lemon pepper and broil both sides until done. About 5-10 minutes each side. Easy and healthy fish with plenty of taste.
Oct. 30, 2011 7:20 pm
I saw a news story saying when we buy fish, it's not always what it says! And I had started buying those frozen fillets. Thinking how wonderful, looks SO good on the package! But when I get them out, they have SKIN on one side!! yuk! And smell too, when thawed! WHAT are they FEEDING us? And look at tilopia! Right on the package it says contains "carbon monoxide" and tilapia!! And my son looked it up on iternet, says the US is the only one that allows that! So what's a good white fish to buy???
Tashada Perkins 
Nov. 11, 2011 9:41 am
Jan. 3, 2012 12:22 pm
one good way to cook fish(any will do as long as the filets arent too fat in the center...ensuring even cooking) is to "steam" inside a aluminum foil with fresh herbs and a bit of white wine, a touch of butter and lemon(slices and/or juice). Lay a square piece of foil down on counter on top of this place an equal size square of parchment paper....the pieces should allow enough room for the filet and have a bit more space at the edges to fold. Place your fish filet on the parchment and add you liquids and fresh herbs. place another piece of parchment over your fish and another piece of foil on top of that. Fold up edges of the foil to seal the sides. This can be placed in an oven or on top of a grill. The fish comes out very moist and fragrant. cooking time will vary depending on the size of the fish filet (salmon, tilapia, flounder, and halibut are some of the best filets to use. As the fish cooks and steams it has a "jiffy pop" effect since the foil balloons up with steam, is a fun wa
Jan. 6, 2012 6:08 am
I have a huge fear of cooking fish at home. I am so afraid I'll buy a horrible piece of fish and make my entire family ill that I will NOT even look at it! HELP ME! I want to change this, fish if fantastic, but I cannot get over my phobia...
Jan. 7, 2012 7:41 pm
A great way to cook fresh fish is on a Himalayan salt block. I just got one and made trout the other night, it was amazing and so simple, not to mention healthy. Happybaker this could help with your phobia, it helped me with mine. So you heat the salt block on a cookie sheet in a 400 degree oven for around 40 to 50 minutes depending on the size. Then remove the block with the cookie sheet and set on a heat proof surface. Lightly oil both sides of the fish and lightly season. I just used fresh cracked pepper. If using fish with skin on one side place flesh side down first and cook for about 3 minutes per side, depending on the thickness it could be as little as 2 or maybe 4. Transfer to plate and you are done. Now, don't freak out about the salt content, it is so mild and adds just the perfect amount. What is also great about this is that it retains the heat for hours and you can cook multiple items on it. Clean up is a breeze, warm water and a clean sponge and besides heati
Jan. 8, 2012 2:20 pm
It says that broiling can be subsituted for "grilled" method. Where is the best position in the oven to place the fish when using the broiler method? Low or High broiler setting?
Jan. 29, 2012 7:39 am
How about fresh Pearch what is the best way to cook it, I normally flour it and fry it but would like to do it a healthier way
Feb. 22, 2012 10:11 pm
Didn't know you could steam fish! Will have to try that tomorrow, got some defrosted cod in my fridge...thanks for the tip!
Feb. 23, 2012 3:11 pm
Wow great info. I only bake my fish. Now I know I can steam and poach! THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THE ARTICLE!
Feb. 24, 2012 9:39 pm
tasty foooooooooooooood
Mar. 27, 2012 7:25 am
I made a recipe with ham, broccoli, cheese whiz, cream of mushroom soup and stove top dressing mix on the top. The ham was so salty we could hardly eat it. Is there any way I couls salvage the left overs?
Apr. 27, 2012 4:13 pm
Thank you for all the great information here! Especially thanks to all those who posted their ideas.
Jun. 13, 2012 10:56 pm
ok for years everyone has been telling me that cheese (unless its american cheese) is a healthy source of calcium. why are so many recipies concerned about the amount of cheese you are then adding to your dishes?
Jun. 14, 2012 7:15 am
Pan-fried Walleye with Lemon-Pepper Sauce Heat 1 tsp butter and 1 tsp canola oil in skillet over med heat. Pat filet dry with paper towel. Season with salt and pepper, dredge in flour. Increase heat to med-high and saute filets 3 min each side. Meanwhile, mix 1/4 c lemon juice, 1/3 c white wine, 1/3 c chicken broth and 1/8 tsp fresh ground white pepper. Remove filets and set aside. Pour lemon juice mix into skillet, stirring up bits and saute until reduced about half, another 5 min or so. Pour sauce over filets. Simple and delicious.
Sep. 21, 2012 2:25 pm
Swai is my favorite non smelly white fish. It's very similar to Tilapia, but it's twice the size and the same price! It's heartier and will absorb any flavor you put with it. I season it all kinds of ways. Fresh lemon & garlic, with a little bit of cajun season; Old Bay; Citrus Glazed; lightly breaded and baked. Serve with a side of brown rice and steamed veggies and you've got a great and healthy meal.
Sep. 30, 2012 9:50 am
Pollock what type of fish is this? How do you bake in oven
Dec. 25, 2012 10:59 pm
kitty_superslip It is about the fat content, cheese is high in calcium but also high in fat (especially if made from whole milk)
Jan. 22, 2013 9:44 am
My favorite way to cook tilapia is to make easy fried fish nuggets. I buy the frozen fillets from store and defrost the individually wrapped fillets (about 3-4 whole fillets for 2 of us) for about 10 minutes in a bowl of cold water. I cut each fillet into about 4-6 pieces- cutting out the center blood line. Season each piece with salt, pepper and a little lemon juice and let sit while getting the rest ready. I take my buttermilk pancake mix and make the buttermilk according to directions first and then I slowly add water and wisk until the buttermilk is nice and thin. Put fillets in bowl with buttermilk and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes but less than an hour (usually about 45 min). Then I mix AP flour w/ cornbread mix, let the excess buttermilk drip off and coat the fish nuggets. Fry up in the fryer (only takes about 4 minutes- until a nice golden color) and serve with homemade tartar sauce (mayo, relish and splash of lemon juice). Yum!! Hubby's favorite!
Jan. 24, 2013 10:43 pm
I just priced some frozen halibut fillets at my local grocery store: $20 for 12 oz!!! That is a ridiculous price! Even cod and haddock is priced out of my budget now, except for special treats...
Jan. 26, 2013 7:33 pm
Our favorite way to eat fish is fish tacos. For many years we would not even think of trying them... the words fish and taco just didn't seem to go together. We were picturing a regular taco where you just substitute the beef with fish. YUCK! But, try this recipe and you may just enjoy fish much more often and it is very healthy! Bake the fish in a shallow pan very lightly oiled with extra virgin olive oil. Layer the fillets (we use tilapia), sprinkling each one with your choice of seasonings. We use lots of fresh garlic, pepper and a little cayenne for spice, or a lemon pepper or Mrs. Dash, whatever... Then drizzle each layer lightly with lemon juice and bake just until fish flakes easily but is not dried out. (I usually cook 6-8 fillets at a time in a 9x9 and bake at 350 degrees for about 17-18 minutes and then start checking them for doneness.) Layering the fillets helps them to not dry out. You could "tent" them with foil or parchment if desired to hold in the steam. While the fish
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