Salmon is a fantastic protein to cook for dinner, but it can be frustrating when you need to defrost the salmon. Some people may think defrosting salmon in the microwave is a bad idea. However, it’s actually one of the best ways to defrost your fish quickly and safely!
We’ll answer all your questions on what you need to do for defrosting, how long it will take, and why this method is superior to other methods.
Can you defrost salmon in the microwave?
Yes, salmon can defrost in the microwave. You will need to use a large enough dish or container for your frozen salmon. Fill the dish but do not overcrowd it with too many pieces of fish. Then cover the dish with plastic wrap or another microwave-safe cover so that it stays moist while defrosting.
Microwaves vary in power, so defrosting time will depend on your machine. However, defrost salmon pieces for around five minutes per pound (thawed) or two to three minutes per half-inch of the thickness. You can then use this defrosted salmon immediately or store it in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours before cooking.
Why defrost salmon in the microwave?
One of the biggest reasons to defrost salmon in a microwave is because it’s safer and quicker than most other thawing methods! If you defrost it on a counter or by using water, bacteria can develop which can cause food poisoning.
Defrosting frozen fish in cold water takes longer than using the microwave because of how conductive water is. Microwaves defrost by heating the food, not lowering its temperature so it defrosts much faster than other methods!
Is it safe to thaw salmon in the microwave?
Salmon can be safely thawed in the microwave as long as the defrosting time and food safety standards are observed.
When defrosting salmon in the microwave it is important to defrost for the right amount of time. You’ll want to let it heat long enough in the microwave without overcooking or burning parts of the fish. Furthermore, if you defrost for too long you run the risk of spoiling the texture of the salmon.
Worse is if you then let the meat sit at room temperature for an extended period after defrosting. Doing so can cause bacteria can form on the meat which is unsafe.
The USDA states that meat or salmon in this case that is left out at room temperature for more than two hours should be thrown away.
So if you know you aren’t prepared to cook the salmon immediately after defrosting, you should put it in the refrigerator to thaw instead so that bacteria doesn’t form on your defrosted fish. Or you cook it immediately using your preferred recipe or method.
How to Defrost Salmon in Microwave?
To defrost salmon in a microwave, remove the salmon from its packaging and place it on a plate. Microwave in ‘defrost’ mode or nuke it at 30% power for 2-3 minutes intervals. During the defrosting process make sure you flip the salmon every 30 seconds so that it defrosts evenly.
One of the most common mistakes people make when defrosting food is to think that it’s ok to nuke it at high power for extended periods and then it’s done. The truth, though, is that microwaves start heating things from the outside in and not the other way around. So if you don’t flip your salmon halfway through cooking, it’ll be heated on top while the bottom might still be cold.
With that said, flipping the meat every 30 seconds prevents hot spots and overcooking. So while you may believe that thin slices of salmon don’t need to be flipped because they’re so thin and the microwave should defrost them well, you’d be incorrect.
How long does it take salmon to thaw?
The time salmon takes to thaw varies depending on how it is defrosted and the size and thickness of the cut. If you have a thin 1/2″ slice of salmon it will thaw much quicker than if it is 2 inches thick. Furthermore, if you thaw it in the fridge it will take longer than if it is thawed underwater or in the microwave.
How long to defrost salmon in microwave?
Defrosting salmon in a microwave will generally require 2-3 minutes per inch of thickness. Keep in mind that microwave wattages vary so cooking times will as well. For example, a 1000-watt microwave will thaw salmon faster than an 800-watt microwave.
Thaw Salmon in Water
If you decide to defrost the salmon in water, then you should place the fish into a colander and run under cold water until thawed or you could submerge it in; this can take up to 30 minutes depending on the size of your fillet.
Thaw Salmon in the Refrigerator
If you choose to defrost your salmon in the refrigerator, leave it in its original packaging overnight and put it on a plate or rack to keep the meat from getting waterlogged. The salmon should be defrosted in the refrigerator within 12-24 hours depending on the cut size of your salmon.
Thaw Salmon at Room Temperature
To defrost salmon at room temperature, leave it in its original package and place on a plate or rack. It should take about 30 minutes to defrost cut fillets at room temperature; however thicker portions of the salmon can take up to an hour.
However, it is not recommended to thaw salmon at room temperature as it is not safe to have the fish at room temperature for an extended period of time. In fact, if you’re defrosting your salmon with this method and then you can expect the flavor and texture to decrease. Worse yet, you run the risk of having bacteria form on the meat which can cause food poisoning issues.
With all that in mind it leads to one of the most commonly asked questions:
How do you defrost salmon quickly?
You can quickly defrost salmon by microwaving it. Put the fish on a microwave-safe plate and use the defrost setting. Other ways to defrost salmon are to run cold water over it or let it sit in the fridge overnight.
Do I need to defrost salmon before cooking?
Yes, defrosting salmon before cooking will ensure a more even cook and prevent under-cooking. It will also ensure that the taste and texture of the finished meal are as they should be and reduce your chance of food poisoning from eating uncooked cold meat.
The USDA suggests that the thickest part of the salmon should have a minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit before serving. If you cook the salmon while it is still frozen, it may not be cooked enough and you will serve it below the recommended safe temperatures.
Also, keep in mind that the cooking time will be about 50% of the thawed cook time. Frozen salmon will thaw before it can start cooking, so if you do decide to cook salmon while it is frozen then you need to plan ahead and adjust the times.
In general, your safest bet is to always thaw your meat before cooking it. This will help ensure that your meal turns out as intended and reduce the chance of food poisoning from eating uncooked cold meat.
Can I refreeze defrosted salmon?
Yes. you can refreeze a defrosted salmon under the right conditions and if you’ve followed the right thawing procedures. But it is not recommended to do this because the texture of the meat changes when you thaw it. Therefore, it is usually advised to cook it after you have thawed it.
For example, if you thaw the salmon using the microwave you run a slight risk of overcooking the meat while it is being thawed. This will cause the texture of the meat to change since it is mildly cooked in some parts.
If you end up refreezing this salmon fillet when you take it out to thaw it again the taste and texture might not be the same. This is why it is recommended to cook the salmon immediately after you defrost it in a microwave.
Even methods like defrosting on the countertop or in cold water run the risk of spoiling the meat which would make it generally unsafe to refreeze.
The safest way of defrosting fish like salmon in order not to change its flavor or texture when you refreeze it would be defrosting it in the refrigerator overnight.
By defrosting it in the fridge you can refreeze it without having to worry about the taste or texture since the meat wasn’t heated.
You can also refreeze the salmon if it is already cooked. Once the meat is cooked you will already have the desired texture and taste. As such, you can go ahead and refreeze it so that you can take it out and heat it up for another time.
Tips to Defrost Salmon in Microwave
- Spread the salmon out on a plate and place it in the microwave for approximately three minutes.
- Make sure you rotate or flip the salmon to avoid hot spots and uneven defrosting.
- Cover the fish while it is being defrosted so that it can retain moisture.
- Leave your microwave open for at least 15 minutes to allow the fishy smell to fade or use lemon/vinegar with water and baking soda to clean up.
- Allow the salmon to stand for a few minutes before cooking. This will allow it to cook more evenly and make sure you don’t overcook parts of your fillets.
- Refreezing microwave defrosted salmon is not recommended because the texture changes when you thaw it, but if done correctly can be safe provided that it has been cooked first.
Defrosting salmon is very straightforward given that you follow the right steps and thawing procedures.
This blog post has provided you with some quick tips to help defrost salmon in the microwave as well as outlined why it is not recommended that you refreeze this fish product after having microwaved it. You can now go ahead and take these tips into consideration when cooking your next meal!