Let’s face it, cooking cod fillets can be icky. The thought of the fishy smell can be unappealing to some, and the process can leave your kitchen smelling gross for days.
Worse, these savoury morsels are easy to overcook, making them dry and tasteless.
But not anymore! What if there was a quicker way? One that doesn’t involve using oil or butter or requires pre-heating your oven? Yes, that’s right. All you need is your trusty microwave, less than five minutes, and some patience.
Here is how to microwave cod fillets.
Simply rinse your cod fillets with cold water and pat them dry. Arrange them in a single layer on a microwavable plate, cover loosely with plastic wrap and microwave on high power for 4-5 minutes. Rotate the dish once halfway through the cooking time. When they’re done, your fillets will appear slightly flaky and opaque.
In this article, I’ll walk you through the steps of microwaving cod fillets quickly and easily. I’ll also share some tips and address common concerns about microwaving fish fillets.
Let’s dive right in.
Can You Microwave Cod Fillets?
Surprisingly, microwaving is an easy and quick way to turn cod fillets into a healthy and delectable meal.
But don’t get too thrilled; it’s not always a walk in the park.
Cod fish fillets are undoubtedly one of the most gratifying and delightful fish options on the market today. It’s hard to go wrong with this flavourful food staple. However, as they say, nothing good comes easy. And this rings true for this scrumptious delicacy. One of the most challenging aspects is that they are easy to overcook or undercook.
Like many other varieties of fish, cod fillets have less connective tissue than meat-based protein sources like beef, chicken, and pork. As a result, they cook quickly, drying up and becoming tough. On the flip side, if cooked for too short of time, you may end up with a raw centre.
Fortunately, all hope is not gone. The key to avoiding either extreme is balancing time with temperature. I find microwaving them at high power for shorter cooking times works magical wonders! This way, the fillets cook just right, and remain juicy and moist but with a firmer texture.
Don’t forget to check the doneness of your cod before removing it from the microwave. I recommend using a meat thermometer rather than relying on colour changes or speculating. If the temperature reads 145 degrees Fahrenheit (65 degrees Celsius) or above, it’s safe to eat.
How Long Does Cod Take to Cook in The Microwave?
Cooking cod fillets in the microwave takes about 4-5 minutes on average.
However, you must tread lightly. As I mentioned, cod fillets are a delicate food that can be easily overcooked. A fraction of a second too long, and they’ll become rubbery and unpalatable. On the other hand, if you pull them out too soon, you may wind up with raw, bland fish.
So, what’s the best way to avoid these two scenarios?
I suggest microwaving in short increments of 30 seconds each. This allows you to monitor the cooking process more closely. If the fillets are opaque and slightly flaky when you poke the thickest part with a fork, then they’re done. But if the colour is pale or translucent, pop them back into the microwave to continue cooking until they flake.
However, the cooking time depends on the thickness of the fillets, how many you’re cooking at once and your microwave wattage. Also, if frozen, add a minute or two to the cooking time.
Does Cod Smell When Cooked?
Like any other seafood, cod fillets emit a fishy smell when cooked.
However, this should not send shivers down your spine. When killed and exposed to oxygen, fish contains a trimethylamine oxide compound that breaks down to produce an ammonia-like odour.
Luckily, I find that buying the freshest cod fillets at the store and cooking them the same day helps to reduce any lingering odours. That is why most people prefer frozen seafood, which is processed and sealed at the peak of freshness.
If that does not sway you, rubbing the fillets with brining and fermenting acids works magic. These compounds are found in vinegar, salt or even citrus fruits like lemons or limes and will enhance the flavours and preserve the cod longer. The level of tartness will depend on personal preference but only use enough to cover the flesh.
But don’t get too comfortable. If the smell is unbearable and not easily masked by the aforementioned techniques, your cod is past its prime. Look for firm fillets with shiny skin, moist flesh and no signs of deterioration. If it is none of those, I suggest discarding the dish right away.
Tips For Microwaving Cod Fillets
Microwaving cod fillets is undeniably challenging, especially for a novice. However, with these few tips and tricks, it is easier than you think.
- Select fresh, firm fish cod fillets. Avoid slimy or milky-coloured fillets that are most likely spoiled. Any pungent scent emanating from the packaging is also a sign of deterioration. However, they’ll have a slightly fishy smell and be moist but not wet to the touch.
- Rinse your cod fillets under cold water before microwaving to remove any debris or contaminant residue on the surface. However, rinsing is unnecessary for frozen fillets since they are already cleaned when first packaged. I always pat dry them with paper towels after rinsing to avoid steaming.
- Season the fillets liberally. For instance, salt brings out the inherent flavours of the cod and helps retain moisture, while pepper adds spiciness. It is the only way to do justice to this delicious dish. The key is to use the right amount to avoid overwhelming the delicate taste of the cod.
- Only use a microwave-safe plate designed for microwave cooking. Most frozen cod fillet packages are constructed of plastic, which melts under high heat conditions and releases toxins into your fillets. I recommend ceramic or glass plates because they’re heatproof and food safe.
- Microwave your cod properly until it registers 145 degrees Fahrenheit on an instant-read thermometer. Like any other flesh, cod fillets are susceptible to bacteria growth if improperly cooked, resulting in food poisoning.
As a result, I usually check for doneness by inserting a metal skewer into the thickest part of the fillet. When done, it should be opaque and flaky with no hints of translucent spots.
How To Microwave Cod Fillets
Here’s a simple step-by-step instruction for microwaving cod fillets in less than five minutes.
- Rinse the fish fillets with cold water to remove debris and pollutants, then pat dry with paper towels. However, if you’re dealing with frozen cod, proceed directly to Step 2.
- If desired, season your cod with salt, pepper or other spices of your choice to enhance flavour and add freshness.
- Arrange your cod fillets in a single layer on a microwave-safe plate to ensure they don’t stick together and heat evenly. If they can’t all fit on one plate, I recommend microwaving them in batches.
- If you have frozen cod, add about two tablespoons of water before microwaving.
- Cover the plate with a paper towel or a microwavable film to prevent the fillets from drying.
- Place the plate in the microwave and cook on high power for 4-5 minutes, making sure to rotate halfway through cooking time.
- You’ll know your cod is done when it’s opaque, firm and flaky to the touch. But to be precise and safe, insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the fillet; it should read at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit. If not cooked properly, microwave in 1-minute bursts until done.
- Once done, remove from the microwave and let it stand for 1-2 minutes to allow the fillets to absorb juices and finish cooking.
- Serve immediately and enjoy!
How To Store and Reheat Microwaved Cod Fillets
Store your microwaved cod fillets in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to four days or freeze for up to six months.
However, the lifespan of your fillets depends on whether you properly cooked them and how you store them.
Cod, like all fish, should be consumed as soon as possible after cooking because it spoils quickly. I always habitually label my containers with the date of preparation before storage. That way, when I’m ready to eat, I can quickly identify the freshest meal.
To reheat, thaw the desired cod fillets by leaving them overnight in the refrigerator. Place them in a microwave-safe dish, cover them with plastic wrap, and reheat on high power for 3-4 minutes, or until heated through. They’re best served immediately so that the texture stays moist.
Although not the best option, microwaving cod fillets is an easy and quick way to cook them. However, it requires a lot of diligence and attention as cod cooks quickly and, therefore easy to overcook. As such, microwave them for a short period with constant rotation to ensure they cook evenly.
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