“The Canadian Rule,” Explained

Monahan's Seafood Market | Fresh Whole Fish, Fillets, Shellfish, Recipes, Catering & Lunch Counter-Ann Arbor, Michigan

The Canadian Rule: “10 minutes per inch.”

The rule of thumb for cooking fish started with the Canadian Department of Fisheries as an effort to help boost fish consumption in Canada. One of the main reasons that people are afraid of cooking fish at home is they think they’ll overcook it.

Another main reason people misjudge cooking time is because that they think the house will smell like fish. Well, if you’re buying less than fresh fish—coming home and opening the bag to a less than fresh smell and thinking “I better cook the heck out of this thing and kill whatever is wrong with it,”—bringing up the temperature and cooking time will only increase the odor. (This is just another reason to buy fish from a monger who fillets on-site, will let you smell the fish and who doesn’t wrap it in plastic.)

The key is to buy a nice fresh fish and cook it properly—and the Canadian Rule is a good basic guide that works with almost every cooking method. Slow lower heat cooking, stewing or  super hot searing may change the rule a bit, but if you’re learning to become a great fish cook, The Canadian Rule is a great help. Just measure your fillet, steak or whole fish at the thickest part and follow the rule (10 minutes per inch or 5 minutes per side per inch). If you’re baking a fish fillet, fold the thinner tail section under or the belly flaps over to keep a uniform thickness and bake at 400°. Check it at around 8 minutes gently with a knife to check for doneness. The fish should be barely opaque in the center and cooked until the translucent appearance if almost gone. The same is true for grilling fish steaks or fillets, but remember the rule changes to 5 minutes per side. If you use an instaread meat thermometer, the ideal internal temperature should be just under 125°.

Sometimes the fish will be a bit under 10 minutes, sometimes just a bit over, but remember that it keeps cooking after it’s removed from heat, so a little rare is ok.

It won’t take long before you get really good at producing moist, perfectly cooked fish.

Be sure to check out this week’s great recipe for the grill: Pancetta-Wrapped Monkfish.

Monahan's Seafood

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