How do you properly defrost frozen fish?
I recently bought a package of frozen cod that contains about 6 pieces. How do you go about properly defrosting them? Thanks.
This summary of acceptable methods to thaw foods is newer than this question, but see also: http://cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/36999/what-are-the-acceptable-methods-to-thaw-food-items
There are two safe ways to defrost, one more rapid than the other.
First method is to defrost in the refrigerator. This keeps temperature below 40 degrees F, in the safe zone. This will, also, take a while.
Second method is to defrost in the sink under cold running water. The water doesn't have to run rapidly, but it should change regularly. This will defrost the fish more rapidly than in the air (water is a better conductor of heat than air) and will keep the fish in the danger zone for the shortest period of time. If you are not going to cook it immediately, then return to the refrigerator.
If you are deep frying, there are some techniques that will allow you to go direct from frozen to fried, but that is generally done in a professional kitchen where they have powerful fryers that can take the temperature hit and come back strong.
This is also a great site for a BUNCH of different options in addition to Doug's suggestion. http://www.foodsubs.com/Defrost.html
In the fridge is always best, but you need to plan ahead properly :-) Otherwise what's wrong with leaving it on the bench? It's still covered etc. It's not being fiddled with by unwashed hands etc. Most countries in the world don't have the water and energy to spare to be running the tap for any length of time. If free-flow'ish they should be defrosted enough for cooking in a couple of hours
Instead of holding it under running water (which wastes a lot of water), you can put it in a bowl of water. I was taught to change out the water a few times, but I don't know why.
Yes, Monica, that's the idea. The changing of the water is because if water doesn't move (as in a bowl) the water next to the fish gets colder quickly but the water further away from the fish doesn't, meaning the heat is transferred more slowly and defrosting takes longer. It's the same principle as a convection oven. The goal is a steady slow stream, which wastes very little water. Streaming into a bowl in the sink works also if you are really concerned about using minimal water, although the refrigerator defrost uses the least amount. Speed vs waste. Tradeoffs happen.
This is not quite correct: there are four recognized safe ways to defrost. The two listed above are the most frequently used, but the full list is: 1) In the refrigerator; 2) As part of the cooking process; 3) In the microwave; 4) Under cool running water.
My mother leaves the fish in the kitchen overnight to defrost for 15+ hours. Is this safe ?
Kitchen overnight - definitely not safe. Defrosting in warm water - depends. The trick is to not have the fish in the danger zone (40-140 degrees F) for very long. Warm water can defrost the thinner parts of the fish (now in the danger zone) before the rest of the fish defrosts. Moving water is more important than temperature for defrosting, so you gain very little using warm water.
What is the "Danger Zone" and what happens when fish are in it? When you cook it, won't that just kill whatever it got from the "danger zone"?
Danger zone is the temperature range where bacteria grow. The longer that fish or any other food stuff is in the danger zone, the more bacteria you have. Raising the temperature over 140 for a long enough period of time (there are charts on this stuff) will kill most bacteria, but the idea is to avoid having them grow in the first place.