Fish and seafood have always been popular in coastal communities where they could be plucked right out of the sea, but these days even inland dwellers have every opportunity to enjoy a delicious (and healthy!) fish dinner. 

Preparing fish may seem intimidating if you’re not used to it, but if you buy filleted fish steaks from the fish counter of your supermarket (or even frozen ones), there’s nothing to fear. 

Baking, pan-frying, and poaching are the most common ways of cooking fish, but this recipe roundup includes some other methods, too. Just note that fish tends to be more fragile than other meats and is more likely to break apart or dry out if cooked for too long, so you’ll want to pay attention to the cooking instructions in fish recipes. 

Ready to add some variety to your evening meal? Read on for some great fish dishes to try for dinner.

Fried Fish

Frying fish in a pan with oil is a great way to whip up a meal quickly, as many types of fish don’t take long to cook. For a healthier dish, pan fry the fish rather than deep frying it. 

1. Pan-Seared Tuna

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It’s OK for tuna to be pink inside. (Via @cooking_with_rocco)

Tuna is a dense and meaty fish, so it pan-fries and grills well. Ideally, it should be cooked so that it’s seared on the outside but still pink or red in the middle. This pan-seared tuna recipe adds fresh, zesty flavors like lime, cilantro, and jalapeno.

2. Indian Pan-Fried Salmon With Steamed Broccoli

Lightly marinate the salmon in Indian spices before frying.

Salmon might not be the first thing you think of in relation to Indian cuisine, but by adding spices commonly used in the subcontinent, you can easily infuse it with Indian flavor. Using this recipe, you’ll first marinate salmon fillets in a mixture of ginger-garlic paste, chili powder, and turmeric powder before pan-frying it and serving it with crunchy steamed broccoli.

3. Korean Stir-Fried Fish Cake (Eomuk Bokkeum)

stir fry
Stir-frying is a quick way to prepare fish.

While most of the recipes here use fresh fish, this authentic Korean dish uses Korean fish cake, or eomuk. Made from a combination of fish, wheat flour, and vegetables like onions and carrots, fish cakes come frozen and are typically quite inexpensive. You’ll only need a few other ingredients—soy sauce, shallots, and sesame seeds—to whip up this simple, delicious dish, and Johnny Row’s Skillshare class will walk you through the process. 

4. Shrimp Stir Fry

Shrimps hold up well to frying.

Have some leftover rice and veggies from last night’s dinner? Turn it into fried rice! Shrimp is a great ingredient to add to the dish because it cooks quickly when fried and doesn’t flake apart, as some types of fish would do if cooked in this way. Skillshare instructor Haiying Yang teaches how to make a Chinese-style shrimp fried rice in her class, Cooking—Make Fried Rice with Anything.

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Grilled Fish

Love that smoky, chargrilled flavor that only comes from the grill? Be sure to choose a firm or oily fish, like salmon or tuna steaks—both will withstand direct high heat and are ideal fish for grilling.

5. Grilled Fish With Lemon

grilled fish
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Grill your fish with slices of lemon. (Via @lafoodieghanesa)

Fish is often served with a wedge of lemon on the side for squeezing, but why not change things up a bit and grill the fish directly with lemon slices? Lemon itself grills well, and  it loses some of its sourness as it caramelizes. Check out this simple recipe.

6. Marinated Grilled Salmon

grill salmon
Source: pixabay
Grill salmon on a barbecue or regular grill.

Salmon has a distinct flavor, but it’s enhanced with sweet, spicy, or savory additions, making it more versatile than you’d think. Plus, it’s oily so it doesn’t burn or dry out too quickly. This recipe recommends marinating the salmon in a sealed bag for 1-24 hours before cooking to really infuse the flavor before grilling.

Baked Fish

Baking is an easy way to cook most types of fish because it prevents it from falling apart or flaking before you’re ready to serve. That said, fish is best when it’s not dried out, so it’s important to retain the fish’s natural moisture when baking. As the following recipes show, you can do this by baking fish in foil, in its skin, or through other methods.

7. Salt Baked Fish

Try baking a whole fish in a bed of salt.

Cooking with a whole fish may seem intimidating at first, but baking it in a salt crust in an Italian style is incredibly easy. Place the whole fish on a layer of salt crystals, stuff it with a combination of garlic and herbs, and cover it with another mound of salt (yes, you’ll need a large bag of salt crystals before you cook this one!). Bake in the oven for about half an hour, and you’ve got a seaside feast on the table. Follow Italian chef Luca La Rosa’s super-easy recipe.

8. Fish Fillet Baked in Foil With Herbs and Potatoes

italian fish
Italian-style fish filet baked in foil.

