How to Cook Fish Perfectly


Last week, I reviewed Prima and mentioned what the restaurant does especially well, which is cooking fish so the skin is crisp and the meat just barely cooked through. It’s a simple, beautiful thing.

My first kitchen job was assisting the fish cook at a fine dining restaurant, making the seafood stocks, cleaning the razor clams and monkfish livers, picking lobster meat, baking diamond-shaped tuiles out of fish skin, etc. It was months before I actually cooked a piece of fish and such was this kitchen’s intensity that my hands trembled. We cooked fish skin-side down in a cast iron skillet and never flipped it over, just added a brick of cultured butter, a bunch of fresh thyme and a clove of unpeeled garlic close to the end, then spooned that hot butter over the fish to finish the cooking.

But that’s a little over the top for a Monday evening, no?

If you want great fish cooking instructions, go visit Hank Shaw, who has a wonderful step-by-step guide. He uses far less butter, and he does flip the fish, but carefully, after the skin-side has had a chance to get nice and crisp. He also made a video.