Preparing the Fish
Before we can start prepping the fish for crumbing, it’s important to select the right kind of fish. Look for firm, fresh fish fillets that are free from any signs of spoilage. You should also make sure to thoroughly thaw out and dry the fillets before trying to coat them. Doing this will ensure that the crust will stick to the fish after cooking.
Now that our fish is ready, let’s get started with the actual prepping.
Selecting the type of fish
When selecting fish for making a crusted dish, you should choose fillets with a moderate- to- high degree of firmness. These include salmon, halibut, cod, and mahi mahi. It is important to choose fresh fish that has not been previously frozen or altered in any way. Wild-caught fish are preferable since they tend to have higher omega-3 content and less environmental contaminants than farmed fish.
When browsing the seafood counter at the grocery store or market, try to select fillets that are uniform in thickness and width; this will ensure even cooking throughout the finished product. The skin should be free of cuts and tears, bright in color with no unpleasant odors. Be sure to check for any visible pinbones as you can remove them before cooking if necessary with a pair of tweezers or needle nose pliers.
Finally, it is important to purchase your fish the same day that you plan on making the dish as it is highly perishable if kept for longer than one day. Once back home from the store or market storage should be done properly – keep your purchased fillets wrapped tightly in airtight plastic wrap before placing them into either a cold refrigerator or freezer unit depending on how quickly you plan on preparing them for your meal.
Cleaning the fish
Cleaning and preparing the fish is an integral step in crusting. Before adding the breading, it’s important to rinse off any exudates that may be adhering to the surface of the fish. Exudates are natural slime and protective mucus secreted by fish as protection from their environment and therefore, contain bacteria. Bacteria growth increases when moisture is present and can lead to spoilage.
In order to properly clean a fish, hold its head in the palm of your dominant hand with the dorsal side up then use a paper towel or mesh cloth to rub lightly against its body in a downward motion from head-to-tail. Avoid too much pressure so you do not remove too much of its protective mucous layer; it needs some for protection against bacteria growth.
After completing this process, place one hand on either side of the body cavity of the fish then use your thumbs to open it up on either side so you can inspect its interior for scales or other debris that may remain attached inside. Use tweezers or a long thin knife if necessary but never use your finger as it could introduce bacteria onto the surface of your catch. After cleaning and inspecting, be sure to thoroughly rinse under cold running water before coating with breading or marinade before cooking.
Removing scales is the first step to properly preparing a fish for crumbing and cooking. Depending on the kind of fish, there are various methods you can use.
For larger, thicker-scaled fish like salmon, wrasse and cod, you may find it easier to use a knife or scaler. Start at the head and use the knife’s blade to lightly scrape against the skin and lift away the flakes of scale.
For smaller, thinner-scaled fish like sardines and anchovies, you may find it best to just rub your finger tips over them so as not to break their delicate skin.
Once your fish are descaled, thoroughly rinse them with cold water before coating them in whatever ingredients you’re using for your recipe. Keep in mind that removing scales from some species of fish like trout actually helps them cook more evenly when breaded and fried due to their natural fat content that resides in their slimy layers of shining scales.
Crusting the Fish
Crusting a fish is a great way to add flavor and texture to the dish. A fish crust, made of various herbs, spices, and other ingredients, can really take fish dishes to the next level. Crusting a fish is a simple process that requires a few ingredients and simple tools.
In this section, we’ll discuss how to make the perfect fish crust and the best way to apply it to the fish so it stays in place:
Preparing the coating
Before you begin crusting your fish, it is important to prepare the coating. For a seasoned crust, mix together your desired herbs and spices in a bowl. Common seasonings for this type of crust include:
- Black pepper
- Garlic powder
- Other dried herbs
Many recipes will also call for butter or oil to make the coating stick to the fish better. Mix these ingredients well before set aside. You can also purchase prepared fish crusting mixtures at the store in flavored and traditional forms that are perfect for all types of cooking methods. Make sure you choose one that is specifically designed for frying or baking so that it doesn’t burn during cooking.
Once you have selected your seasoning or crumb mixture, you’ll need to apply it evenly to the fish fillet with either a brush or your fingers. Take care not to use too much so that it takes away from the flavor of the fish itself. Be sure all sides are coated completely and any extra coatings should be discarded as they can burn during baking or frying.
