Have you ever considered what happens after you cook your fish? More importantly, how long does it take for fish to decompose once it’s been cooked? The answer to both of these questions is surprisingly simple. It usually takes about three to four hours for fish to decompose after cooking, depending on the size of the fish, how freshly it was cooked, and how many other items were in the same baking tray as your particular type of fish.
There are a few exceptions to this rule. Deep-sea fish, for example, can remain fresh for up to seven days after being caught. And then there’s the whole concept of ‘rare fish‘, which decompose more quickly than your standard everyday fish. So, if you want to get your money’s worth out of a freshly caught fish, then these types of fish are the ones you need to be looking out for.
Know When To Eat Them
Fish should be eaten as soon as they’re cooked. That way, they retain the maximum amount of nutrients and don’t start to decompose right away. If you keep uncooked fish for too long, the nutrients will start breaking down and the fish will start looking a bit ‘off’, like ‘mechanically’ forced fish food.
However, there are a few exceptions to this rule. For example, Arctic char does not keep well in ice, so it needs to be eaten as soon as possible. Sea bass, on the other hand, can be kept for a few days in the fridge if you’re planning on cooking it the following day. So, if you’re in doubt as to whether your fish is going to taste the same day you cook it or the following day, then it’s usually safer to keep it uncooked.
Choosing The Right Baking Tray
When you cook any kind of fish, the chances are it will stick a bit to the baking tray. This is totally normal and is not necessarily a bad thing. It just means the fish is not going to be entirely flat when you serve it, which can look a bit odd, especially if you’re serving it in a fancy French restaurant. So, to combat this, use an oven tray with high sides so that the fish is contained within the baking dish and doesn’t ‘escape’ when you serve it. This is easier to do if you use something like a Bundt pan, which has grooves around the edge to help trap the baked goods within.
Air Temperature And Moisture Are Key To Keeping Fresh Fish
Even when fish is stored at the right temperature and relative humidity, it still deteriorates fairly quickly once it’s been defrosted and is kept for too long. This is why it’s important to keep fish as cold as possible. The lower the temperature, the slower the nutrients will break down, so even when defrosted, it will stay fresh for a much longer time.
On the other hand, too much moisture is another common cause of rotting fish. Moisture leads to bacteria and fungus growth, which then leads to the fish being ‘rotten’ from the inside out. So, make sure that your fish is always well-sealed within its wrapping and is not touching anything else within the fridge, especially plastic or aluminum containers.
Avoid Anything With Nasty Ingredients
Anything with ingredients like crushed citrus peels, horseradish, or wasabi will eventually make your fishy soup taste less than fresh. The reason for this is that these ingredients usually have a sharp and/or pungent flavor that will clash with the taste of the fish. So, whenever possible, try to avoid purchasing fish with these kinds of ingredients as it will affect the flavor of your fish.
Avoid Anything Stored In Your Refrigerator
When you put food in your refrigerator, there will always be a certain amount of time that you need to wait before you can eat it. This is because the food has to be ‘chilled’ and cooled down, which requires a certain amount of time. So, if you put food in your refrigerator before this time limit, then it will simply go bad. This is why it’s important to take out what you need and put back what you don’t need.
Store Fish Wrappers And Basting Brines
Every time you cook a fish, there will be leftover bits that are not edible. These are called its ‘basting brines’, which you should store in a separate container, as they will be very useful for the next time you cook fish. When you cook fish, most of the water within it will break down into ‘fizzy’ components, including alcohol and carbon dioxide. So, if you want to keep these gases within the container and not let them escape, then you need to store the brine in a sealed container.
Make Sure Your Fish Is Clean
You can prepare fish for cooking in a variety of ways. Some people like to wash their fish thoroughly before they cook it, while others prefer to leave it in its natural state, meaning it will not require any pre-cleaning. It’s important to understand the difference since some types of fish are more easily contaminated than others. For example, fish that has been caught in polluted water will have to be cleaned before cooking, as it could be affected by the toxins within the water.
Cleaning Fish Is Very Easy
Just like other types of food, fish can be roughly classified into two categories: clean and dirty. You should always try to purchase clean fish, meaning it has not been contaminated with dirt or other types of debris from its environment. There are really easy ways to tell if a fish is clean or dirty. Simply look at its body, as the head and tail will usually be the most heavily contaminated areas. So, if you see dark spots or other types of stains on the body of your fish, then it is usually best to assume that it is contaminated and needs to be cleaned before you eat it. Fortunately, cleaning fish is fairly easy and painless if you utilize proper techniques. Simply wipe the fish with a clean, damp cloth, removing as much dirt as possible, and then cook it as usual.
The Differences In The Way Fish Decomposes
Once your fish is cooked, it will begin decaying right away. The color will fade, and the texture will become slimy and stringy. Depending on the type of fish, this process can either be slow or quick. The way that fish decomposes is largely dependent on three factors: its fat content, the temperature at which it was cooked, and how well it was stored beforehand. The type of oil that was used to cook it will also affect the decomposition process, as some oils are more stable than others. Certain fish, such as salmon and tuna, contain a large amount of natural oils, which give them a shiny appearance and a desirable mouthfeel. Yet, these same oils are more unstable, which makes them more prone to break down. The decomposition of fish will speed up at temperatures above 72 degrees Fahrenheit, so make sure that your fridge is kept at its ideal temperature, which is about 40 degrees Fahrenheit, or your fish will start smelling a bit musty, even before it’s completely decomposed. This is another reason why it’s preferable to store fish in the refrigerator. At room temperature, the decomposition process will take about three to four hours for ordinary fish, while it will only take about two to two and a half hours for rare fish. If you’re in any doubt as to how fresh your fish is, then just cut it open to check out its ‘meaty’ smell. When this is present, then it indicates that the fish is still relatively intact and has not started decomposing yet.
Fishy Or Not?
If you want to know whether or not your fish was actually cooked by the restaurant that you ate at, then take into account how it decomposed. Smaller fish will usually go bad faster than large fish. This is mainly because their muscle fibers are more prominent, which makes them more ‘visible’ when they’re cooked. Yet, large fish will decompose more slowly, giving you a better chance of identifying any imperfections, such as bones or scales. Although, it is not always the case, larger fish will tend to be fattier than smaller ones, so if you’re watching your weight, then you may want to avoid these larger fish in favor of smaller ones that are more sustainable.