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PickledMackerel

Broiling Fish 焼き魚

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I love to eat fish and I love it grilled. However, by plunking a whole fish fillet under the broiler, I can never seem to brown the flesh enough before the lovely belly part deep fries itself into a noxious tasting mass of carbon.

Also, is teriyaki fish more often done on the stove top than in the broiler in Japan? It is a pain to clean up after basting fish in an oven with teriyaki sauce, as well as the pan i reduced the sauce in.

However, I also have a problem with using frying pans for fish. The smell of burning teflon combined with oxidised fish fat really stinks up the house, even if I use a thin layer of fat to cover the pan to prevent it from overheating. And non-teflon pans dont really do fish very well.

I usually leave an open bottle of vinegar to combat the grilled fish smell. But I really dread stinking up the house. So, gulleteers, in the forum of Japan, masters of fish preparation, I ask, how do u do fish at home?

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Have you checked out this thread?

Nowadays, most Japanese use a pre-installed fish grill to grill fish. People who don't have a pre-installed fish grill in their kitchen use a separate, electric fish grill, a simple, cheap grill (the type you place on the stove top), and so on.

I do have a pre-installed fish grill, but I rarely use it because it is so hard to keep clean, as I mentioned in the thead above. I used to use an electric fish grill, and now I use a toaster oven.

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What I am after is how to prevent some parts of the fish from scorching before others in a broiler. The parts with high fat like the belly or near the skin seem to char so much sooner than the main body of the fish which does not yet brown nicely enough.

Also, when cooking with minimal fat in a nonstick pan, the stink gets unbearable. I read the above thread, but was wondering how 'cooking sheets' work. Do you get a steamed effect or does the fish really grill?

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I suspect the answer to even cooking is to use a very, very hot grill. A whole, gutted fish that's an inch thick should cook fully in about 2 minutes per side, which should give skin with some browned patches (maybe blackened here and there) all over the skin, and cooked-but-still-juicy flesh right next to the backbone (round the bone is where you'll find it still raw if the fish is underdone).

As for 'stink', there's stink and stink. If you grill good hamburgers, you'll fill the kitchen the smell of roasting, singe-ing fresh beef. With good, fresh fish you'll get the smell of roasting, singe-ing fish. If your fish isn't fresh, you'll get what I'd call a stink. What fish are you using, and from where ?

If you're looking for the zen of Japanese fish-broiling, grill the fish's right-hand-side first, then its left, and serve with its left side uppermost, head pointing to the diner's left. YMMV.


Edited by Blether (log)

QUIET!  People are trying to pontificate.

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May I suggest trying the Cooking Forum? I have a feeling that the Japanese style is not what you are after.

As for the stink, just like Blether pointed out, I suspect that the fish is not fresh enough.

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Uh-huh. Mackerel is one of the fish that goes off fastest, perhaps the fish that goes off fastest, and is notorious for needing to be cooked absolutely fresh. Have you heard of shime-saba ? You might find it worth reading up on the theory behind that.

You still don't say where you are and where you get the fish, so it's hard to help further. From this -

The smell of burning teflon... a thin layer of fat to cover the pan to prevent it from overheating

- I wonder if you need to read up on basic saute technique. Could you mean hot teflon ? Fat to prevent overheating is a curious way to put it. Of course reading is one thing, but the only thing that counts in the kitchen is doing. When I was figuring out saute-ing of fish fillets, I ate less-than-perfect sauteed fish a number of times. In the end judging the temperatuire of your skillet is a combination of being used to the particular skillet, recognising the consistency of the oil as it reaches temperature, feeling the level of heat rising off the pan and being used to the heat-up time and the flame level needed once the fish is in the pan.

I can't speak for Hiroyuki's idea that teriyaki isn't 'Japanese style'. With white fish, I like the Italian flour-and-fry-in-olive-oil approach. You barely need oil to fry fresh mackerel (and if you have mackerel that isn't fresh you'd be better giving it to the cat or deep-sixing it than frying it), but they'll work uncoated or with flour / oats / your choice of coating.


QUIET!  People are trying to pontificate.

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I can't speak for Hiroyuki's idea that teriyaki isn't 'Japanese style'. With white fish, I like the Italian flour-and-fry-in-olive-oil approach. You barely need oil to fry fresh mackerel (and if you have mackerel that isn't fresh you'd be better giving it to the cat or deep-sixing it than frying it), but they'll work uncoated or with flour / oats / your choice of coating.

Did I say so? I think I just implied that some non-Japanese people mistakenly think that teriyaki is a dish made with commercially-available teriyaki sauce (which is spicy?, I don't know).

