Microwave cooking frozen fish

I don’t think it’s widely known that (1) you don’t need to defrost fish before cooking, and (2) microwave cooking is not only fast and easy but yields better-tasting, melt-in-your-mouth results (at least for hapless chefs like me).

Most “fresh” fish sold in grocery stores is actually defrosted frozen fish. So it seems to me that you may as well just buy it frozen and let it sit in your freezer until you’re ready to cook. At that point, defrosting is time-consuming and smelly, so you may as well just cook it from frozen.

After doing some internet research and experimenting with frozen salmon and cod fillets, I feel it is my civic duty to share with the world the easiest, least messy, and most delicious way to cook fish.

  1. Rinse the frozen fillet in warm water to remove its crust of ice, then pat dry with a paper towel.
    (Do not skip this step! I learned this the hard way. The fish interior will not cook if there is too much ice/water on the outside. Also: you need to pat-dry the fish quickly or else the paper towel will stick.)
  2. Place the fillet on a plate. Drizzle with oil, salt, pepper, and any spices you want.
    (I often just spread coconut oil with a little salt and pepper and maybe some dried sumac. The internet is full of ideas… pesto, sriracha, mayonnaise, lemon, parsley… just be aware that too much water content will affect the cooking.)
  3. Cover the plate lightly.
    (It does not need to be airtight. I just use a normal plastic microwave cover.)
  4. Microwave on full power for 4 minutes.
    (This works well for an 8oz fillet in a 1000-watt microwave. A large fillet needs an extra minute or two of cook time.)
  5. Wait 1-2 minutes after the microwave stops. Then check the interior with a fork for uncooked areas (they appear translucent or bright). If there are uncooked areas, microwave again for 1 minute and wait 1 minute.
    (The reason for waiting is that the heat inside the fish continues to cook for a while even after the microwave stops.)

Over time you get a feel for how long you need to cook different fillet sizes in your microwave. The goal of course is for it to come out fully cooked (but not overcooked) after the first microwave session. In my 1000-watt microwave, 4-5 minutes is usually enough (plus the 1-2 minutes of waiting).

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