Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Reheating Seafood

In general, reheating stuff is hard.

The microwave, while ubiquitous and convenient, is overall pretty much an agent of disaster. Let us first recall what the microwave does. It fires radio waves that are absorbed by water, fat and sugar, and just like a baseball being thrown to an stationary ice-skater, this is turned into motion which at the molecular level is the same as heat.

But there are consequences attached to this. You are effectively only heating the water, fat and sugar portion and depending on statistical mechanics to transmit that energy to the other molecules. It works well enough for many things but not for all. For example, the surface tends to get crusty, or the fat and sugars start to caramelize around the edges, and seafood gets both nasty and tough.

Well, when that happens, it's back to being ol' school. Put up a double boiler. Underneath a bubbling pot of water, and on top a heat-resistant glass bowl with the food. Takes longer to heat but you are guaranteed great results.


TerROAR said...

For what it's worth, my mom, who's a prof. of clinical nutrition, is a staunch adherent of the dogma that seafood should be eaten only on the day it's prepared, and in rare exceptional occasions, straight from the refrigerator the day after, but never reheated. I believe it has to do with the reheating process essentially culturing bacteria, but I don't recall what's special about seafood's ability to harbor them. I'm guessing it has to do with the temps at which we cook seafood in the first place. Just relaying 2c. I adhere to this, mostly out of fear, since of the two times when I got violently ill from food poisoning, one was from seafood.

ShockingSchadenfreude said...

I have never once gotten sick from reheated anything.

I think this is largely an old-wive's tale - along with reheated mushrooms, etc.

Of course, if you are cooking your seafood close to raw, I see the logic.

Patrick Davis said...

Clean your stove.