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Jan 27, 2011 12:19 PM

How do I prepare frozen fish?

I love fish, but my husband doesn't eat it so I don't prepare it often. The extent of my fish capabilites would consist of sauteed shrimp, crab cakes, and salmon in the toaster oven. We recently purchases a large freezer and I'd love to get a few freezer packed fish filets from Trader Joe's but am embarrassed to say that I have no idea what to do with it! Here is what type of advice that I'm looking for:

When do you take it out of the freezer before preparing for a meal?
Do you cook from frozen or thaw first?
What method do you use and for how long?
Do you only prepare enough for that meal, or does it typically reheat well the next day?

I can cook many things well, but this frozen fish thing really gets me nervous. Any advice would be so greatly appreciated!!!

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  1. Thaw your fish by keeping the package in the refrigerator on a plate for several hours or by immersing it in water for an hour or two. I usually opt for the latter, though the refrigerator method can be more even. If you want to prepare enough for leftovers, fish reheats best when it is in sauce.

    1. Is there no fresh fish available where you live?

      If you have to do frozen, always thaw first. However, asking about "fish" is even less specific than asking about "meat". Different fish call for different preparations and not everyone likes every kind of fish. Do you eat fish when you dine out and if so, what are your preferences?

      2 Replies
      1. re: ferret

        Unfortunately, fresh fish is not available everywhere and some of it that calls itself fresh is far from it. I used to be able to get get seafood when I lived in RI, out here in So Cal not so much.

        1. re: ferret

          I'm happy to clarify! I eat fish at restaurants all the time, since it's something that I don't typically cook. I can get fish at the local stores, but I work full time and have a toddler at home. I'd be a lot more likely to grab a filet from the freezer than to make a quick trip to the supermarket for one piece of fish on the day I want it.
          I like salmon, tilapia, catfish, tuna (rare), butterfish, fluke, sea bass- to name a few. Not too into the oily or firmer fishes although I do enjoy mahi mahi. I lean toward sauteed or broiled fish when ordering. I like it flaky on the inside with some crispy edges on the outside.

        2. 1. I take it out of the freezer, take it out of its packaging and place it on a plate in the fridge about 24 hours before its use. On taking it out of its packaging, it's a precaution in case it's left out too long and the air inside builds up and the seal breaks. If you're in a super hurry, you don't have to, but be sure to place it on a plate regardless (just in case).

          2. Thaw. It's pretty impossible to cook it from a frozen state.

          3. Use any method you like. My favorites are to pan-braise, fry and steam. Length varies. "It's done when it's done." Feel and look at the flesh.

          4. Most fish don't reheat well (they dry out). Fatty fish or in stew-form is better, but I still avoid it.

          1. Yes. Do make sure to thaw the fish. My Mom invited us over and served fish. She broiled it around 10 minutes per the package but frozen versus thawed. Whew boy. I won't even tell you what that tasted like.

            You may want to put paper towels under and over when thawing to absorb extra water from the freezing or pat well after the fish is thawed.

            For tilapia or flouder of cat fish etc, try some fish dip (like cornmeal in that section - or make your own). Dip in the dry mixture. Put a little olive oil in the pan and fry. Very quick. Really just need to brown it and the fish is done.

            Or, try the tilapia in a steamer and put some spicy Italian dressing on. Again, does not take long to steam - maybe 10 minutes or so. Depends on how thick. Check to see that the fish flakes.

            The fattier fish like the tuna or salmon, I'd do the outdoor grill. Rub on a little olive oil to prevent sticking to grates and most any favorite seasoning or ones made for seafood.

            1. Thaw it slowly (the fridge method). Frozen fish that is thawed too quickly is more likely to lose more of its moisture, and be less succulent.

              Fish should not be reheated in the microwave. It should not be recooked - the best stovetop approach is a doubler boiler inserted over water that is barely (or, even better, just under) simmering. If you can keep it in a sealed plastic bag with very little air, I'd recommend just immersing that in a bowl of hot tap water (which is typically a temperature that renders food palatably warm but not hot enough to re-cook the flesh).

              Better yet is just cooking enough fish to eat that day/evening, and not have leftovers. Fish often suffers as leftovers.