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The skin side of the fish first?


The skin side of the fish first?
When it comes to cooking fresh fish, if it's filleted with its skin on and you're planning to pan-fry it in a little olive oil, for example, you might ask yourself the following question: Which side, skin or flesh, should come into contact with the pan first?
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Last modified on: February 13th 2021

Keywords for this post:FishCookingSkinFleshTip
The skin side of the fish first?
You will probably read here or there that it is always the skin side first, we always grill longer on that side, and first, because we often want to get a nice crispness, when the skin is eaten, for whiting or sea bass for example.

filet coté peau et chair



This is often true, and for thick filleted fish, salmon for example, it allows to remove it quite easily once its side is cooked.

saumon coté peau



But for some thin fish, it is not always interesting: the skin stretches brutally in contact with the pan, and deforms the fillet into a bow.
This is very pronounced for red mullet, for example. It doesn't change the taste of the fish, but it makes it look a little less appetizing.

But if you start with the flesh side, the skin will not reach the desired crispness, or else with the risk that the fish is a bit overcooked.

What to do?

Try to proceed in 2 times at least: Frying pan quite hot, put your fillet on the flesh side first, let cook 30 seconds, just to seize, turn over (skin side down this time), and cook the necessary time.
You will notice at this point that even if the skin is still tense, the flesh, just seized, is much better, and your fillet does not deform, or less.

coté peau et chair grillé



If necessary (fillet a little thick) finish with a third, short turn, on the flesh side, to finish browning well.

Another possible solution is to scarify the skin side over a few millimetres deep with a small, very sharp knife to prevent it from shrinking.


To sum up: For fine fish fillets whose skin is to be eaten, first cook the flesh side for 30 seconds, then cook the skin side normally.

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