Last Updated on March 14, 2023 by Practical Cooks
Classic marinades are timeless and have been used for centuries to tenderize the meat while adding an additional component of flavor to just about any dish.
Whether you are marinating beef, chicken, fish, or even vegetables, there are many different ways to do so. If you are thinking of cooking marinated fish but your fish is currently frozen, you may be wondering if it is possible to marinate frozen fish.
Yes, it is possible to marinate frozen fish. In most cases, the marinade will work just as well as a traditional marinade used with non-frozen fish. However, the marinade may not taste as strong and the overall texture of the fish is likely to change a bit. The more flavorful, acidic, and oily a marinade is, the easier it will be for it to seep into frozen fish during the marination process.
What Type of Marinade Should I Use on Frozen Fish?
Whenever you are thinking of marinating frozen fish, you should always plan for an oil-based marinade.
Oil-based marinades are the most porous and will allow more of the ingredients of the marinade to stick to and seep into the fish as it defrosts over time.
How Do I Prepare My Marinade?
When preparing a marinade for frozen fish, ask yourself the following questions:
- What type of fish am I planning to make? What is the flavor profile of this fish? Is it light, smoking, or even a bit rough?
- What pairs well with the type of fish I am thinking of thawing and eating? This will help determine the flavor profile of your selected marinade.
- What ingredients do I have on hand? Some of the most common marinades contain oils and acids such as seasoned oils, lime juice, lemon juice, soy sauce, and even Worcestershire sauce.
What Are Common Ingredients Used in a Fish Marinade?
Making a marinade for your fish dish will depend on factors such as the type of fish you are cooking, your cooking skill level, as well as your own personal taste palette.
Some common ingredients to consider when putting together a marinade for your frozen fish might include:
- Oils: Extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, and even coconut oil may be used to coat frozen fish fillets.
- Garlic: If you’re a lover of garlic, you will likely want to crush, chop, or smash a few cloves of garlic to toss into the bag in which you are marinating your fish.
- Lemon/Lime: Some form of acid can add extreme depth and flavor to any fish or seafood dish. If you have fresh lemons or limes on hand, that’s even better.
- Fresh herbs: The use of fresh herbs such as cilantro and parsley not only provides bright colors to a fish dinner, but they also add aromatics that help to significantly enhance the flavor profile of the dish (which is extremely helpful when cooking a fish dinner from frozen).
How Do I Prepare My Marinade?
Preparing a marinade for frozen fish is quite simple and only requires a few minutes, even if you plan to cook more than one piece of fish. The items you will need include:
- A large quart-sized freezer bag (that can be sealed) to hold your fish and preferred marinade mix
- Marinade ingredients: Acid, oil-based ingredients, and the seasonings you prefer for the type of fish you are cooking. Fresh herbs and preferred seasonings should be set aside.
To get started with marinating your frozen fish, complete the following steps:
- Select the frozen fish filets you intend to thaw and cook. Ensure that they will fit inside the resealable bag(s) you intend to use for the marination process. Set the fish aside.
- Create the marinade mixture in a separate bowl using your preferred oil(s), lemon/lime acids, and other ingredients such as Worcestershire and soy sauce. At this time, play around with a variety of seasoning options that are appealing to you based on the dish you are attempting to make.
- Add the fish to the sealable bags along with the oil to coat without getting your hands oily.
- Add the remaining ingredients (including all dry seasoning) into the bag you are using.
- Seal the bag and cover the marinade using your hands until all of the fish you are cooking is covered. Allowing the fish to be marinated anywhere between 1 hrs and 24 hours, especially if marinating frozen fish.
What Should I Expect While Marinating Frozen Fish?
Frozen fish has an entirely different texture than fresh fish. If you’ve never cooked frozen fish before, it’s best to know how to prepare to avoid being caught off-guard or thinking you are doing something wrong.
Oftentimes, when cooking fish that is frozen or still in the thawing state, you will notice more steam coming from the pan rather than hot oil. As the steam cooks out of the fish, the fish will begin to thaw rapidly, shrinking to its originally intended size.
What is The Best Way to Defrost Fish?
While it is possible to marinade frozen fish, it is not recommended if it can at all be avoided. Defrosting fish overnight in a sealed bag inside your refrigerator (in a bowl with or without cold water) is the best way to defrost frozen fish.
Allow the fish to sit in the bowl inside your refrigerator for at least a few hours, depending on the type and size of the fish.
Where Do I Store Marinating Fish While It Is Frozen?
Because you want the frozen fish you are marinating to come down to room temperature as safely as possible, store your fish in the refrigerator while it is defrosting and thawing.
Store thawing fish in a sealed storage bag inside a bowl to prevent seepage and leaks inside your fridge.
Can I Leave My Fish On the Counter to Expedite the Thawing Process?
While it may sound appealing at first, leaving fish (or any raw seafood) out at room temperature for longer than 1 to 2 hours significantly increases the risk of developing bacteria and airborne pathogens that can cause foodborne illnesses, such as food poisoning.