Crispy fish skin is delicious. Unfortunately, it can also be difficult to achieve without the proper tips and tools. Our own Daniel Singhofen, who currently works with our Mid-Atlantic and Southern restaurant partners, is a former pro chef whose resume includes some DC hot spots. Here he unveils his secret for attaining the perfect crispy skin.
Why does fish skin curl and how can I make it stop?
It's all about temperature. You're likely to to take your fish out of the fridge right before you start cooking, so the very cold fish will contract when it hits a very hot pan. According to Daniel, there’s a quick and easy way to fix this - and it's NOT scoring the skin (we'll explain). Instead, pat dry the fillet, place it skin-down on the pan and use a counter weight to force the skin to stay flush. This isn't a new or exciting technique, but it definitely works. The idea is that the counter weight remains on the fish just long enough for it to relax, and then you can get a nice and even sear. While Daniel prefers to use a fish weight to apply pressure to the fillet, we don't expect you to have one lying around. Try any object, like a fish spatula or even the back of your hand, to apply a gentle pressure. Once the fish relaxes, the curling will stop and the weight can be removed for the remainder of the cooking time. Another quick fix is to temper your fish by letting it come to room temperature before cooking. Because the difference in temperature is less intense when the fish hits the hot pan, there will be less curling.
Why not score the skin?
You want to avoid drying out the fish. There's a little layer of fat under the skin that keeps the flesh moist during high heat cooking. If you score, that fat will be released into the pan and the fish will lose its moisture.
Avoid soggy skin and dried out fish. Put chef Daniel's counter weight and tempering techniques to the test and get that delicious crispy fish skin every time! Try it out with our Alaska Coho Salmon, Alaska Sockeye Salmon, or Gulf of Maine Redfish!
Hungry for more cooking inspiration? Check out our recipe and cooking video for Skate with Butter Sauce.