How to Tell When Fish is Cooked Properly: Beginner’s Guide

If you are new to cooking seafood or preparing an unfamiliar species or cut, you may be wondering how to know that fish is cooked. Luckily, it’s not hard. Fish and seafood give clear signals as to how to tell if fish you’re cooking is done. You just have to look for them. You may have heard the old adage to cook fish ten minutes per inch of thickness. That’s a good start, but how do you know if your fish has been cooked properly? Follow these guidelines and we’ll have you cooking fish with fin-esse.

  1. Check the internal temperature. This is the easiest and most accurate way to tell if your fish is cooked. It should be 145 degrees. But if you don't have an instant-read thermometer, don’t panic. Fish gives you plenty of visual and sensory clues.
  2. Grab a fork. When your fish reaches the proper temperature, the collagen bonds in its flesh relax and the meat will flake easily with a fork.
  3. Give the center a good look. It should be almost opaque, not translucent-looking like raw fish.
  4. Feel and poke. This may sound funny, but if you press on your fish gently with your index finger, it should have about as much give as the tip of your nose.
fork in fish, flaking apart

How to Tell If Your Fish is Undercooked

You may be wondering how to tell if your fish is undercooked, and if eating undercooked fish is harmful. If you are still worried that your dish might be undercooked after following the tips above, remember that fish will continue to cook from residual heat for a few minutes after it is removed from the pan or the oven. If you think the fish is only slightly undercooked, you may want to remove it from the heat and check again in two minutes. Beware the temptation to overcook… that lovely fillet of halibut can become tough and dry faster than you think.

Always err on the side of undercooking your fish; as a matter of fact most people enjoy fish that is still a little translucent in the center. As long as you are following food safety guidelines in your kitchen (keeping ingredients cold, avoiding cross-contamination) there is no danger from eating our fish undercooked. All Sea to Table fish is flash-frozen at sea or at the dock to more than -30 degrees, eliminating any danger. As a matter of fact, Sea to Table fish is safe and suitable for raw preparations such as sushi, poke or gravlax.

How to Tell If Cooked Fish is Bad

So, you have leftovers. That’s great! But how long can you store cooked fish for, and how can you tell if that cooked fish is bad? Cooked fish can be safely stored in your refrigerator for a few days. Give it the sniff test… it should smell fresh and not fishy at all. If you are in doubt, throw it out.

Now you know how to tell if fish is cooked properly or undercooked. Smell, temperature, touch and visual clues all team together to give you the kitchen confidence you need in order to cook better fish more often… and easily get in those two servings per week.


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