HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


How to deal with frozen fish?

  • c

Forgive me for what may be a silly question: How does one use frozen fish? I'd never bought it before this weekend, but purchased a few packages from Trader Joe's on impulse.

Presumably you defrost, first, right? Is there anything you do to get rid of the 'fishy' flavor? I've read about soaking liver, for instance, in milk. Does that work for fish?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Assuming this is vacuum packed, defrost by filling your sink with cool water, and putting the fish (still in the vacuum packed bag) in for 20 - 40 minutes (depends on how thick, etc) until thawed. You can cook like you would cook the fish if it were fresh (it should not be more "fishy" because it was frozen, although the texture might be a bit more firm).

    1. If you have high quality fish that's been flash frozen on the ship immediately after catching and cleaning, there should be no fishy smell whatsoever. Defrost fillets overnight in the fridge. If you've got fish that smells like it needs to be soaked in something to get rid of the stench, for God's sake, find another fish monger!

      1. Thanks, you two. I'm not sure I'd consider Trader Joe's a fish monger, far less a quality fish monger! The package I defrosted does smell quite a lot fishier than the fresh fish I buy.

        1 Reply
        1. re: cimui

          Take it back. TJ's has a very good return policy: if you don't like it, they'll take it back.

        2. A 'little' fishy smell from defrosted fish is no big deal...
          Just get some butter, capers, lemon, and herbs on it and eat it up...

          1. I had some frozen salmon and talapia fillets that were vacuumed packed. They had been in the freezer way too long. I never really enjoyed them. I pulled them out to recently and decided to do a sous vide technique since they were already vacuumed packed. I thawed them in running water then first. I then held them at around 55*C in a water bath for about 15 min. They came out better than other methods. Very moist and the fishy taste from the salmon that I had noticed when doing a pan saute was significantly reduced.

            1 Reply
            1. re: scubadoo97

              Great tip, scubadoo -- thanks! The milk soaking thing actually worked well, too.

            2. I regularly freeze or purchase frozen fish and have never had a fishy smell after defrosting. That is a sign the fish was not fresh prior to freezing... and I would also find a new place to buy my fish if that is the case.

              1. i've been purchasing frozen fish to have in the freezer 'just in case' and whilst i usually defrost the usual method(s) mentioned - over night, in milk etc... - if the fish has been flash frozen you can cook from frozen in a pinch.
                Check out the link for recipes. I've basically used it to gauge cooking times and for ideas: their methods, my ingredients.

                1. I have always heard that the fishy smell was because the fish was old. My health source says that it is an ammonia compound because of the proteins breaking down(?) and since it is in frozen fish it means the fish was either 1) not frozen quickly after catching 2) not being kept properly at the processing plant 3) not kept frozen in transit some where or 4)not held properly at the store. Since I respect how they generally handle the food at the trader Joe's stores, I would guess at #1 or 2. I would take it back.

                  1. a sweet briny smell is natural for fish and implies good quality. When defrosting in water, make sure you keep the water running over it to keep it cold. The smell should be more prominent near the gills.

                    1. I have purchased frozen fish from TJs a lot and it has never had a fishy smell. I use the water bath method to defrost. Then cook as you would fresh.