How to Cook Freezer Burnt Fish


Freezer burn occurs when food in the freezer is exposed to air. You may notice frostlike accumulation and your fish will have brown, leathery spots. This doesn't render fish unsafe to eat, but it takes a toll on the quality of the food. Food that is widely freezer burned is best discarded, as it won't turn into an enjoyable meal. However, if your fish has minimal freezer burn, it's not a problem. Oven-roasting it with a liquid should help with any drying out that can result.

Things You'll Need

  • Sealable plastic bag
  • Knife
  • Paper towels
  • Salt, pepper, herbs and spices
  • Cooking liquid
  • Small saucepan
  • Glass baking dish
  • Meat thermometer
  • Fork
  • Refrigerate the frozen fish overnight to fully thaw. If you need it ready faster, submerge it in a cold water bath for one to two hours, swapping the water with colder replacement water every half hour. However, the fish must be wrapped in a leak-proof package, and it probably isn't, since the food became freezer burned. Seal it securely in a plastic bag.

  • Center an oven rack and preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. To prevent dried-out fish, which is of particular concern when the item was freezer burned, oven-roast it at a high temperature for as little time as possible.

  • Unwrap the fish and carefully cut off the browned, leathery freezer-burned spots with a sharp knife. Discard these pieces. Rinse the fish and blot it dry with paper towels. Season the fish with salt, pepper and any other herbs or spices you want to use.

  • Bring about 1 cup of a complementary liquid, such as red or white wine, a citrus juice or vegetable or chicken stock, to a boil in a small saucepan. Pour it into a glass baking dish and then put in the fish. The fish shouldn't be immersed; the liquid should only come about 1/3 to 1/2 the way up the fillet or steak.

  • Put the baking dish onto the middle oven rack and cook it to an internal temperature of 145 degrees F. Use a meat thermometer for fillets and steaks that are more than about 1 inch thick. They aren't reliable in thinner cuts, though, so consider the fish safely cooked when all its flesh is opaque and it flakes easily when you cut it with a fork. Fillets less than an inch thick usually finish in about eight minutes, medium-size cuts often need about 10 to 12 minutes, while thick fillets and steaks typically take about 15 minutes.

Tips & Warnings

  • Wrap fish tightly in multiple layers to help prevent freezer burn.

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  • Photo Credit Siri Stafford/Digital Vision/Getty Images
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