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Frozen Fish

I love fish, but I only go shopping on the weekends, so the convenience of frozen fish (salmon, tilapia, cod, halibut), is very appealing. However, the only method of cooking frozen fish that I found to be successful is frying. Whenever I try to broil it or grill it, it's comes out super dry and flavorless. Any tips?

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  1. First, make sure your fish is fully defrosted. Second, move the fish further away from direct heat, sear and oven bake, or bake and just brown under the broiler.. Last, try some compound butters.

    1. Halibut works very well steaming, either via Asian methods or en papillote. You can also poach the halibut and salmon and the court-bouillon will help add flavor and moisture. You can also bake salmon with a glaze though there's issues still with moisture loss.

      I don't do tilapia (not my favorite) and I've never bought frozen cod (though I've had it as a kit in the form of fish sticks) so no suggestions from me for either of those.

      1. I buy frozen wild salmon from Trader Joe's all the time. When I bring it home (there are usually two pieces) I put each in a separate ziplock bag, and place in the freezer.

        The night before I'm going to use a piece, I remove it from the freezer and place in the frig to defrost.

        If it has skin, I broil in a preheated broiler for about 4-5 minutes. I prefer undercooked fish (any kind).

        No skin, I use my wok. Place the fish on a lightly oiled plate, bring the water to a rolling boil in the wok (I have 2, one for steaming, and the other for stir-fry). Chinese markets sell wire stands that fit into the wok - place the plate on it, put on the lid, and steam for about 2 minutes. You'll also need a spider to remove the plate, obtainable at Chinese markets (it's a three prong gadget with a spring, which hooks onto the edge of the plate, and has a button on the top that you press to make it tight, then lift off the plate onto another plate.

        Never overcook fish - probably one of the reasons so many people dislike it, because the kitchen odor that it emits from being overcooked.

        You could poach halibut in warm olive oil and dried mint leaves. Cook only until it turns white on both sides, it's center will finish cooking when you remove it from the oil.

        Gently saute - in butter of olive oil, any flat fish - do it quickly and it will never be dry.

        1. I buy frozen fish all the time. I bake it mostly. I have found that most white fish bakes well. But I don't have a problem with it being fishy. I agree that thawing the fish completely is best before cooking. For tilapia, you can grill the filets on a stovetop grill and make sandwiches. This is pretty good, actually. Catfish filets can be sliced into strips width wise, sizzled in a hot wok, and used in fish tacos.

          1 Reply
          1. re: sueatmo

            There will nearly always be some sacrifice in quality when purchasing frozen fish. Dryness and off flavor has caused many a person to simply swear off fish completely! One of the things that can cause this is the handling and packaging of the fish. I always look for frozen fish that is "Flash Frozen" with a protective coating of ice or fillets that are individually portioned and vacuum sealed. If you can see the fish in the packaging make sure it does not have a coating of frost (which would leach out the moisture) and does not appear dried out or freezer burned.

            The moist cooking methods that have already been mentioned are very good suggestions. I would add that among my favorite methods to prepare frozen fish are to bake it with a self basting topping like this one http://www.finecooking.com/recipes/ro... or "en casserole" like this http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/gra... .

            I hope this helps!



          2. My solution has been to buy fresh and freeze myself. I find that shrimp, squid, salmon, cod and flounder all freeze very well when vacuum packed. And it depends on who I am cooking for. Quiet night at home-defrosted shrimp over pasta, cold squid salad or steamed flounder with Asian ginger sauce. Guests? Then off to the fish market for $20 an lb.

            1 Reply
            1. re: AdamD

              This would also be my first suggestion!
              Buy it fresh and then freeze it yourself for future (soon) use. I wouldn't keep it frozen for over a week unless you vac seal it tho.

              Frozen fish doesn't get too bad if only frozen for a few days.

            2. What kind of fish is it? You can try poaching white fish and pouring a sauce over it with ginger, garlic, onion, scallion, and sesame oil. I also sear previously frozen swordfish, salmon, and cod with regular success. Cioppino is another good way of using white fish. Mackerel, well, is just delicious fried!

              1. You certainly get what you pay for with frozen fish. I swear the cheap stuff comes from the "fresh fish" at the markets which don't sell... so right before it goes bad they freeze it. I can't say for sure, but that's my suspicion and I'm sticking to it!

