The Simple Trick For Crispy Fish Skin Every Time

Mahi-mahi, salmon, cod, halibut, swordfish, snapper. We all have a favorite fish in the sea. Rich in protein and packed with beneficial nutrients, fish is a healthy, light-yet-hearty option for any meal. It can be scrumptiously prepared in all sorts of ways, whether it's grilled to perfection, pan-fried with a buttery sauce, or covered in garlic and capers. And yes, we're talking the whole fish — skin included.

Fish skin isn't necessarily something everyone wants to eat (admittedly, it doesn't exactly sound appetizing), but it's one of those things that, if you choose to forego, you will be seriously missing out. Not just missing out on key nutrients — according to Healthline, fish skin is a great source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin E, with benefits like muscle growth, improved heart health, and healthy skin — but also missing out on pure, divine deliciousness.

When it comes to fish skin, the crispier the better, because let's be honest — no one wants to tear into slimy, scaly flesh. Crisp it up to perfection, and it takes the entire dish to the next level; there's a simple, easy trick to make sure that happens every single time. So listen up. Because, trust us, no one wants fish skin FOMO.

Crispy fish skin is only three ingredients away

To achieve a delightfully crispy skin that elevates the texture and taste of the entire fish, all you need are three ingredients: olive oil, salt, and pepper. Joe Gurrera, fishmonger and owner of the fresh fish market chain Citarella in New York, gives Thrillist his foolproof method for perfectly crispy fish skin, and it's wildly simple. Just rub a little olive oil and add your desired amount of salt and pepper (but don't be shy). Once your grill or cast iron is really hot — a high temperature is important so the skin doesn't stick — all it is from there is timing.

Whatever your fish of choice, Gurrera's rule of thumb is five minutes per side for a one-pound fish, so that's a good point of reference – whether you're cooking salmon, bass, or snapper. He says to only flip the fish in the pan one time, and "crispy skin will happen without trying." There you have it: perfectly crisp fish skin that only requires three ingredients, 10 minutes, and alleged effortlessness. 

Some more tips for crispy fish skin

While this method is most likely to be a surefire success for crispy skin, a few more tips never hurt anyone. To ensure that the fish skin crisps up the way you want, it's important to prep the fish well and make sure it's dry when it hits the pan. You can try patting the fish with paper towels before you cook it, or food writer Nigella Lawson even suggests using a knife to scrape the back of the skin and remove any water droplets that may still be hanging out there. This helps eliminate any excess moisture, which would turn into steam and ultimately soften the skin once it cooks. 

When it comes to pan-frying the fish, be sure to start skin-side down, and add it to the pan once your oil has that shiny, shimmery look to it. Remember, dry fish, high heat, and minimal interference while the fish does its thing. Give it a try, and you'll find that it's easy peasy (literal) lemon squeezy.