I have defrosted prawns, can I refreeze them?
(July 22, 2010)
Prawns are very high in cholesterol but at the same time are low in saturated fat. Ideally, the best way to eat prawns is to buy them when they are fresh as it is healthiest and tastiest in this form. Freezing prawns is the next best option but it would need to be kept in the coldest recess of the fridge since the ideal temperature at which prawns do not lose their taste is – 40 degrees Celsius. Most super-marts already have the prawns on ice and this is the first time they are frozen. The ideal way of cooking them is to cook them on the same day as you have bought them from the super-mart.
However, if this is not possible, then you need to transport them to your own freezer at home in an air tight container and it is best if these are cooked within the next 1 to 2 days. Also if possible then they should be kept in their shells since this not only preserves the taste but the temperature stays cooler as well. Bacteria cannot multiply in an extremely cold condition which is why we freeze out meats, fish and vegetables. As soon as the prawns are taken out of the freezer and the thawing process starts, the amount of bacteria immediately begins the process of multiplication.
A common myth is that cooking the food over a hot stove will help in killing the bacteria but this is not true – if the prawns have been thawed only once, then the amount of bacteria in them would be not be very high. However, no one should take the chance with a double re-freeze. If it has been out for a period of over 5 hours, then there is no chance of refreezing the prawns since the bacterial content will be too high. You need to cook this food immediately or else you need to get rid of it as the chances of food poisoning and foul tasting food is nearly 100 per cent. It is not only the question of the bacterial content alone – when sea- food is frozen, the cells, scales and flesh all expand which then causes rupturing. As soon as it is defrosted, this leads to a texture that is mushy in nature and with not as much taste. Refreezing will only compound this further to a point where the food is inedible.
When freezing prawns after cooking, one needs to keep certain factors in mind. The type of cooking matters greatly because of the ingredients used for cooking. Certain ingredients have their own storage norms. When cooking prawns in oriental gravy, one needs to ensure that storage takes place for less than 4 weeks. This is because the gravy may contain substances that could get fermented if left in storage for too long.
If it is possible, one should always cook and consume the prawns as and when they are purchased. Fresh food tends to taste better than food that has been refrigerated and subsequently defrosted. The process of defrosting for uncooked prawns is simple. The block of ice should be washed in cool water till it melts. After this, the prawns should be placed in a dry container and left to thaw inside the fridge. It is only when a few hours have passed that the prawns can be cooked and consumed. When it comes to defrosting frozen prawn curry or prawn preparation, one can either leave it out to thaw or leave it in the fridge to thaw. Heating on a pan or in the microwave can be done before it is served.
Are prawns just really big shrimp? Let’s put this coastal culinary quandary to rest. Here’s the real difference between prawns and shrimp.
How to Tell the Difference Between Shrimp and Prawns
When it comes down to their biology, both shrimp and prawns are decapods, meaning they’re crustaceans with 10 legs.
Shrimp, the more petite crustacean, live in saltwater. To tell if your crustacean is a shrimp, there are a few small but distinguishing details to look for. Shrimp have claws on two of their legs, and the second segment of their shell overlaps the first and third shell segments. This also gives a distinct bend to their shape, another detail to watch for when seafood shopping.
Prawns live in fresh or brackish (somewhat salty) water, often near the bottom. These crustaceans have claws on three of their legs, which you can spot if you purchase your seafood unpeeled. Prawns' shell segments overlap down their abdomen (first overlaps second, second overlaps third), meaning there's less of a distinct bend in their body.
A good rule of thumb to differentiate between the two is size, as prawns are typically larger than shrimp. If you really want to know what crustacean you purchased without making a trek out on a shrimp boat, just check the shell. If the second segment overlaps the first and third, you’ve got a shrimp; if the segments overlap down the abdomen, you’ve got a prawn.