                Flash frozen fish done at sea can be very good though. Certainly better than a "fresh" fish that has been sitting on ice for 3 days.

                The suggestion of buying good fresh fish and then freezing it yourself is a good idea too. If you don't have a vacuum sealer, then what I like to do is put a sheet of parchment paper on an aluminum half sheet pan. This goes in my deep freezer with the fish on it. It usually freezes quickly. I use a misting bottle to spray a mist of water all over the fish. I let it freeze and do 3 or 4 coats. Then I flip it over (that's why you put it on parchment) and do 3 or 4 coats on that side. I then put it in a bag. You now have IQF fish that defrosts quickly and doesn't get freezer burned nearly as easily. If you want it to last a REALLY long time, then you can freeze it in a solid block of water inside a tub or big plastic bag. I have eaten 2 year old fish this method and it was still decent. It is an absolute beast to defrost though!

                1. It depends on how you make it. I buy frozen fish all the time because it's just more convenient sometimes. Like you, i shop once a week. Although the suggestion of buying fresh then freezing is also a good one.

                  I've also cooked with it direct from frozen. It depends on what you're making. Last night, I made a Moroccan-inspired fish dish - sauteed some onions and pepper, then added some garlic, ginger and chilli and some spices (ground coriander seeds, a bit of turmeric, smoked paprika, cinnamon), dried apricots (I used prunes the last time) and whole olives; then added a drained can of chickpeas and a can of chopped tomatoes to that, with a few spoonfuls of a pepper paste I had; once that was mixed together and bubbling along, I put the whole frozen fish fillets on top of it (I had hake in the freezer) and just poured some of the sauce onto the fish so it wouldn't remain dry on top, covered it with a lid and left it to cook on medium-low for about 30 minutes while I got on with some work. Served it with some bulgar wheat (I was out of cous cous). It was a hit, even with the fish-hating other half.

                  1. I buy frozen fish all the time, usually from Trader Joes because it's in vacuum sealed bags, flash frozen at the source (not the leftover "fresh fish" that some merchants then freeze, as mentioned by other posters). For salmon, II generally broil it. To keep it moist, about 20 minutes before I broil it, I put the fish in a shallow plate with olive oil, seasoned with salt & pepper, and turn the fish so it's coated on all sides with the oil. That tends to add a bit of moisture that prevents drying out. I tend to use tilapia or mahi mahi in fish tacos; similarly I let the fish first sit in seasoned olive oil (cilantro, chili powder, etc) and then pan fry the fish.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: masha

                      Good technique for frozen fish. I imagine your salmon tastes wonderful I just want to point out that you can buy flash frozen fish at grocers other than TJ.

                      1. re: sueatmo

                        Most of the flash frozen fish at my local supermarket is either farmed or from China. I like TJ's because it's generally caught wild from locales with sustainable fishing -- e..g, the salmon is from Alaska or Canada, typically.

                    2. I used to think that frozen fish would always pale in comparison to the fresh at the supermarket, but no more. In fact, at least here in the Midwest, much of the fish in supermarkets has been thawed on ice at the supermarket, and it's usually quite fine. Solution: find a way to thaw your own fish on ice. (And as fourunder says, be sure to thaw completely.)

                      My set-up is modeled on something Alton Brown did once on Good Eats. I'll try to attach a picture, but here's the scheme. Buy two identical tupperware-style containers that are appropriately sized for the fish you mean to thaw. You'll need to sacrifice one of those containers for any other uses by poking several holes in the bottom. Then you can throw a layer of ice into that container and nest it inside the intact container. Put the fish on ice, and all melted water and fish juices will drain into the bottom container. I have noticed that it takes fully two days for most fillets to thaw in this manner, but the resulting texture is excellent.

                      1. Freezing fresh fish works for me. We catch Grouper all season and freeze them with a liberal amount of water. Lasts for at least 3-4 weeks. It is sooo good it does no last longer than that in my freezer!!!!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: ospreycove

                          I use frozen fish all the time, usually from Lidl who offer the glazed type freeze.

                          I feel if the fish has been frozen shortly after catching, it could be better than fish caught then chilled for goodness knows how long on arrival at the fishmonger.

                          Here in England it seems that Asda, a large supermarket chain, had on their fresh fish counter small labels

                          saying 'Some of this fish on display has been previously frozen'

                          How cute is that.