Dried fish or stockfish on fishing nets over white marble background. Flat lay. space. (Photo by: Natasha Breen/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
For Perfectly Seasoned Fish, Timing Is Everything
By Jennifer Sweenie
Thanks to the osmosis process, salting a piece of protein draws moisture out of the meat. When it comes to high-quality fresh fish, all that is needed is a little bit of salt to draw out its natural flavor, but the key to getting the perfectly seasoned fish all comes down to timing.
If you want a beautifully seared, moist, and flaky fillet of fish on your plate, it's best to wait until the fish is out of the pan to salt it. Salting too far in advance will draw out that moisture from the flesh of the fish, drying out the meat and inhibiting any browning of the surface during cooking.
Salt also has the power to denature protein, meaning it changes the structure of the protein bonds within the piece of fish, resulting in a much tougher texture if done too far before cooking. Generally, fattier fishes, like salmon, albacore, swordfish, and mackerel, are a little more forgiving than saltwater fish species if you salt them earlier in the cooking process.