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I have to have 3 fish items ready at 6:00 PM but they each require different temperature and time and are of different weight.

Can someone please help me ... what I need is the oven temperature and at what times (prior to 5pm when we leave for church) I need to put each item in the oven so they are ready, but not dried out, when we get home at 6:10 pm tonight.

My thought is to pre-heat the oven (ex: to 375 F), put items in when YOU suggest, and set the oven to turn off at 5:00 (so it will gradually cool down ... and the fish will be warm when we get home at 6:10 pm - but not burnt from being in the oven too long)

Here is the list:

Qty Fish Type       Status CookTemp  CookTime TotalWeight
2   Salmon&Sauce    Thawed    375     16 min    0.9 lb
2   Stuffed Salmon  Frozen    350     20 min    1.2 lb
4   Crusted Talapia Frozen    425    16-20 min  1.1 lb

The cook time above is from the package(s) based on if frozen or thawed.

I need one temperature and then at what time to put in each item or tell me what the cooking time should be for each item at your suggested temperature and I'll subtract from 5:30 tonight.

Thanks so much in advance for your help because I'm totally stumped about this and trying to help out my wife.

  • related : cooking.stackexchange.com/q/19444/67 ; I'm pretty sure there was another one recently where someone mentioned putting the cooler one in the middle of the oven, and the one that needed more heat closer to the element. – Joe Apr 3 '15 at 19:21
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    With a recommended baking time of 20 minutes tops - I'd pop them in the oven right after returning and serve at 6:30 instead of at 6:10. With 8 servings (I presume), you'll need about as much time until everyone has taken off their coat, washed his/her hands and found their seat anyway. Or serve an apéritif, just to be sure... – Stephie Apr 3 '15 at 23:06
  • If the oven turns off at 5 and you don't get home until 6:10, that leaves 1:10 of danger zone time (2hrs is the max amount for the food to be still safe to eat) on top of any additional time spent setting the table and preparing the food (before cooking and before eating). Do as @Stephie recommends! – WetlabStudent Apr 4 '15 at 0:33
  • Thanks everyone - as it turned out my wife stayed home from Good Friday service [intestinal prob] & looked after the fish but I GREATLY appreciate the suggestions. – Jim Holstein Apr 4 '15 at 13:04
  • @Stephie : but the problem is pre-heating, which can take a little while. Depending on the situation, it might be better to either leave the oven on warm while at church, or pre-heat the oven before church, then shut it off just before leaving so that it hopefully retains some heat. – Joe Apr 5 '15 at 2:53
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I would recommend doing what Stephie says in the comments - start the food right when you come in. With 5 minutes to preheat and ~20 minutes of cook time, your fish will be ready around 6:35-40. It won't be ready right when you walk in the door, but that's okay.

To answer your original question of how to cook these three fish in the same oven, here's how I would handle it:

The frozen tilapia can probably handle temperature variation more easily, so let's drop the 425 temperature. Heat your oven to 375. Since we're lower than the 425 the tilapia calls for, you will want to give it a little extra time. Put the tilapia and stuffed salmon in at the same time. Put the tilapia on the bottom rack (it will be a little warmer) and the stuffed salmon in the middle of the oven.

After about 4 minutes, put in the salmon & sauce, also on the middle rack (if there's space). Leave them all in for another 16 minutes. (You may want to check after about 10 minutes to make sure the tilapia isn't overheating on the bottom. It should be pretty warm at this point, but not steaming hot.)

After 16 minutes, pull them out and check them for doneness (or appropriate heat level if they're already cooked, as I'm guessing at least the two frozen ones are). If they're not quite cooked yet, then put them back in the oven, and you can bump the temperature up to 400 for a couple minutes to give them a last boost.

You said you needed this by 5:30 tonight, so I'm guessing it's a bit late for this, but hopefully it will be useful for future questioners.

  • DUNCAN: "you will want to give it a little extra time". Thanks but I was looking for some FORMULA [I'm a retired Engineer] on how much extra time to give - and nobody answered that. I know you can't do a simple ratio / proportion because the relationship is inverse ... ie: lower temperature means longer time. So the 4th grade algebra formula 18min/425 = x min/375 does not work as it yields LESS time at a lower temperature. Ahhhh - the trials of a retired engineer learning to cook haha. But thanks EVERYONE for your answers and suggestions. – Jim Holstein Apr 4 '15 at 13:09
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    @JimHolstein: If you want to develop a formula, think about the amount of energy that needs to be transfered. You will want to consider thermal conduction, which means shape and material are essential, as is temperature difference between frozen/thawed fish and oven. You will also need to make sure that your thermometer is correct (built in ones notoriously aren't) and consider the fact that most ovens fluctuate slightly - they "keep" their temperature by turning the heat off or on when it leaves a certain range. If you manage to do this, be sure to post an extensive Q/A here ;-) Happy Easter! – Stephie Apr 5 '15 at 5:11
  • @JimHolstein: Or simply develop a gut feeling - "a little extra time" or "season to taste", as vague as these instructions sound for someone who has meassured all his life, may open up a whole new world to a beginner cook. Welcome to the site, by the way! – Stephie Apr 5 '15 at 5:17

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