Microwaves are often a go-to kitchen appliance in the average household. They have become so popular that many people use them for tasks other than just heating up food. One such task is to defrost fish. However, is it truly safe to use a microwave to defrost fish?
In this blog post, I will walk through a few different methods and share my thoughts on which one would be best for your situation.
Can You Thaw Frozen Fish in the Microwave?
You can thaw frozen fish (including fish fillets) in the microwave, but I don’t recommend it. The problem with defrosting fish in a microwave is that it is really challenging to get the different thicknesses of the fish to thaw at the same rate. So you may end up with some parts that are overdone and other parts that are still too cold. This can result in a completely ruined piece of fish, which is definitely something we all want to avoid!
How to Defrost Fish in Microwave
If you choose to use the microwave to defrost fish, It’s important that you follow the right steps to prevent food poisoning or any other type of foodborne illness. Follow the steps below to thaw fish in the microwave safely:
- Place the frozen fish in a microwave-safe dish.
- Cover the dish with a microwave-safe cover to prevent spattering.
- Set your microwave on defrost setting and start with 3 minutes.
- Turn the fish over and microwave the other side for 3 minutes.
- Check if the fish has been defrosted. If not, continue microwaving for 1 minute intervals.
- Cook The Fish Immediately
1. Put The Frozen Fish in a Microwave Safe Dish
Take your fish out of the freezer and place it on a microwave rack in a microwave-safe dish such as a microwave-safe plate or pan. Separate each piece to make sure that they thaw evenly. If the individual pieces are frozen solid, you may have to nuke them for 1 minute until you’re able to separate them.
2. Cover the Dish
Place the separated pieces in your microwave and cover them with a lid or foil to keep them from splattering. Make sure that the fish is not touching any of the walls. If it does, try placing a plate underneath it, so you don’t risk splatter going everywhere.
3. Microwave on Defrost Setting for 3-6 Minutes
Set your microwave for a few minutes on defrost setting (see below for how long you should set it for). If your microwave does not have a defrost setting, set it on 50% power and microwave in 30-second increments.
4. Do a Quick Check and Flip the Fish
Check the fish periodically. Once the microwave reaches half of the set time, flip the fish and rearrange it to keep the heat even, and then microwave again for the remaining time.
5. Check the Thawed State of Your Fish Before Using It
Check the fish for doneness by touching the thicker parts. At the end of the defrost cycle, the fish should still feel slightly cold but pliable. Let it sit on a plate for 5 minutes after taking it out to finish thawing.
6. Use Immediately
Once defrosted in the microwave, cook the fish immediately. Do not refreeze the thawed fish! Otherwise, you risk having a piece of fish that is spoiled when you go to cook it.
How Long Does It Take To Defrost Fish In a Microwave?
The amount of time needed for thawing fish in a microwave will depend on what kind of frozen fish you are defrosting (i.e., whole, fillet, etc.), how thick the piece is, and your microwave.
Here’s the general guideline to follow for the defrosting times:
- For whole fish with 1″ to 1.5″ thickness – 3 1/2 to 6 1/2 minutes.
- For fish fillets with 1/4″ to 1″ thickness – 3 to 5 minutes.
- For fish steaks with 1″ thickness – 3 to 6 minutes.
Other Methods to Defrost Fish
Although thawing fish in a microwave is fast and easy, it is not the best way for the reason mentioned above. Here are few other ways that you can thaw your frozen fish:
Defrosting Fish in the Refrigerator
Using a microwave to defrost is an incredible way to thaw fish quickly, but refrigeration is generally your best option for thawing. It’s the slowest of all methods, but it is also the best method to preserve the taste and texture of your fish.
It usually takes anywhere from 6 hours to 24 hours per pound, depending on how much fish you have and what kind of fish it is.
Use the steps below to properly thaw your fish in the refrigerator:
- When thawing fish in the refrigerator, make sure that the temperature of the food is close to 40°F. If it’s too much colder than this, bacteria will begin to grow, and you could end up with food poisoning once you cook your meal.
- If the fish is frozen in a thick block, you will need to place it under cold running water until the ices are removed, and the fish can be separated into individual pieces. Once the fish is free from ice, place it on a platter lined with paper towels, then follow the next steps.
- Wrap the fish in a paper or plastic bag and place it on a plate or tray to avoid the drippings from getting onto other foods inside the refrigerator.
- Put the plate or tray with the wrapped fish at the bottom of the refrigerator overnight or until the fish is completely thawed.
Defrosting Fish in Cold Water
If you need a faster method than the one in the fridge, you can also thaw your fish in cold water. The whole process should take about an hour. Follow these steps to thaw your fish in cold water:
- Place your frozen fish in a sealable bag.
- Submerge the bag of fish into a bowl or sink full of cold water. You might be tempted to use warm water to help it thaw faster, but do not do this! Using warm water has the opposite effect because it stimulates the growth of bacteria.
- If the fish floats, use a plate or another container to weigh it down.
- Check the fish every 30 minutes and change the water.
- Give each piece a quick check to see whether it has completely defrosted by lightly pressing it with your finger. If the fish still feels frozen, put it back into the water and check again after another half an hour.
- Once the fish is completely thawed, take the pieces out of the bag and rinse them under cold water before cooking.
Other Thawing Guidelines
Here are some other useful things to keep in mind when thawing:
- Never try to thaw fish at room temperature. This is a very bad idea because bacteria can grow during this process, making you sick when you eat it.
- Thawed fish must be cooked immediately.
- Freezing cooked fish once is acceptable, but freezing repeatedly will destroy its flavor and texture.
- Do not refreeze fish that has been left outside for over 2 hours.
1. Can You Cook Frozen Fish Right Away?
Certain cooking methods can work with frozen fish right from the freezer. These methods include steaming, baking, and poaching. However, do remember that although you can cook a fish straight from the freezer using these methods, you will need to increase the cooking time to ensure the fish is fully cooked.