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Cooking Crispy Skin Fish

The number one enemy keeping you from achieving crispy skin fish is moisture. In order to achieve a good sear on the skin and prevent it from sticking to the pan, you need to dry the skin by more than just patting it with a paper towel. I have found the best quick method is to pat the skin dry with a paper towel, apply a generous coating of salt to the skin, and let that rest in the fridge for 30 minutes to an hour.


Remove the salted filet from the fridge and brush off all the excess salt. Don’t be tempted to use a non-stick pan to avoid tearing off the skin. Use a cast iron or stainless-steel pan.

You need the oil to be very hot before you start cooking— you’ll know when the oil starts to shimmer and smoke — then carefully put the filet skin-side down and WAIT.

At this point, being patient is key - don’t touch it. Trying to flip the fish too early will surely result in a torn and ruined skin.

Keep an eye on things and adjust the heat down as needed to end up with and deep brown skin and the flesh about 90% cooked. Do not turn the fish over in the pan.

Using a very thin fish slice, or spatula, carefully slide it under the skin side of the filet using a lot of downward pressure on the pan and a gentle wiggle if necessary. Invert the fish onto the serving plate where it will finish cooking and maintain the crisp skin.

Do not pour a sauce on the skin, put it on the plate.

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