How to Reheat Fried Fish?

Sometimes we just can’t eat all we cooked at once and have to preserve the leftovers. I was about to throw away some of fried fish when suddenly I thought: how to reheat fried fish?

When the time comes, you must know the best practices on how to make it crispy and delicious. Therefore, let’s dig in to the art of reheating fried fish.

In my opinion, reheated fried fish can only taste as good as the fresh one if the cooking, storage, and reheating methods are all perfect.

I can easily say that the best way to reheat fried fish is by using skillet, oven or an air fryer.


Variety of ways to reheat fried fish

I often have plenty of fish due to fishing in my area and I usually cook it or smoke it in a single batch to reheat and enjoy later.

Since fried food is already greasy and crispy, I find it unfitting to refry again in a pool of oil.

There are number of ways to reheat fried fish using:

  • Grill
  • Oven
  • Skillet
  • Deep fryer
  • Air fryer

Since fried food is already greasy and crispy, I find it unfitting to refry again in a pool of oil.

I have successfully tried several healthy methods to quickly reheat the fish without damaging its crispiness.

These methods are quite easy to wipe off the job in simple steps.


How to make most of reheating fried fish?

While trying to reheat fried fish can seem a simple thing to do, there are some things that should be taken in consideration before.

There are some tips and tricks to reheat fish the right way:

Leave fried fish in room temperature for 1-2 hours

Bringing your food to room temperature will allow it to become soft again.

In addition, if you use frozen fish make sure you rest them in the air to allow the condensed vapors to pass.

Apply some grease on the fried fish

I discovered that crust should be slightly greased or moist to absorb the heat rather than solidify the coating.

I generally prefer cooking sprays, slight canola oil, olive oil, or even butter, ensuring not to drench again in the grease as it can become soggy.

Use bread crumbs to solidify the fish

Sometimes the stored fried fish might crumble up as a mass.

In such a mess, I suggest using the cornflour or bread crumbs layer on the top and slightly shallow fry it again; it usually helps to stick the mass together.

Moistened crust avoids the outer layer sticking to the surface and burning black but heats the fish uniformly.

Shallow or deep-fried fish, I tried various methods and tabulated all their tips and cautions in brief categories, which are really helping for a direct glance every time.


Closed fried fish reheating methods

Closed cooking strategies are the best for a hands-free job or for heating the fish uniformly without the risk of burning it black.

Oh, it doesn’t mean putting a lid on the pan; I have a collection of kitchen appliances to suit everyone’s needs.

The best advantage of the closed appliances is the uniform cooking all around and the least amount of the additional grease used.

I recommend using a simple spray of cooking oil to keep the fried stuff somewhat healthy.

Reheating the fried fish in a toaster oven

Ovens are suitable to reheat quickly. Take the fish fry and wrap it in aluminum foil or place it in a baking tray lined with aluminum to put inside the oven.

  • We must preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Then place the wrapped item in the center and set the timer for around 15 minutes.
  • The toaster oven may be a slow process but is relatively effective to cook carefully.
  • We can also set the mode to broiler oven settings to reduce the time as it heats quickly. There is no other difference as we have to follow the same heating procedure.

Drizzling spray isn’t a compulsion here, but it enhances the taste and prevents sticking the foil to the food put inside.

Reheating fried fish in an air fryer

Air-frying fatty food is a new trend among health-conscious eaters or nutritionists. Since the healthier alternates are replacing the greasy fried stuff, the appliances are also developed for them.

  • Firstly, we place the fried fish pieces in the dried fryer’s basket.
  • We can spray oil or not, depending on the choice of flavor enhancement.
  • We can heat the fryer to set 350 degrees Fahrenheit or select the option of simple heating on the menu if it is available.
  • I usually set the timer to six minutes while flipping the pieces intermediately to avoid intense heating.

Air fryer typically doesn’t need any oil or butter to fry or reheat, but adding a few drops would just enhance the taste. The dryness in the fryer, along with the non greasy cooking, saves the crisp and doesn’t allow the fish to get hard or soggy. We can follow easy steps as:

Reheating the fried fish in a microwave oven

A microwave oven is my first preferred option if to reheat any food instantly. Quick and super-hot, I get the crispy fries out as fresh in a few seconds. However, down the line, I discovered that microwave happens to be a great threat to fried food reheating.

The oven’s environment uses the water molecules of the food to heat it. If fried food is left inside for long, no doubt, there will be only a soggy mass.

Additionally, as the food is broiled from inside, the oven is left with a fishy meat smell stinking the room and appliance. After the sick trials, I usually keep the microwave oven out of the league if I have to reheat fish.

Even if we are using it, we can preheat the oven at low temperatures, set the timer to very less duration, say 5 minutes, and flip the fish in between to avoid the crumble.


