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Jan 19, 2011 10:21 AM

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 or "en casserole" like this .

            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.