Cilantro Shrimp

How to Tell When Fish and Shrimp Are Perfectly Cooked

Improperly cooked shrimp and fish is never a welcome sight. When it’s under-cooked, some can still carry dangerous bacteria, and when it’s overcooked, it’s chewy and dry. Most of the time, the latter is the more common offense. Shrimp and fish both cook up quickly and it can be easy to over do them if you’re not paying attention. However, with these simple tips, you’ll always know what to look for.

Fish
Unlike most meats, fish does not have an internal temperature it needs to reach to be considered “done.” Fish is cooked once it becomes opaque inside and out. This means that it’s really the thickness of the fish you’re cooking that matters. The general guideline is that for every inch the fish is thick, you’ll need to cook it for another 8-10 minutes.

  • It’s important to remember that food continues to cook for a few minutes after its removed from heat, so if you stop cooking just shy of done, you’ll end up with perfectly cooked fish.
  • When a fish is cooked just right, it should be slightly flaky, but should not just fall apart. Usually when the flesh gives away too easily to a fork or knife, it means that it’s overcooked.
  • It’s fine to eat some types of fish slightly under-cooked; tuna and salmon are commonly prepared this way. (And obviously, if you’re using sashimi-grade fish, you don’t have to (and probably shouldn’t) cook it at all).

Shrimp
Like fish, shrimp loses its transparency during the cooking process; it becomes white or pink, a bit firmer, and curls up. Many people use its color to determine whether or not it’s done, but really, the best way to tell is by the shape. If the shrimp has curled into the shape of a C, it’s perfectly cooked. If it’s curled around tightly into the shape of an O, it’s overcooked!

  • Shrimp cooks quickly! At most, it’ll take 4-5 minutes for large shrimps to cook.
  • If you’re using frozen shrimp, thaw it in the refrigerator overnight, or in a bowl of ice water on the counter. Make sure the bowl stays cold!  A bowl of warm, raw seafood is a great way to encourage bacterial growth.

Photo Credits: Hass Avocado Board, Coastal Living

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