How to get the Crispiest Skin on your Fish

One of the most frustrating kitchen failures when it comes to cooking fish is getting soggy skin when you wanted crispy or, worse, having the skin stick to the pan and ruining your seared fish fillet. Fear not my friends, these pointers on how to crisp fish skin will guide you in the right direction for getting the crispiest fish skin possible.


Enemy #1…Moisture

Moisture really is enemy #1 when it comes to getting crispy skin. Fish contains a ton of moisture which leeches out during the cooking process and if not enough moisture is removed before hand you’ll never achieve that crispy goal. Dry off your fillets as much as possible with paper towels and let rest at room temperature on a wire rack for 30 minutes before searing.


Proper tools…

Second most important piece to getting that optimal crispness is to have the proper tools. Make sure to have an extra large stainless steel skillet (not non-stick or cast iron). The large pan size is important to prevent overcrowding and promote even cooking. Having enough pan space will leave plenty of room for the steam to escape.

Be sure to invest in a fish spatula. These handy spatulas have a very thin ‘flipping’ surface that keeps the fish from breaking up. Lastly, have a digital thermometer on standby to check the internal temperature and doneness of your fish.


Cooking with HEAT…

Yes, you must have heat for searing! High heat oil is key; avocado, vegetable, grapeseed, corn, sunflower and canola are perfect for this task. Heat oil (about 2 tablespoons per fillet) over medium high heat and once the oil gets shimmery and begins to smoke slightly-that is the time to add your fish fillet. Carefully place the fillet, skin side down into the pan. You may need to gently press the fillet down with your spatula, if you start to see it curling, to keep the skin in contact with the surface of the pan. Once the fish stops curling, you can stop holding it in place.



The bad habits of all bad habits of cooking fish…not having enough patience. Be prepared for your fish to stick a little to the pan, this is completely natural. Once the fish has sufficiently seared it will release itself, I promise. Also, while this searing process is going on, don’t be tempted to assist or urge it along with your spatula-you wont end up with the desired crispy skin.

If you feel it is time to flip, you’ll be able to tell by the edges of your fillet getting a lovely golden brown. Carefully slide your spatula under the fillet, if there is any give (what-so-ever) stop and let your fillet continue to sear. If there is zero resistance feel free to flip and sear on the other side.


When to tell it’s all done…

Typically it takes about 3 minutes per side to properly sear, crisp and cook your fish fillets. This timing can change slightly depending on how thick the fillets are, just be watchful while cooking. Use your digital thermometer to check the internal temperature. The perfect doneness is between 140-145°F.


Buy Fish Online

You can buy all manner of skin on fish fillets (as well as many other delicious seafood products) from our online store. All of Cameron’s Seafood comes straight from the sea to your door with guaranteed freshness.

Show us how you sear using Cameron’s Seafood. Whether you’re getting the crispiest skin possible or have a recipe of your own that you would like to share-we’d love to hear from you. Post your own Cameron’s Seafood dish on Instagram and tag us @cameronsseafoodonline. We’re also on Facebook and Twitter, we look forward seeing your creations. 

About the author

Patterson Watkins is a professional chef with over 17 years of experience. With a robust career in restaurants, contract dining and catering (including 4 Summer Olympic posts preparing food for the athletes!) Patterson joined the Cameron’s Seafood team at the end of 2018 to concoct some delicious recipes with our premium seafood items as the centerpiece.

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