11/02/2011 03:43 pm ET | Updated Aug 31, 2012

How To Sear Fish

Many people are intimidated by cooking fish, but chef Howard Clark from The Culinary Institute of America shows how easy it can be to achieve a beautiful golden sear on a fish fillet. He demonstrates the basic technique using a tuna steak (which is, in fact, a fillet). He seasons it with salt and pepper, then adds oil to a very hot preheated pan. (High heat is essential to keep the fish from sticking and give it good color.) He places the fish in the pan facing away from himself, so if it splatters, he won't get hit with hot oil. The idea when searing is to brown the outside, but not fully cook the inside. Cooking time will depend on the density, the fat and the size of the fillet. When the fish is nicely browned on one side, he flips it and cooks the other side until he achieves a mahogany color.

For 60 years, The Culinary Institute of America has been setting the standard for excellence in professional culinary education. In this video series, experienced chefs and educators show you how to tackle essential cooking techniques.

Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Chef Clark from the Culinary Institute of America, and I'm going to show you this kitchen basic: how to sear fish fillet.

For searing, today we've chosen a tuna - what is commonly called steak, though it's actually a fillet; a steak would really have a bone in it. First we'll season it with salt and pepper, although many, many other seasonings could be used. We'll make sure we season both sides, and evenly! It's a common fault not to season evenly.

We'll put some extra-virgin olive oil in a preheated pan. Coat the pan well. A slight smoke reaction is fine. Place your tuna steak in, away from you - so that if it was to splatter, it wouldn't splatter on you.

The idea when we're searing is to brown the outside but not fully cook the center of the product. We're going to keep it what would appear to be, if it was meat, about a medium-rare to rare. Now we'll give it a turn. How quickly this will cook depends on the density, the fat content, and the size obviously. Tuna is a very fast-cooking item so we want pretty intense heat - and we can see by the amount of smoke that we have pretty much intense heat.

I'm going to turn this off now because we're done. We can see a nice mahogany color around the edge, and now we have seared tuna.

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