Background: I'm trying to eat healthier - not necessarily optimizing for taste but for cooking complexity/time and health.

I have frozen salmon filets (small/thin) I'd like to cook in boiling water, doing nothing else than boiling water, setting timer and returning to a cooked meal.

How do I know salmon is done? At the moment whole process (dropping salmon into boiling water and cooking for 20 minutes) seems alright but I'm afraid of not cooking meat thoroughly. I found oven cooking thermometer but it doesn't seem to be designed for use in water

  • 2
    That's bad advice @KateGregory, sushi grade fish has been deep frozen to kill foodborne illnesses, a regular freezer will not reach a low enough temperature.
    – GdD
    Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 9:18

2 Answers 2


The problem will be one of temperature difference. The outermost mm of your salmon will thaw immediately but the innermost one will still be raw.

Some meat thermometers will work in water but i doubt that they will be accurate in a thin filet as they are mostly for use in large chunks of meat.

So the only good way to check fore done-ness is to cut the filet in two and check the texture yourself. If it starts to "flake" (i.e. the meat fibers start to separate) it is done. Ideally you will be able to "break" a filet cleanly in two. But do that too often and you'll end up with salmon soup.

So my recommendation: oven-roast your salmon. There will be two advantages: one is that you can easily check the inside and pop it back in the oven if you are not satisfied. On the other hand its easier to make tasty salmon in the oven. You can even work in a herb-crust or something like it. Health-wise they are exactly the same as long as you don't start drenching the fish in oil.

Another option could be to poach the fish in a ziplock bag. It will take a bit longer as the heat circulation will be slightly worse but locks in the flavor, gives you the option of adding some herbs and the option the measure the done-ness without creating a mess.


If you don't care for the taste, you have two options.

Optimized for comfort

Start buying uniform size fish. Cook it through using a guess for the time as a starting point. You just pull the fish out, try eating it, and if it is raw in the middle, you put it back into the pot. Record the time the fish took until it was cooked through. The next time, repeat, but leave it inside for the duration it took the last time before checking the first time. Repeat as needed, until you pull out a fish that was through the first time.

Now slap a 25% to 30% security factor - e.g. if you got a cooked fish after 30 minutes during the tests, define your new "cookign time" as 40 minutes. From here on, every time you cook fish of the same size (which is easy if you are buying those shaped frozen pieces), cook with that timer and turn off when done. For even more convenience, use an appliance that can turn itself off by timer.

Optimized for speed

Buy a thermometer. There are tons of different kinds, and some of them can be submerged. You can even buy one that has a sound alarm when a temperature has been reached. Make sure you always stick the thermometer deep into the middle. Use a table for doneness to decide how much you want your salmon cooked. Then boil by temperature.

  • 2
    And neither method would result in a serving of fish I would be particularly tempted to eat ^_^ Still: +1 as it’s what the OP wants.
    – Stephie
    Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 15:20

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