The broiler cooks fish as fast as a grill, and just as effectively develops a crisp exterior while maintaining succulent flesh underneath. Broiling is the indoor version of grilling, using the same method of indirect dry heat, only with the heat source located above the fish, rather than below. It's one of the best ways to enjoy a healthy seafood meal. It doesn't require fat and calories from oil or butter, and, as CNN reports, broiling and baking are the two methods associated with delivering the most heart-healthy benefits of fish.
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Thaw fish before broiling it so it cooks quickly and evenly. The easiest way is to move it from the freezer to the refrigerator sometime the day before.
Turn on your oven's broiler about 10 minutes ahead of time to fully preheat it. It gets as hot as your oven can get -- usually 500 or 550 degrees Fahrenheit. When broiling, you don't control the temperature in the oven; instead, you control the distance between the broiler and the surface of the food. It's similar to using hotter and cooler zones on your grill.
Dab all the surface of your fish filet or steak dry with clean paper towels and discard them. Lightly grease the surface of a broiler pan's rack with nonstick cooking spray. If you don't have a broiler pan, use a foil-lined baking tray and apply nonstick spray. The broiler pan is designed for better heat circulation around food, but fish cooks so quickly that it's not really an issue.
Season the fish to taste with salt and pepper and any other fresh or dried herbs, spices and aromatics you like, or as specified in a recipe you're following. Center it on the broiler pan or baking tray, skin side down if applicable. If you have a filet with one end that's considerably thinner than the other, tuck the thin end underneath the rest of the filet to create a fairly uniform thickness.
Position a thin cut of fish, less than 1 inch thick, 3 inches below the broiler; put 1- to 1 1/4-inch-thick cuts 4 inches below the heating element; position cuts around 1 1/2 inches thick 5 inches below the heat source; put thicker fish 6 inches below the broiler.
Broil the fish for about 5 minutes per 1/2 inch of thickness. Fish should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145 F as measured with an instant-read food thermometer, but these are hard to use on thin cuts of fish. To determine doneness, cut into the center of the filet or steak and confirm that the flesh is flaky and opaque all the way through.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- Today: Turn Grilling Upside Down -- Use Your Broiler
- CNN: Eating Baked, Broiled Fish Protects the Heart
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Fresh and Frozen Seafood -- Selecting and Serving it Safely
- Esquire: Broiled Fillet of Fish
- Whole Foods Market: Learn to Cook -- Broiled Fish
- Betty Crocker: Broiled Fish Recipes