Open reheating methods

When there are no such posh appliances, don’t worry, we can reheat on the direct flame! A frozen fried fish package stored takeaway or cleaned and stored fry, we can just take it out and keep it to room temperature before tossing it into the pan.

However, compared to closed heating, the oil or butter can be a little more demanding in these methods. Additionally, as the fish would be on the direct flame, keeping an eye on the stove and hand busy is essential to keep on flipping. When there are no powered appliances, these are my best options!

Reheating the fried fish in a skillet or pan

The pan’s thickness plays an important role in determining the time we have to heat for. However, the thicker pans or the cast iron skillets are the best as they retain the natural taste while saving the food from burning.

I start with a generous amount of oil or butter on the pan and heat it until the fat bubbles up on the surface. I place the pieces on this simmering oil and gently fry them on both sides while flipping intermediately.

Reheating the fried fish in a deep fryer

Deep fryers are actually the unhealthiest of all, as they have a huge amount of oil dripping on the naturally fatty fish. But no doubt, of all the dishes, the deep-fried ones are the best and more savory to gobble up in a lot. 

When out of other options, I rather use the shallow frying method. Taking a thick bottomed pan, I put some oil to heat. I place the fish pieces distantly and grease them with a top layer of oil. The rest is a toss and turn game on a high flame till the crust gets a crispy simmering texture. 


Trick to reduce oil’s quantity: While cooking the marinated fish, I found partial cooking a profit if I know that I will store it for eating later, thus don’t completely fry them. The same trick of double frying the French Fries easily avoids repeated oil absorption.

In the boiling oil of 150 degrees Celsius, I partially fry the fish until it gets a thin crust. When reheating afterward, the fish is fried at an even higher temperature to dry completely. Voila, crispy fishes are ready as fresh! This preservation trick works really great!

Reheating the fried fish using a grill

A griller is naturally designed to cook slowly, making it a better choice to heat without any damage. Both chicken grillers or even the smaller sandwich grillers are suitable to reheat the fish pieces without burning. It is quite similar to reheating brisket using a grill, honestly.

I heat the grilling pan and drizzle oil or butter on the base. I gently spray or brush a layer of oil or butter on the top while placing the fish pieces separately. Using the similar oil used or frying keeps the taste intact. The conflicting taste might ruin the flavor even if the fish and crisp are just like the freshly fried ones.

This method is very dragging and takes around one hour to reheat and completely cook both sides, just the way you would reheat a brisket. To avoid smoke or the need to add heavy oil for layer greasing, I wrap the pieces in aluminum foil before heating.


A hidden advantage of open reheating

As my hands are constantly on the play, I like experimenting by changing the taste of the fries. While reheating the fish, I just add some herbs or sauces to the pan to make them stick to the crust perfectly.

It is more relishing as the food gets heated and cooked up with the flavors rather than having a garnished layer of sauces on the top.

What if the smell bothers?

The fishy smell is the most irritating drawback this stored food has. It even becomes a nightmare when I forget to wipe off the sauces or the soupy broth before storing them.

Fish emanate a watery smell when we suddenly open the lid of the vacuumed container, which can be intolerable for many. I have tried and recommend using proper condiments in the batter and apt herbs to marinate while cooking to kill the smelly flavor.

While reheating fried fish, there is a chance the ovens can catch the smell, or the open frying can also release a great deal of smoke. For such a case, ventilation should be ample, and smell-capturing products like vinegar, charcoal, or baking soda are a must inside the closed appliances along with the food tray to overcome the whiff of the strong fishy smell.

Wrapping the fish in foil is also a talented trick to avoid the emanating smelly vapors. While storing, putting lemon wedges in the container also curbs the fishy smell.

Thus, here I realized cooking and storage play an important role if fish is fried to store and reheat for enjoying later. Here are my fast tips for cooking and storing appropriately that never disappoint me with a soft, sticky mass or any fishy smell.


Which cooking factors affect the stored food?

Fish is naturally soft and juicy, making it essential to marinate and season it before frying. Pan sauté or deep fry, the dish can have different covering batters and herbs to flavor accordingly.

I have tried different rice flour, egg-based, and cornflour batters used in plenty of the recipes while experimenting with various frying procedures. Storing them and reheating again has resulted in variations as some turned soggy, some perfectly fine while others were just hard.

According to my experiments, a uniformly fried crust and the perfect meat juicy inside majorly depend on the following factors:

Oil’s temperature

While deep-frying, it is essential to heat the oil properly. Low temperature makes the fish absorb a lot, and very high temperature can burn it quickly. If the oil is boiling and the batter is dripping thick, there are chances the batter’s cover might spurt apart, burning the inner fish.

In such a case, we lose the crispy crust, and stored fries turn soggy after a few days. Even while using a grilling skillet pan or a deep fryer, the temperature should be around 375 degrees Fahrenheit to provide a baking surface.

