These tips come from an interview with Melissa Clark on The Splendid Table a few weeks ago. Clark was full of great advice and enthusiastic support for fish-wary folks like me, but what has really stuck with me was her advice on actually cooking the fish.
She says that oven-roasting is the way to go, anywhere between 400°F and 450°F. If you roast the fish on an ungreased baking sheet, the bottom skin will stick to the sheet and make the whole job of peeling it away to serve much easier.
And here was the clincher for me: Clark says that the fish is done as soon as you can smell it. So easy! To double check, you just need to slip the tip of a paring knife into the fish somewhere along its backbone. If you feel any resistance, give the fish a few more minutes. If the knife slides in easily and you can wiggle it a little, the fish is done.
For more advice on choosing fish and preparing it for baking, take five minutes and listen to the full interview:
• More Tips on Fish! Melissa Clark on Roasting a Whole Fish on The Splendid Table
Related: Fish on Fridays: Grilling Fish 101