3 simple ways to defrost prawns

3 simple ways to defrost prawns


If you've ever found yourself with a bag of frozen prawns in the freezer and wondered, "Can I cook with these?" You're not alone. Defrosting prawns safely can be a complicated step in preparing a good seafood dish while ensuring food safety. In this article, we'll cover the four best ways to defrot and thaw frozen prawns. Cooking with frozen prawns is a definite spice to add to your delicious meals and the options listed on how to defrost your prawns will save you time and keep them fresh and flavorful. 

Things You Should Know About Frozen Prawns


Shortly after harvesting prawns, they are deep frozen to maintain their freshness, thus becoming frozen prawns. Before using a frozen prawn to cook, you have to properly defrost it so it retains its flavour and texture and also prevents the possibility of foodborne disease. If prawns are thawed wrongly, it causes the formation of bacteria in them. 

Defrosting prawns is not something you should rush into either. It can cause the prawns to have a rubbery texture and a loss of moisture. 

To go through the stress of defrosting and thawing your prawns, you'd want to get the best out of your meal and if done properly, you get all the nutritional value of the prawns, - Win-win. Overcooking or exposing prawns to heat for too long can diminish their nutrient content.

Is it safe to defrost prawns quickly?

No, it is not safe. Defrosting frozen prawns in a hurry increases the chances of bacterial growth and the mistake of thawing the prawns incorrectly. 

Like all seafood, prawns carry bacteria, including harmful pathogens. If thawed quickly, the outer layer of the prawns will warm up to a temperature that promotes bacteria to multiply, especially at higher temperatures. This tiny mistake can lead to foodborne illnesses, especially if the prawns aren't cooked properly. 

It is quite common for some people to quickly thaw their frozen prawns using hot water or a microwave, but the downside to it is that the prawns won't be evenly cooked.  The outer layers will be warm, but the inside will remain frozen, and this will ruin the texture and taste. 

How Do I Thaw Prawns?

Onto the big question. How do you properly thaw frozen prawns? Here are three great ways you can thaw frozen prawns easily:


1. Defrosting in The Microwave

Contrary to the belief that microwaving isn't a good method to defrost prawns, it is a good method but requires suitable knowledge of how to do it. You need to be gentle and attentive while using the microwave to defrost your prawns to prevent them from being overcooked or undercooked. 

  • Once you have frozen prawns out, place them in a microwave-safe container, or you can use glass, or ceramic, and make sure they are evenly placed without the prawns overlapping each other.
  • Place the microwave-safe container into the microwave oven and if the device is a modern one, it should have a defrosting setting that allows you to adjust the heat level. Note that the microwave container, glass or ceramic plate must be covered to prevent splattering and maintain moisture. If your microwave does not have a defrost setting, simply set the power setting at the lowest. 
  • Defrost the prawns for about 1-2 minutes for a start and continue in intervals. You can monitor the defrosting process by watching the microwave and checking at intervals to see how well it has been decorated. 

If the edges of the prawns are starting to cook and the centre remains frozen, stir or turn the prawns to make sure each side of it thaws properly. Using the microwave option requires you to be there and monitor the progress.

When they've finally thawed after continuous checking and intervals, you can use them to cook and make sure not to leave them at room temperature. The size of the prawns matters when it comes to defrosting, as it might take a longer time. 


2. Defrosting Prawns in Cold Running water 


Defrosting prawns using cold running water is a safe and effective method if you need to speed up the thawing process.  

Cold water allows you to control the thawing process of the frozen prawns and it prevents the growth of harmful bacteria when exposed to higher temperatures. If you use hot water to thaw the frozen prawns, you will likely end up with an undesirable texture. 

  • Put your frozen prawns into a sealed, airtight leakproof bag like a ziplock bag, which will prevent water from seeping in, Put it into a large bowl or clean sink and turn on the cold water.

Emphasis on cold water—not warm, not hot water.

  • Let the water flow slowly and steadily and the sealed bag should be submerged in the water. Check on the prawns in intervals and if one side of the prawns seems to be clumping or thawing quickly, gently massage or rotate the prawns as they are sealed to ensure they are all evenly thawed. 
  • Within 1-2 hours, depending on the size and quantity, the frozen prawns should be thawed properly Avoid leaving the prawns under running water for too long.

Once your prawns are defrosted, go ahead and cook your desired meal immediately. If you decide to refreeze the prawns, keep in mind that their quality and safety will be affected. 

3. Defrosting Them in the Fridge


Defrosting frozen raw prawns in the refrigerator is one of the safest and most effective methods. It's a slow process, but it preserves the prawns' quality and minimises the risk of bacterial growth.

  • Put the frozen prawns in an airtight container or a resealable plastic bag, and place them in a shallow microwave-safe container that will catch any moisture or liquid that might be released in the process. 
  • Place the container into the refrigerator, on a lower shelf to prevent cross-contamination with other foods. Thawing prawns in the refrigerator is a slow process that takes from 6 to 12 hours or overnight. If you need to cook with it immediately, you should start the process earlier if you wish to use this method. 

After 6 to 12 hours have passed, check on the prawns to see how well they have fully thawed. If ready, it should be soft, and there will be no signs of frost or ice on the prawns. Now that they are ready, go ahead and cook your dish. 

What method is best to defrost the prawns?

The refrigerator method is highly recommended for most situations. It is considered the safest and best for maintaining prawn quality and is usually used when you have the time to plan. The cold water method is faster than refrigerator thawing and is used when you need to defrost prawns more quickly.

The microwave method is the fastest of all the methods, but much caution is advised when using this method to defrost the prawns.

In the end, it depends on how quickly you need to defrost the prawns or how important it is to maintain their quality and texture. You can try all three methods at different times and stick to the one that works best for you. 

Is it safe to re-freeze prawns?

Refreezing prawns can be safe if you follow certain guidelines and use proper food handling practices.

Prawns should never be left at room temperature or in the "danger zone" (between 40°F and 140°F or 4°C and 60°C) for an extended period. This can promote bacterial growth and foodborne illnesses. Therefore, if prawns have been left out for a significant amount of time, it is not safe to refreeze them.

If you've thawed prawns in the refrigerator or under cold, running water, they can typically be refrozen as long as they haven't reached a temperature where bacteria can grow rapidly. However, prawns thawed in the microwave should be cooked immediately rather than refrozen because the microwave can create hot spots that encourage bacterial growth.


Where to Buy Frozen Prawns

Most grocery stores and supermarkets have a seafood section where you can find and browse a variety of frozen seafood, including prawns. 

At Niyis African food store, we offer quality and affordable fresh frozen prawns in the UK. You can easily place an order at niyis.co.uk or visit our walk-in supermarket. 

Knowing how to defrost prawns safely is an important aspect of cooking and maintaining a healthy diet, especially when it comes to seafood dishes. By following the recommended methods and guidelines, defrosting prawns will be a breeze. 



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