Cooking Fish

Fish should be cooked at a relatively low temperature to prevent the flesh from becoming tough. The fish is cooked when the flesh parts easily from the bones.


Bake in the centre of a pre-heated oven at 180°C (350°F) Gas Mark 4 allowing 25-30 minutes for whole fish and 10-20 minutes for fillets and steaks. A small amount of liquid and butter may be added: baste frequently. The fish can be stuffed and covered in foil, in which case it will take about 8 minutes per 450 g (1 lb) for large fish plus 10 minutes. Steaks take about 20 minutes,


Totally immerse the fish in seasoned fish stock. Bring just to the boil, and then reduce to a bare simmer for 8-10 minutes. This is an ideal method of cooking white fish because the liquid can be used to make a sauce.

Deep frying

Coat the fish in egg, flour and breadcrumbs or batter and immerse in hot oil: 160-170°C (312-325°F). Test to see whether the oil is hot enough first by dropping a small piece of bread into it. The bread should turn a light golden colour and rise to the surface within 30 seconds when the oil is ready.

Shallow frying

The oil or butter should come half-way up the fish. Cook the fish for approximately 10 minutes, depending on its thickness. This is an excellent method for small whole fish and steaks or fillets.


Score whole, round fish with shallow diagonal cuts to allow the heat to penetrate the flesh. Brush white fish with melted butter. Baste and turn the fish as it cooks. Once the grill has become hot, allow 10-15 minutes for steaks, cutlets and whole fish, and 4-5 minutes for fillets.


Put fillets in the top half of a steamer or double saucepan, season and cook for 10-15 minutes over boiling water. As steaming is the purest way of cooking fish, it is a popular method of preparing white fish for invalids and young children.


Most fish has a delicate flavour: serve it with a sauce which has a contrasting taste.

There are many variations on white sauce including cheese, mustard and parsley. They add zest and flavour.

Make a fresh tomato sauce or one from fish stock, thickened with flour and butter, and enriched with white wine and cream.

Oily fish, like mackerel, are the better for a sharp, piquant sauce. To make gooseberry sauce, simply simmer gooseberries (topped and tailed) with sugar, adjusted to taste.

For grilled or fried fish, serve savoury butters, a home-made mayonnaise, horseradish or tartare sauce.