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I can't seem to get my searing technique down. I heat up a pan over medium-high heat until the oil is smoking, sear the fish for 3-5 minutes on each side depending on thickness, and then let the filet sit for a little over 5 minutes to cook through. More often than not, the thinner parts around the edge come out overcooked while the center is undercooked. I've tried salmon, grouper, and rockfish, and the salmon definitely comes out the best but still not perfect. I just had a grouper filet and it didn't taste like it does when I order it from a restaurant; I don't know whether that's my fault or merely because I don't have restaurant-grade equipment. It tasted sort of flat and lacked flavor. The most prominent flavors came from what I cooked it in (a little garlic, shallot, ginger, and olive oil). My meat thermometer registers an internal temperature usually between 115 and 130, but I've been told that fish should be cooked to 135. Any ideas on how to fix this?

Additionally, I've always been searing my fish because that's the way I tend to like it, but can anyone offer insight about other ways? I find that when I use other methods besides searing, the filet tends to dry out.
 

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pan-frying fish

how's this for stereotyping? my first post to a new group and it's about food. well, that figures. rwjones, it might work better if you remember that all fish are not created equal. some have softer flesh (salmon) and some denser (grouper). Your technique should work fine with salmon, but with grouper, you might want to sear it a little more quickly and then transfer it to a 400-degree oven for about 5-7 minutes. The doneness will never be even because the fillets range in thickness, besides a little "frazzling" around the edges is considered attractive.
 

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....you might want to sear it a little more quickly and then transfer it to a 400-degree oven for about 5-7 minutes. The doneness will never be even because the fillets range in thickness, besides a little "frazzling" around the edges is considered attractive.
That's what I do. I also use a griddle pan...I'm not sure why, but it seems to cook the fish better than a regular skillet.
 

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Last time I was in Japan I bought an electric hibashi grill - very easy to clean, has a catch-trey under the grill, works fast and makes perfect fish. You can find these in most Asian markets stateside as well.

I think the key to actual pan searing is having the pan at exactly the right heat (which is pretty hot). You might try a pan with a "rough" surface (like a Lodge cast iron skillet) because the fish is less likely to "stick" (always my biggest problem for pan searing).

D.
 

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First and foremost:

Hot pan and a good size pad of butter.

I like to very lightly dredge the fish in seasoned flour (sea salt and ground pepper, occasionally a little parmesan to get a nice crust). It’s nowhere near thick enough to be anything resembling a batter (and it’s not wet anyways) but it does produce a nice crust around the edges and gives the rest of the fillet a nice colour.

Even without the dredge though, butter not quite smoking hot (which for butter isn’t that hot anyways…) lay fish down until you see colour at the edges, flip and do the other side the same amount. If it’s especially thick you may want to stick it on a plate and in a preheated 350 degree oven for 2-5 minutes, but I find just letting it rest while you plate the rest finishes cooking all but the thickest cuts
 

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For salmon, I use only medium heat to avoid sticking. I cook it the entire way skin side down - first for about 4 minutes on the stove-top, then into a 400 degree oven until I see 130 on the instant-read for medium-well. I move it only once after it's in the pan, after about 2 minutes, to see if it's free. I make sure the skin is very dry before starting.
 

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I like to only sear firm fish with the skin. Make sure it's dry and just season with salt. Heat up some olive oil until smoking and place skin side down. Place another pan with an oiled bottom on top to keep the skin in contact with the pan. You can score the skin with a knife as well, but if you use a weight it's not always necessary.

Should have a nice crisp skin in 5 min or so of high heat. I flip and cook the other side for just a min to enure even cooking, but before you flip be sure to check the meaty site to see if it's getting too firm. Shoot for a little under.

Of course times will vary, but a 1" fillet will take about 6-7 min over high heat.

-spence
 

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Make sure your fish is perfectly dry. Any moisture will cause it to steam and delay the formation of a nice crisp skin. Thomas Keller runs the back of his knife along the skin to pull out as much moisture as possible. So then you can sear it quicker and finish it in the oven.
 

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I can't seem to get my searing technique down. I heat up a pan over medium-high heat until the oil is smoking, sear the fish for 3-5 minutes on each side depending on thickness, and then let the filet sit for a little over 5 minutes to cook through. More often than not, the thinner parts around the edge come out overcooked while the center is undercooked. I've tried salmon, grouper, and rockfish, and the salmon definitely comes out the best but still not perfect. I just had a grouper filet and it didn't taste like it does when I order it from a restaurant; I don't know whether that's my fault or merely because I don't have restaurant-grade equipment. It tasted sort of flat and lacked flavor. The most prominent flavors came from what I cooked it in (a little garlic, shallot, ginger, and olive oil). My meat thermometer registers an internal temperature usually between 115 and 130, but I've been told that fish should be cooked to 135. Any ideas on how to fix this?

Additionally, I've always been searing my fish because that's the way I tend to like it, but can anyone offer insight about other ways? I find that when I use other methods besides searing, the filet tends to dry out.
'Professional grade' equipment is not required. Some of the best fish I ever had was cooked directly on the coals. One of the big differences between most home cooking and restaurant meals is the the amount of seasoning. Home cooks are afraid to agressively season their product. You would be suprised at how much salt can be applied to a slab of protien without it tasting 'salty'. A significant amount of the seasoning will come off in the pan. The salt will bring up the flavor of the meat without making it taste like a pretzel.

For the cripy factor, add the fish, presentation side down, to a hot pan and DON'T TOUCH IT! Let the fish (or beef, pork, chicken etc.) sit and cook about 25-40% thru depending on how you like it. Now take a peek and see if it LOOKS the way you want (after some practice you won't need to do this). If it is good then flip it over and lower the heat to cook the other side until the fish is about 10% shy of the way you like it. It will continue cooking from residual heat for 5-15 minutes depending on the thickness of the cut, whether or not it has bones, and the mosture content. For really thick pieces you can put a lid on for the second side to increase cooking speed, lower mosture loss and reduce pan contact time.

Other cooking methods that don't dry out fish:
--poaching in assorted liquids. (if water add a touch of acid i.e. wine vinegar, lemon juice to keep the flesh together and reduce cooking odors.
--oven baking in foil/paper packet. This is almost fool proof.
--Coating/breading and deep or shallow frying (watch your timing). The coating will help contain the mosture.
 
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