In a world where we’re encouraged to stock our kitchens with a million trendy gadgets and devices in order to cook a delicious meal, it might give you pause to consider that the simplest tools are really all you need—especially when it comes to cooking fish.
Now, we know what you’re thinking: surely when it comes to fish, you need countless utensils at your disposal? Well, that’s just not the case. Cooking seafood is anything but complicated once you’ve mastered a few basic techniques and have the right tools in your artillery. You really don’t need an array of pots and pans or a 12-piece stainless steel knife set to serve perfectly spiced and seared fish fillets. In fact, the simplest of tools often work the best.
As an added bonus, many kitchen items required for cooking fish are ones you can readily wield with other foods as well. The most basic, useful items for cooking seafood are multipurpose, which can help you cut back on the number of unnecessary gadgets crowding your kitchen and get the most bang-for-your-buck when shopping for new kitchen tools.
A Sharp Knife
Before making any other purchases, a sharp, high-quality knife is an absolute necessity. Not only is a sharp knife essential to properly filleting a whole fish, but it is also needed to expertly score the skin (a key component in creating a crispy finish) and to chop fish into smaller pieces. Fish fillets can be incredibly delicate, and using a blunt or second rate knife can risk tearing the flesh. As such, it pays to be precise when slicing and dicing.
A Fish Turner
If cooking whole fish or large fillets is appealing to you, then a fish turner is a must. A fish turner is a flexible type of spatula that’s angled to perfectly scoop up and flip fish fillets on the stovetop or on the grill. While it might not seem crucial to purchase a special kind of spatula for seafood, the fish turner is truly a game-changer for seafood lovers. Regular spatulas tend to be too bulky at the tip for delicate seafood cuts, which risk breaking fish fillets apart. The body of a fish turner is also typically longer than that of your average spatula, ensuring it can support an entire fillet.
Fish turners are great for flipping and dishing out other delicate foods, like tofu, vegetables, eggs and baked casseroles. To ensure you don’t damage your pans by using these tools, select a plastic or silicone fish turner for nonstick pans and go with stainless steel for other cookware.
A Cast-Iron Skillet
Thick and heavy, cast-iron skillets are sturdier and more durable than your typical pan. As such, they’re a wise investment as they’ll last you a long time. Their design makes them ideal for cooking seafood uniformly and precisely, lending to super tasty fish fillets.
Nonstick pans also handle seafood well, but be sure to sear fish slow and steady at medium heat to ensure they are cooked evenly.
A Steamer Basket
Steaming your fish is a great way to ensure a healthy, flaky fillet with zero hassle. While there are a number of options on the market, a simple pot set or an inexpensive bamboo set will work wonders. To use them, simply layer fish and vegetables in the basket (a 10-12 inch bamboo basket should be fine to use with your existing kitchenware) and then rest the basket over a shallow layer of water. The steam will move through the basket and cook your fillet to perfection, leaving you with a light and tasty dinner that’s ready in a snap.
There’s no need to buy every culinary gadget under the sun in order to cook the perfect fish dish. Simple tools, techniques and ingredients oftentimes yield the most delicious results, so arm yourself with these essentials and see for yourself!
Take note of what types of fish are best for grilling, baking and searing once you’re equipped with recommended tools for cooking seafood.
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Photo Credits: TunedIn by Westend61 / Shutterstock Inc., Fortyforks / Shutterstock Inc., Magrig / Shutterstock Inc.