This crispy skin fish is so simple and delightful…it will make your weeknight dinner dreams come true.
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Ok, back to all things related to crispy skin fish!
We all need those recipes in our back pockets that take minimal effort, yet come out tasting so ridiculously good. And this crispy skin fish recipe does just that. I think a lot of people are a little bit intimidated by the skin on fish. When really, the skin is the most flavorful part! In culinary school, we actually made “chips” out of salmon skin by frying it in hot oil. I know it sounds odd, but trust me it was good.
The trick to enjoying your fish with the skin on is to get it nice and crispy. Actually, that isn’t a trick, it’s honestly a must! I mean, nobody wants soft, soggy fish skin…
So, I’ve kept this dish extra simple to highlight the process of creating a really crispy skin on the fish. It’s really not a difficult thing to do, but you definitely cannot rush the process. Below are the main tips to remember…
How to Achieve Crispy Skin Fish
Ensure the fish is extremely dry.
Use a non-stick pan or create a “seal” on a regular pan (explanation in recipe).
Get the pan very hot over medium heat. High heat will cause the oil to heat too fast and burn the fish.
Don’t drown the pan in oil, enough to just coat the bottom. If you have too much oil, the fish will essentially steam.
Don’t mess with the fish for a few, solid minutes. Just let it do its thing before flipping.
And there you have it! You’ll be on your way to crispy skin fish in no time. I served mine with a simple olive topping, some toasted sliced almonds, lots of lemon, and really good olive oil.
Crispy Skin Fish with Olives & Almonds
extremely crispy skin fish with an olive topping and toasted almonds
- 3 oz Kalamata olives
- 3 oz Castelvetrano olives
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- ½ lemon, zested
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tsp chopped parsley
- freshly cracked black pepper
Crispy Skin Fish
- 4 pieces of whitefish, skin-on
- safflower oil, as needed
- salt, as needed
- 2 oz toasted, slivered almonds
- ½ lemon, zested
- flaky sea salt
- extra virgin olive oil
Slice some of the olives in half, leaving the others whole. Combine all of the olives with the extra virgin olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, and parsley in a mixing bowl. Toss well to combine. Season with freshly cracked black pepper to taste. Set aside.
Crispy Skin Fish
Remove the fish from the refrigerator and pat dry. Let sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes, skin-side up. Meanwhile, heat a sauté pan over medium-high heat. When slightly smoking, add enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan, along with a very generous pinch of salt. Let the oil and salt heat for about 30 seconds, occasionally giving the pan a swirl. Turn off the heat and wipe out the oil and salt from the pan, carefully using paper towels to do so. This process helps create a temporary “seal” on the pan so that the fish doesn’t stick. Let the pan cool down a bit.
Flip the fish over and season the flesh with salt. Return the pan to medium heat and add enough oil to just coat the bottom. When the oil is hot and shimmering, carefully lay the fish in the pan, skin-side down. Use the spatula to gently press on the fish to ensure it does not curl up. Let the fish cook for about 2-3 minutes without touching it, or until the skin crisps and creates a golden crust. Use a fish spatula to flip the fish and finish cooking on the other side. I used a thin piece of fish, so it only needed about 2 more minutes to cook through. You don’t want to overcook the fish or it will be tough. I always air on the side of slightly underdone for fish, because it will continue to cook even when you remove it from the pan.
Plate the fish, skin-side up, with a mound of the olive mixture on top. Garnish with the almonds, a little bit more lemon zest, a pinch of flaky sea salt, and a finishing drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
For the most beautiful salad to eat alongside this fish, check out my previous recipe: Persimmon & Arugula Salad with Maple Mustard Vinaigrette