Processing and preparation of fish

Lesson 23 : Processing and Preparation of Fish

Processing and preparation of fish

  • Principles of Cooking Fish: The changes that take place during the cooking of fish are similar to those in cooking meat. The main difference is that there is very little change in the colour of the fish (except shellfish, which change from green or brown to pink). Since fish has little connective tissue and muscle fibres are short, it requires a much shorter cooking time than that of meat and poultry. All the connective tissue present is collagen which is converted to soluble gelatine by cooking. Fish should be cooked at moderate temperatures long enough for its delicate flavour to develop, for protein to coagulate and for the small amount of connective tissues present to breakdown. The coagulation begins at a temperature of about 60oC. The flesh of fish is sufficiently cooked when it falls easily into clamps of snowy white flakes when tested with a fork. Cooking fish at high temperature or cooking it too long, causes the muscle protein to shrink leaving the fish tough, dry and lacking in flavour. Fish can also be cooked by coagulating proteins with acids such as lemon or lime juice.

  • Methods of Cooking Fish: Fish is usually cooked by dry heat broiling, baking and frying. Moist heat is also effectively employed to protect the delicate flavour of the fish. Fish such as salmon, mackerel and herring contain some fat and require very little addition of fat in cooking. Some fish like cod, haddock, halibut and bass, contain very little fat and require added fat during cooking. Fin fish may be poached in water or court bouillon, a highly seasoned stalk that enhances the flavour of fish. In order to keep the fish from falling apart while it cooks it is best to tie the fish in cheese cloth or parchment paper before immersing it into the hot water. Shell fish needs only to be plunged into the simmering salt water but care must be taken to keep the water from boiling so that the fish meat remains juicy and tender.

    Shell fish cooked in the shell is said to retain its flavour better. Fish that is oven baked enclosed in a sort of oil paper is called “en pap illole”. The differences in oven temperatures do not affect the palatability. Fish can be baked with butter, garlic and spices. Unlike meat and poultry cooked fish tends to break up easily thus requiring careful handling during cooking and serving.

    To test if fish is cooked insert a fork into the fleshiest part of the fish. The flesh will flake away if cooked. The flesh looses its translucency and becomes opaque.

    Some Indian recipes of fish are fish fry, kolambu, cutlet, puttu and crabs with gravy.
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Last modified: Monday, 12 December 2011, 1:46 PM