I found an article where a restaurant chef shared a trick to prevent fish from sticking to the pan : leave it on a plate, uncovered for about an hour in the fridge to dry it out.

When I tried it, my housemate complained that it was "unhygienic" and insisted that I cover it with foil...which kind of defeats the purpose of drying it out in the fridge. I tried to explain that I was drying it out, but she just kept saying "please...its unhygienic..."

(Her food was not even on the same shelf by the way)

Do you think it is okay to leave it uncovered in the fridge? Any alternatives?

2 Answers 2


Totally safe to have uncovered

Bacteria can't jump off the fish and fly through the air. They can't crawl, swim, walk or ride bikes between items in the fridge by themselves. If you carefully place it in a clean container it is safe. The aroma may carry, but if the fish is fresh it should have little aroma and this will dissipate anyway.

Better Yet, dry it on the counter at room temp

You can also just have the fish out on the counter. This will bring it closer to room temp, and much of cooking and creating good texture is about temperature differences. Starting the fish at a warmer temperature will also help to create good texture and not stick. Do not worry about the safety of this. If the fish is fresh, any bacteria growth that might begin will be immediately killed in the cooking process. You can blot the fish gently right before cooking with paper towels for maximum drying. If the fish is still cold it will have condensation continually forming.

USDA guidelines show the time that food can be in the danger zone. Don't be alarmed by the 'doubling every 20 minutes.' Everything we touch, eat, see, taste, smell has bacteria on it or in it. It takes many doublings and the bacteria have to emit the toxins for something to become dangerous. If you hold food at room temp, it is coming out of refrigeration and into the danger zone, then will be cooked, ending the cycle. If the fish is poor quality to start with AND you have immune system deficiencies, then extra caution is required. Aged, infirm, or otherwise compromised immune systems should be treated with more caution.

  • Do you have any sources that I can use to prove this?
    – Question
    Jun 24, 2018 at 14:44
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    @Question I am a ServSafe Manager, certified and tested for 10 years, with 15 years of commercial kitchen experience. I have cooked like this for 20+ years with no incidents. USDA guidelines state that there is a 2 hour window for unrefridgerated foods without risk. Jun 24, 2018 at 14:49
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    Thats not what i meant. I meant, sources that i can use to prove that it is safe to leave food uncovered in the fridge, as my housemate seems to think its not safe. I am pretty sure she would flip out if i put it on the counter as well.
    – Question
    Jun 24, 2018 at 14:53
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    @Question He is saying that he IS a source.
    – Summer
    Jun 24, 2018 at 16:40

To my knowledge is better to cover the food when it goes into the fridge, you can poke holes thru the plastic wrap so there is no moisture. Also you can have it outside at room temperature for up to two hours till it starts growing bacteria (thats only if it was frozen) after the fish reach the temperature of 135 degrees it starts growing bacteria. If you want to dry it use a napkin towel to dry off the excess water before putting it to cook. I'm also a food manager for 3 years now.

  • 5
    Sorry but some of this is factually incorrect.For storage, yes cover food. OP is asking about method to dry fish before cooking. Two hours is guideline for 40 F ( 4 C) up to 135 F (57 C). Bacteria grows at any temperature but it grows much FASTER in this range.Let me know what restaurant you work at.... I'll need to steer clear. Jun 24, 2018 at 17:51
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    Bacteria doesnt grow below 40 F and above 165 F to be completely accurate is already killed, now some bacteria can regrow if they arent completely killed and they get to the temperature they feel comfortable to reproduce again. Just took my test last week to renew it.. seems like you need to pay more attention. Jun 24, 2018 at 18:29
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    Of course it doesn't grow when it is dead. It does grow below 40F, just very slowly. Jun 25, 2018 at 12:55
  • Its called the danger zone which is between 41F to 135F Jun 27, 2018 at 0:05

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