Batter’s thickness

If we are reheating the fish, it is basically the batter’s cover that will get hot first. It was surprising to discover that the batter layer’s thickness can really make a difference while reheating the cold fries. Changing the batter’s consistency and choices, I have found a great deal of differences.

If the batter drenching thick, the crispy layer would be more. It can also lead to improper cooking of the fish as the heat doesn’t reach into the core. The crust becomes hard in cold container storage, and the juicy fish inside dampens it to a sticky mass.

If we reheat this combination, the entire pieces surely fall to crumbles or become stone-hard on the outer cover. The batter is better if it is watery thin yet covers the complete outer surface. It ensures the proper cooking procedure, drying out the entire internal moisture.

Duration of frying

Fried food shouldn’t be over-fried as it can get hard afterward. If we wish to store it in the refrigerator or a dark place, we should take care to fry them aptly. Over-fried fish turns hard, and the batter starts smelling smoky.

Even if we store for a while, the crust might become solid hard, which becomes harder on reheating. The pieces will easily lose internal softness, and the cover will become solid hard.

It hardly takes 5-8 minutes to pan-fry the fish and 3-4 minutes for the deep-fried ones.

I have found it is really important to cook the fish properly if we wish to store it for long. Improper cooking can make it watery, and there is a risk of bacterial growth too.


Storing the fried fish properly for later use

Even if we cook perfectly, use high-grade appliances and condiments; the worst can always happen if we don’t store it properly in the first place.

Fried food is actually the best when we eat them hot and crispy out of the pan. But, if we store it with care and precaution, it stays fresh and usable for up to two days.

However, while storing, we should wipe away the sauces to completely dry out the fried pieces to avoid the soggy mass and foul taste later.

Avoiding moisture at all costs

The most important thing to notice in damaging food items is moisture or water content. As the cooked food are not safe to be left covered and stored for long, the same applies to fried fish. While reheating fried fish, practically, there should be very less moisture content if we wish to have the proper crisp and fresh taste.

Before frying, proper salting and marination can draw out the excess moisture leaving the fish substantially dry. Around 60% of the fish is actually moisture content and not the fat, which can really ooze out if not removed earlier.

Moisture is a great enemy for the batter’s crispy layer. A dripping watery batter on fish can also burst and splinter the oil. I have tried these simple steps, which really worked well every time I wanted to store the fries.


No lid covering while frying

While pan-roasting or using a deep fryer, we should avoid covering with a lid. The cover retains the smoke inside, and the dish doesn’t get cooked correctly. A covered pan can also increase the heat inside, which might burn the fish quickly if we stick to counting with the timer blindly.

Letting it cool

We shouldn’t directly stuff any fried food into the boxes or fridge. They must completely cool and rest before we cover them entirely. Treat it like a bavette steak. The steam from the hot fry can accumulate inside the container, and the dripping moisture can make the fries soggy.

Eventually, if we try to reheat the fish, it will only be a slumpy watery mass with no crisp at all. So, it is essential the fish is completely cooled before storing it. However, here we should also ensure the food isn’t left in the open air for more than two hours, as it can develop quick bacterial growth.

Always drain off the excess oil

Excessive oil content makes the fish hard. It can also drip and make the food completely greasy, which can burn if we reheat it again. I have found draining the oil is a must to keep it fresh and wholly intact without any damage.

If we have to remove the oil, we generally press it hard with papers and towels, which isn’t a good choice at all. As we press off the grease, the whole crispiness is also lost, and we are left with a fried batter crust.

Instead, I just leave it to drip off the excess oil. I generally use a cooling cookies tray and leave the fish fries to drip and cool themselves. If there is no tray available, we can just put the fries on tissue paper or soaking bake sheets to avoid pressing them. A little bit of oil is a must to retain the crisp and well; it is a fried fish, after all!


Storage in air-tight containers

Food easily gets affected due to the surrounding factors. It is suitable to store for a day or two in a dry climate, but it is important to preserve with proper care if the climate gets humid and soggy.

If fried fish absorbs any moisture content in the storage, it is hard to retain its originality. Vacuumed air-tight containers are the best to save the food from surrounding humidity. Sealed storage pouches are also a great option to store the fries after complete vacuum suction.

We can keep them in the fridge or storage racks outside if the temperature is cool enough. Even if it is a hotel takeaway pouch, I prefer to switch the contents into plastic or metallic containers. Thin-walled cardboard or Styrofoam containers we get with the fries are really ineffective and damage the taste of the fries.


Summing up

Fried fish is a savory fantasy to devour. As a side, with soups or just as a snack, they are perfect to spice up the entire meal. These tips and various reheating methods I have tried and compiled have worked for me in different conditions to enjoy the fish crispy and juicy as fresh fries.

However, it’s always the real combination of proper cooking, storing, and reheating choices that give out the desired product.

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