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Fish/fish

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
FISH, FISH AND MORE FISH

Having a lot of time this summer, I have been spending a lot of time at library and reading at home I found many great articles, and books on fish and includes some of self experiments. Here is a condensation of all of them.
Perhaps the most important things in securing and getting quality fish is their source. The waters that they come from should be clean and flowing. The fish monger trustworthy and honest.
The other important factors is the holding and storage of fish. Some are different then others with assorted shelf lives.
EXAMPLE Fatty saltwater fish like salmon ,herring, mackerel, sardines will hold about a week.. Lean cold water species like cod, sole, tuna, trout roughly 2 weeks, lean warm water varieties like snapper, catfish, carp ,tilapia , and mullet about 3 weeks.
All of the above are based on time of catch..
The most important thing is correct refrigeration. Most things we consume a 38 to 40 degree refrigerator is adequate, not so fish. It must be on ice, and not ice cubes or large slabs of ice, but crushed ice or slurry ice. Fish last two times longer in a 32' slurry then in a 40-45' fridge. It should also be run under fresh cold water and let dry then wrapped . The reasoning behind the water is the additional handling by so many from the source only makes it more prone to bacteria buildup on the outer exposed sections. This combined with proper airtight if possible wrapping ,and chilling slows the enzymes and bacteria down that attacks the fish.
Notice I say airtight, as this stops the fish from getting immersed or touched by water from ice melting. which leeches flavor from the fish.
Filet's can be frozen and most freeze well with the exception of cod which contrary to most does not freeze as good as we think it does.. This fish when frozen and then cooked cant hold its moisture content and therefore becomes a bit chewy and tough. Best way to freeze filets non commercially or home is dip in water and wrap in plastic, then take out dip in water again and freeze. This forms a protective ice coat on the fish that stops the dehydrating air from the freezer from affecting it.
Farm raised fish are usually not fed for the last 4 or 5 weeks before slaughter. Purpose being that with clean insides fish less subject to bacteria after slaughter. The fish are anesthetized in chilled water with carbon dioxide. They are killed by either being hit on the head or cut through the blood vessels of the gill and tail., because the blood contains enzymes and reactive hemoglobin iron, bleeding actually improves the flavor. Hope everyone found all of these facts interesting. :chef: ED B 8/09
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post #2 of 16
Ed...great information. I am a long time Alaska "vacation" fisherman, going every year for the past 10 years to fish for Halibut, Ling Cod, Salmon, and palegic fish (Black Bass, Yellow Eye, etc.).

At the filet station we finish the fish with a freshwater wash down and then pat them dry before vacuum sealing them via commercial sealers and then into a quick-freeze freezer. I have found that whenever there is liquid present in the vacuum sealing procedure there is more damage (upon thawing) to the meat than if we pat them dry prior to sealing.

I know you stated "let them dry" before wrapping...my question extends to why recommend an "ice blanket" for home freezing? Is the assumption that some do not have a vacuum sealer (home variety)? If that was the case I would pat dry, wrap in parchment paper, place in a "freezer bag" and attempt to extract all the air out.

Am I missing something? I can always learn something new...:)
post #3 of 16
Buellride, creating an ice blanket is an old-time method of preventing---or at least minimizing---freezer burn. The idea is that is creates a barrior between the flesh and any surrounding air; which is what causes it.

Freezer burn is actually a dehydration process. The surface of the protein dries out.

With smaller fish and fish pieces, and game birds like quail, many people actually would freeze them in water, submerging them in things like water-filled milk cartons and the like.

You might enjoy this article on field-care of fish: Freeze Fish. Cooling the Catch with the Superchilling Method.

Incidentally, even with home vacuum sealers, freezer burn can be a problem, because not all the air is extracted. It's even worse with commercial zipper bags, because they are not impermeable, and actually absorb air as they sit in the freezer.

For maximum quality, fish---even more than most proteins---should be defrosted slowly. One thing that always frosts me (no pun intended) is the advice to quick-defrost it by running it under cold water. Yeah, it'll defrost. And much of the flavor will be flushed away, too. Better to defrost fish slowly, in the fridge.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #4 of 16
KYH...thank you for the link and the info. I will check it out! :)
post #5 of 16
Thread Starter 
If you are going to defrost fish in fridge, put it in plastic bag and punch somes holes in bottom of bag so whatever water in bag drains out and fish is not sitting in it. As KHeirloomer states try not to defrost in water if possible. Although quicker anything that is defrosted in or under water should be in a sealed bag or container.

The reason I say ice glaze is meant for home freezing because it's so much slower then commercial, and by time item freezes some of cells are already damaged.:bounce:
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post #6 of 16
>so whatever water in bag drains out and fish is not sitting in it. <

Absolutely, Ed!!!

The cardinal sin, in terms of lose of quality, is to let a dead fish sit around in water for any length of time. This applies whether it's a whole fish you just caught, or a filet you've taken out of the freezer. Water and dead fish just don't mix well except when you're actually cooking it. Letting fish sit around in water leads to both lose of quality and spoilage.

>by time item freezes some of cells are already damaged.<

Here you're touching on a different problem, one that most home freezers face.

