Love eating seafood but never know how to cook fish or even which fish to buy? We’ve chatted with our chefs at Hadley’s who’ve given us their beginner’s guide to cooking fish.

6 essentials for cooking fish

1. Buy fresh fish

The most important part of learning how to cook fish is learning how to select fresh fish. You will need to touch, smell and take a good look at the fish.
* Fresh fish will have clear eyes. If the eyes have a glassy appearance, it means it has been refrigerated for a period of time and then put on display.
* Fish should smell like salt water, not smell like fish.
* The skin of the fish should not feel slimy.
* When handling the fish, the skin should spring back when gently poked and not leave an indent.

2. A fish’s best friend.

When cooking fish, you always want the flavours with the fish to be light and subtle. Each different kind of fish has a flavour that you will want to stand out. Herbs are a fish’s flavour best friend. The most complementary herbs and flavours for cooking with fish include dill, lemon, parsley, orange, aniseed and rock salt.

3. Techniques for how to cook fish.


Oily fish such as salmon and mackerel are best for grilling as they will give you that wow-factor with their crispy skin. Always grill the skin side down first, so it will get the most heat to crisp up properly.
Chef’s Tip: Always cook the side you would like to show first i.e. skin side down first.


Cooking fish in the oven? The best cuts of fish to oven bake are thick fillets, or you could even tackle a whole fish.
Chef’s Tip: Always season the skin first, use a quality butter and oil in a non-stick pan.


Steaming works best for fillets of white, dry fish types including snapper, bream and flathead. Steaming will give the fish a tender finish and subtle flavour.
Chef’s tip: Set up a pot of boiling water with fresh herbs such as dill, parsley and lemon. Place the fish in a bamboo basket over the pot and let the flavours go through the fish. Steam for 8-10 minutes depending on the thickness of fillet.


Everyone loves a sausage on the barbeque but are far timider when it comes to how to cook fish on the barbeque. It is your best bet to barbeque whole fish such as whiting, snapper, bream and leather jacket.
Chef’s Tip: Stuff the fish with fennel and lemon. Butter the aluminium foil to prevent the fish sticking and ripping and wrap the fish as tightly as possible to keep the flavours in and try not to open the fish parcel while it is cooking. Depending on the size of the fish it should take 10-12 minutes to cook.

4. Beginners beware

The best chef’s tip for cooking fish is to KISS it! Keep it simple stupid! Steer clear of eel, puffer fish, leather jacket (too many bones), bream (too many bones), tuna & swordfish (if they are overcooked they will be extremely dry and unpleasant to eat).

5. Dress to impress

The easiest way to add the wow factor to fish is with the presentation. Fresh fish is always going to be a hit at the dinner table. The way you present the fish will either make the dish memorable or make it just another meal.
Use bright coloured garnishes. The fresher they are, the better colour they will have.

6. Make it easy for yourself

When you are learning how to cook fish, you need to make it easy for yourself. If not cooking a fish whole then you should always ask the fishmonger to fillet the fish for you. No new skills or utensils required.
Remember to choose fresh fish, invest in a quality non-stick pan, and cook over high heat in quality oil and butter. Lots of lemon and the right fresh herbs are a fish cook’s friend.
In the mood for some fresh fish and seafood that you didn’t have to cook yourself? Hadley’s menu features fresh seafood such as salmon and tuna. Why not request a booking and see how our chefs bring these fish cooking tips to life.
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