A juicy, perfectly cooked fillet of fish with crisp skin that crackles when cut is a thing of beauty – but one that can be tough to achieve. Follow these simple steps, whatever fish you’re cooking, avoid the potential pitfalls, and you’ll get it right, every time.
How to get crispy skin on fish
- When moisture is driven away from the skin of the fish it allows the skin to caramelise. The technical name for this is the Maillard reaction: a chemical reaction between amino acids and sugars that browns and crisps the skin, and tastes delicious.
- Make sure the skin is very dry, pat the skin with kitchen paper to remove all moisture before cooking, as water prevents caramelisation.
- Once the fish is out of the pan, rest or plate it skin-side up – this will ensure any moisture from the fish isn’t re-absorbed into the skin.
- Carefully press down on the fish as soon as it goes into the pan. The heat of the pan will cause the fish to bend away – by gently pushing down will ensure even contact and even crispness.
How to sear fish
This technique cooks the skin quickly until crisp but the heat also pushes through to the delicate flesh. Fish flesh conducts heat easily, making it easy to overcook – it’s better to cook it a touch less than you think it needs and then let it rest and continue cooking out of the pan.
How to avoid fish sticking to the pan
Oiling the fish rather than the pan ensures there is minimum oil between the skin and the base of the pan. The skin will get super-crisp then self-release, helping to avoid sticking – so don’t touch! Let the fish cook undisturbed. Once a crust has formed it will pop away from the bottom of the pan.
Even if you follow all the steps necessary to prevent the fish from sticking to the pan, an old, well-used pan that has lost its non-stick coating will cause fish to stick fast, requiring it to be scraped off.
- Use salmon, cod, hake and more for these recipes
Best fish recipes
Fried salmon gets the crispy skin treatment here, and is served with a vibrant (and nutritious) watercress sauce, made all the more interesting with dill, lemon, crème fraîche and capers.
A spicy, vibrant chorizo crust perks-up haddock fillets, which are served alongside a medley of roasted asparagus and red pepper.
Try our soft flaky cod cooked in a juicy chorizo and tomato sauce, served with bulgar wheat for a midweek meal for two.
Add some colour midweek with this nutritious salmon recipe topped with pomegranate seeds and toasted flaked almonds.
Recreate simple yet delicious sharing plates in your own home with this easy cod recipe from Notting Hill's Gold.
Flaky, pearly-white cod with a rosemary parmesan crust, served on a sweet cherry tomato and butter bean sauce. It's the perfect midweek meal!
Coat this delicate plaice in panko breadcrumbs and serve with a herby sauce vierge for a seasonal dinner idea ready in 30 minutes.
Check out our easy pan-fried cod stew recipe with large butter beans. This quick fish recipe is low in calories and ready in 25 minutes - simple midweek meal for two.
Check out this quick and simple marinaded chilli-salt salmon. This colourful recipe is not only easy to make it's low in calories, too.
A juicy, perfectly cooked fillet of fish with crisp skin that crackles when cut is a thing of beauty. Make our easy salmon recipe for a simple midweek meal.
Make the most of seasonal sea trout in this vibrant fish tray bake packed with soft baby new potatoes, fresh spring asparagus and covered in a creamy dill mustard sauce. Discover more of our best tray bake recipes here.
Looking for an easy mid-week salmon recipe? This vibrant salmon dish is packed with punchy flavours and will make for a flavour packed meal to feed the family.
Check out these sweet and peppery crispy sardines, ready in 20 minutes. These are great on a griddle, but will also work on the BBQ when the weather warms up. Serve with a big green salad and lots of crusty bread.
This recipe for dab with vinegar butter is quick and easy to make and under 500 calories. If you can't get hold of dab, any flat fish such a lemon sole will work
Midweek menu falling flat? Lift your appetite with these Moroccan-spiced tuna kebabs ready in 15 minutes, served with nourishing grains and punchy harissa yogurt.
