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Mar 30, 2010 09:13 AM

Force thawing seafood and other protein

What's the downside to force thawing seafood? Does it tend to toughen up, or fall apart? I'm looking at force thawing a mixture of small shrimp, bay scallops, and calamari rings.

I'm also curious about meat - does leaving it to thaw at room temp instead of in the fridge toughen it up any?

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  1. how are you force-thawing it? restaurants do it all the time with shrimp under cold running water.

    the issue with room temp thawing is bacteria, not texture. i'm a wild one though and have ground lamb and pork ribs thawing at room temp right now.

    ideally for both is time enough to thaw in the fridge.

    1. Agreed; I've worked in restaurants for years and they force thaw in cold water all the time normally without any loss of texture although one place I worked in thawed flounder in just a pan of cold water because placing it under running water caused the filets to fall apart from the force of the water.

      I force thaw at home if I forgot to take meat out of the freezer the day before but most of the time I will leave meat out at room temp to thaw, sometimes it'll be in a sink of cold water, sometimes not. With something like a turkey, I don't have the patience to wait a week for it to thaw in the fridge, so it'll be in a sink of cold water.

      1. I almost always thaw seafood under running cold water. If I plan ahead enough, I will just let it thaw in the sink.
        I'm also a risk-taker, I guess, b/c I thaw almost everything outside of the fridge. I've never had a problem. And I've certainly never noticed any problems with texture in meat or seafood.

        1. Sometimes seafood will break apart if the force of the water is too strong. But other than that no real downside (except for the water waste).

          2 Replies
          1. re: ipsedixit

            I agree -- thawing shrimp, calamari, bay scallops, etc under running water isnt' a problem, but I wouldn't do it for fish fillets. For that I fill up the sink and let the (wrapped) fish soak, so the fillets don't split apart.

            1. re: ipsedixit

              Most of the time when I see people thaw "under running water", it is usually just a slow trickle of water meant to keep the water current moving. Thereby, facilitating convection heat transfer from the water to the frozen meat. A small flow wouldn't help much but it would be a little quicker than just a sink or bowl full of water.

              You folks don't really use a fast blast of water do you?

            2. I don't thaw at room temp ever. I defrost seafood in a large bowl full of cool water, in its original packaging if I don't have time for fridge thawing. The only thing I ever cheat is shrimp; I'll thaw that under a spray of water in a pinch, then blot very well before cooking.

              2 Replies
              1. re: mcf

                I'd be curious to know if there's any downside to thawing fish fillets in a steamer-- and then carrying on and cooking them in the same step.

                Will the outsides be oversteamed and soggy before the center is defrosted and cooked through? or would it work?

                The fillets I have in mind are sole and not very thick, but I also wonder if it would work for a thicker piece like halibut steaks.

                1. re: yrpoison

                  "Will the outsides be oversteamed and soggy before the center is defrosted and cooked through?"


                  this will kill a delicate piece of sole and i'd not recommend it for anything. i can't fathom frozen sole to begin with, but fish thaws quickly enough in the fridge or on the counter.