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Fat Guy

The Frozen-Fish Topic

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We recently got a Trader Joe's in the neighborhood and I've noticed a pretty broad selection of frozen fish there. Not fish sticks, but what is supposed to be high-quality fish.

Most shrimp I've bought in my life have been frozen at some point.

Most sushi served in the US has at some point been flash frozen.

Who out there is cooking with frozen fish? Is the argument true that when you freeze it on the boat the quality is as high or higher as fresh that has been sitting during transit? What are the necessary techniques for working with frozen fish? Do any particular fish freeze better than others?


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Flash frozen on the boat is every bit as good as the vast majority of "fresh." I have friends who fish commercially who claim that (aside from the catch from very small vessels that day fish) most of what is sold as "fresh" was in fact frozen at sea and thawed on the way into port.

Certainly if you live inland, you are better off buying frozen. All frozen fish are not created equal though. You definitely want to buy stuff that was flash frozen at sea. You want to look at the fish and make sure that it just has a thin glaze of ice on it instead of a packing that looks like snow that has turned into ice. The refrozen snow fish is generally not "flash" frozen.


Edited by BadRabbit (log)

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Recently on a consumers tv program there was a story about how much water is incorporated into some frozen fish. They're dipped into a chemical that makes the fish absorb water and then dunked into water and frozen. They said that the fish that were tested contained as much as 50% or more water in some cases.

I'm sure not all frozen fish are like this but it pays to check carefully.

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I believe that some scallops are treated this way too.

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The new Chelsea Trader Joe's? I've been shopping there since it opened and I buy a lot of frozen fish at Trader Joe's. I've bought enough "fresh" fish that wasn't fresh that I don't have any trepidation about buying frozen. I have to make a low-calorie breakfast and a lunch in the morning and I don't have the luxury of being too picky about how that's accomplished.

I like the shrimp, the langoustines, the Japanese scallops and the mahi mahi burgers best, but I've tried a lot more and I can honestly say there hasn't been any fish that I didn't like. A rinse in salted water helps, and cooking with butter helps, and using the fish as an ingredient in a fuller dish helps.

I'd rather be sitting on a dock in the Keys eating something that just came out of the water on a toasted bun, but here we are, us and the snow.


I like to bake nice things. And then I eat them. Then I can bake some more.

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I agree with Lindacakes. Trader Joes is within walking distance and has a consistent product. I like their mahi mahi when I need a mild white fish and the tuna is good as well. I also like the portion sizing of usually one or two filets or steaks to a vac sealed plastic packet as I am usually just cooking for one or two. Rarely do I get to the little fish section and not have to wait my turn or rub shoulders with another shopper so the turnover is likely good as well.

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I'm another huge fan of TJ's frozen fish. It's a much wider variety than I can find in the megamarts, it's usually always wild-caught, and the types I've tried have all been excellent quality. The stuff I've tried have all been IQF/flash frozen, and not treated. They do list the ingredients, the ones I buy are just the fish. No added salt or tripolyphosphates that make them wet and mushy. Both the fin fish and the shellfish I've used from them have been frankly, far superior to the fish I can get in the local supers.

I've used, liked, and will buy again, their cod, snapper, mahi, tuna, halibut, shrimp and scallops.


--Roberta--

"Let's slip out of these wet clothes, and into a dry Martini" - Robert Benchley

Pierogi's eG Foodblog

My *outside* blog, "A Pound Of Yeast"

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Trader Joes has some pretty good frozen fish. The occasionally have packages of bits and pieces of cod or halibut at a really cheap prices. I use these packs for fish tacos, chowders, and soups. The tuna is good, but I only eat it fully cooked, typically in a sandwich. The only bad thing I can say about Trader Joes fish is the inconsistency in the portion sizes. I recently tried Costco's individually packaged Mahi Mahi and found it to be quite good. When I am back on solids, I plan to give other varieties a try.

Dan


"Salt is born of the purest of parents: the sun and the sea." --Pythagoras.

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I've gotten frozen fish at my Trader Joes and been happy with the tilapia and some of the salmon - I had one pkg of salmon that was very mushy after it was thawed. I got some frozen fish from Wegman's - Mahi and Cod I think - and was very impressed with the quality of both of those.

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I also like Trader Joe's selection of frozen seafood although I have not been as impressed with the tuna there as some of the other fish - salmon & cod in particular have been good.

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My dad lives in Nova Scotia right on a beautiful beach, some of my best memories are of walking down to the point and filling a bucket with fresh mussels. As a result I take my mussels pretty seriously, and am always disappointed by the crap they sell in stores..that is until I had some of these vacuum packed "live" mussels. Not sure how they do it, but apparantly the mussels are live and you aren't suppose to open the package until you're going to eat them. They sure tasted great though.

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just found this online..

"Most live mussels are packed in mesh bags (ranging from 2 lbs to 25 lbs), but recently some processors are packing live mussels in Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP), a process that uses a special oxygen/carbon dioxide mix to to extend the shelf-life of live mussels."

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Where do you get these vacuum packed mussels?

I'm hoping these mussels were prepared before packaging for their fast . . .


I like to bake nice things. And then I eat them. Then I can bake some more.

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Sobeys, LobLaws and Costco all use to carry them. I just moved to a small town where my choices are basically Save-On or Safe-way and I haven't seem them here yet.

