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Old 06-08-2005, 11:04 AM   #1
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Red Snapper Curling during cooking

I purchased some frozen Red Snapper fillets and for some reason they curl up during the cooking process (no matter how i cook them). After its cooked, the fillet is rubbery and tough. Is it because the fish is old? help.

thanks,
joe

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Old 06-08-2005, 11:17 AM   #2
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Not sure why it's doing that. I had red snapper for about 7 months in the freezer that we caught down at the coast. We fried some and baked some and it didn't curl. But, wait, someone in here WILL know what is going on.
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Old 06-08-2005, 11:23 AM   #3
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Welcome to the site gonzojoe! I am just guessing here, but I bet if your scored the fish (Slice a few shallow slices) then it will not curl or at least not as much. As far as it being rubbery and tough that sounds like the fish was overcooked. Try cooking it much less and you should be OK.
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Old 06-08-2005, 11:25 AM   #4
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I'd venture to say that the filets still had skin on them. The skin will shrink at a different rate than the flesh, causing curling. Do what GB said. Score the skin side.
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Old 06-08-2005, 02:07 PM   #5
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I tried the scoring

Yes, it does have the skin on it and I have tried the scoring and this did not work. As for it being overcooked, the rubbery texture almost immediately shows up. the only thing i can think of is that its been frozen for too long. My supplier says otherwise, of course.

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Old 06-08-2005, 07:30 PM   #6
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The fish is old and/or was frozen for too long. Also, you may not have cooked it at a high enough heat level. If you pan sear it, you need to get the pan and oil smoking then add the fish skin down. If you grill it then it needs to be on high and/or over the hottest part of the grill. You shouldn't have to cook it more than 2-3 minutes per side. Any more than that and it will be overcooked.
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Old 06-08-2005, 08:47 PM   #7
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Well, Joe, with you being in Corpus I doubt the snapper was either too old or frozen for too long. It's always a possibility - but not very likely where you live.

As for curling: maybe you are not making the scores long enough? They really need to extent most of the way across the width of the fish.

As for rubbery: how are you cooking it?
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Old 06-09-2005, 08:08 AM   #8
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Even though Corpus Christi is on the coast, many restrictions are put on commercial fishing, so many seafood products that restaurants purchase come from different areas of the country. This fish comes in frozen in 10-11 oz fillets.
The cooking methods used are: Blackened on a cast iron skillet (very hot), on a radiant charbroiler. We always lay the fish down on its skin side first. As I said before, we can always tell if the fillet is going to be one of the duds within the first minute or two of cooking.

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Old 06-11-2005, 10:55 AM   #9
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I think there are two possible explanations:
First, I've noticed over the years that fish (especially "snapper") from different regions have distinctly different cooking characteristics, especially in regards the sking curling. Snapper from cooler northern water tend to flatten out relatively easily, requiring just a little pressure initially at times to keep from curling. Snappers from water water, especially South America, tend to curl much more and require more effort to keep flat (assuming you're coooking them skin on). The best trick I've found is to put the fish skin side down into a hot pan, quicky put a piece of parchment on the meat side (to protect it) and then put some weight on the fish, usually in the form of another saute pan that will nest deep enough in the one you are cooking in that it pushes the fish flat with some weight in it (like a can of something). The extra weight can be removed once the fillet remains flat.
The second possible explanation is that you were sold something other than real red snapper. "Snapper" is one of the biggest grey areas in the fish industry, and often a fish will be called snapper to enhance it's salability. You could have been sold a less desirable fish, which might explain the rubbery quality of the meat.
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Old 04-06-2015, 06:11 PM   #10
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Same problem in New Braunfels

Quote:
Originally Posted by gonzojoe View Post
I purchased some frozen Red Snapper fillets and for some reason they curl up during the cooking process (no matter how i cook them). After its cooked, the fillet is rubbery and tough. Is it because the fish is old? help.