Applying the coating
When it comes time to apply the coating, you’ll want to make sure that you are evenly coating the fish. Start by dredging each piece in the flour mixture and then shake off any excess flour. Be sure to pat both sides of the fish dry with a paper towel. Once the fish is dry, use a spoon or brush to evenly coat each piece of fish with egg wash.
Also make sure that your workspace is well-prepped for crumbing too – have your crumb or panko mix close at hand and spread out on a shallow dish or pie plate. Now dip each piece of fish into the crumb mix and press lightly so that each side is fully and evenly coated with crumbs. Enjoy!
Baking the fish
Baking a fillet of fish crusted with herbs, spices and crunchy toppings is a great way to add flavor and texture to your meal. A good crust not only adds texture but also prevents the fish from drying out as it cooks. Here are simple steps for baking crusted fish:
- Preheat your oven – Begin by preheating your oven to 350°F (175°C).
- Prepare the crust – Create an herb or spice blend that will suit the type of fish you are preparing. The crust can be as simple or complex as you like; common additional ingredients include nuts, breadcrumbs, seeds or even shredded cheese. In a shallow dish combine your selection of herbs, spices, and other desired ingredients.
- Preparing the fish – Pat dry your fillet of fish before adding it onto a lightly greased sheet pan or shallow baking dish. Brush your chosen flavorings over the top layer of the fish and carefully press a layer of crust over it until evenly coated. Make sure all sides are thoroughly covered for best results!
- Baking time – Then bake in preheated oven for approximately 20-25 minutes until well cooked through and lightly golden in color on top. Allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving with desired accompaniments!
Serving the Fish
When you’ve finished cooking a fish dish, you’ll want to serve it in the most appetizing way. Making a proper fish crust is a great way to do this. It can add flavor to the dish and make it look more presentable.
In this section, we’ll go over the basics of preparing and baking a fish crust:
Choosing side dishes
When deciding on side dishes for crusted fish, consider what flavors will complement your chosen herbs and spices. The classic pairing with fish is potatoes, and a crispy potato has tremendous flavor that pairs well with the crisped herb crust.
Alternatively, roasted vegetables are excellent accompaniments to crusted fish because they bring a bright color to the plate and accentuate the herbs in the crust.
For lighter meals like salads or summertime fare, leafy greens make an ideal side dish for crusted fish as they provide a contrast of texture to counterbalance the crunch of the coating. And if you’re going for additional flavor profiles, adding fruits or savory sweet chutneys will lend an unexpected burst of sweetness that brings out even more flavor from many types of herb-crusted fish.
Choose your dish based on the seasonings used in your crust and any preference you may have for side dishes. Don’t be afraid to experiment!
Garnishing the plate
When it comes time to finally serve your fish, there are a variety of garnishes you can use to enhance the flavors. Pick a few that will help balance out the overall flavor of the fish. Here are a few suggestions:
- Fresh herbs – Fresh herbs like dill, parsley and chives add an aromatic and light flavor to your dish. You can also use herbs like rosemary or thyme for stronger flavors.
- Spices – Spices like paprika, garlic powder, chili powder or cumin can bring some color and an intense taste to your dish. Just make sure not to overpower the fish with too much spice!
- Lemon slices – Using fresh lemon slices as a garnish adds a brightness and tartness to your dinner plate that helps contrast with any side dishes. Don’t forget to slice it thin so it holds up nicely on top of the fish!
- Capers – Capers are great if you’re looking for an intense salty flavor that compliments fish very nicely. It’s best used in moderation because capers have high levels of sodium.
- Vegetables – Fresh vegetables like carrots, bell peppers or red onions add both color and texture to your dinner plate. Plus their mild taste will help balance out more intense flavors from other garnishes like capers or spices.
Plating the fish
Once the fish is cooked, it’s time to plate it up. Place the cooked fish on a plate and drizzle it with melted butter or your favorite sauce. If you opted for a crunchy crust, sprinkle some over the fish and serve. Keep any additional sauces or accompaniments like lemon wedges near your plate so you can add them as desired.
You can also opt to serve the fish in a skillet or bake it up with vegetables or potatoes. For example, topping cod with shredded cheese and baking until bubbly is one delicious option. If you’re making tacos, place sliced fillets in warm homemade tortillas, garnish with shredded cabbage and zesty salsa, then enjoy! However you decide to finish up your masterpiece, be sure to let the flavors shine through.