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Resting fish


edwardsboi
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When I was watching Top Chef, Tom Colocchio made a point that one of the contestants had made a crucial error when he didn't let the monkfish rest. I know you're supposed to rest meat, but this was the first time I've heard about resting a fish.

Are there any more types of fish you're supposed to rest? Do you this for all fish, or just for monkfish?

And, if you do rest a fish, are you supposed to treat it like what you'd do for meat- cover it with tin foil while it rests? And, how long do you let it rest?

Finally, does anybody know the science why you rest meat but why you or wouldn't do that to fish?

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Monkfish has a texture unlike the fish most people are used to. Premise 1: The meat almost resembles lobster, and certainly eats a lot like lobster. Premise 2: Lobster should be rested for a few minutes to let the juices soak back in. Very much like resting meat. One idea seems to follow from the other. Conclusion: Rest monkfish just like you would lobster.

But Tom also said that "most chefs don't know this." Is there a big mystery to be unraveled here?

"There's nothing like a pork belly to steady the nerves."

Fergus Henderson

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Well, I am certainly no judge of Tom Colicchio but; The salmon I cook out here in Washington, even slabs of big guys, would simply be cold fish if I rested them. That is not to mention my guests view of me .

Please explain what this means as it makes no sense to me.

BTW most of my fish I bring out of the heat at about 115°F and it does take a bit of time to plate, at least most of the time.

So, if this is valid, how do you do it?

Robert

Seattle

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The salmon I cook out here in Washington, even slabs of big guys,  would simply be cold fish if I rested them.

You really can't compare it to salmon. Monkfish has a different type of flesh, more analogous to lobster. The flavor, and especially the texture, are completely different.

"There's nothing like a pork belly to steady the nerves."

Fergus Henderson

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]

You really can't compare it to salmon. Monkfish has a different type of flesh, more analogous to lobster. The flavor, and especially the texture, are completely different.

Of course you are correct. I have lived in the east [shiver] and have had Monkfish a number of times and I know of no Pacific fish which has the same qualities.

That said, I return to what I meant. I don't know what TC meant about resting but; how do I rest a fish that cooks in seven minutes per inch of thickness unless I wish to serve a cold slab of fish?

I do not only mean Salmon.

Robert

Seattle

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Monkfish needs to rest because the flesh is dense and if you don't rest it it might get a bullseye. If you rest it properly, the internal temp will equalize and finish cooking in the middle, whereas if you leave it in the oven you run the risk of overcooking it esp. on the outside. It shouldn't need to rest more than 3 minutes or so.

Most other fish does not need to rest because it has a very narrow range of doneness and should pretty much be ready to serve out of the pan. Fish also tends to get cold qickly and should be served immedietly in most cases

BTW, TC was only talking about monkfish, he wasn't suggesting that fish in general needs to be rested.

Edited by Qwerty (log)
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Premise 1: The meat almost resembles lobster, and certainly eats a lot like lobster. Premise 2: Lobster should be rested for a few minutes to let the juices soak back in. Very much like resting meat. One idea seems to follow from the other. Conclusion: Rest monkfish just like you would lobster.

Interesting. I've never heard about resting lobster. Do you just rest lobster, or do you rest other shellfish like crabs?

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Resting has 2 purposes in meat: To equalize the temperature between the relatively hot outside and relatively cool inside. The right amount of time for this can be determined via checking for carryover stabilization with a probe thermometer. The other purpose is to allow the reabsorption of juice into the muscle so that it does not leak onto the cutting board on serving.

I'm not sure whether the second phenomena applies to fish or not but the first definitely does. If you're grilling or sauteeing a piece of fish, then it's going to benifit from some resting to get the core up to temp. Whether that's any more resting than it takes to plate the thing is another matter.

PS: I am a guy.

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Except for frying, I've always pulled fish off the heat just before it's cooked to preferred temperature and let it sit a minute or two so it can "finish cooking" from its own residual heat. Unlike with meat, this "rest" for fish is to prevent overcooking it, especially important for whole fish or other thick-cut pieces, whatever the variety. Fish can overcook so quickly otherwise.

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WOW, I need to think about this.

With a piece of beef or lamb or chicken I heat it , then I wait and the internals match or approach the external temps and I serve it. This does work for fish, I guess.

I don't add a rest step with fish ever but; I think the above makes me want to. With the afore mentioned salmon, I ,, of course serve it right away; after I get everyone to the table....

I really have rested it haven't I? Although I haven't done Lobster or Monkfish in years, likely as not, it is rested by the way most of us serve. How often do we scrape from the grill and instantly plate? If not something like salmon, nearly never and so, it rests....

Now that you have forced me to think it thru, resting fish does seem reasonable.

Edited by RobertCollins (log)

Robert

Seattle

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It's curious - I hadn't heard of resting Monkfish, though I have had good results with it in the past. Yesterday, however, I came across this Gordon Ramsay clip on YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UBQYqJ3wT78

The recipe he cooks sounds and looks delicious as well. In just over 2 MINUTES!

