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How To Defrost and Thaw Fish

How To Defrost and Thaw Fish

Some individuals are fortunate enough to live near fish markets where fresh fish is always accessible and can be eaten on the same day it is caught.

However, some of us are not fortunate enough to live near water. Therefore, we are subjected to consuming frozen fish.

Nevertheless, just because you are eating frozen fish does not mean you are settling.

Most fish sold in grocery stores have been flash-frozen after they were caught. Therefore you get quality, fresh fish.

Yes, there are some types of fish that can be cooked frozen. However, it is always best to defrost fish before cooking it. Luckily, you will learn how to defrost fish the right way.

Why Does Defrosted Frozen Fish Turn Mushy?

One common problem that arises when thawing frozen fish is that it develops a mushy texture once defrosted.

This usually happens because the fish was not placed into a bag before it was submerged in cold water.

However, there is another reason the fish can turn mushy. All living creatures consist of millions of cells that contain liquid. Fish are no different.

When the fish is frozen, the liquid freezes too, if the freezing process takes too long, the liquid can be converted into ice crystals that split the fish’s cells.

When the fish is defrosted, the ice crystals will melt into liquid, resulting in a mushy texture.

Although the fish’s cells splitting is rare, it can happen in thicker fish fillets or steaks since they will take longer to freeze than a thin fillet of tilapia.

I know what you are thinking; what if I thaw your fish correctly, and it still has a mushy texture.

In that case, it is probably due to factors associated with how the manufacturers handled the fish before you purchased it.

Tips for Defrosting Fish

Fish is delicate. Just like you can make mistakes when cooking fish, you can also make mistakes while defrosting fish.

Before you defrost the fish, inspect its packaging to ensure the fish is sealed inside the package.

If the package has tears or proliferation, remove the fish from the package and place it into a resealable bag before defrosting it.

While the fish is defrosting, do not try to break the fish fillets apart by force. Most people think that this will speed up the defrosting process.

However, you will be trying to force the fish apart can cause the fish fillets to become misshapen.

You can always cut the fish with a sharp knife instead.

Furthermore, if you are thawing your fish via the refrigerator method, place the fish into an airtight container and place it on the bottom shelf.

To determine whether your fish is finished defrosting, press your finger into the fish. If the center is hard, allow the fish to defrost for another 15-20 minutes.

Make sure you give your fish a final look-over before you cook it. Ensure it does not have an unpleasant odor or any spots on it.

Can I Defrost Fish in Hot Water

Thawing fish in hot water would be like defrosting it at room temperature. Either way, fish should never be thawed in hot water, creating food safety issues.

Hot water will increase bacteria growth rate on the fish’s exterior.

In addition to this, hot water could change the texture of the fish as some parts of the fish will start to cook while others remain frozen. Use cold water when defrosting fish.

Can I Defrost Fish in the Microwave

Although you can technically defrost fish in the microwave, we do not recommend it. Microwaves are notorious for unevenly heating food.

You will end up with some parts of the fish being cooked while others remain frozen, creating a breeding ground for bacteria.

How To Defrost Fish

When it comes to defrosting fish, food safety is the primary concern. The best methods for defrosting fish are the refrigerator and using cold water.

How To Defrost Fish in the Refrigerator

Whether you are defrosting salmon, shrimp, or fish, the refrigerator is the best way to defrost food.

Thawing the fish in the fridge prevents the fish from becoming warm enough to allow bacteria to multiply rapidly and cause food poisoning.

Best of all, it is as simple as taking the fish from the freezer to the fridge.

The only drawback of the refrigerator method is it takes 12-24 hours to defrost the fish.

So you must remember to remove the fish from the freezer a day in advance before you intend to cook it.

Simply place the fish onto a plate or tray and place it on a lower shelf in the fridge.

Do not place the fish on the same shelf as ready-to-eat foods or leftovers as cross-contamination can occur.

If your fish is not sealed or the package has tears, place it into a resealable Ziplock bag to prevent the liquid from contaminating other foods.

When you are ready to cook your fish, remove it from its packaging and rinse it. Pat your fish fillets dry, and they are ready to be cooked.

How Defrost Fish in Cold Water

Coldwater is the next best thing when it comes to defrosting fish.

Plus, it’s quicker than defrosting fish in the microwave, so all is not lost if you forget to transfer your fish to the fridge the night before you intend to cook it.

Since the fish is submerged in water, it will thaw it faster than if it were in the fridge.

To thaw fish in cold water, place it into a leak-proof, resealable ziplock bag, squeeze the excess air from the fish, and place it into a container.

Place the container into the sink and fill it with cold water.

Check the status of your fish after 20 minutes. If it is still frozen, drain the water, add more cold water, and let it sit for 15-20 minutes.

Once your fish is thawed completely, remove it from its packaging, rinse it, then dry it using paper towels.

Alternatively, you can also combine the refrigerator and water methods. Place the fish bag, squeeze the excess air from the fish, then place it into a pan.

Add enough water to cover the fish and place it into the fridge.

Make sure you do not spill any of the water and place the fish on a lower self by itself.

Although it will take longer than the cold water method, it will not take as long as the refrigerator method.

Additionally, you will also decrease the risk of bacteria multiplying.

How To Cook Fish From Frozen

As previously mentioned, you can cook fish from frozen. It will combine the defrosting and cooking stage into one process.

To cook fish from frozen, it must be cleaned first. Remove the fish from its original packaging and rinse it under cold water.

Pat the fish dry to remove any remaining ice crystals from its surface. Removing the ice crystals from the surface of the fish will help the seasonings adhere to it.

Next, all that’s left is cooking the fish. Most recipes will tell you whether you can use frozen fish.

However, if they do not, you can cook frozen fish following one of the following methods.

Frozen fish can be baked in the oven. Simply place it on a cookie sheet or roasting pan, brush it with olive oil, and add your desired seasonings.

Place the frozen fish in the oven and bake it until the fish is no longer transparent and has a flaky texture.

You can also steam frozen fish. Steaming is a healthy way to cook frozen or thawed fish.

Make sure you season the fish to enhance its flavor. Place it into a steamer basket and cook it slowly.

You can also add fish to soup or stew. It may be best to cut the fish with a sharp knife before adding it to the stew.

While you would add thawed fish during the final minutes of the cooking time, it’s best to add frozen fish 30 minutes before the cooking time ends.

Lastly, you can also fire up your natural gas grill or kamado grill to cook your frozen fish. Remember to season the fish before grilling it.

Additionally, wrap the fish with foil to prevent flare-ups. Place your fish onto the grill and cook until it is no longer transparent and has a flaky texture.

Final Thoughts

Commercially frozen fish is still fresh and has great quality. Best of all, you can stock up on fish and keep it in the freezer.

However, knowing how to defrost fish is imperative if you want to retain its flavor and texture.

Remember, do not thaw fish in hot water, the microwave, or at room temperature. Not only will it ruin the texture of the fish, but it will also increase food safety risks.

The only suitable ways to defrost fish are using cold water or thawing it overnight in the refrigerator. Happy defrosting!

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