The Ideal Core Temperature For Fish: Salmon, Trout

Can’t get enough of tender fish? In this guide, you will learn how to prepare it even more deliciously thanks to the right core temperature.

Peculiarities of fish

To cook your fish fillet until translucent, you have a variety of methods to choose from. Basically, the sea animals can be prepared in the same way as poultry or pork.

  • Steaming: a particularly gentle, low-fat, and low-calorie method
  • in the oven (30 minutes at 80°C): here the fish becomes wonderfully tender and glassy but also loses a lot of liquid
  • in the pan: the quickest way
  • on the grill: for a particularly smoky aroma

If you don’t have a steamer at home, you can also use a saucepan with a steamer insert or a bamboo steamer. We’ll show you how to steam salmon perfectly, for example.

Fish such as trout, salmon, and co., like meat products, have an optimal core temperature at which your fillet tastes best. To determine this, you do not need a separate thermometer for fish, you can use your existing meat thermometer. However, there is a key difference between fish and meat. While the latter can have different cooking points (depending on taste, rare, medium, or well done), salmon, trout or mackerel only have one ideal cooking temperature. Rare, i.e. still slightly bloody, you certainly do not want to eat your fish. Likewise, when cooked medium, it is still too glassy and well-done on the inside.

General information about core temperature

Regardless of the type, fish fillets should always be fully cooked through and translucent. Only when the right core temperature is reached does the inside become nice and juicy. Skin color can be deceiving. Therefore, always measure the core temperature at the thickest part of the fish.

Fish species –  core temperature

  • Salmon – 45°C
  • Trout – 65°C
  • Tuna – 50°C
  • Cod – 58°C

The core temperature plays an important role in fish in two ways. Since the food is fresh and needs careful cooling, germs can quickly form on the fillet if it is stored incorrectly. Sufficient heat during preparation is therefore essential to kill them. If the temperature is too high, however, your fish will not become glassy, but dry and tough.

Note: If the fish sticks to the bottom of the pan even though it’s at the optimum temperature, it’s not translucent enough. Edible fish is only properly cooked when it slides out of the pan without any problems.

General tips for preparation

The ideal fish fillet is tender and falls apart when you pierce it with a fork. The center is bright pink, juicy, and slightly glassy. It is best to fry the skin as well, otherwise, the fillet will lose too much moisture. If you don’t want to eat them, remove them after cooking. Dab the fish well beforehand, as the water will cool the pan and it will be more difficult for you to reach the core temperature. In addition, you need to heat the oil well so that the skin doesn’t stick to the pan. It is best to use a high oil with a high smoke point.

Note: As a fish lover, you are probably familiar with the white foam that sometimes escapes from salmon when it is cooked. You may find it quite normal, but it is a clear sign that you have overheated the fillet. It is the muscle protein albumin, which is released from the fibers at a temperature of 70°C.

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Written by John Myers

Professional Chef with 25 years of industry experience at the highest levels. Restaurant owner. Beverage Director with experience creating world-class nationally recognized cocktail programs. Food writer with a distinctive Chef-driven voice and point of view.

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