If you are a fish meat-lover or one who simply likes fish, you know that some types, especially salmon and tuna, can be consumed raw or cooked. If you are like me, who doesn’t really like the idea of raw meats, you want to consume the fish fully cooked. I love salmon, but one question that disturbed me for a long period was what does cook salmon look like.
Still, you may cook your salmon so thoroughly that you overcook it. Don’t worry, for this is what I’d call every salmon lover’s dilemma: you don’t want to consume it either under-or overcooked. In my attempt to get the exact cooking point, my research has been extensive, and that’s what I’ll share with you today.
Hang in and learn all the aspects of cooking salmon so that it’s ideally cooked!
How Does Cooked Salmon Look Like?
At this point, you have probably overcooked or undercooked your salmon and noticed the difference in appearance. The color of cooked salmon depends on if the meat is well-cooked.
To tell where you are as much as cooking salmon is concerned, let us evaluate three possible scenarios:
What Does Overcooked Salmon Look Like?
I hope you didn’t get to this point because overcooked salmon will often lose its flavor. The salmon will also dry up, wasting most of your cash invested in that meal.
What I don’t want to happen might have happened, but let me assure you that it doesn’t taste good.
If your salmon is overcooked, the meat will become flaky and lose its moistness or tenderness because of water loss.
The color turns from translucent red to opaque orange with albumin (the whitish salmon gunk).
The texture of overcooked salmon changes a lot; the flesh becomes dry and tough to chew through because it is no longer tender or juicy as when just cooked through.
In this case, you may have to throw away the salmon because although it’s absolutely safe for consumption, it doesn’t taste good.
If you make salmon like this, there is no way of making it tasty again!
However, you may still have undercooked your salmon. Let’s now explore how such fish looks like.
What Does Undercooked Salmon Look Like?
Undercooked salmon may be tasty and is also safe for consumption. The safety of the undercooked salmon depends on how the fish has been handled from when it was caught or bought.
If your salmon is undercooked, the meat will be translucent with a pinkish tone to its center, and you can taste the raw flavor.
Undercooked salmon tends to be tough and not flaky with the texture of raw salmon.
The flesh is still moist, but it has a slimy or slippery feel to it when you cut into your salmon.
Undercooked salmon is cold mainly on the inside because the heat does not reach the internal part.
How to Tell if Salmon is done
Salmon is a delicacy that can be prepared in several ways. Even so, it is a delicate one that you can easily overcook if you let it cook a minute longer than it should.
Luckily, there are about four ways through which you can tell if your salmon has attained the doneness you prefer. These include checking the change in color and texture and taking the internal temperature of the cooking fish.
Let us look at how you examine your salmon to establish if it’s done:
Checking the color and texture change
You’ll need to pierce the cookie salmon with the tip of a kitchen knife halfway down the piece of salmon. This allows you to peek at the inner part, which is usually the last to cook through. Although a fro may be used in place of the knife, the former messes with the presentation, and thus it’s not ideal.
Once you have an opening to see through, pay attention to the color of the fish. While the cooking method largely determines the appearance, the most common colors include beige, opaque white, or even brown if pan-seared.
An utterly opaque center indicates overcooked salmon, while complete translucence calls for further cooking, i.e., the fish is not yet done.
When working from the texture point, the aim is to check if the salmon resists deforming or flaking when pressed. If it flakes, that’s too bad for you because you have certainly overcooked the expensive treat. If the salmon holds its shape but breaks away into pieces when pressed with a fork or a knife, it’s probably well done.
Generally, once you take the salmon off the heat, it continues cooking in the heat it already absorbed. This is why you should take it off the oven or your source of heat when it’s relatively undercooked. Ideally, this is when the center has turned slightly translucent, while the texture remains firm but gives way when pressed with a fork.
Checking the internal temperature
The other way to know if your salmon is done, and this time it’s a foolproof method, you simply need an instant-read thermometer. You should take the temperature of the thickest section of the cooking salmon.
The internal temperature of the fish flesh should read around 110-140 degrees Fahrenheit for moist, tender meat that’s thoroughly cooked through.
Raw salmon will be below the 110 degrees’ mark, while 110-125 degrees Fahrenheit corresponds to medium-rare. If you want the fillet medium done, cook at slightly above 125 degrees Fahrenheit, but if you want it well done, work with 145 degrees Fahrenheit but don’t go beyond this mark.
Once done, take off the fillet from the heat and allow it to cool off for a few minutes before serving.
Using a cake tester
The method entails piercing the salmon through with a cake tester and checking how hot it comes out. If the salmon is perfectly done, you should feel the tester’s warmth when placed on your lower lip.
