Whether you're roasting it whole or cooking it en papillote, there's nothing worse than sitting down for dinner to only find you've accidentally transformed your beautiful—and pricey—piece of fish into the Gobi Desert. For the average home cook, overcooking fish is nothing to be ashamed of—I've lost track of how many precious pieces of halibut I've massacred over the years. But no matter who you are, it sure isn't fun.
So what's the cheat code to making sure your fish comes out perfect? Rookies might keep prodding the poor fish's flesh like it's a hunk of steak or even cut it open to peek inside, mangling their dinner in the process. The pros, however, take a different approach.
Simply pierce your fish with a metal skewer to check its level of doneness.
The next time your fickle snapper fillet is giving mixed signals as to whether or not it's stove time is up, insert a skewer or a sharp paring knife into the thickest part of the flesh and hold it there for three to four seconds. Then, retract the utensil and press the metal gently against the back of your hand or lower lip (these areas are more sensitive to heat). If the skewer feels warm, your delicate fillet is ready to be taken off the burner. If it's still cold, give your meal another minute or two in the pan. You could say it's a piece of (fish) cake.
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