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Unit 253 Prepare & Cook Basic Fish Dishes. Element One Preparing Fish For Cooking.

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Unit 253

Prepare & Cook

Basic Fish Dishes.

element one preparing fish for cooking
Element One Preparing Fish For Cooking.
  • The catering industry in the UK is well supplied with a wide range of both salt and freshwater fish. A highly organised fishing industry distributes its catch in prime condition, either fresh, frozen or chilled. Extensive farming of freshwater fish has also increased the available of certain species, so that certain types of fish are no longer regarded as luxury commodities.
However, exotic species of fish from other parts of the world are also readily available and appear regularly on menus.
  • Fish is an important contributor to a well-balanced diet, being high in protein, rich in certain vitamins yet low in fat and easy to digest.
  • It does, however, require careful handling and cooking to maximise its benefits to the consumer.
The correct place of fish on the formal menu is as a separate course directly before and as a contrast to the meat course.
  • Today fish is often used in other sections of the menu, for instance as an hors d’oeuvre or as part of a salad, savoury or farinaceous dish.
  • In modern menus fish is frequently offered as a main course choice suitable for luncheon or dinner and this reflects is popularity with the modern palate.
classification of fish
Classification of Fish.

Fish are normally classified for culinary purposes as:

  • Round.
  • Flat.
  • This very broad classification may be sub-divided into:
  • White.
  • Oily.
  • NLN what is a fish.
  • NLN Fish Database.
fish cuts and preparations
Fish Cuts and Preparations.
  • While fish may be divided into smaller pieces to accommodate various cookery processes, to maximise cost efficiency and to standardise cooking times.
  • Importantly, these cuts often also add to the overall presentation of the dish and usually make the fish easier for the customer to eat.
  • NLN
Goujons: Strips of fish cut at an angle diagonally from a filled approximately 6-8cm (2.5-3inches) long and 15mm thick.
  • Supreme: A section of fish cut across and on the slant from a large fillet of fish cut as for a supreme (above) but further trimmed to a neat oval or round shape.
Steaks – Darne: A section of fish cut across and through the bone of a whole round fish.
  • Troncon: a section of fish cut from a large flat fish through the bone.
  • Note that Darnes and Troncons are cooked with the skin. The skin is removed just before service.
flat white fish
Flat White Fish.
  • White flesh.
  • Oil is stored in the liver.
  • Vitamins A and D found only in the liver.
  • A very good European fish akin to Turbot.
  • This has sweet delicate taste.
  • Available all year, sold whole or in fillets.
  • Recipes for Turbot, Halibut & Sole are good for Brill
  • One of the finest flat fish, and has the most delicate of flavours for flat fish.
  • Is very expensive, can weigh up to 12 Kg.
  • Available all year, sold whole, fillets or steaks.
  • Suitable for all types of cooking, best poached or grilled.
dover sole
Dover Sole.
  • The true Dover or Channel Sole is the Chefs perfect fish.
  • A delicate flavour with firm flesh and keeps well (best after 24 hrs).
  • Available all year round, buy whole or fillets.
  • Best grilled, fried or poached.
lemon sole
Lemon Sole.
  • This belongs to the Dab / Plaice family. Slightly superior to Plaice. Sometimes used as a cheaper version of Dover Sole.
  • Available all year round whole, fillets.
  • Use simple Dab or Dover Sole recipes.
  • A giant of a fish, this can grow up to 2 m long. It has almost as good a flavour as Turbot although a little softer in flesh.
  • Best when small, sold in steaks cutlets or fillets.
  • Best poached or baked.
  • American Summer Flounder. Good quality fish, best in summer.
  • European Flounder. Slightly poorer quality fish, best in Winter.
round white fish
Round White Fish.
  • White flesh.
  • Oil is stored in the liver.
  • Vitamins A and D found only in the liver.
  • Available all year round, but best in winter.
  • Can weigh up to 36 Kg. Sold mainly as steaks or fillets.
  • When cooked flesh falls into large flakes. Best cooked by frying, grilling & poaching. Traditionally deep fried & served with Tartare Sce & Hot tomato Sce.
  • Sometimes considered better than Cod, but more expensive. Similar in appearance to Cod, but has better keeping qualities.
  • Available all year round, but best in winter & early spring.
  • Best deep fried & smoked.
types of hake
Types of Hake.

