For the uninitiated, cooking fish can be intimidating. Whether it’s pan-fried salmon or baked halibut, just about any kind of fish is delicate and should be cooked with care — it’s easy to overcook it, but undercooking it can be dangerous. That means getting the cooking temp for fish right is one of the most important steps in the process of getting your dish on the table.
If you’re thinking about throwing some shrimp on the barbie or searing some tuna, read on for the key to getting fish cooked to the right temp for a safe and tasty meal. (Spoiler alert: we use an instant-read thermometer.)
How to Check the Temperature of Cooked Fish
Before you learn the correct temperature for cooked fish, you should know how to check it. Measuring the internal temperature of fish is important to ensure that it has been cooked to a safe temperature and is free from foodborne pathogens.
An instant-read meat thermometer is the best way to check the internal temperature of cooked fish because it provides quick and accurate readings as well as lets you monitor the cooking progress without having to cut into the fish. All you do is place the probe in the thickest part of the fish and it will display the temperature.
Instant-read meat thermometers, like the Typhur InstaProbe food thermometer, make taking the internal temperature of cooked fish easy. The InstaProbe is incredibly accurate (±0.5°F), providing precise temperature readings in 0.5 seconds without ruining the fish.
Best Temperature for Fish | Different Types of Fish
Different types of fish require different internal temperatures to achieve the desired flavor and texture. Below are some general guidelines for cooking different types of fish.
Salmon is known for its vibrant color, succulent texture and rich flavor. It can be prepared in a variety of ways, from grilling to baking to sushi. While sashimi-grade salmon is specially treated to make sure it is safe to eat raw, regular salmon you get at the grocery store needs to be cooked to the right temperature for it to be safe to eat.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends cooking fish to 145°F/63°C for safe eating. However, some chefs and experienced home cooks take their salmon off the heat at lower temperatures such as 125ºF/52ºC for moist and tender fish.
Check out how to tell if salmon is cooked for more details.
Overcooked tuna is dry — similar to canned tuna — which is not preferable for a tuna steak. Tuna is often served rare or seared rare at 115°F/46°C for a restaurant-quality tuna steak, where it’s a little red inside.
For a tender and moist texture, halibut can be cooked at a temperature of around 130-135°F (54-57°C), allowing the center to become slightly opaque, resulting in an extremely soft yet tender texture. Because of halibut’s firm and meaty texture, it can withstand more heat than salmon, making it a great option for grilling, baking or pan-searing.
Overcooked shrimp can be rubbery and unpleasant to chew and the flavor may be bland. The USDA recommends shrimp reach an internal temperature of 145°F/63°C for safe consumption, but some chefs choose to cook them to 120ºF/49ºC. To measure shrimp internal temperature, insert the probe of an instant-read meat thermometer in the thickest part of the shrimp to check the temperature.
For lobster, if you prefer a firm texture, you can cook the lobster tail until it reaches an internal temperature of 140ºF/60ºC. To obtain the most precise temperature measurement, it is best to take a reading from the lobster tail, the thickest part of the meat. Claws should be cooked to a higher temperature of 150°F/60ºC than the tails to acheive the same texture.
Scallops are delicate and should be cooked until the internal temperature reaches 130ºF/54ºC. A quick sear is enough — a few minutes for each side to get the doneness just right. Cooked scallops should have a golden-brown crust on the outside and look opaque or milky-white on the inside.
Make it safe to taste.
Achieving the perfect temperature when cooking fish is essential for ensuring that it is safe to eat whilst retaining its texture, aroma and flavor. By following the guidelines provided above and using a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the fish, you can create consistent and delicious results each and every time.