Last Updated on June 8, 2023 by Practical Cooks
Fish and seafood are among the most tender foods to cook. Marinating meats has significant benefits, but should you marinade fish?
Yes, you can marinade fish, but use an oil-based marinade and do not marinade for long. Thirty minutes to 45 minutes is sufficient to marinate fish. Do not marinade with a robust acidic marinade because it will “cook” the fish and make it go bad.
How Long to Marinade Different Types of Fish
There are two types of fish; flaky and firm. Flaky fish is the kind that falls apart on the stove or grill. They come apart in layers and cannot handle long periods of sitting in marinades. Smaller fish like cod, trout, and salmon are prime examples of flaky fish. The time limit to marinade should be no longer than 30 minutes.
Acidic marinades will not mix well with any seafood. It is recommended to use a mild marinade if you must use it. Oil-based marinades will do the trick because fish is already oily.
Put it in a resealable bag and squeeze out the air as you put the fish in and close it. Turn it over after 15 minutes to evenly distribute the marinade. It must be marinated in the fridge or in an ice chest.
Firm fish is compared to fillets or steaks. They do not fall apart as easily as the flaky fish and can hold up better to marinating a bit longer. Firm fish filets can marinate for up to an hour, and fish steaks can marinate for up to two hours. Tuna, Halibut, Sturgeon, and Marlin are examples of firm fish.
Once again, it must be an oil-based marinade. One more thing to remember is water-based marinades will not give the browning effect when cooking fish or seafood. If there is too much water in the meat, it will take too long to brown, and excess water also adds another problem: too much steam.
Steam and water will also make it challenging to give it crispy skin. Oil is the secret ingredient. Patting the fish dry before cooking or marinating is the best idea to ensure the fish cooks as desired.
The Benefits of Marinating Fish
It is not the tenderness that brings people to marinade fish; instead, it is the flavor. Marinating fish is quick and easy because it can go in the sauce while cleaning the grill or stove and preparing to begin cooking. Within a few minutes, it’s ready. It stops the fish from drying out and keeps the food from sticking to the grill or pan.
Marinating the fish is the perfect time to season it to your preference. The seasoning will work with the marinade and make it burst with flavor once it is cooked. While the fish is cooking, another method is to use the marinade as a basting treatment that adds flavor while cooking.
Remember, do not use marinade that is contaminated from the raw fish. Use it only with the fish that is cooking at the moment, and discard the rest of the marinade. Measuring half a cup of marinade per pound of fish is sufficient, and not much goes to waste.
Seasoning the Fish
It is not a good idea to season the fish too early. The best time to season it is right before it is cooked. The salts in the seasoning will break down the structural integrity of the fish, especially salmon.
It will hold the flavor of the seasoning best after the marinade is absorbed and right before going into the pan, whether grilling, oven-baked, or stovetop.
Can I use lemon juice to marinate fish?
You can use lemon juice to marinate fish, but mix it with milk to cut the acidity. The acid in the lemon juice will enhance the proteins. Too much acid will ruin the fish before it is cooked. Only leave it for 30 minutes to marinade; for smaller fish, do it for no more than 15 minutes.
What seasonings should I use for fish?
Herbs complement fish the best. Use dried spices like chives, garlic, sage, dill, and parsley. Another excellent season or marinade uses brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
Can I marinate a fish overnight?
No. The fish will turn out mushy if marinaded overnight. Fish already has a tender texture. The marinade is mainly for the boost in flavor. The shortest time to marinade is 15 minutes. The longest time is an hour, which pushes the limits.