Fried fish makes for one of the tastiest foods and is also a healthier option when compared to fried chicken.
Generally speaking, fried items are notorious for how irresistible they can be, and every now and then you may end up ordering more than you can chew.
While storing fried items is easy, it becomes a bit tricky when it comes time to reheat them. Fried fish has a lighter batter than fried chicken, so it may fare well, but even then, fish poses its own unique challenges.
So, how do you reheat fried fish? The easiest option to reheat fried fish would be to just refry it again at a higher temperature until it is crispy and thoroughly warm from the inside. While this method is the easiest, it requires some technical know-how and precaution.
As a basic rule of thumb, the best way to reheat any fried food would be to refry it, but some factors play a huge role in the method of preparing the food the right way.
If you are confused with what option to go with, then you’re at the right place.
Why Reheating Fried Items Is Difficult
Fried foods differ from other cooked foods because of how they are prepared. Usually, most food items will have a thick batter that will stiffen and create that irresistible crunch.
This happens when the moisture in the batter evaporates, which leaves behind a crisp and crunchy outer coating.
Most batters are made using starch and spices. If you use flour to coat the meat, the coat will have a sticky and crumbly texture thanks to the gluten present in the flour. This will allow the coating to have a crumbly and crunchy texture.
There are several ways to fry fresh fish, including using tempura batter, regular flour batter, or no batter at all.
Tempura batter is perfect for fish and other seafood because of how well it complements the flavor of most fish. It’s light and delicately crunchy and also pairs extremely well with a range of sides.
Fish fingers, which are boneless pieces of fish meat, are usually the first choice for many people.
Flour batter is also excellent for fried fish as it creates that irresistible crunch and texture which resembles that of fried chicken. You can have the fish on its own with the flour batter or you could also have it as a sandwich.
A lot of people also prefer having fish without flour or tempura batter and would just opt for a simple marinade of spices.
This type of fried fish is the easiest to work with, as it can easily be reheated in several simple ways. We’ll discuss this more in a bit.
First, we need to learn how to reheat battered fried fish. Batter-fried fish is difficult because as soon as it is out of the frying pot, it will slowly start to lose its crunch and firmness.
This happens when moisture and air are reintroduced to the outer layer of the fish, which makes it go soft.
Fried fish is a hugely popular item on many seafood menus and is also very filling, which is why people usually end up over-ordering and are left with lots of leftovers.
Make sure you know the correct way to store fried fish before reheating and consuming it.
The best way to store fried fish would be to either freeze it if you do not plan on consuming the fish leftovers in 2-3 days or, refrigerate it if you plan on having it the next day or within 2 days.
Fried fish reheats differently depending on how it was stored. For example, reheating thawed fried fish is going to be way easier than reheating frozen fried fish.
Also, you need to take into account bacterial growth and other factors that may affect the quality of the food. Below are some great methods for reheating fried fish.
How To Reheat Fried Fish In Hot Oil
Ah, the gold standard way to reheat fried fish – refrying it in hot oil.
Use neutral oil like canola to preserve the flavor of the fish and heat it to about 280°F. Lay down the pieces of fish in the oil one by one without overcrowding the pot.
The fish should start to immediately bubble on the sides. Cook the piece(s) for about 8-10 minutes.
Flip the fish over every 3-4 minutes and draw on some hot oil on the surface with a big spoon. Cook until the fish is crispy and firm. Simply take it out and put it over a few layered paper towels, and you’re done.
This is by far the easiest and quickest way to reheat fried fish without losing its texture or flavor. The fish may still be soggy, but it will be better than other methods discussed above – after all, the fish was fried using this method, to begin with!
The only reason why people avoid refrying fried fish is because of how many calories oil adds to a meal.
This, coupled with the fact that the fried fish may become too oily, is why most people would prefer to use the other methods of reheating fried fish than just refrying it. But this is certainly the tastiest option!
How To Reheat Fried Fish In An Air Fryer
Air fryers are a great option for reheating fried fish for a couple of reasons.
Since fried fish is already deep-fried in a lot of fat, it wouldn’t make much sense health-wise to refry the fish in hot oil. It may change the flavor or darken the outer layer of the fish even more. This is where air fryers come in.
How Air Fryers Work
Air fryers use the convection method of cooking food where hot air is circulated within a cooking chamber to cook food.
This differs from normal ovens because there is no direct heating element in the oven chamber and there is no fan to circulate the heat evenly.
A convection oven or an air fryer uses a fan to circulate the hot air evenly to mimic how the food would cook if it were deep-fried.
Fried food cooks so well because it is submerged in a hot medium, i.e., oil. This way, the food is covered from all sides and has that distinct golden color.
An air fryer achieves this by blowing a fan over a heating element. The chamber design and the airflow are directed in a way that covers the entire cooking chamber evenly, even from below.
This results in heat being distributed as it would while deep frying.
Air fryers can cook food without needing oil as well, and this is where they get a huge advantage when it comes to reheating healthy food.
Most air fryers come with a range of settings. Some can thaw and even reheat food automatically, while others can easily reheat refrigerated or even frozen food.
Reheating Frozen Or Refrigerated Fish Using An Air Fryer
Air frying will ensure that the food is reheated evenly while maintaining its original texture and perhaps even crunch.
