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Kitchen Tip: How to Pan Sear Fish

Tips, video and photography provided by Heinen’s partner, Chef Billy Parisi.

Pan searing fish is a cooking method that has a reputation for being difficult, but there are a few simple tricks that result in the perfect sear every time, no matter what fish fillet you are cooking.

When it comes to searing fish with the skin on, snapper, flounder, grouper, salmon and bass are great options, while tuna, halibut, swordfish and monkfish are best cooked with the skin off. However, you can ask your local Heinen’s fishmonger to remove the skin from any fish to make your cooking process effortless.

When it comes to pans, feel free to use whatever you have on hand. Stainless steel, cast iron or even a non-stick skillet are all great options. And when choosing an oil, the choice is also yours. Avocado oil, olive oil and ghee will all result in the same delicious fillet of pan-seared fish.

Watch the video or read on below to learn foolproof methods for pan-seared fish that you’ll find yourself using all the time!

Sear Fish
Kitchen Tip: How to Pan Sear Fish
Cook time:
6min
Prep time:
10min
Total time:
16min

Ingredients

  • 1 skin-on fillet of fish (snapper, flounder, grouper or bass)
  • 1 skinless fillet of fish (tuna, halibut, swordfish, monkfish)
  • 1 skin-on fillet of salmon

Instructions

For Skin-On Searing

  1. Using a sharp knife, score the skin of the fish every two inches across the entire fillet. Be careful to stop as soon as you get through the skin.
  2. Pat the fish dry on both sides with a paper towel, then season it well on both sides with salt and pepper.
  3. Add oil to a large frying pan over high heat until it begins to lightly smoke.
  4. Place the fish in the skillet, skin-side-down. Make sure they aren’t too close to one another if you are cooking multiple fillets at once. Turn the heat down to medium-high. Add several pats of unsalted butter. Cook for 2-3 minutes, then shake the pan to ensure the fish is not sticking.
  5. Flip the fish and cook for another 2-3 minutes or until the desired internal temperature is achieved.

For Skinless Searing

  1. Pat the fish dry on both sides with a paper towel, then season it well on both sides with salt and pepper.
  2. Add oil to a large frying pan over high heat until it begins to lightly smoke.
  3. Place the fish in the skillet, skin-side-up. Make sure they aren’t too close to one another if you are cooking multiple fillets at once. Turn the heat down to medium-high. Add several pats of unsalted butter. Cook for 2-3 minutes, then shake the pan to ensure the fish is not sticking.
  4. Flip the fish and cook for another 2-3 minutes or until the desired internal temperature is achieved.

For Skin-On Salmon

  1. Pat the fish dry on both sides with a paper towel, then season it well on both sides with salt and pepper.
  2. Add oil to a large frying pan over high heat until it begins to lightly smoke.
  3. Place the fish in the skillet, skin-side-down. Make sure they aren’t too close to one another if you are cooking multiple fillets at once. Turn the heat down to medium-high. Add several pats of unsalted butter. Cook for 2-3 minutes, then shake the pan to ensure the fish is not sticking.
  4.  Flip the salmon and, using tongs, gently pull the skin off of the salmon. It should come off with ease.
  5. Cook for another 2-3 minutes, or until the desired internal temperature is achieved.

Sear Fish

Chef Billy Parisi headshot
By Chef Billy Parisi
Chef Billy Parisi is a culinary school grad who spent 15 years in the restaurant industry as a line cook, sous chef and executive chef. Now he develops, photographs and films simple and delicious recipes that will make everyone feel like a chef in their own kitchen.

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