thanks,
joe
I know I'm replying TEN years later, but... I have had the same exact problem. I cooked snapper a hundred times and it was delicious, then suddenly, every time I tried it, I got a curled piece of rubber. We call it "boot fish" (tough like a boot.. I have tried grilling it, blackening it, baking, pan frying, with skin, without skin, and the list goes on and on. I would buy mine from HEB in the fish case previously frozen, same as I always did. I asked them if their distributor changed but they were not sure. I haven't bought snapper for years until today from Central Market and I'm hoping I don't get those results. I am sure I am not overcooking it or using a bad technique because I cooked it sooooo many times successfully before this started. I am convinced it's not real snapper. Good luck!
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Old 04-07-2015, 08:22 AM   #11
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Does the fish have it's skin on?
Cooking/frying/poaching.....whatever method used will produce a 'curled' piece of fish with the skin on if the heat is too high. The skin cooks at a different rate than the flesh. Think of a bimetal thermal-switch.
With the skin off the same thing happens when there's heat applied to one side and not the other.
It happens to pork chops and steaks.
'Low and slow' IMO is the only way to cook any seafood.
Lastly when cooking fillets of fish you want the fish to be at room temp.
Imagine a cold fillet being put on a hot surface. Watch as the fillet contracts. Contracting is another term for curling.
'Low and slow' and in as short a time as possible.
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Old 04-07-2015, 09:36 AM   #12
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Quote:
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I know I'm replying TEN years later, but... I have had the same exact problem. I cooked snapper a hundred times and it was delicious, then suddenly, every time I tried it, I got a curled piece of rubber. We call it "boot fish" (tough like a boot.. I have tried grilling it, blackening it, baking, pan frying, with skin, without skin, and the list goes on and on. I would buy mine from HEB in the fish case previously frozen, same as I always did. I asked them if their distributor changed but they were not sure. I haven't bought snapper for years until today from Central Market and I'm hoping I don't get those results. I am sure I am not overcooking it or using a bad technique because I cooked it sooooo many times successfully before this started. I am convinced it's not real snapper. Good luck!
Hi, Heda, and welcome to DC. Never mind that the thread is an old one. It's always interesting to re-visit an old problem.

I'm inclined to think that the earlier comment about slashing the skin side could be the answer to the curling but that shouldn't account for the dryness. I'll probably have a heart attack in my old age but I usually use plenty of butter when cooking fish unless it's an oily one like mackerel.

I'm not acquainted with snapper but could it be that the cooking is too hot or too long? Alternatively, what about steaming it? Or baking "en papillote" in foil or parchment? Perhaps like this

Sea bass en papillote with Thai flavours | BBC Good Food
(I know sea bass is not red snapper but the method should do)
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Old 04-09-2015, 03:05 PM   #13
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I've seen cat curling, so I can picture red snapper curling, with someone pushing the fish down the ice, with two other people sweeping in front of it with little brooms


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Old 04-09-2015, 04:48 PM   #14
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That cat curling was hilarious.
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Old 04-09-2015, 11:14 PM   #15
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That cat curling was hilarious.
It is after midnight and if my neighbors hear me laughing like this, I am going into the nursing home post haste!

Welcome to DC Heda. Lots of information here. And never mind that you are here ten years later. We are just happy here to ask for help. We love new members. Even ones who curl cats.

It sounds like you didn't get what you paid for. And it may not be the stores fault. Sounds like they were sold a bill of goods and there is no one in the back room with enough knowledge regarding fish to know the difference. Or perhaps the fish was refrozen more than twice. It is frozen once on the boat when it is iced down in the bin. Then again is the processing plant, and again it appeared to be thawing out when it reached the store and the back room froze it again. It also could be the fish were caught during their mating season and were not at their prime. Like the salmon, all fish eventually become to old to be eaten.
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Old 11-25-2015, 04:47 PM   #16
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seasons is the answer...

Hello,
I've just seen this thread and i used to work for a fish market in the carribean for a while. This problem of curling snapper fillet is due to a season problem.
When the snappers are in their reproduction period , they don't eat much and the flesh is like "rubber". You can cook them whatever way you want , they will curl....
The solution is to have other latitudes snappers. In the carribean , i can't remember during which it used to happen......My memory has its limits, too bad.
Hope it can help.
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Old 11-25-2015, 05:16 PM   #17
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Oups! mistake.....I wanted to say "Ican't remember during which season it used to happen". Sorry about that
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Old 02-17-2016, 08:09 AM   #18
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I know this is an old post but it sounds like your supplier is selling 'Nannygai' which is related to the red snapper, they're bigger, easier to catch, almost identical once cut into steaks but main difference is in the eating, they're rubbery unless cooked for a long time - they tend to be minced up for Thai fish cakes.

Hope this helps.
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Old 02-17-2016, 12:31 PM   #19
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I cook red snapper in my George Foreman grill and it never curls up.
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Old 02-17-2016, 02:33 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by ValeFoods View Post
I know this is an old post but it sounds like your supplier is selling 'Nannygai' which is related to the red snapper, they're bigger, easier to catch, almost identical once cut into steaks but main difference is in the eating, they're rubbery unless cooked for a long time - they tend to be minced up for Thai fish cakes.

Hope this helps.
Welcome to DC. Lots of info and gales of laughter at times. But in the end it all come down to just how much we all enjoy cooking for our families. So do stick around and join in the fun. Looking forward to your contributions.
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