If the tester feels cold, let the salmon cook for some more time. If it’s hot, you’ve got yourself a perfectly cooked fillet of fish.
Using a butter knife
This method is much like the above one, but this time you use a butter knife. You should insert it into the salmon and check if it feels warm to your lip.
If it feels cold, give the salmon a few more minutes, but if it’s already warm, turn off the heat.
How to Cook Salmon Properly
As you already know, salmon is very delicate and will flake easily, so you should handle it gently. You’ll want to line your baking dish with foil covering the bottom and sides of the plate.
This will make it easier to take off the cooked salmon from the pan, as well as keep your oven clean.
The other precautions that you need to observe include:
Leave the salmon skin on
Unless you want to poach the fillet, cooking it with the skin on will help reduce the risk of overcooking it. Still, you need to place the fillet, so the skin stays in contact with the pan/cooking vessel to protect the meat.
As sticky as fish can be, the skin helps to reduce this effect.
Cook the fillet with the skin facing down
As mentioned above, the skin reduces the chance of overcooking. However, this is avoidable if you let the skin between the pan/heat source and the meat.
This is achievable if you place the fillet skin side down.
Use a timer
Every intricate cooking process requires precision in timing. For example, if you have a 1-inch thick piece of fillet, it will take about 8 minutes to cook through. With a timer, it’s easy to see when the cooking is done.
Salt and add spices just before the actual cooking
Salmon being flesh meat, contains cells. The cell membranes restrict evaporation, keeping the meat moist and juicy. If you apply salt long before cooking, it will draw water out of the meat through osmosis. This leaves you with a dryish piece of fish, not appetizing at all.
Salt will also soften the meat the longer they stay in contact. This means the cooking time should be reduced; otherwise, the fillet overcooks.
No one is born a master chef, and cooking is an art that requires practice. The more you cook salmon, the better you get at it, so don’t be discouraged if your first attempt doesn’t turn out as expected. With time, you’re going to master it.
Use cooking thermometers to check the doneness
As you already know, the salmon fillet is very delicate and will flake easily. This means it’s not easy to tell if it’s perfectly cooked by just looking at it.
With a cooking thermometer, however, you can quickly tell when the salmon fillet is cooked.
How to Tell if Salmon is Undercooked
If the salmon has a translucent appearance, this means it’s still undercooked. This coloration is caused by the protein in the fish, which is translucent (glassy) when raw.
The meat should be firm to touch
If you push it down and it gives in, this means the salmon fillet is done. If you feel some resistance, it’s still raw and needs more time to cook.
The meat should flake easily
If you insert a fork into the side of salmon and it flakes, this means that it’s undercooked. This is caused by the muscle fibers not being fully cooked yet.
Temperature of Cooked Salmon
A cooking thermometer allows you to ascertain the internal temp of the salmon. It should read 145 degrees F maximum and 110 degrees F minimum.
Beyond to below this range means it’s overcooked and undercooked, respectively.
What Temperature is Salmon Done?
Salmon is usually cooked between 110 and 145 degrees, but there are some exceptions to this rule. For example, if your salmon fillet is more than an inch thick, it will take longer to cook. Instead of the eight minutes, you may need to add a few more minutes or increase the heat.
How long to Cook salmon in The Oven?
Salmon fillets can be cooked at a wide range of temperatures. However, to get the best results, its color should turn translucent pink color and flaky texture.
Since it often doesn’t risk overcooking the fish that much, you need to cook it in the oven. Ideally, this should take between 12 and 15 minutes.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q. Should salmon be pink or white when cooked?
Cooked salmon has a translucent color. When done, it should be pink and moist to touch. If the salmon has turned white or flaky, this means it’s overcooked.
Q. What happens if you eat undercooked salmon?
If you eat undercooked salmon fillets, the risk of getting ill is very high. Symptoms include upset stomach and vomiting.
Undercooked salmon can also be healthy if adequately handled from the moment the fish is caught up to when you consume it. Raw salmon is still a delicacy in many cuisines around the world.
Q. Can cooked salmon look white?
Cooked salmon fillets can appear as bright as snow if it’s been overcooked. It becomes flaky and dry with a white substance known as albumin.
That’s why it’s essential to use a cooking thermometer when you’re not sure if the salmon fillet is done.
Q. What temperature should salmon be cooked to?
As a general rule, the salmon fillet should be cooked to 145 degrees F. At this temperature, it’s safe and healthy to eat.
At this point, you can quickly tell what cooked salmon looks like. It’s cooked to a translucent pink color and moist. If the appearance is not a good indicator for you, use cooking thermometers to check the doneness of the salmon fillet.
If you noticed something about cooking salmon that we have not mentioned here, share it with us in the comments section!
Have a blast!