Cooking Fish and Shellfish

Handling and Storing Fish
Fresh fish and seafood must be handled carefully to avoid food safety problems. The following tips assure safe handling.

Store canned fish products in a cool, dry place for no longer than a year. Discard any product that has an off odor or appearance or is in a damaged can.

Place commercially packaged frozen fish products in the freezer in the original wrapper immediately after purchase to maintain quality. Store in the freezer at 0°F or lower.

Thawing
It is not necessary to thaw frozen fillets and steaks before cooking as long as additional cooking time is allowed. However, if the fish will be breaded or stuffed, thaw it first. Do not thaw breaded frozen fish items before cooking.

Schedule thawing so that the fish will be cooked soon after it is thawed.

NEVER thaw fish at room temperature or in warm water.

Cooking Fish and Shellfish
It is important to cook fin fish thoroughly, but not to overcook it. Proper cooking:

Two cooking methods can toughen fin fish and destroy the natural moisture and flavor:

Some common methods of cooking fin fish include:

The following describes the cooking methods. Remember that because fish flesh is delicate, fish must be handled with care. Handle as little as possible.

Poaching or Simmering
Poaching fish is a cooking method whereby fish is simmered in liquid.

Microwaving
Arrange fish fillets or steaks, thickest parts to outside edges, in a shallow microwaveable dish large enough to hold pieces in a single layer. Cover tightly and microwave on HIGH as directed in the chart below or until fish flakes easily with a fork.

It is common to microwave two kinds of shellfish, scallops and shrimp. Cut large scallops in half. Rinse shrimp. Place in microwaveable dish. Cover tightly and microwave on HIGH as directed in the chart or until scallops are opaque; shrimp are pink.

Microwaving fish and shellfish
Fish Amount Time Stand Time
Fillets,
1/2 to 1/3-inch thick
1 pound 5 to 7 minutes, rotate dish 1/2 turn after 3 minutes 2 minutes
  1 1/2 punds 7 to 9 minutes, rotate dish 1/2 turn after 4 mintues 3 minutes
Steaks, 1 inch thick 1 pound 5 to 7 minutes, rotate dish 1/2 turn after 3 minutes 3 minutes
  2 pounds 8 to 10 minutes, rotate dish 1/2 turn after 4 minutes 3 minutes
Scallops, sea 1 1/2 pounds 6 to 9 minutes, stir after 4 minutes 3 minutes

Shrimp
peeled and deveined

1 pound 6 to 8 minutes, stir after 3 mninutes 3 minutes
in shells 1 pounds 5 to 7 minutes, stir after 3 minutes 3 minutes

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Steaming
Steaming fish is a cooking method whereby the steam from boiling water cooks the fish. No oil or sauce is cooked with the fish, yet steam retains the natural juices and flavors of fish.

Broiling
Broiling is a dry heat cooking method where direct and intense heat cooks the food.

Oven Baking
Oven baking produces a result similar to fried fish but without frying in fat. Fish is baked in an oven and basted once with a small amount of fat.

No turning is required when fish is baked in the oven; the cooking time is short. The coating and high temperature seal in juices and produce a crispy, browned crust. This method is efficient with a large quantity of fish and is especially good for serving to a group.

The steps for this method are discussed in the member’s manual, Level D p. 22. Also refer to the Timetable for Cooking Fish.

Pan-frying
Pan-frying is a popular way of cooking fish over an open fire just after the catch or at home.

Timetable for cooking fish
Type of fish Weight Simmering Steaming Broiling Baking (at 350°F)
Fin Fish
Chunks 2 pounds 15 to 25 min.
-
-
30 to 40 min.
Dressed 3 pounds 25 to 35 min. 25 to 35 min.
-
45 to 60 min.
Fillets, steaks 2 pounds 5 to 10 min. 5 to 10 min. 10 to 15 min. 20 to 25 min.
Pan-dressed 3 pounds 8 to 10 min. 8 to 10 min. 10 to 16 min. 25 to 30 min.

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