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I've just cooked some sea bass fillets (according to the instructions), and was instructed (by the instructions) to turn them from the skin side to the flesh side mid-way through cooking.

This led to the flesh side being slightly yellowed and crisp, which seems strange. Have I been led unwittingly into some form of cooking faux-pas, or is all as it should be?

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

Nothing wrong with slightly crispy flesh, however I wouldnt do it 50% on each side.

Depending on the fish (I would enjoy monkfish and tuna less crispy than seabass or salmon), I would do it a maximum of 30% cooking time skin side up and a minimum of 10-15% - as you want some colour on there after all.

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If you want to avoid getting the flesh side crispy start pre-heating the oven and a frying pan, then fry it skin side down for a few minutes, turn it and fry it just briefly on the flesh side, then transfer to a baking dish and finish it for a few minutes in the oven. Keep the skin side up and place it high in the oven to ensure the skin stays crispy.

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I certainly like it coloured, but cooking time shouldnt be 50/50 time/side more like 70/30, skin down/skin up – NBenatar Oct 31 '10 at 18:35
    
@NBenatar: Oh Gosh. If Only Someone Would Write Similar Time/Crispiness Variations In An Answer It Might Do Quite Well. waggles eyebrows meaningfully – Stuart Pegg Nov 1 '10 at 18:37

I think this is largely going to be a matter of taste. However, I think that's perfectly appropriate. If I'm frying fish, then I want some of the crispyness. You could probably avoid it by using a lower temperature and longer cooking if you wanted, but I think it's one of the nice things about sauteeing fish.

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I agree this can be down to personal preference, but sea bass being regarded for it's soft fine silky flesh (when cooked). You may want to try cooking them skin side down until crispy, and flipping over onto the skin side until cooked. Generally when I pan fry sea bass fillets, it's on a high or medium high heat and once the the skin is golden brown I flip them over, take the heat off and serve them after a minute or two (there's plenty of residual heat in the pan).

You can also try steaming the fillets skin side down for 5-8 minutes just to experience how soft the flesh can be when cooked delicately.

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