When it comes to food, there are many things we consider—how it tastes, how filling it is, how healthy it is, and how it smells. One thing we rarely consider is how long it takes to cook.
In the world of fast food restaurants, burgers and fries usually come served with the assumption that you will cook them fast. Similarly, many supermarkets place their fresh salmon and other fish on sale by the assumption that you will cook them immediately.
However, when you’re cooking something as complex as a whole fish, especially a big one, it’s important to consider how long it’ll take.
There are several factors that determine the overall cooking time of a fish. The thickness and cut of the fillet, the size and brand of the pan you use, how you place the fish in the pan, and how you arrange the vegetables around the fish are all important.
With this in mind, we’ve put together a quick guide to help you determine the perfect cooking time for any fish you may purchase.
The Thicker The Better
When you’re buying your fish, the first thing you want to consider is how thick the filet is. Thicker fillets will require more time to cook. If you have a standard-size fillet and you want to make sure it is fully cooked, you should cook it for 10 to 15 minutes longer than the thickest part of the fish.
Additionally, thicker fish stands a better chance of being juicy and tender when cooked. Some thick fishes are even meant to be sliced and served raw—think salmon and swordfish. While these types of fishes are delicious when cooked quickly, they are best when served at room temperature as the cook all the juices out and let the natural fats melt in your mouth.
Tender Vs. Tasty
The thickness of your fish is important, but so is how tender or tasty it is. Regardless of how thick your fish is, you still want to avoid overcooking it. The key is to take your time, make sure everything is done exactly how you want it, and then serve it immediately.
When you purchase a whole fish, you’ll soon discover that it is quite possibly the most difficult type of meal to cook. First off, you have to take the fish out of the package—this is not an easy task as you may imagine. Then you have to decide how you’ll cook it—boneless or with the bones. Finally, you have to make sure the fish is served at the right temperature so that it is neither too juicy nor too dry but instead just right. So as you can see, it’s a lot of work!
The good news is that once you get the hang of it, cooking a whole fish becomes ridiculously easy. You simply follow a few steps and before you know it, your dinner is ready.
The More The Merrier
When you’re cooking a whole fish, the more the merrier—that is, the more vegetables you can add. When the fish is cooked, serve it with vegetables such as sautéed spinach or shredded cabbage in conjunction with some sort of rice or pasta to make it more of a complete meal. Additionally, some nice steaks or chicken pieces alongside a big bowl of soup would make a filling and nutritious meal for your family as well.
If you want to make sure your fish is cooked just right, a temperature probe might be a good idea. This is an electronic device that connects to your computer and allows you to monitor the internal temperature of your food as it cooks. This could be extremely useful as it makes it easier to determine when your fish is ready and whether or not it needs to be thrown away. Some prefer this method of keeping track of what temperature they need their food to be served at.
Beware Of The Plate Size
The thickness and size of your fish also determine how long it takes to cook. If you’re using a smaller plate, the steak or fillet will be closer to the surface and therefore, it’ll be easier for you to monitor the cooking process. On the other hand, a larger plate might require you to turn your fish half-way through to ensure even heating. Additionally, make sure you use a wide enough pan so that the fish fits snugly and does not overlap itself when cooking. Smaller pans than necessary will only result in you having to stir the fish frequently as the nutrients in the food tend to settle at the bottom of the pan.
Whether boneless or with the bones, most fish are meant to be cooked with the head on. Why? The head contains valuable nutrients, such as, zinc, which is important for the health of your skin. Additionally, many types of fish grow a thick protective layer on the outside of their heads, called the coral, which is what gives them their shiny appearance. When this layer of coral begins to melt, it’s a good indication that your fish is nearly done.
With the information in this article, you should be able to determine the perfect time to cook your next fish. From there, all you need is salt, pepper, and some lemon for the perfection of the meal.