Speed tip: Frypan defrosting
If you’ve forgotten to take something out of the freezer and want to get cooking in a hurry, there are a few methods of thawing food that are faster than putting it in the refrigerator. Of course there’s the microwave oven (Defrost setting), but this can create hot spots that start cooking the food unevenly. Another way is to put the food in a freezer bag, squeeze out excess air, and immerse in a bowl of cool water under a tiny trickle of water to create convection currents that speed up defrosting (discussed in my popular tip for freezing ground food in usable quantities). I found a third technique in my Japanese freezing books, though. (Read on for details of the frying pan defrosting trick.)
The third technique is one that I’ve run across in my Japanese-language freezing books, which works according to the same principles as the Super D Frost Wonder board. Line a heavy room-temperature frying pan with aluminum foil, put the frozen food right on top (wrapped or unwrapped), put the pan on a rack or the stovetop (turned off) and let it defrost quickly at room temperature, turning the food over once. Heavy frying pans such as the All Clad saute pan pictured here are designed to conduct heat efficiently, and do double duty to quickly defrost food. The aluminum foil keeps the frying pan clean and catches any drips, while also helping to conduct heat. Press down on the food after turning it over to ensure that the maximum surface area is touching the pan.
Defrosting this way is much quicker than letting food defrost in the refrigerator, although you can put a lid on the frypan and stash the whole thing in the refrigerator if you’re called away (I did this today when I went to pick up my son from preschool). I kept a lid on during thawing to keep our curious cats away. For best food safety, though, it’s best to avoid room temperate defrosting during hot summer months or if you’ve got the heat cranked up in the winter.