Don’t want to deal with cooking your vegetables separately? This baked fish recipe is ideal. Add a layer of thinly sliced potato rounds to a sheet of foil, then season with rosemary, olive oil, and salt. Place the fish on top with olives and capers, and wrap it all up in foil to bake and steam for about 20 minutes.

9. Tropical Baked Fish

fish wrap
Add tropical fruits and sauces to your fish.

This tropical-inspired fish recipe suggests using a whole fish such as sea bream or fillets of mudfish or swordfish steaks. These fish are quite meaty in texture and don’t flake apart easily. Bake or poach it and serve with finely julienned vegetables and a sauce that combines ingredients like ginger, lemongrass, chili, coconut cream, lime juice, and turmeric for a zesty tropical flavor.

10. Japanese Foil-Cooked Salmon and Veggies in Miso Sauce (Hoiru-Yaki)

salmon and mushrooms
Salmon and mushrooms baked in foil.

Hoiru-yaki is a Japanese cold weather dish, usually cooked with salmon and mushrooms. Baking it in foil keeps the moisture in, which is important for the salmon as well as the mushrooms. Japanese cooking instructor Hitomi teaches a Skillshare class on how to make hoiru-yaki with miso sauce and also includes a bonus recipe for a ponzu butter sauce.

11. Sheet Pan Fish With Chili-Lime Seasoning

fish with lemon
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Minimize mess with sheet pan fish recipes.

It doesn’t get much simpler than baking fish on a sheet pan—you throw all the ingredients in the oven at the same time, minimizing dishes and cleanup. This recipe for sheet pan chili-lime tilapia with veggies is full of flavor, easy, and quick to make.

Pan-Roasted Fish

Pan roasting is a method of cooking that starts in a pan on the stovetop and then finishes in an oven. It’s best done with a cast-iron skillet that can be put directly in the oven, otherwise you’ll need to transfer the pan-fried ingredients into a separate dish for baking.

12. Butter-Basted Pan Fried Fish Fillets with Garlic and Thyme

fish in pan
Source: instagram
Simple sauces are ideal for fish dinners.

Sometimes the simplest sauces are the best accompaniments to fish because they let the natural flavors of the fish shine through. Butter and a collection of fresh herbs make a perfect sauce for fish that’s pan-fried and then finished off in the oven. Pan roasting is a good idea when the fish is thick and needs to cook through evenly.

Poached Fish

Many fish and seafood recipes involve the poaching method even if they don’t call it that, but here’s how to tell: If the meat is cooked by the liquids it’s sitting in rather than directly through the heat on a pan or a grill, then it’s likely to be poached. Here are some diverse poached fish and seafood dishes to make for dinner.

13. Japanese Nabe Hot Pot

japanese hot pot
Japanese nabe can be made with fish and other meat or vegetarian ingredients.

Nabe, a soup that combines vegetables, mushrooms, and fish or other meat, is a Japanese hot pot dish often served in the winter. In restaurants, you’ll often find it served at the table with a gas burner underneath so you can stir and cook the soup until it’s ready to your liking—but at home, you can cook it on the stovetop and serve at the table in individual bowls. Check out this tutorial for step-by-step instructions in preparing nabe, including a fish version.

14. Moroccan Fish Tagine with Vegetables

fish with veggies
A tagine is a type of North African stew.

A tagine is both a North African clay pot used for stewing food and a method of cooking that uses that clay pot. It seals the juices of the ingredients inside the pot and cooks meat and vegetables through a combination of poaching and steaming. You don’t need a tagine clay pot to prepare a tagine-style dish (though they’re a nice addition to your kitchen!)—simply follow along with chef Alia Al Kasimi, who teaches how to make a traditional Moroccan fish tagine with vegetables in her Skillshare class.

15. Thai Tom Yum Soup

Tom Yum soup
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Tom Yum soup is sour and hot.

Thai Tom Yum soup is almost always prepared with fish or shrimp. Lemongrass, galangal, and lime are other key ingredients, giving the soup its notorious sour taste. It’s also hot as it’s spiced with chili, as a lot of Thai food is. Skillshare instructor Daniel Andersen teaches how to prepare authentic Tom Yum soup, as well as other Thai dishes, in his class Step by Step Guide on How to Make Great Thai Dishes.

Still Angling for Fish Dinner Ideas?

Some ingredients you may need when cooking with fish.

Learning to prepare fish will open up a new world of cooking and add tons of options to your weeknight meal plans. Because of the diverse flavors of fish, it’s a good idea to watch cooking tutorials or browse cookbooks before diving in so you can get a sense of the best ingredients to pair with different kinds of fish. Explore an ocean of fishy possibilities!

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Written by:

Elen Turner