The Kitchen Tool You Should Avoid When Cooking Fish

Whether you've brought home a fresh catch or a frozen filet, fish is an excellent choice for your next meal. As we all know, the seafood comes packed with healthy nutrients, including protein and omega-3 fatty acids, and it can be cooked in plenty of different ways. You can grill up a nice thick cut of tuna steak, pan-sear your salmon, or bake a light tilapia. When it comes to fish, you can never get bored.

But no matter how you choose to prepare it, ensuring you end up with the best-tasting fish does require a few ground rules. For one, you never want to overcook your fish, as that can dry it out and lead to it losing its natural flavors. You also don't want to disturb the outer layer, which ideally gets crispy and traps the flavorful juices inside. That may sound simple enough, but if you make the mistake of using this common kitchen tool when cooking fish, you might end up with the dry result you were hoping to avoid.

Why you don't want to use tongs

Our pro tip? Never use tongs when cooking fish. The kitchen tool may be your go-to for hefty steaks or chicken thighs, but it's not right for seafood. Despite its robust flavor (and scent), fish is more delicate than red meat or poultry due to the fact that it has shorter muscle fibers and fewer connective tissues. So it requires a lighter touch when you're making it. Handling your fish roughly or poking at it too much can cause it to fall apart — not ideal if you're hoping for a moist and tasty bite once you have it on your plate.

Of course, some methods like grilling or searing do require you to flip sides for an even cook. But if you employ tongs to move or flip the fish, you're putting a lot of pressure on its outer layer and can unwittingly squeeze out the treasured juices you want to keep locked in.

The best way to flip a fish is by using two spatulas and very gently turning it over. If you're in a pinch, even two spoons will do. The key is not pressing too hard or puncturing its top layer. And remember, if you can't easily slip your spatula underneath the filet, it's not ready to be flipped yet.

So the next time you fire up some fish, keep this tip in mind and keep your tongs in the drawer — your taste buds will thank you.