Steve

"Tell your friends all around the world, ain't no companion like a blue - eyed merle" Robert Plant

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Guys, you don't have to rest fish. In fact, I would argue that you DON'T want to rest fish, since fish is at it's best right out of the pan. Fish will not improve from resting.

The only exception I know of is monkfish. You rest monkfish for all the reasons already stated. Things like turbot, halibut, salmon, trout, etc. all, don't need to be rested.

I want to clarify that fish will have some carryover cooking that you need to take into account, but this is not the same as resting.

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I rest my fish. Only needs 1 1/2 - 2 minutes in a warm spot. It's a muscle (well a whole group of muscles), it's flesh and can do with the rest. As long as the plate is hot when the meal goes out it should still be at the right temperature. And I think it's a better product in the end. I suppose it's up to personal opinion though...

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Maybe we are talking about the same thing but I don't really consider 1-2 minutes resting. That may be enough time for the temp to carryover in the very middle and turn the whole fillet opaque, but hardly, IMO, counts as a rest.

I would say an ideal minimum rest for a piece of meat (like beef, chix, pork, lamb, etc) is 10 minutes in a warm place. 5 is absolute minimum, but nowhere near ideal. For me, fish is take it out of the pan, drain/blot on a rack/c-fold, then plate.

In my experience and opinion fish shouldn't need to "rest" any more time than it takes to plate and make it out to the diner, say 2-3 minutes. Monkfish should rest about 3 minutes before you start plating and serve to guest, for a total rest of 5-6 minutes.

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The real question is, if you take a piece of monkfish out of the pan and cut into it, will there be any juice spilling out of the meat? If so, does this not happen to other fish? If so, then monkfish needs to be rested for reasons other than carryover heat and thus, should be treated differently from other fish.

PS: I am a guy.

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The real question is, if you take a piece of monkfish out of the pan and cut into it, will there be any juice spilling out of the meat? If so, does this not happen to other fish? If so, then monkfish needs to be rested for reasons other than carryover heat and thus, should be treated differently from other fish.

If you cut into monkfish without letting it rest and cool just a bit to relax the muscles, yes, you will see plenty of juice spilling out. I've done this when slicing monkfish right out of the pan for plating. You could also check the Gordon Ramsey monkfish video posted earlier in this thread, he says pretty much the same thing about testing monkfish. This doesn't apply to any other fish I know of.

I'm surprised that no one here has tried it for themselves.

Edited by Batard (log)

"There's nothing like a pork belly to steady the nerves."

Fergus Henderson

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Gee, has Harold McGee done any experiments on this?

I just spent a while looking but I can't find anything specifically about monkfish. The one section that seems relatively useful is this (p 211):

[F]ish vary widely in their chemical and physical condition, and therefore in their response to heat. ... Such fish as tuna, swordfish, and shark have very dense flesh, crammed full of protein (around 25%), which absorbs a lot of heat before its temperature rises.... Fat transfers heat more slowly than protein, so fatty fish take longer to cool than lean fish of the same size.

With meat, resting allows not only for finishing cooking the interior but also for slight cooling, during which "the meat structure becomes firmer and more resistant to deformation, and its water-holding capacity increases." I think it may be as simple as that, actually: resting allows for slight cooling.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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And, just to add another wrinkle...

Apparently, in his Bravo blog, Brian The Seafood Guy, said that he never rested monkfish because his monkfish were in medallion form. So, I guess you don't always automatically rest monkfish.

I've been reading a couple of fish books, and I don't recall any of these books mentioning this stuff before. What's the definitive guide to fish cookery?

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  • 1 year later...

I was watching PBS, and they had Michael Cimarusti, chef of Providence. Along with Eric Ripert, they're the foremost chefs speciliazing in fish in America. Although, he wouldn't fall into the molecular gastronomy camp, its clear he understands all the science in cooking and utilizing that knowledge to make better dishes.

And, he specifically said that, like meat, its important to rest fish as well.

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Is this the PBS show you were referring to?

I've never heard of Michael Cimartusi before, so I can't speak of his qualifications with regards to fish. But, I think Rick Moonen is more familiar to foodies and in this radio podcast, he also stated that you should let fish rest:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/cesliearmstrongshow/2009/07/14/sunny-anderson-chef-rick-moonen-on-the-ceslie-show

The Rick Moonen interview starts about halfway through the podcast, but he specifically addresses resting fish at 48:43 to 50:15 mark.

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  • 3 years later...

In my experience, fish absolutely benefits from a rest. I learned this from simply having kept extra portions in a warm oven while sitting to eat. I would notice that the pieces of fish that sat longer after cooking had a superior texture than what I first put on my plate. The only tricky part is keeping the fish warm as it rests without it overcooking or drying out. So, my MO for most fish is to cook fillets until just about done, drain on a paper towel lined rack, maybe spoon over some of the cooking fat, or brush with melted butter, depending on the cooking method, then cover gently with aluminum foil. l keep the fish in a 180-200º oven, keeping the door ajar, for at least 10 minutes. This way the fish keeps its temperature, but rests for an ample amount of time which I find helps the fish hold its juices. That way they don't escape onto your plate and dilute whatever sauce or accompaniments you have plated with it.

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