Eeeuuww - Frozen Cod Cooked Up Chewy and Spongy

Cooked some packaged Wild Caught frozen Alaska cod fillets. I researched time and temp and came up with 132 deg. F and 30 min. plus 15 min for frozen = 45 min-1 hour. I did two batches. First was 45 min. Second was 1 hour, same temp. The fish in both was chewy and spongy, definitely not flakey and not nice to eat.

How do I correct, different temp, different cook time, or is this always the case with frozen fish? Thanks.

Judy, cooking fish can be challenging because of the variety of degrees of doneness and textures they present. It’s always a matter of personal preference. However the choice of 132F is a little below the acceptable doneness cooking temperature for most North Americans, except of course for those who dwell along the left coast.

Cooking from from the frozen state introduces another layer of challenge to your cooking and potentially compounds cooking errors. Your researched time of an additional 15 minutes for frozen fish is only about right for 1/4-inch thick filets. I’ve never seen Alaskan Cod cut so thin. It’s usually cut steak-like, an inch or more thick.

You might want to reconsider your research sources to have more reliable information. Please share them as a helpful warning to your Community.

In spite of your claim to have cooked those cod fillets you present evidence to the contrary. In the cat’s experience “Chewy and spongy” doesn’t describe cooked fish.

To help you discover the requested corrections to your technique we need you to disclose the following pertinent details one always considers before SV cooking:

  • filet thickness?
  • desired texture of the cooked product as in soft or firm?
  • And did you preheat the water to 132F?

The 45 minutes cooking time for frozen fish filets is about right for half inch thick filets. Were yours any thicker?
FYI, Pasteurization cooking times for frozen 1" thick fish filets require about 1 3/4 hours and about 4 1/4 hours for 1 1/2-inch thick filets.

And now for a few words on food safety.
Judy you were wise to purchase frozen cod which removes the risk of ingesting live parasites if you chose not to Pasteurize fresh fish. Raw inshore fish filets should always be examined for parasites, usually in the form of little white worms which you certainly don’t want to have setting up housekeeping in your gut.

Here is your new trusted SV fish cooking resource:

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chatnoir, thank you so much for all your wonderful advice. The fish fillets were indeed at least an inch thick, maybe 1 1/4 at the thickest part. And I DO live on the left coast so I prefer my fish a bit on the rare side but definitely not raw unless it’s sushi. It wasn’t a “choice” to not pasteurize, I was just following what I thought was recommended. Will have to recall my sources. I tend to go to Anova and Jason Logsdon but can’t remember right now if they were the sites I was looking at. Can I have another go at some of the fish I cooked and cook it again or will that make it even worse? Thanks for the link.

Judy, - another go?
We can’t say you’re not persistent.

How about whipping up a quick batter and having either Cod Tempura or Fish and Chips tonight?
Cut those fillets in half lengthwise so they will fry fast.

Thinking less fat?
Then how about poaching those demi-cooked filets? Since neither of us have a clear understanding of just how uncooked those fillets are at this point, i’m suggesting you quickly and gently cook them in a manner where you maintain control.

Armed with your trusty instant-read thermometer you might consider poaching them in a seasoned 50/50 blend of citrusy and herbal water and chardonnay, or even milk, at 150F. It’s like cooking SV without the vide or your circulator. Pull them at 140F and serve drizzled with a luscious lemon-butter sauce.
Easy, and no plastic required.

If you hang out here often enough you’ll become aware this cat regularly promotes persistent Community members to maintain a SV cooking log to record in detail each cook. That’s every SV cook you do, not just the ones you want to remember not to ever do again.

Learn from your experiences and build on your successes to become ever-better.

chatnoir: Hahaha. I used option 2 and the fully-cooked, a.k.a. “demi-cooked”, fillets are in my tummy. They were flaking but still had a chewy texture, not much to my liking.

I was keeping a cooking log…of sorts…on both failures and successes, but, I can see that I need to expand the detail.

And, yes, as recently as this morning, I was called persistent. T’is true.

chatnoir: Answering your question about how I came to the time and temp for the frozen cod. I believe this recipe for fresh cod is where I got that information.

The package of cod fillets said each fillet weighed 3-4 oz. (the pkg weighed 10 oz and there were 3 fillets so I believed what it said). The recipe calls for 6 oz. fillets. I didn’t stop to think that 6 oz at 1/2 in. thick may be a lot different from 3-4 oz. at 1 1/4 in. thick. I used the recipe’s temp of 132 degrees. I used the rule of thumb for frozen, take the time for fresh and add onto that 1/2 of that time. That’s how I got to 45 min. Then I cooked one fillet for an hour with no discernible improvement.

So there you have it. I read the Douglas Baldwin information. It was awesome.

Judy, you appear to have discovered why i don’t use internet recipes, particularly those that use weight.
They can be very misleading and discouraging to new users of the SV technique.

Glad you found Baldwin useful.

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Good point @chatnoir - Recipes based on weight are not always great, especially for SV. Thickness, type of meat/food, and desired done-ness are the major factors here. Good recipes will have more information along those lines, but sometimes it just takes trying a few things to figure out what works for your tastes. Some of the forums/facebook groups are good places to bounce ideas off other cooks that may have tried the same thing. Hope the next try turns out better!

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Judy, the following are the details i have found useful to record for every item i SV cook:
Menu Item name. I use a descriptor if the item is out of the ordinary, such as “Kalbi - Korean Short Ribs”, instead of just Short Ribs.
Weight, optional, as it has no influence over cooking time and temperature. However, weight can be particularly useful for future meal planning when you also record the yield or number of portions produced from a large item.
Yield, in portions. I’m in the habit of recording both the planned number of portions and the actual, because as Mik says, “You don’t always get what you want.”
Temperature, your Anova set point.
Time, the actual length of time the item cooked at the set point. It’s not always the time you had planned.
Outcome, - describe the results. Did they meet your expectations? If not, record your recommendations for improvement for the next time you cook the item.

You now likely understand that i am leading you into building your personal cookbook. That’s why i recommend your record your SV cooking in a bound book, notes on pieces of paper aren’t serious enough. Spiral bound scholastic exercise books suit me. Or, you might want to set up a spreadsheet on your laptop to record your cooking. That would be more contemporary.

chatnoir: Haha, you totally nailed me and my “notes on pieces of paper”.

Very good suggestions. I’m sure I’ll learn a lot along the way, too. Thanks for all your help and for sharing your experience. I like the idea of using my laptop to keep track of notes, because I can add photos. Probably won’t use a spreadsheet, though. I’d rather spend my time cooking than going through the learning curve of creating a spreadsheet. :slight_smile:

Judy, you’re welcome, and what’s this spreadsheet learning curve?
Could your persistence be packaged with a hint of resistance to change?

To excel in your new SV cooking technique, and just about anything else new in life, you will have to let go of some old ways of thinking.

Photos can be useful in stimulating memories and support some critical thinking about your plating techniques if you consider such things. However, they can’t adequately describe your joy in the deliciousness of your cooking. Don’t let your pictures replace details and your ideas for improvement.

Using an Apple product it will take you less than 20 minutes to gain spreadsheet functionality with the support of your mentor. PCs and the cat don’t get along. I’ve coached many new spreadsheet users, that’s how i know it’s 20 minutes and off you go. Easy. The payback is your spreadsheet becomes a database so you have the benefit of quick look-ups of your menu item records for meal planning so you can spend more time cooking.

Oh, - and if you don’t currently have a mentor, please find one.
They are an essential life component.

Do the work, - and do well.