Cooking Below the Boil

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About
Though the boil is a handy temperature landmark, it’s not necessarily the best temperature at which to cook foods in water. Fish and many meats develop an ideal texture at temperatures around 140°F/60°C. If they’re cooked in boiling water, which is 70°F hotter, then the outer portions of the food overcook and dry out while the interior heats through. Lower water temperatures reduce this overcooking, though they also prolong cooking times. A water temperature of 180°F/80°C, verified by thermometer, offers a good compromise between gentle and efficient cooking.