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Dec 16, 2008 10:58 AM

Mushy salmon... what went wrong??

I'm not a particularly accomplished cook, but I was doing OK baking salmon until last time around when my cooked fish turned mushy...

- I baked the fish in the oven using same method as per usual
- I bought the fish at my regular vendor. My fishmonger offers several different types of salmon and I usually order whichever of the organic variety looks nicest that day so I'm not sure whether a poor choice of fish might have short-circuited my efforts?

Does anyone have any suggestions as to what might have gone wrong?

Thanks -

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  1. If you really baked it the same way you always do; same temp, same time; then that only leaves the salmon as the suspect. Maybe not as fresh as usual; possibly a variety that is not as meaty? At what temp and for how long do you bake?

    1 Reply
    1. re: bnemes3343

      Baked at 400 for about 20 minutes. I know this perhaps seems a little high, but our oven is lazy so we typically have to crank it up and cook stuff for longer than books/other cooks generally recommend.

    2. MHO the fish is the culprit. Did you feel the texture of the piece bfore buying? Did you smell it first? Was it the same cut of fish as you usually buy? Theoretically "fresh"? Or frozen?

      5 Replies
      1. re: KiltedCook

        Totally agree. 400 for 15 - 20 minutes is how I do it. It has to be the fish - either not fresh and starting to break down or full of water or both.

        1. re: KiltedCook

          Very few, if any, places will let you press on the fish. Certainly not a chain grocery store. And many won't let you smell it. I much prefer to buy fish in a fish market that is less anal about touching and smelling. Chinatown in NY is a great place and much more fun than a grocery store anyway.

          1. re: KiltedCook

            - Fish was bought at a fishmonger (at the St. Lawrence Market in Toronto)... a reliable vendor from whom we habitually buy fish and seafood
            - Did not smelly fishy or odd, but I did not feel the fish before buying it. Didn't notice anything particularly unusual during prep - although it didn't slice quite as clean-ly as usual (I apportion into pieces before cooking)

            I actually suspect it was the fish too, but I'm not sure how to avoid the problem next time around? I hate to waste what seems like perfectly good food, but the texture makes for really unpleasant eating so I chucked it. Is this worth mentioning to the vendor next time around or is this a problem one just has to deal with occasionally when preparing fish?

            Oh, and thanks to everyone for the helpful responses!

            1. re: Rabbit

              If this is a place you habitually buy fish from, I would mention it to them. If it hasn't been too long maybe they can figure out the source of the salmon and do something about it. If it happens again though, I would find another fishmonger. I honestly can't recall every having my salmon come out mushy

              1. re: Rabbit

                I would definitely mention it in a friendly way next time you are purchasing fish there. I myself frequent one of the fishmongers in the STLM, and once got a "bad" batch of scallps (not sure what was wrong, but they ended up mushy and stuck to the pan like crazy - and I have made them countless times). I mentioned it when purchasing some fish the next time - they were very nice about it and I even got some complimentary scallops.

            2. Because you use the term "fishmonger", I assume that this retailer specializes in selling only fish. If that's the case I would have expected a "reliable" fishmonger to provide you with a piece of quality fish ... otherwise he may not be "your" fishmonger and based on what's been written to this point I wouldn't use his fish counter again.
              Salmon that has been previously frozen, although it will often fry up nicely, will sometimes result in the textures you describe when it is baked.

              1 Reply
              1. re: todao

                I agree, not all the fish at the st. lawrence market is fresh fresh and not frozen, so be careful.. Mike's fish market is generally the best.

                Sorry this happened to you.

              2. If it's a real fish market with knowledgeable people (I have one even in my town of 50,000), I'd definitely mention it. I've eaten salmon for 50 years, and can't recall ever having any that was mooshy.

                1. Bad fish.

                  By the way, did you cook the fish right after buying it from the market?

                  Or did you keep it in the fridge for a few days before cooking? If so, that time lag may have something to do with it ...