Cape Town folks love a lekker seafood dish. From Snoek on the braai, to a crayfish potjie, we are known for our unique methods of preparing fish.
A favourite? Frying.
But, many will tell you the perils of trying to prepare fish, and completely destroying its texture, and integrity. Horror stories of fish flaking in the pan, or breaking on the grill are a dime a dozen.
Frying fish remains the most popular method, but frying anything isn’t ever the healthiest option!
Have you ever tried oven-baking your fish, instead?
Let us guide you through it!
Clean the fish, making sure to remove all innards and scales. Preferably have your fishmonger clean it for you.
Baking fish is actually as simple as literally turning on your oven and baking it for a few minutes until tender. You can bake fillets, fish steaks, or dressed whole fish. This means that your whole fish is filled with fresh produce like tomatoes, onions and peppers.
Whenever possible, buy fresh fresh. But if Frozen, allow enough time for it to thaw in the refrigerator.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
For fillets with skin, if desired, use a sharp fillet knife to remove the skin from the raw fish. You can also remove the skin after baking.
Rinse fish and pat dry with paper towels. Place the fish in a single layer in a greased shallow baking pan. For fillets, tuck under any thin edges. Brush fish with olive oil, melted butter, or pesto to keep it moist, and season as desired with snipped fresh or dried herbs, spice blends, minced garlic, and/or salt and pepper.
Cook 4 – 6 min for every 2 cm in width or 5 – 8 minutes per every 250 grams.
If you don’t cook much seafood, you may wonder how to tell when it’s done. All kinds of seafood give you clear indications of readiness, you just have to know what you’re looking for.
Whole fish: The easiest way to check is to pull on the dorsal fin (on the back of the fish). If it comes out easily, it’s done; if not, it needs more cooking.
Fish fillet or steak: Done when it flakes easily with a fork. Salmon and tuna are darkish pink at the center when medium. White fish should be glistening and wet-looking only at the innermost core.
Scallops: Turn opaque when done, but the center should be barely opaque. Scallops become rubbery when overcooked.
Shrimp: Takes only a couple of minutes to cook and turns pink when done.
Mussels, clams, and oysters: Give you a clear indication that they’re cooked — their shells open when they’re done, no matter how you cook them, like a built-in kitchen timer. If the shell is still closed after cooking, discard it.