Wild caught fish is healthy and nutritious. It’s an excellent source of protein and healthy fats. Studies have shown that eating fish at least once a week may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and also helps lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. But, many people find cooking fish intimidating and messy. The fear of having our kitchens smell fishy is another deterrent to cooking fish at home.
Here’s my solution to the fish problem. By cooking the fish on a hot cast iron skillet in the oven, the clean up is easy and there are no droplets of fishy oil to splatter and make things smell fishy.
The thickness of the fish determines how long you cook it, but you can watch it turn opaque in the oven, so you don’t overcook it. If it’s undercooked, put it back in for another minute or so.
This method also helps to crisp the skin, which is a heathy part of the fish and where most of the really healthy fish oils reside. Did you know that the fish skin that’s taken off the filets is sold to the supplement companies to make the fish oil pills we buy? It’s becoming clear that taking fish oil capsules is not helpful for our health and may actually be causing harm by increasing the saturated fat in our diet without any health benefits. So why not just cook the skin so it’s crisp and enjoy it with the fish.
Depending on the type of fish, I season in different ways. With just caught snapper or trout, a little lemon, oil oil and salt and pepper will do. With a fish that has a stonger flavor, like redfish, mackerel or yellowtail (Japanese amberjack), I like to add spice blend like Penzey’s Northwoods Spice and Zatar. I always use a spritz of lemon and a little rub of olive oil. Remember to check to see if the spice blend has salt added before adding salt.
I hope you will try adding this method to your cooking fish and experiment with different fishes and spices.
RECIPE: Cast Iron Fish
Flat bottomed cast iron skillet (like Lodge brand)
Skin on fish filets
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt & Pepper
Spice mix (if using, eg Penzey’s blends; remember to check if it contains salt and don’t add additional)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees and place skillet in oven for 15 minutes while you prepare the fish
Drizzle the skin side of the fish with lemon, rub in a few drops of olive oil and sprinkle with salt & pepper or the spice mix. Repeat with the other side.
Take the skillet out of the oven and lay the fish in skin side down. It will sizzle.
Place in the oven for 4 to 8 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish. Look to see that the fish tuns fully opaque. Let the fish rest in the skillet for a minute. If it’s not fully cooked when you take it out of the oven, just return it to the oven for another minute.