Various Seafood Cooking Methods
It is a question that we have all asked ourselves at some point: How should I cook this fish? Some fish are delicate to cook, some are lean, some fatty, some hold up well for grilling and others for steaming. Let’s explore the different methods of cooking fish and shellfish.
Fish and shellfish can be prepared by the dry-heat cooking methods of broiling and grilling, roasting (Baking), sauteing, pan-frying and deep-fat frying, as well as the moist-heat methods of steaming, poaching and simmering.
- Determining Doneness
- Dry-Heat Cooking Methods
- Moist-Heat Cooking Methods
Unlike most meats and poultry, nearly all fish and shellfish are inherently tender and should be cooked just until done. Indeed, overcooking is the most common mistake made when preparing fish and shellfish. It is recommended that you cook all fish 10 minutes for every 1″ (2.5cm) of thickness, regardless of cooking method. Although this may be a good general policy, variables such as the type and form of fish and exact cooking method used suggest that one or more of the following methods of determining doneness are more appropriate for professional chefs and cooks.
- Translucent flesh becomes opaque
- The raw flesh of most fish and shellfish appears somewhat translucent. As the proteins coagulate during cooking, the flesh will become opaque.
- Flesh becomes firm
- The flesh of most fish and shellfish firms as it cooks. Doneness can be tested by judging the resistance of the flesh when pressed with tongs. Raw or undercooked fish or shellfish will be mushy and soft. As the fish cooks, the flesh offers more resistance and springs back quickly.
- Flesh separates from bones easily
- The flesh of raw fish remains firmly attached to the bones. As the fish cooks, the flesh and bones separate easily.
- Flesh begins to flake
- Fish flesh consists of short muscle fibers separated by thin connective tissue. As the fish cooks, the connective tissue breaks down and the groups of muscle fibers begin to flake. This means they separate from one another. Fish is done when the flesh begins to flake. If the flesh flakes easily, the fish will be overdone and dry.
Remember, fish and shellfish are subject to carryover cooking, where the food continues to cook even when removed from heat for several minutes. Because they cook quickly and at low temperatures, it is better to undercook the item and allow carryover cooking or residual heat to finish the cooking process.