How to Thaw Seafood
Frozen seafood is a modern marvel. Allowing busy folks the opportunity to plan tasty meals well in advance, economically.
But how do you thaw seafood properly?
There are a few key pieces to keep in mind when thawing, all topics that we’ll explore, like maintaining quality and safe food handling. Making this article a sort of Frozen FAQ…
What is Flash Frozen?
Flash freezing is really what it sounds like…seafood frozen very quickly. Most of the time fresh seafood, once caught, is either frozen on the ships that catch the delicious bounty or on the docks after processing.
The key reason behind flash freezing is so the seafood will maintain it’s freshness, locking in the flavor, and giving home cooks a great product to incorporate into their recipes.
Should I defrost in the microwave?
This is not a slight against the microwave, but the microwave really is less than ideal for defrosting seafood. Seafood stay away!
You’ve probably experienced a botched thaw job thanks to the inconsistent and sporadic heat distribution that occurs in the microwave. Ground beef cooked in one corner, mushy steaks or thawed on the outside frozen on the inside casseroles or stews. It’s these dramatic temperature variations that will ruin your seafood. Changing textures, prematurely cooking and making a mushy mess.
There are far better, faster, ways to thaw…
Should I just leave it out on the counter to defrost?
Please, pretty please, do not thaw your seafood at room temperature. That’s just asking for trouble.
Bacteria love moist, protein packed places and thrive at room temperature. Food safety and seafood are BFFs and should always be considered when planning and prepping meals.
Eeek! I want Seafood Tonight! What should I do?
You’re probably at the point of ‘ok, cheffy smarty pants, what should I do now?!’ ‘I want seafood tonight BUT it’s frozen!’
Defrosting in the Refrigerator
The best method for thawing your seafood is to place it in the refrigerator the morning of your seafood fueled meal. This is the ideal method for all frozen seafood options: vacuum packed fish fillets, lobster tails, mussels, clams, crab legs, shrimp….you name it.
The seafood will gradually thaw, maintaining the food safe temperature of your refrigerator and after 8 hours or so will be ready to cook. Freshness intact and full of flavor.
Chef Tip: Clear a little space for your refrigerator thawing. Even though there doesn’t seem to be much moisture on the frozen goods, there will be plenty once thawed. Put your frozen (soon to be thawed) seafood into a bowl or dish to catch the moisture and save you from cleaning up a puddle later.
Defrosting in Water
‘LOL, Patterson, I didn’t think that far ahead. It’s dinnertime NOW and I’m craving my Cameron’s!’
Fear not friend, defrosting in water is the 2nd best thawing option for your seafood.
Place a bowl, large enough to submerge your seafood, into the sink. Fill the bowl with cool water and your frozen goodies, you’ll most likely need another bowl to place on top to keep the seafood submerged.
Depending on your seafood, it may take anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour for your product to thaw completely. Fish fillets, shrimp and scallops will most likely thaw faster than thick shelled or larger pieces (lobster tails, crab legs, mussels and clams). A good rule of thumb is to change out the water every 20-30 minutes until everything is completely thawed.
Chef Tip: Vacuum sealed seafood is A-ok for instant water bath thaw. If any of your seafood is ‘free’ from it’s packaging, just put it into zipper baggies before submerging in the cool water. You don’t want to introduce more moisture to your seafood, just thawing.
Also, no need to keep a steady stream of water flowing. That is just water wasteful. As long as you change out the water regularly, keeping it cool and fresh, all is well and safe.
Buy Seafood Online-and cook good food at home!
There are oodles of flash frozen seafood options available at our online store. As we say, ‘from shore to door, 3 days fresher than the grocery store’-all of our seafood is delivered right to your door when you schedule it, guaranteed! That’s convenience you need, especially for meal prepping and planning.
About the author
Patterson Watkins is a professional chef with over 17 years of experience. With a robust career in restaurants, contract dining and catering (including 4 Summer Olympic posts preparing food for the athletes!) Patterson joined the Cameron's Seafood team at the end of 2018 to concoct some delicious recipes with our premium seafood items as the centerpiece.