Thawing Frozen Tuna Steaks: The Facts

When preparing any frozen foods to eat, it can be tricky to know the best and safest way to thaw them out before cooking. 

This is especially true for meat and fish products – both of which can cause illness (and bad tasting food) if prepared incorrectly.

Thawing Frozen Tuna Steaks: The Facts

A popular form of fish is tuna, which can usually be purchased in steak form, but this begs the question: what is the best way to thaw tuna steaks, and what things should be avoided? 

Important Things To Remember

Firstly, there are a few important things that are worth remembering and taking note of before you start the thawing process. 

Do Not Thaw At Room Temperature

For any perishable food item – such as fish – it is important not to thaw them at room temperature. 

This might sound ludicrous – especially seeing as a lot of people are prone to letting food defrost on the counter top – however this has the potential to let the food spoil faster, allow bacteria to take hold during the process, and to potentially allow other contaminants onto the food. 

In the United States, the Department of Agriculture states that temperatures between 40 F and 140 F are considered to be within the danger zone, wherein bacteria can multiply quickly and potentially cause illness. 

With this in mind, thawing food should never be left at room temperature for more than two hours. 

Do Not Use Warm Water

Running frozen foods under the tap is a common thawing method – however it is important to ensure that the water is not warm when doing so. 

If the water is warm, then the temperature of the thawing food will increase too quickly, potentially causing the food to enter the above mentioned danger zone, wherein bacteria can grow and thrive. 

Be Sure To Remove Packaging

Especially with meat and fish, it is important to remove the products from their packaging before beginning the thawing process. 

If the products are thawed within the packaging, you run the risk of allowing contaminants to breed and potentially cause you harm – with specific forms of bacteria being clostridium botulinum, and listeria monocytogenes. 

Thawing Frozen Tuna Steaks: The Facts

The Best Way To Thaw Tuna Steaks

Luckily, when it comes to the safe defrosting of tuna steaks, there are a few methods you could use to get the desired results. 

Chilled, Overnight Thawing

The first, and perhaps the most common method, is to allow the unpackaged frozen tuna steaks to defrost overnight in the refrigerator. 

This is one of the safest methods, and ensures that the fish does not fall into the danger zone wherein bacteria can grow. The important thing to remember though is that the fish should be covered even when in the refrigerator. 

This will stop contaminants, debris, and bacteria within the refrigerator from settling on the fish. 

All in all, this process will usually take around 8-12 hours, and is best suited for overnight thawing for a meal the following day. 

Thaw In Cold Water

Another common method is to thaw the frozen tuna steaks within cold water. This is perfectly safe, and can help to expedite the thawing process in a manner that is safe and gradual. 

Whereas warm water will heat the fish too quickly, cold water gently thaws the fish – due to the fact that cold water is still warmer than freezing, but not hot enough to allow bacteria to grow and thrive. 

This method will usually take around 30 minutes – perfect for same day cooking – but if you don’t get around to eating it all that day, you can safely store the thawed tuna steaks in the refrigerator for an additional 48 hours afterwards. 

Defrost In Microwave

This method is extremely common, and one that most people will generally try. 

This is perfectly safe in most cases, and is also one of the quickest, taking around 7-8 minutes to properly defrost.

However, the important thing is to use the right settings (the proper defrost setting), and ensure the temperature is not too high. 

As with the other methods, the aim is to get a gradual thawing of the fish, not a quick blast that will cause bacteria to grow.

This method also means that you will need to consume the fish after thawing, and unfortunately does not give you the option of further chilled storage in the refrigerator after. 

The best way to ensure a good finish is to defrost it in stages, making sure that the defrost temperature is never higher than 30%.

This could involve defrosting it for 2 ½ minutes, flipping it over, and then repeating the process until you are satisfied the center is thawed. 

Final Thoughts

And there we have it, everything you need to know about frozen tuna steaks, and the best way to thaw them safely. 

It’s true that when thawing frozen food, there are many things you need to be aware of – especially if you do not want to get sick or ruin your favorite meal. 

So if you are intending to thaw frozen tuna steaks, then be sure to follow these steps!

Mark Williams
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