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Tips on How to Know When Fish is done

Tips on How to Know When Fish is done
Last Updated: 31 July 2019

Fish can be cooked in many ways – fried, steamed, baked, and some people eat a certain kind of fish even if it is raw. There are different ways of checking their doneness. It depends on how you cook it. Some people are hesitant to cook this at home. Their reason is that they are not sure if they have prepared the dish well so it will be safe to eat or requires more cooking.

To help you out on how to know when fish is done, we have included in this article, different ways of checking its doneness.

Tip#1 Flake Method

Fish becomes opaque and flakes when it reaches cooking temperature. In determining its doneness, poke the fork’s tines into the thickest part at a 45-degree angle. Twist fork gently and pull up some. Undercooked is translucent and resists flaking. If this is the case, continue heating until it is done. Just make sure not to overcook.

Tip#2 10-Minute Rule

So how long do you cook fish? One way of determining if it is cooked already is by using a 10-minute rule is also known as Canadian Cooking Method. It is a conventional way of determining its doneness. You can apply this method during grilling, poaching, sauteing, planking, broiling, steaming, en papillote, and baking. Here’s how to use the 10-minute rule:

  • Measure its thickest point. For rolled or stuffed dish, measure after rolling or stuffing.
  • Cook for ten minutes per inch, turn after five minutes. For instance, a one-inch steak should be cooked five minutes on one side and then five minutes on the other side for a total of ten minutes. For slices with less than ½ inch thick, there is no need to turn.
  • Check doneness. Flake using a fork. How hot to cook fish – internal temperature should reach 145 degrees.
  • For those in sauce or foil, you need to add five minutes on total cooking time. How long to steam fish fillet will depend on its condition. Double the cooking time if frozen and has not been thawed. Apply this rule as a general guideline since fillets don’t have a uniform thickness.

Tip#3 Plunging a Sharp Knife

Restaurant chefs have a unique way of checking doneness. There is no need to cut open. All you need is to plunge a sharp knife on the thickest part and hold it there for five seconds. Take it out and touch the flat side of the knife to your lower lip, which is sensitive to temperature. It is cooked if it feels warm. If the blade is still cold, you need to continue cooking.

Tip#4 Use a Meat Thermometer

One of the best methods in checking doneness is by using a meat thermometer. The center of a cooked salmon has a temperature that ranges from 1250 to 1450 Fahrenheit.

If the internal temperature reaches 1350, it is best to remove it away from heat. Doing this will ensure that the dish won’t overcook by exceeding 1450 since it continues cooking with the retained heat.

Choosing the Right Method in Cooking

There are several ways to cook it, and here are some of the popular methods:


The most common way of cooking a salmon is by pan-frying. Do you cook the fish skin side down first? If not, you should start doing it. It is the best way to fry, for instance, salmon. Choose the best type to fry with skin on. Salmon, sea bass and red snapper are some of the best species that you can fry. It will provide you crispy and flavorful skin.

The next thing you need to know is how to cook fish with the skin on. The oil must be boiling before putting salmon. Do not overcrowd your pan. Two steaks at a time are the recommended number. Starting frying at high heat for 2 minutes, then reduce to medium and continue until it is two-third cooked. Check for doneness using the flake method.


The easiest and healthiest way of cooking is by baking. It is best to choose a thicker one. Most types can be cooked this way. Wrap it in foil so it will not dry out. Make sure you keep an eye so it will not get overcooked. You can bake the fish covered or uncovered depending on how well you want it done.


Poaching involves cooking gently in a heated liquid. The liquid is composed of white wine, milk or water, stock, and herbs. Make sure the liquid is enough to cover and cook for 20 minutes for a whole fish and 10 minutes for fillets. Keep liquid on a gentle simmer, if it is too hot, it will break up. For rolled fillets poach for 4 to 5 minutes. For smoked or white fillets and steaks that weigh around 200g each, poach for 6 to 8 minutes, it depends on how thick it is. You can also consider learning how to braise fish. The method is somewhat similar to poaching.

Grilling and BBQ

This method of cooking is perfect for larger, fattier, or meatier. When grilling or barbecuing make sure that you brush the grate with the right amount of oil so it will not stick. Also, make sure that it is at least four inches above the flame. Heat the grill in advance and wait for coal to achieve the desired temperature.

Deep Frying

Deep frying is perfect for goujons or plaice like cod or lemon sole. To make it crispier, fluffier, and tastier combine flour and cornflour and an equal portion of sparkling water and beer. Combine all the mentioned ingredients and mix until it reaches the thick consistency. Place in the batter heat oil and add fish if it is hot enough. The cooked ones float in the oil surface.


The best way to extract freshness and flavor is by steaming. Steaming can be done in different ways. Steaming can be done using a pan and in the oven. On how to steam fish in a pan, place in a bigger pot. This is much quicker as compared with baking. Check to see if it is done already. Want to learn how to steam fish in the oven? Just wrap them in foil and place in the oven. You can also learn how to steam fish in the microwave.

How to know when fish done can be done in various ways. You can do it by merely checking its physical look. Using a thermometer is the easiest way of determining if it is cooked or not.

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