An excellent source of lean protein and packed with heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, fish is a natural choice on the South Beach Diet. Fish is not only delicious, but it’s also versatile — there are a number of healthy ways to prepare it. Here are five cooking techniques that will help you add more fish to your meals as well as some information on testing for doneness.
You can grill fish:
Grilling cooks fish fast and keeps it tender, juicy, and flavorful. Season the fish with your choice of dried or fresh herbs or a mix of spices. With a basting brush, lightly oil the fish with a little extra-virgin olive or canola oil so it won’t stick to the grill. For thicker fillets or whole fish you may want to use a special fish grilling basket. Fish usually cooks up on the grill in 10 to 15 minutes over medium heat, depending on the thickness (fillets cook more quickly than fish steaks). Garnish before serving with a lemon wedge for a hint of citrus.
You can sauté fish:
Sautéing works for any type of skinless fish fillet. First, season the fish as desired. Then, depending on the number of fillets you’re cooking, heat 1 to 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the fish for 2 to 3 minutes per side per 3/4 inch of thickness. (The thicker the fish, the longer the cooking time.)
You can poach fish:
This technique works best with firm-fleshed fish fillets or steaks like salmon or halibut. Place the fish in a saucepan or deep skillet and add enough fish stock, water, or wine to barely cover the fish, along with seasonings of your choice, such as fresh herbs or onions. Bring the liquid to a simmer over medium heat (do not boil). Simmer the fish for 10 minutes or until the center is opaque. Remove the fish with a slotted spatula. You can use the fish stock or water poaching liquid to make a Phase 1 sauce; use the wine poaching liquid to make a Phase 2 sauce.
You can bake fish:
Lightly coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. Arrange the seasoned fish fillets on the baking sheet and bake at 350ºF for 7 to 10 minutes per inch of thickness. It's not necessary to flip the fish.
You can broil fish:
Broiling is best for thicker fish steaks. Season the steaks and brush with extra-virgin olive oil. Place the steaks on a broiler-pan rack and broil 3 inches from the heat for 4 to 6 minutes on each side, or until just opaque in the center. Allow more cooking time for steaks thicker than an inch.
How do you know whether your fish is done?
To see if your fish is properly cooked, simply test with a fork at its thickest point. Perfectly cooked fish should be opaque and flake easily when tested with a fork. Undercooked fish looks raw. Salmon and tuna are the exception, as both can be served pink on the inside as long as they are very fresh.
Note: To maintain freshness and taste, make sure to thaw frozen fish in the refrigerator — not at room temperature, under warm water, or in the microwave.