Frozen seafood can be just as flavorful, delicate, and healthful as fresh, especially when it’s been flash-frozen shortly after being caught. The important thing for you, as a cook, is to thaw it out properly to take advantage of the fresh taste of flash-frozen fish.
For the best thaw for steaks, take the package of fish out of the freezer in the morning before you plan to serve it, and leave it in a bowl in the refrigerator. Obviously, the thicker the steaks, the longer the thawing time, but it should be chilled and defrosted by the time you’re ready to prepare it in the evening.
For a last-minute forced thaw, nick a corner of the package with a knife, and set the fish (package and all) in a large bowl beneath cold running water. Don’t let the water sit, and don’t use hot water! Rotate the package occasionally during the thawing process.
Only use a microwave to thaw fish as a very last resort – you risk cooking the fish on the edges, and the end result may be dry or rubbery.
Fish steaks take longer than thinner fillets, and small fish and shellfish take almost no time at all. Seafood like scallops and shrimp should be left to the last minute and be force-thawed before cooking.
When thawing pre-cooked shrimp for cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, be sure to drain the shrimp well on paper towels, and then pat them dry again before serving. This helps to avoid water-logging, which can ruin both the flavor and the consistency of shrimp cocktail.