How to Properly Thaw Frozen Fish

When it comes to fish, maximum freshness isn’t necessarily about being fished straight out of the water. It’s about flash-freezing followed by controlled thawing. And having frozen fish on hand is an excellent way to enjoy delicious, lean protein whenever you want, and it’s a whole lot easier than going fishing. 

So, you’ve got your frozen fish – but now what? How do you thaw it safely at home?  

Here’s what you need to know: 

The safest and easiest way to thaw fish, by far, is to pop it in the refrigerator the night before you want to cook it.  The morning of works too, but you could be cutting it close depending on what time you eat dinner. Keep your fish in its packaging or wrap it in paper and place it on a plate to catch the drips as it thaws or place it in a bowl at the bottom of the fridge. Make sure you keep it away from any ready-to-eat foods and leave it in the fridge until it’s fully defrosted.

If you aren’t much of a planner (no judgment, of course), you can still safely thaw your fish in ice-cold water. Keep your frozen fish in its packaging or a plastic bag — in a big bowl of cold water and cover. Make sure the fish is submerged, so all parts defrost at the same rate, and change the water every 20 to 30 minutes to keep water cold until your fish completely thaws. 

Never defrost fish at room temperature or in warm or hot water, as this encourages bacteria growth, which, needless to say, is a bad thing. And while we’ve heard tales (no pun intended) of defrosting fish in the microwave, we don’t recommend it. It can be tricky to achieve an even thaw, and the dramatic temperature change can really mess with its texture and taste. And while you can technically cook certain leaner fish from frozen, we don’t recommend this either since the result tends to be soggy, less flavorful fish.