***

In Japan, it is rare to grill a whole large fish like salmon. (It is not uncommon to present a whole large fish (still alive) as sashimi, though.) A fish is usually cut into smaller pieces and sprinkled with salt to remove any odor before being grilled.

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However, I also have a problem with using frying pans for fish. The smell of burning teflon combined with oxidised fish fat really stinks up the house, even if I use a thin layer of fat to cover the pan to prevent it from overheating. And non-teflon pans dont really do fish very well.

Just an interjection here: if you're getting a teflon pan so hot that you can smell the teflon "burning," that's a pretty good sign you're overheating it. Teflon-coated pans are really meant to take no more than moderate heat. If you're going to go that hot, I'd suggest using a non-teflon pan instead.

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In Japan, it is rare to grill a whole large fish like salmon. (It is not uncommon to present a whole large fish (still alive) as sashimi, though.) A fish is usually cut into smaller pieces and sprinkled with salt to remove any odor before being grilled.

It's a minefield, isn't it ? I was only thinking of thw whole fish that are always grilled whole in Japan (when they are grilled) - sanma, aji, others. Personally I don't rate grilling for fillets of larger fish, in general - with an exception for shiira / mahi-mahi, which as I'm sure you know is another story still, all of its own ! As for whole fish of the size of salmon, it's somewhat rare to cook these whole in the west, too, though households equipped with a fish kettle or an oven big enough have the option. (Come to think of it, the oven-baked approach is common enough).

As for teriyaki, too much of it is over-sweet, to my palate. My best ever teriyaki experience was fillet of beef at Yumi in George Street, London (of all places). Quite, quite delicious.


Edited by Blether (log)

QUIET!  People are trying to pontificate.

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Oh, I didn't read the initial post of this thread carefully enough.

I love to eat fish and I love it grilled. However, by plunking a whole fish fillet under the broiler, I can never seem to brown the flesh enough before the lovely belly part deep fries itself into a noxious tasting mass of carbon.

He wrote "a whole fish fillet" not "a whole fish". (blush)

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Interesting! I often broil fish at home using the broiler and it is actually my preferred method for grilling fish "shioyaki". I usually try to use fillets of fish, or failing that, smaller whole fish like aji. If I grill saba, it's always filleted. Larger fish like salmon or gindara (which I sometimes do "yuan" style) are also done in slices, usually with part of the skin on. I'm not very good at explaining it, but the Japanese supermarket always sells fish cut just nicely for broiling. It seems to be slanting, with a strip of skin left. If I can't find that though, I've also grilled Western style fish fillets (either cut like a steak, or a big piece of salmon with skin on) under the broiler with no problems (so far).

The way I do it is very simple. I rinse the fish, pat it dry, and put it on a shallow baking tray lined with tin foil. I stopped bothering with the grill pan because it doesn't seem to make too much difference and the clean up is more messy. Then I salt the fish, rubbing sea salt into the flesh. If there is skin, I tend to put a little bit more salt on the skin. It seems to make it bubble up nicely. For salmon, I don't even wait. I just salt the fish and pop it under the broiler. I try to put the pan on the top setting, as close to the broiler as possible. If the fish is thicker than e.g. 1.5 to 2cm ( like a steak cut) then I start broiling it on the side that is not so important first, i.e. the side with no skin on. Depending on the thickness of the fish, I might broil the underside for about 4-5 minutes, then flip it over and finish on the skin side for 4-5 minutes. For a thinner cut, e.g. the typical slanting fillet cut of salmon from the Japanese supermarket, I don't even bother to flip anymore. I just put it under the broiler and let it broil for ~6 minutes. Watch carefully at the end because your fish skin can go from nice and crispy to burned very quickly! I don't like to overcook my fish, so when it is just cooked and the skin starts to bubble and brown, I take it out. A fatty fish like salmon or mackerel gets pretty crispy and juicy like this.

Oh! I forgot to say that if the fish is at room temperature you will get more even cooking results. If you can take your fish out of the fridge even 15 minutes earlier and rinse it well in room temperature water, then pat and salt, you're less likely to end up with cold spots that stay raw while the rest of it burns. Though if I'm lazy and I only have thin fillets, I'll just rinse in warm water and pat dry before broiling. Sometimes if I'm broiling salmon I'll put a little bit of mayonnaise mixed with lemon juice at the end on it, but my husband actually prefers it plain "shioyaki" style, even though he loves mayo on almost everything else... Hope this helps, and I'm interested to hear how your grilling is turning out!

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