Regardless of whether you have battered or non-battered fish, the air fryer can guarantee that the leftover fried fish is heated to perfection.
However, there are a few things to keep in mind. For example, for refrigerated fish, all you need to do is run the air fryer at a temperature of 280-350°F for 10-12 minutes or until warm to the touch on every side. If you have particularly large pieces of fried fish, then run the air fryer for 12-15 minutes.
You may also check the internal temperature, which should read somewhere between 280-350°F. You can do this by either using a cooking thermometer or by cutting the fish in half to see if it is warm in the center.
Frozen Fried Fish
For frozen fish, you may want to thaw it first in the microwave. Never thaw fried fish or any frozen food over the counter, ,as the food might pick up and grow bacteria as it thaws. Always first thaw the fish in a microwave and set it to the thaw setting.
The reason why we prefer to thaw frozen fish is simply because it may ruin the inside of the air fryer. Frozen food will release way more water and moisture than regular thawed food.
Naturally, this water will drip down the cooking chamber and collect at the bottom where it will evaporate, leaving behind stains.
Over time, these stains can damage the coating of the air fryer and can also make it a hassle to clean the appliance.
Reheat the thawed fried fish for about 10-12 minutes at 280-350°F. You can use a cooking thermometer or cut the fish in half to check for doneness.
Make sure you don’t overcrowd the cooking basket as the air fryer might not be able to reheat all the pieces in time. If you feel that the fish is still cold, simply add another 3-4 minutes or until the food is done.
The air fryer should reheat the fish properly while maintaining that distinct crunch.
However, if the fish coating has already developed gluten strands due to excessive moisture while freezing or refrigerating, then it may become irreversibly soggy or soft.
All other types of fried fish can easily reheat using the air fryer too. Whether it is battered or not battered, an air fryer is going to be the best way to reheat fried fish without excessively deep frying it again in hot oil.
How To Reheat Fried Fish In The Oven
Reheating fried fish in the oven will work the same way as air frying would except that you would need to turn the fish around a number of times until it is warm on all sides.
Also, you would need to preheat the oven at 350-400°F for 15 minutes and then bring the temperature down to 280-350°F and reheat the fried fish for about 10-12 minutes or until sizzling on all sides. Also, using an oven poses different challenges.
For one, you may have to grease the baking pan or place a baking sheet before reheating the fish.
Secondly, you would want to make sure that the oven does not evaporate too much moisture from the fish – which would result in a dry and firm piece of fish meat.
The best way to do it would be to just preheat the oven and reheat the fish for 10-15 minutes while flipping the fish every 4-5 minutes. Remember, you would not want to sear or broil the fish, which is why it is important to keep it on the middle rack so that it heats evenly.
The goal of this task is to only reheat the fish and try to regain its texture without cooking it further. Sometimes, people end up cooking the fish for too long which either burns the meat or causes it to become dry.
This is why you will need to regularly check the fish while flipping or turning it over.
An oven may not dissipate heat evenly, especially if you have a type of oven that has just one heat source at the top. Make sure you get it hot on all sides before consuming it.
Usually, battered fish will respond well to oven heat, but you may end up with a soggy exterior either way if the fish wasn’t stored properly or if ice crystals had already developed on the coating.
Uncoated and plain fish that is marinated using spices will surely fare well compared to the other types.
How To Reheat Fried Fish In The Microwave
Reheating in the microwave is another convenient method to reheat leftovers.
The microwave offers a quick and easy solution for all your reheating needs. However, if the fried fish is already frozen, then we recommend that your first thaw the meat using the appropriate defrost setting on your microwave.
If you directly attempt to reheat the fish while it’s rock-solid, it will lose a lot of water which will collect in the container you are heating it in. This will result in a soggy and overly moist piece of meat. The best way to do it would be to first defrost the fried fish meat.
You would then want to place the thawed fried fish over a plate with a layer of paper towels.
Set the microwave at medium to medium-high and heat it for about 3-5 minutes or until steaming. You can also heat the fish without the tissue paper if you prefer it that way.
Make sure you check the fish on all sides before consuming it. A definitive way to tell if the fried fish has been heated would be to slice it in half and check for doneness at the center.
There are many ways to reheat fried fish and all of them depend on your preference. While the best method would be to just refry the fried fish, it’s not the healthiest.
This is when other methods like oven heating and air frying will come in. We recommend starting with air frying since it’s the next best thing to frying in oil and it also mimics the same cooking process as hot oil.
Can I heat rock-solid frozen fried fish?
Yes, but we would recommend that you either thaw the fish using a microwave or in the oven using the defrost setting.
This will ensure that the fish heats up evenly without it being cold at the center. Remember to not thaw the meat over the counter to prevent any bacterial growth.
Can I maintain the crispiness while reheating fried fish?
Your best bet to maintain the crunch on fried fish would be to either use the oven or the air fryer to reheat the fish. You may also reheat the fish using hot oil but keep in mind that this method would pack on more calories than the other methods.
How long can I store fried fish?
You can store fried fish within a container in the fridge for about 2-3 days at a stable temperature and you can keep fried fish (in an air-tight container) in the freezer for about 1-2 months.