5 Tips That Will Help You Master a Simple Fish Dinner

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Like chicken or pasta, fish is really a blank slate when it comes to preparing it for dinner. Yet, unlike chicken or pasta, fish has a reputation of being hard to prepare, which makes it feel a bit daunting. The truth, however, is fish is just as easy to turn into a quick, flavorful dinner as those other guys. The key is to embrace a few simple tricks that will jazz up just about any fillet you bring home.

The Path to Better Fish at Home

Jazzing up your fish routine at home is easy. It starts with embracing a couple of smart techniques and reaching for ingredients that seriously boost flavor. Once you have those under your belt, you’ll be on your way to a more exciting dinner any night of the week.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

1. Break out the parchment paper.

If you tend to overcook fish frequently, it’s time you get to know parchment paper. Wrap up the fish in a packet of parchment paper and bake it and the fish will steam instead of roast, which will help lessen the chance of dry, tough fillets. You can also load the packets with veggies so you basically have a complete meal when you open it.

2. Embrace brown butter.

We’ve waxed poetic about the power of brown butter before; it improves just about anything, whether it’s tossed with cheese ravioli or drizzled on popcorn. So of course it does wonders to fish. Spoon brown butter over a mild fish, like cod or tilapia, and it will instantly add so much rich, nutty flavor you’ll think you’re in a fancy restaurant.

3. Lean on flavor-packed conveniences.

Let jars be your friend. Things like Dijon mustard, tomato salsa, and basil pesto are instant sauces for fish and deliver all the flavor you need in just a few spoonfuls. Keep these things on hand and dinner is instantly easier — and more delicious.

4. A skillet is the secret to crispy skin.

If you’re itching to recreate that crispy skin you get on fish fillets at nice restaurants, you need to break out your skillet. Its high, even heat is really the best way to achieve cracker-like skin that makes eating fish really feel special.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

5. Finish with acid.

Regardless of how well you season it, cooked fish can often taste a little flat. What it’s missing is a big squeeze of lemon or lime juice to add just a touch of brightness. Keep either on hand and finish with a healthy drizzle right before serving.