Here's What Bobby Flay Really Thinks About Pairing Fish And Cheese

Acclaimed chef and TV figure Bobby Flay is always happy to provide cooking tips to help less seasoned chefs hone their skills. According to a TikTok clip, Flay also has some sage advice for those mulling a cheese and fish pairing, which is a notion that's frowned upon in certain circles. As explained by Flay, "Sometimes it makes sense" to incorporate cheese into fish dishes. However, the chef also stated, "It depends on what kind of cheese you're talking about."

Flay recommends pairing fish with cheese with dry textures and salty flavor profiles; specifically, Parmigiano Reggiano and pecorino. For the uninitiated, Parmigiano Reggiano is beloved for its balance of sweetness and saltiness, while pecorino has grassy notes that give it an earthier profile. These cheeses are particularly effective in pasta dishes containing seafood, as they offer a nice counterpoint to the flavors. Of course, cheese selection will naturally vary according to the specific type of fish preparation you're serving.

What are the tastiest pairings when it comes to fish and cheese?

The classic tuna melt is a prime example of how well fish and cheese can work together. While there are many delicious ways to upgrade your tuna melt, there's no denying that the melty (usually cheddar) cheese is a large part of the dish's appeal. Of course, optimal cheese and fish pairings can apply to lots of recipes. When it comes to something like baked halibut, a topping consisting of fresh veggies and feta cheese makes for an elevated yet healthy preparation.


Fish & Cheese? Here's what I think...

♬ original sound – Bobby Flay

If you want to add a bit of texture to your fish, consider whipping up a delectable parmesan coating. In this case, adding grated parmesan to something like Panko breadcrumbs and using the mixture to coat tilapia will result in a wonderful contrast of textures. While the interior of the filet will be tender and toothsome, the exterior will form a crispy, flavorful crust that can be enjoyed by eating the filet on its own or using it to create a sandwich.

Best practices when it comes to cheese pairings

Remember that certain types of fish have delicate flavors that can be overwhelmed by other ingredients. For instance, striped bass and flounder are types of white fish known for having a subtler flavor, so these selections won't pair well with flavorful cheeses. This includes blue cheese, a variety associated with a distinct sharpness. Consider that blue cheese gets its signature color from mold, which permeates the cheese thanks to special manufacturing processes. Along with altering color, the presence of mold creates a tangy flavor that's hard to ignore.

No matter what type of cheese you use in your fish recipes, it's important to remember Bobby Flay's claim that notable chefs can get away with the pairing because they incorporate the cheese so seamlessly into dishes like pasta. Home chefs are encouraged to take a similar approach by using cheese sparingly with fish to avoid a significant effect on its flavor. Keep in mind that this is the same principle behind why McDonald's uses a half slice of cheese on its Filet-O-Fish, as a full slice could potentially disrupt the balance of flavors. As stated by Flay, the best approach to cheese and fish pairings is to "taste it, get in there, be a good cook."