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Fish - Fresh or Frozen


UnConundrum
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While we have some local fishmongers, I'm not sure what is truly fresh, and what has been previously frozen. I decided to shop for some black cod (sablefish) that was packaged and quick frozen on the fishing boat, and was surprised to find that the prices (before shipping) are substantially higher than at the local fish market. Once I add in the shipping charges, it's pretty hard to justify online shopping. Anyone have any suggestions for online buying of black cod, and/or any idea why the prices are higher right off the boat?

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I welcome any thoughts into the above question as well. I live in Northwest Indiana, and find it extremely difficult to find quality fresh fish at a reasonable price.

I've frequented numerous grocery stores offering "fresh fish" at outrageous prices. I'll ask the person behind the counter to smell and touch the fish, and often the fish are smelly and slimy. It's really frustrating.

I visited a few online fish markets, and the only value in purchasing from these sources comes when ordering in large quantities.

I'm lucky to have streams and rivers nearby where I can catch Coho salmon, bass, and trout.

LSD

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Fresh fish is more expensive than frozen because of the expense required to ship it quickly, usually by air. Commercial frozen fish is mostly cut, wrapped and frozen on board the ship. After that, it can be shipped at their leisure in larger quantities by truck.

Living on the east coast, we have some decent seafood available. With a little practice, you can get good at recognizing what fresh fish looks like in a fishmonger's case. It should be firm and moist with good, consistent vibrant color (usually white or pinkish red). I also try to stay in the habit of not making my mind up what kind of fish I have to have ahead of time, I pretty much always buy what looks best in the case and work with it.

We have some very decent frozen products available. I like to make sure that the frozen fish I buy are vacuum packed. The local Whole Foods has a store brand that is called Whole Catch. Two 6 ounce portions of fish vacuum packed and sold for $6 - $8, very reasonable. I've had good luck with the mahi, salmon, and swordfish, less so with the tuna. Trader Joe's also has vacuum packed frozen fish. I've found it to be OK, but not as good as Whole Catch.

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The 'fresh' vs frozen fish issue must be understood in terms of how fish are caught and how well a given species of fish reacts to freezing. If it a run of 300 miles from home port is necessary to reach the fishing grounds it is not reasonable to expect a fishing boat to drop its long lines or nets only once, bring them in with whatever catch is made and turn around and head for port so that the catch will be fresh. The fuel costs would simply be exorbitant. If a 3 day run to the fishing grounds is what is required, the fish has to be be at least 3 days old plus the time of land transportation and distribution when it gets to the market. Striped bass, bluefish and snapper and grouper are usually coastal fish, while cod and tuna are more pelagic (deep water and far from the coast). There is a trade off between the delay in distribution and the natural deterioration of unfrozen fish vs the changes in the fish flesh that result from freezing. I have never tasted mahi mahi that was frozen that resembled the fresh mahi mahi I have caught and eaten the same day while sports fishing for them. The frozen is a perfectly good product but it tastes like generic fish, while the fresh has a special nuttiness that I could identify blindfolded I am pretty sure. At any rate, when buying fish it is well to consider the origin of the fish and the type of fishing ground it comes from. "Fresh" fish from Taiwan may not as good as the frozen from the same fishery.

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A reputable fish monger will have what is fresh and what was frozen labeled. If not labeled simply assume it was previously frozen. Many times with experience you can tell at a glance whether previously frozen. If you have not lived on a coast and had the opportunity to catch or purchase truly fresh fish, then you have no standard to measure by. Much of the catch today in the Mid-West seems to come filleted because I assume its easier to tell how truly fresh a fish is when whole and it does save some weight on shipping.

A supplier like Browne Trading that deals with high end restaurants sells truly fresh fish and its FedEx overnight. Shipping frozen fish or even fresh fish in large quantites is more cost effective that the usual private cook will want. So your local fish is cheaper because of less transportation charges and the market price is lower. Fish from Browne Trading will commmand a premium price because you must compete with restaurants and also pay high shipping costs.

Purchasing good quality fresh was never easy and lately it has become more difficult not to mention the chemical adulteration becoming more and common to make the shelf life appear longer!

Good luck!-Dick

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While we have some local fishmongers, I'm not sure what is truly fresh, and what has been previously frozen.  I decided to shop for some black cod (sablefish) that was packaged and quick frozen on the fishing boat, and was surprised to find that the prices (before shipping) are substantially higher than at the local fish market.  Once I add in the shipping charges, it's pretty hard to justify online shopping.  Anyone have any suggestions for online buying of black cod, and/or any idea why the prices are higher right off the boat?

fresh is always better.but in your case since the fish was flash frozen after it was caught.the frozen one would probably be better.just don't rush the thawing process.

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