It’s not the same as the raw kind, and you can’t treat it that way.
I recently bought a large bag of frozen, pre-cooked, ready-to-eat shrimp. I figured I’d whip up a salad or a side dish and simply reheat the shrimp—easy, right?
I roasted some vegetables and potato wedges on a sheet pan in the oven, tossed some thawed shrimp onto the same pan to warm them up, walked away for a few minutes, and came back to the worst shrimp I’d ever tasted.
They had curled up into small, tight, rubbery curls – pools of white residue had collected on the pan as well. I was shocked. They had only been in the oven for a few minutes, and now they were ruined.
After sitting down with Cooking Light’s Executive Editor, Ann Taylor Pittman, I learned of a few things one should never do when handling pre-cooked seafood.
Don’t Use Your Oven
My mistake was the source of the heat in which I used to warm the shrimp. Dry heat is one of the worst ways to prepare precooked fish or shellfish. You’ll end up overcooking them.
Don’t Add Your Seafood to Your Pan First
If you’re whipping up a quick sauteé with veggies or grains, be sure to add precooked seafood at the last minute. If it has been properly defrosted, the residual heat from the rest of the sauteé will be plenty warm to get your dish to the right temperature.
Don’t Defrost in Warm Water
Running hot water over your frozen seafood might lead to some discrepancies when it comes to consistency – the differences in heat could cause you to have a piece of fish that's still frozen on one side, while the other side is perfectly defrosted. For best results, stick to cold water and wait for your fish to properly thaw out.
Don’t Forget To Season Your Seafood
One of the best ways to revive frozen seafood—for both quality and taste—is to toss it with a little bit of salt and pat dry. Just because your seafood is pre-cooked doesn’t mean it’s pre-seasoned.
Don’t Buy Varieties Washed In Sodium Solutions
Pittman points out that some products are washed with saline solution and then soaked in additional sodium solutions. If you come across frozen seafood that's been washed and stored in saline or sodium solution, be sure to take a peek at the nutrition label. You’ll often find that the sodium counts are astronomical. Look for varieties of pre-cooked seafood that don't have an unwanted salty kickback.