This recipe for sea bass, grilled courgette, lemon and hazelnut comes from Percy and Founder in Fitzrovia, London. It's ready in under an hour, is really easy to follow and under 500 calories but still looks fantastic on the plate, perfect if you're hosting a dinner party but don't want to over-indulge.
This recipe for plaice with dill and prawns is ready in just 20 minutes and under 300 calories - perfect for a quick, healthy midweek meal for two
Check out this easy recipe for crispy deep-fried whitebait and creamy roasted garlic mayo. This simple yet impressive spring recipe will make a perfect starter at your next dinner party.
Check out our punchy paprika cod one-pot with juicy tomatoes. This simple tray bake is an easy, low calorie midweek meal for when you're short on time but still want something healthy.
Make our easy tuna steak recipe with zingy lemon bulgar wheat salad. Ready in 30 minutes, this low calorie recipe is a quick midweek meal for two.
A sophisticated meal for two, this quick and easy salmon fillet with sharp and creamy potato salad is exactly what you need to lift you out of that mid-week work slump.
Adding tamarind to tuna brings out delicious flavours in this simple but impressive dish. Serve on a a bed of sugar snap and mango salad for a healthy lunch or dinner.
Spicy, smoky lamb merguez gives this sauce a rich, deep flavour and combines really well with the cod. You could also use cooking chorizo for a similar result.
Eating healthily doesn't have to mean compromising on good food. This miso-glazed sea bass with ginger greens is quick and easy to make and under 300 calories
This recipe for seared tuna with ponzu dressing and coriander rice noodles is low calorie, low fat and ready in just 20 minutes
The best quick meal for salmon. Made with Indian tandoori paste and grilled then served with the quick and easy mushy peas - with a twist. A healthy meal for two.
This quick and easy sea bass and noodle salad is ready in just 30 minutes but is packed full of flavour.
This recipe for grilled cod with salsa rossa is quick and easy and under 300 calories
This recipe for spiced mackerel fillets with shallot and lemon chickpeas is quick and easy to make and under 500 calories
This recipe for skrei with smoky chorizo and clam sauce makes for an easy but impressive midweek meal that's ready in just 30 minutes
Fish can be intimidating to cook but this recipe for whole sea bream cooked en papillote is really easy and looks impressive when guests open it at the table.
This recipe for grilled fish with Cretan rusk salad with tomato, oregano and feta comes from Morito in Hackney. It's easy, ready in 30 minutes and low-cal
Some more fish recipes to try
With a few simple steps learn how to use this classic French cooking technique to guarantee soft, flaky fish every time. Don’t use expensive extra-virgin olive oil for this – a cheaper, milder olive oil will work best.
Shallow frying the fish and baking rather than frying the chips makes our skinny fish and chips lighter so you can enjoy this delicious British takeaway classic without feeling too guilty. An easy, healthier way to enjoy a taste of British seaside!
Check out our easy salmon burgers with soft ciabatta buns, crispy sweet potato wedges and a punchy carrot and cucumber slaw. These moreish fishcakes are high in protein and ready in under an hour.
Check out our vibrant fish curry with juicy pineapple. This easy curry dish is packed with plenty of flavour and under 500 calories per serving - a great midweek meal for four.
Upgrade your sarnie with our Indian fish sandwich with creamy raita and punchy chutney. The koftas are made with cod, ginger and spices and piled into puffy flatbreads.
An seriously simple, homely pasta dish that everyone will love. Tuna is tossed together with red onion, lemon and dill and served on top of fresh linguine.
Check out our easy baked orzo with spicy chorizo and flaky hake fillets. This simple but filling one-pot is an impressive midweek meal ready in under an hour, plus it's low in calories too.
These hot-smoked salmon cakes are quick and easy to make, perfect for a midweek meal. You could make double and freeze some for later
We have taken inspiration for this delicious pizza bianca (without tomato) from The Priory Inn in the Cotswolds. Creamed horseradish, spring onion and smoked salmon, this pizza is piled high with fresh and delicious produce.