How to Cook Fish

By Alain Braux
Photography by Carole Topalian

Does cooking fish intimidate you? It used to intimidate me too. But ever since I learned how it’s done in professional kitchens, I’m not afraid anymore.

Before I became a nutritionist, I was (and still am) a pastry chef and baker by trade, so cooking fish was very far from my area of expertise. To make matters worse, I grew up with my grandmother on a small farm in Normandy—far from any big city or the sea coast.

Even though my grandmother, Mamie, taught me some rudimentary cooking skills, she didn’t have access to fish and never prepared it. Other than fish sticks, my mother wasn’t much of a fish cooker either—probably because it intimidated her, too.

Everything changed, though, when I began working at the highly rated Le Moulin de Mougins near Cannes, where I met my friend Daniel Boulud. Daniel and I were part of a group of up-and-coming, ambitious young chefs. I worked on the pastry side of the kitchen and he worked at the fish station at the time. One day I asked him to explain a good way to quickly cook fresh fish. He showed me how they did it using what’s known in the restaurant business as a salamander—basically, the professional version of a broiler. Voila! Mystery solved.

My favorite fish to cook using this method is salmon. I love wild-caught salmon for its flavor and beneficial health attributes, but any other dark-meat fish like Gulf-caught tuna, mahi mahi or even grouper will work as well. (Note: you may have to adjust the cooking time depending on the size of the fillet. This method does not work well on thin fish fillets like Dover sole or other flat fishes; they are too dry and will fall apart.)

Bon Appétit!