how to serve and eat fish

Fish Etiquette: 4 Basics For Serving And Eating Fish​

who this class is for

Waiters and restaurant staff, restaurant guests, house-party hosts and guests

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About this micro-class

Fish etiquette is the set of rules for appropriately serving and eating fish.

1. How to choose the best fish

What you should know about fish

Fish are aquatic animals consumed for their flesh, which is rich in protein and omega-3 fatty acids.

Season and availability 

Availability of fish varies by species and location. Some fish have specific seasons for optimal freshness, while others are available year-round due to aquaculture or global sourcing.

Types of fish and how to choose the best

Fish come in various types including freshwater, saltwater, and oily fish.

When choosing fish, look for clear eyes, firm flesh, and a fresh, briny smell. Purchase from reputable suppliers to ensure quality and sustainability.

Alternatives to fish

Alternatives include other types of seafood such as shellfish, crustaceans, and mollusks, as well as poultry, meat, and plant-based protein sources.

2. How to serve fish

How to store fish

Store fish on ice or in the refrigerator immediately after purchase to maintain freshness. Use within a few days or freeze for longer storage.

Signs of spoilage include sliminess, off-putting odor, and discoloration.

How to prepare fish

Fish can be prepared in various ways including grilling, baking, frying, and poaching.

Use specialized utensils like fish knives and fish spatulas for handling delicate fillets.

How to serve and present fish

Serve fish cooked to the appropriate temperature, typically until opaque and flaky.

Use appropriate tableware and garnishes for an appealing presentation. If you serve fish whole, it is appropriate to help your guests serve themselves, separating the flesh from the skin and bones.

Accompaniments such as citrus, herbs, and sauces can complement the flavors of fish dishes.

Fish dietary restrictions

Some individuals may have dietary restrictions or preferences that limit their consumption of certain types of fish, such as allergies or ethical considerations.

Always inquire about dietary needs when serving fish dishes.

3. How to eat fish

Food and wine pairings: what goes well with fish

Pair fish with complementary flavors and beverages such as white wine, light beer, or citrus-infused water. Rosé wine can be appropriate too, while red wine usually can pair well only with strong-flavored fish such as tuna.

Fish can go well with grains, vegetables, and even fruit. It is best to avoid pairing fish with cheese, eggs, or meat as the flavors and textures rarely pair well.

Avoid pairing fish with overly strong or acidic flavors that may overpower its delicate taste. 

The appropriate manners to eat fish

Use appropriate utensils such as fish forks and knives to cut and eat fish. Use fish cutlery as regular cutlery. However, use the fish knife only to separate the flesh, don’t use it to cut.

Remove any bones or skin discreetly while eating. Chew with your mouth closed and avoid talking with food in your mouth.

4. Etiquette mistakes when serving or eating fish

Avoid common mistakes such as overcooking fish, using the wrong utensils, or spitting out fish bones.

Test your knowledge with a quick test and earn a free micro-certificate

Shop for etiquette, behavioral, and contextual signs

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