American Silver Hake.

  • Also known as Whiting. Best used in commercial use.


  • Also known as white Salmon. Best bought whole and deep fried in batter or cooking in breadcrumbs.
other member of the cod family

Regarded as Cat food. Very cheap fish used in Pies and fish cakes.


This is common fish found in Europe.

Grey & White with a pointed Head.

Best in winter & sold Whole.

Used in Mousses & Mousselines.

Other Member of the Cod Family.
monk fish
Monk Fish.
  • Sometimes muddled with Angel fish. One of the best fish you can buy.
  • Available all year but can be expensive. A tail piece will weigh 1.5 Kg.
  • Despite being very ugly this is a very succulent fish and is poached in the same way as Cod or roasted.
john dory
John Dory.
  • A Grandly ugly fish, but very firm & delicate in flavour. The dark circles on its side are said to be St Peters fingers.
  • When buying remember that 2/3 of the fish is its bony head & gut.
  • Can be cooked whole or in fillets as for Sole.
other white round fish
Gilt-head Breem.

The finest of the Breem they must be scaled before using them.

Available all year round. Best grilled or baked in foil.

Red Grouper.

A delicacy in the Med, hard to find in northern Europe. Usually found in America.

Bought whole, cooked as for Sea Bass.

Other White Round Fish.
other white round fish1

Available all year round.

A member of the Breem family.Poor flavour can be bought whole or in fillets.

Use as for Cod.

Sea Bass.

has a delicate milky flesh, an excellent fish.

Buy whole or in steaks & fillets.

Can be grilled whole & served with salad.

Other White Round Fish.
oily fish
Oily Fish.
  • Oily fish.
  • Dark flesh.
  • Oil is distributed throughout the flesh.
  • Always round.
  • Vitamins A and D dispersed throughout the flesh.
  • Known as the king of fish. A Scotch or Irish wild Salmon is best in early summer. Norwegian, Canadian & American Salmon are also very good.
  • You can buy them whole or in steaks. Avoid steaks that are grey. Allow 170 - 225 gms per portion.
  • Can be poached whole for buffets or in fillets, darnes poached, roasted or baked.
salmon trout
Salmon Trout.
  • Found in rivers & lakes, this combines the qualities of both Salmon & Trout.
  • Whole they weigh approx 2.5 Kg. This is a much more useful size for cooking.
Rainbow Trout.

Mostly farm-reared, a delicious fish. The skin has the rainbow colouring.

Brown Trout.

Wild, brown & red skin with dark grey spots, found in North America.

  • Available all year, can be poached, baked.
  • If serving whole, it is custom to remove the eyes if Ladies are present at dinner.
  • The Mackerel is easy to recognize, a torpedo shape, steel blue skin that is very smooth.
  • Best in late spring early summer.
  • Sold whole & weigh 450 gms.
  • Best grilled or baked. Can be stuffed or poached in white.
  • Once very popular & cheap. They have become less available.
  • Very rich in Protein, Iodine, Vitamin A & D.
  • Best between Spring & Autumn.
  • Can be filleted and grilled or baked.
whitebait sardine
The young of Herring.

Usually 2 - 3 cm long.

Best between Feb & Aug.

These are eaten whole.

The only way to cook them is to dip in milk & flour & deep fry.

These must be fresh.

Best in spring and from Portugal.

Can be bought whole & frozen.

Best grilled.

Whitebait & Sardine.
sprat anchovy
Look like small Herring.

Best in winter.

This fish is very oily, and are best grilled.

