Ali Hussainy is a Local Knowledge Fishing Show co-host and a tuna connoisseur because of his extensive fishing experience. Since Ali is no stranger to catching tuna, he has perfected his defrosting technique to ensure none of his catch goes to waste. Sometimes, people hesitate to eat frozen tuna because they think it's poor quality. However, that's not the case. The proof is in the process, and following Ali's defrosting method delivers fresh and high-quality tuna every time.
In this video, Ali demonstrates his defrosting technique with a piece of tuna from his 200-pound Bluefin he caught two days before. He's using a shoulder cut that's about halfway defrosted. It has dark red areas where the fat is, giving the tuna a rich flavor. To further enhance Ali's defrosting method, it helps to start with high-quality fish. Proper fish care goes a long way in maintaining flavor and is essential to being a responsible angler. To learn more, check out our Fish Care 101 blog and the Ike Jime blog to always have fresh and flavorful fish.
Start the 2-3 day defrosting process by taking your tuna out of the freezer. The most effective way to freeze tuna is by using a vacuum-sealed bag. Vacuum-sealed bags eliminate moisture and remove all the air so your fish doesn’t spoil.
In this example, Ali has his tuna in a vacuum-sealed bag. After removing it from the bag, he puts it on a clean paper towel and pats it down to soak up as much juice as possible. Pat your fillets dry until all the moisture is gone; it may take several paper towels. Also, instead of using regular paper towels, Ali recommends using Wypalls. They are a brand of food service paper towels with a cloth-like consistency, so they don’t stick to the fillets as much as generic paper towels.
Once that’s complete, grab a plate to set your fillets on and use several paper towels to wrap up your tuna like a burrito until it’s fully covered. Making sure your fish is fully covered is critical to collecting moisture. Built-up moisture causes the fish to spoil faster, and the goal of defrosting is to remove it to ensure you have the best-tasting fish.
Next, set your fridge as low as possible to chill down your fish. Doing this helps bring moisture to the surface. During the first 24 hours of this process, you should change the paper towels once or twice and re-wrap your fish with fresh ones. After a day or two of repeating this process, you can unwrap your fish, and it should be ready to slice. With the moisture out, your fish will be firm and flavorful. Whether you prefer to eat raw or seared tuna, following this process will give you a superior product.
During a time crunch, you can also thaw your vacuum-sealed tuna or frozen fish with cold water. Start by grabbing a deep bowl or tray and filling it with cold water. From there, make sure all the pieces are fully submerged and let it thaw for 15-20 minutes. Once that's complete, remove your fish from the vacuum seal bag, blot it dry, and cook. If you use this method, keep your fish inside its vacuum-sealed bag, or it will absorb water and lose flavor. Check out our vacuum-sealing blog to learn more.
From tuna to your favorite fish, anglers and chefs can follow Ali’s method to defrost their fish and have a delicious result. Avoid defrosting fish in the microwave because it significantly decreases their quality and will leave you with soggy fillets. This defrosting method also helps anglers avoid overcooking or drying out their fish. Put Ali’s defrosting process to the test on your next catch.