Frozen fish cooking tips

Updated February 21, 2017

Fish is an important part of a healthy diet, providing protein, omega-3 fatty acids in some species and other essential nutrients. Fish is also low in saturated fat and supports heart health. A wide range of fish is available for any taste, whether it is light and mild like tilapia or strong and heavy like mackerel. When purchasing and cooking frozen fish, it is important to handle and cook the seafood in a specific way.

Purchasing frozen fish

When fish is frozen, it is usually frozen on the boat right after it was caught so it will retain flavour and consistency. When purchasing frozen fish, never buy any packages that show signs of damage or tearing, or that are sitting above the freezer's frost line. Never buy frozen fish that's packaged in a way that makes it impossible to see. You should observe the frozen fish in its packaging, to see if frost is present on the fish itself. Don't buy any frozen fish that has frost on it; this indicates either a long period of frozen storage, or possibly a lack of a good seal in the packaging. Vacuum-packed frozen fish is likely to be better quality.

Thawing frozen fish

Don't ever try to cook fish while it's still frozen. Fish can only be cooked when thawed out. To do this, place the frozen fish in the refrigerator overnight, the day before you plan to cook it. If you need to thaw it more quickly, seal it in an airtight plastic bag and cover the bag cool water to thaw it out. If you plan to cook the fish immediately after defrosting, you can also use a defrost setting on a microwave oven to defrost the fish. The fish should be removed from the microwave oven while it is still cold and icy but pliable.

Eating raw fish

If you choose to eat fish that is raw, make sure that the fish was previously frozen. This is because some fish contains parasites, which are killed by freezing methods. Even though this doesn't kill every microorganism in raw fish, it makes it much safer to eat.

Cooking thawed fish

After thawing the frozen fish, you should cook it within one day. The general rule, in baking or broiling, is four minutes per centimetre (ten minutes per inch) of meat, at around 232 degrees Celsius (450 degrees Fahrenheit). If cooked in foil or in a sauce, add five more minutes to the cooking time. If the fish has low fat content, such as grouper and tilapia, it needs to be basted so it doesn't dry out. The fish is fully cooked when the flesh becomes opaque and flakes easily at the thickest part.

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