Similar to the Sardine, but smaller.

Sold whole and mostly bought tinned.

Usually used in savoury dishes and garnishes.

Sprat & Anchovy.


  • This is related to the Mackerel. The flesh is very red.
  • Available all year.
  • Care must be taken when cooking as this can become very dry if over cooked.


red snapper
Red Snapper.
  • Found in the South Atlantic.
  • Weigh about 900 gms - 2kg.
  • Sold whole or in steaks & frozen.
  • Best baked, poached or grilled.
different types of mullet
Grey Mullet.

Also known as stripped Mullet, not as good a flavour as the Red.

Best bought whole and grilled.

Red Mullet.

A very rich colour, a good fish to cook with Mediterranean foods.

Sold whole and cooked in fillets or whole.

Different Types Of Mullet.
quality points of fresh fish
Quality Points Of Fresh Fish.

Factors indicating freshness in whole wet fish.

  • Scales: plentiful, firmly attached, moist and shiny.
  • Eyes: bright, clear and full (not sunken).
  • Skin: bright, with a sheen and evidence of slime.
Gills: bright when lifted, deep pink in colour, not sunken or dry.
  • Flesh: firm to the touch (the flesh should spring back to its original shape when pressed).
  • Smell: wholesome and pleasant, no hint of ammonia or any offensive odour.
factors indicating freshness in cuts of wet fish
Factors Indicating Freshness In Cuts of Wet Fish.
  • The flesh should be firm to the touch.
  • The fish should have a clean and pleasant smell.
  • There should not be any areas of discolouration (through bruising or blood clots).
factors indicating quality in frozen fish
Factors Indicating Quality In Frozen Fish.
  • There should not be any evidence of dehydration or freezer burn.
  • The packaging, if applicable, must be undamaged.
  • There should be minimum fluid loss during thawing.
  • Once thawed the flesh should still feel firm.
when storing fish
When Storing Fish.
  • Wash the fresh fish thoroughly under cold running water and store in a refrigerator designed specifically for storing fish.
  • Place the fish in a container with holes at the base. Cover the fish with crushed ice to prevent any surfaces from drying, allowing the drips from the ice to drain away through the holes in the container. Change the ice daily.
Store the fish immediately after delivery at a temperature of 1-2 degrees C (34-36 degrees F); just above freezing point.
  • Store whole fish separately from fillets to minimise the risks of cross-contamination.
  • Store frozen fish at –18 degrees C (0 degrees F) or below and use it in strict rotation.
Store ready-prepared, cooked fish products separately from raw products to minimise any risk of transference of harmful bacteria from raw to cooked foods.
  • Follow a strict rotation policy on all purchases of fish to ensure maximum freshness.
storing and thawing frozen fish
Storing And Thawing Frozen Fish.
  • Frozen fish must be purchased commercially, frozen and then stored in an appropriate freezer at –18 degrees C (0 degrees F).
  • The length of storage will vary according to the product and the type of packaging.
  • Certain products have recommenced storage times of one, two or three months, which is stated on the packaging.
Frozen fish must be defrosted in a refrigerator (preferably overnight) to ensure that it is evenly thawed prior to cooking.
  • Forced defrosting (i.e. in water or at room temperature) is a potentially dangerous practice as bacteria multiply in a warm environment.
  • Once defrosted, frozen fish must be used quickly, but should be stored as for fresh fish before use.
  • Under no circumstances should defrosted frozen fish be re-frozen. This is potentially hazardous to health.
Common cuts identified in fish cookery and menu terminology include:
  • Fillet: The flesh of the fish free from skin and bone, presented as long flat fillets.
  • Delice: A fillet of fish which has been trimmed and neatly folded for presentation prior to cooking.
  • Paupiette: a small fillet of fish lightly flattened, usually spread with a stuffing or fish farce, rolled from head to tail and wrapped in a buttered paper (to retain the shape and protect the flesh from drying out during the cooking processes).