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I can't speak to commercially frozen fish, but I can assure you that line-caught fish frozen in a home freezer are excellent. Most of the fish I eat is frozen, caught by me or recreational fishing friends & relations. It is not flash frozen; it is usually at least a few hours dead by the time it is cleaned. While frozen fish isn't as sublime as perfectly fresh fish, it's way better than the defrosted & sold as fresh stuff. Gratiutous fish pic follows...from a trip where we were catching two at a time on every cast, both fresh & saltwater species side by side. After suffering from BP's little mess all summer, I'm appreciating such fishing trips more than ever.

bass and speck.jpg

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Recently on a consumers tv program there was a story about how much water is incorporated into some frozen fish. They're dipped into a chemical that makes the fish absorb water and then dunked into water and frozen. They said that the fish that were tested contained as much as 50% or more water in some cases.

I'm sure not all frozen fish are like this but it pays to check carefully.

Something doesn't sound right about this... fish is normally well over 50% water; it seems unlikely that they could make it absorb very much more. Cod, for example, is around 80% water, at least according to this web site:

http://www.fao.org/docrep/003/p3407e/P3407E03.HTM

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TJ's is a great place to get quality food period, and the fish is no exception. Like people have been saying most all the fish we get is or has previously been frozen. Frozen is not the key but how it is frozen.

While I've never been fishing myself (though I plan to still) my uncle use put his fish in milk cartons, then fill them with water, and then freeze them. That really seems an ideal way since you wind up with no freezer burn and being in water is natural to them.

I'm always aware when buying scallops to avoid any that have tripolysulphates. I haven't paid attention to that on other types of fish but will certainly start doing so.


Charles a food and wine addict - "Just as magic can be black or white, so can addictions be good, bad or neither. As long as a habit enslaves it makes the grade, it need not be sinful as well." - Victor Mollo

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Having grown up on coasts, and living in fishing areas in the summer, I follow the "tomato rule" for fish: I eat it when in season only. Other than shrimp, I only eat fish and other shellfish (scallops, etc) in the summer through fall, or when things are running, when I know it came right out of the water. During the academic year I live in Nashville, and I can't even LOOK at the fish in the market. I do freeze fresh-caught fish sometimes.

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Having grown up on coasts, and living in fishing areas in the summer, I follow the "tomato rule" for fish: I eat it when in season only. Other than shrimp, I only eat fish and other shellfish (scallops, etc) in the summer through fall, or when things are running, when I know it came right out of the water. During the academic year I live in Nashville, and I can't even LOOK at the fish in the market. I do freeze fresh-caught fish sometimes.

I'm curious as to how you arrived at the "tomato rule".....finfish and shrimp are caught year-round. Even blue crab is a year-round fishery along most of the Gulf Coast. Some seasonality does applies to managed species like snapper, stripers, snook, etc, but many other commonly eaten species have no closed seasons at all. I'm thinking of sheepshead, black drum, squid, hake, catfish, swordfish (well, it's only closed 1 month a year), and a whole slew of other species.

In other words, fishermen are fishing year-round. They need a market for their catch year round.

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Having grown up on coasts, and living in fishing areas in the summer, I follow the "tomato rule" for fish: I eat it when in season only. Other than shrimp, I only eat fish and other shellfish (scallops, etc) in the summer through fall, or when things are running, when I know it came right out of the water. During the academic year I live in Nashville, and I can't even LOOK at the fish in the market. I do freeze fresh-caught fish sometimes.

I'm curious as to how you arrived at the "tomato rule".....finfish and shrimp are caught year-round. Even blue crab is a year-round fishery along most of the Gulf Coast. Some seasonality does applies to managed species like snapper, stripers, snook, etc, but many other commonly eaten species have no closed seasons at all. I'm thinking of sheepshead, black drum, squid, hake, catfish, swordfish (well, it's only closed 1 month a year), and a whole slew of other species.

In other words, fishermen are fishing year-round. They need a market for their catch year round.

I am from the East Coast/Atlantic. We don't have catfish; I eat those when I am in their local area. I eat shrimp (frozen) year-round, as mentioned. I eat blues, swordfish, stripers, scrod, yellowtail, scallops, etc, when they are running where I live (I don't like to eat the swordfish that is spotted with planes) and I am THERE. I just don't eat frozen fish except for shrimp. A quirk, maybe. So I avoid fish when I am in a landlocked state--9 mos of the year.

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I get frozen salmon from TJ's all the time and have had a pretty good experience with it. At the same time, I tend to cook it through much more than I would a piece purchased from a good fishmonger (or more likely ordered at a restaurant). Does anyone here cook their TJ's salmon on the rare side? What about mi cuit? I recently got a sous vide oven and am dying to try salmon in it this way.

Also, most of the salmon I see there is wild, so this might be moot, but I'm guessing sushi would be a reckless move too. Has anyone lived dangerously this way either?

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:huh: Doesn't freezing kill the parasites/whatever that would make sushi 'dangerous'?

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:huh: Doesn't freezing kill the parasites/whatever that would make sushi 'dangerous'?

No. Freezing at very cold temperatures for an extended period of time will kill nematodes (regular freezing in a home unit might but might not) but a lot of dangerous stuff can survive freezing. I believe all the vibrio strains can survive freezing.

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:huh: Doesn't freezing kill the parasites/whatever that would make sushi 'dangerous'?

No. Freezing at very cold temperatures for an extended period of time will kill nematodes (regular freezing in a home unit might but might not) but a lot of dangerous stuff can survive freezing. I believe all the vibrio strains can survive freezing.

Vibrio vulnificus (often found in warm-water oysters) is killed by freezing.

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