How to test fish for doneness

Did you know that flaky fish is actually overcooked? Here's how to tell when fish is ready to eat

By David ZimmerDavid Zimmer


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Previously accepted wisdom suggested that fish is cooked when it “flakes easily.” That dogma needs revising: Fish that’s flaking is actually overdone. And since cooking times are affected by grill temperature, wind, and the fish’s thickness and temperature, the best way to assess doneness is to look carefully and get all touchy-feely.

  • Raw fish is translucent and strongly resists flaking. Cooked fish is opaque and quite moist, and can be coaxed into flaking.
  • To check for doneness visually, wiggle a small knife into the flesh until you can see to the spine (on a whole fish) or into the centre of a boneless portion. Boneless flesh should be just opaque, yet very moist; with whole fish, flesh should lightly resist coming away from the spine.
  • To “blind” test fish, handy when grilling in the dark, insert a round toothpick or skewer into the thickest part  of the fish. If the probe goes in with no resistance, the fish is done.
  • If you prefer fish less done (hello, tuna lovers), use the “cut and look” approach or the toothpick test:  The depth to which your probe sinks without resistance indicates fully cooked fish. (What’s left is rare).
  • Be wise to the ways of thermal inertia, a.k.a. carry-over cooking, and remove fish just shy of being done.

This article was originally published on June 1, 2011

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May. 31, 2011

2:01 pm

good article

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