The faster you freeze something the smaller the individual ice crystals. Conversely, the slower you freeze something the larger. Virtually all home freezers do their job relatively slowly.

What happens, unfortunately, is that the large ice crystals pierce cell walls. When you defrost the item, it's natural moisture drains out of those collapsed cells. So there is an automatic loss of quality.

This isn't something the home cook can control to any great extent. A zero- or sub-zero degree freezer helps, and does a better job than a standard freezer.

The very worst is a self-defrosting freezer, which almost guarantees freezer burn and loss of quality because of how they work.

Some steps home freezer users can take to minimize the problem.

1. Put fish (or any protein) up in as thin portions as possible. The thinner the item the faster it will freeze---which is why you often find that filets you've frozen yourself are of better quality than the same fish frozen in the round.

2. Freeze items in a single layer. See above for reasons why. Once the individual pieces are frozen you can combine them in a single package if you so desire.

3. Use multiple freezers. The less often you open a freezer the better it does it's job. So an ideal set-up is to have multiple freezers, each of which is a step-down in size. For instance, you might have a chest freezer for long-term storage. Once a month you remove what you'll need from it and transfer it to an upright. Once a week you transfer what you need from the upright to the freezer built-in to your fridge.
Actually, what would be ideal, albeit impractical for the home cook, is to first wrap the item properly, then dip it in liquid nitrogen, then transfer it to the chest freezer.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #7 of 16
Great! Thank you for the clarrification and recommendation. Cheers!
post #8 of 16
KYHeirloomer, replied too quick to see your post. I kind of always suspected the recommendation was based on a "commericial" versus "home" quality freezing vessel. For my Alaska fish I always have the benefit of a commerical flash freezer to get to the smaller crystals you are refering to. :)
post #9 of 16
Flash freezing certainly gives you a leg up on the quality ladder. And that only because you're flying; so the fish goes from one freezer to another in just a couple of hours.

If you were, instead, driving back from Alaska to the lower 48, and would be spending several days on the road, that's when I recommend that you super-chill instead of having the fish frozen.

Notice in the directions for superchilling, though, that the fish is first wrapped in plastic. This, as Ed notes, is a must. Even in a salt/ice slurry you want to keep the fish as far from water as possible, and pre-wrapping it accomplishes that while taking advantage of the lower temps provided by the super-chill medium.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #10 of 16
in the latter portion of this video, about 8:30 onwards, Alton does smelts. My dad loved smelts, and I'd kind of like to try this, but I'm a bit confused as to which portions of the fish one would eat. alton fries them whole... but I'm guessing you only eat the middle or body portion and leave the tail and head. correct? or can you eat the whole **** thing? would it be better to cut the head and tail fin off and gut them beforehad? thanks

YouTube - Good Eats S11E5 Fish 'n Whole (2/2)
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post #11 of 16
Some eat the entire smelt, some just the body. personally I don't eat fish I use for bait :lol: I always froze fish in a block of ice, they kept a long time that way.
post #12 of 16
well i think i'd stick to the body portion. where's the gag me smilie? :chef:
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I excel at sauteeing onions.
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post #13 of 16
Smelting is a rite of spring in the Great Lakes, particularly Lake Michigan. The runs start sometime in April. Gear primarily consists of gill nets and trolley lines, although there are a few locales where dip nets are used, and the schools come in close to shore at night.

Traditionally, smelt are cooked right on the pier or beach where they're caught. Using shears (much easier than a knife for something that size) the fish are gutted and gilled. Otherwise they are left whole by most people, although some do cut the heads off as well. I don't know of any case in which the tails were discarded. They are then breaded and deep fried. Beer is the beverage of choice.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #14 of 16
That's more commonly known as smelt "tipping" here in the spring. :lol:
When the smelt run into the streams there are scads of people with dip nets.
I can't say I can recal any one grilling smelt. Most here snip the heads off and open the belly as you mentioned with shears. The norm here is to deep fry them, often in beer batter.
I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
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I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
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post #15 of 16

Fish recipes?

Ok great, but any fish recipes? They told me salmon tastes great on the BBQ and in fact I once tried it but I'm not sure how to make it. Any tips?
post #16 of 16
Olivia, hundreds of books and articles have been written about cooking fish. You can find some of them here: Camping Food. Outdoor Cooking

Almost any fish can be done on the grill. The basic technique remains the same. Ideally the fish should be either whole, or a skin-on filet. Skinless fish is more difficult---especially for beginners---because it tends to stick to the grate and break up. Trussed salmon steaks are an ideal choice for the grill, and make an impressive presentation if you're having guests.

You can start my marinating the fish if desired. If not, season with salt & pepper and brush it lightly with olive oil. Put it on the grill skinside down. As it cooks you can continue brushing it with the marinade, if desired, or with other flavorings and glazes. Turn the fish when cooked about halfway through.

Rule of thumb for fish: Cook it a total time of ten minutes per inch of thickness.

Obviously, you'll be buying your fish. To assure the best quality you want the freshest possible. Before buying it, smell it. There should be no fishy aroma. Instead, it should smell clean, with perhaps a faint hint of the ocean. As Emeril puts it, "if it smells like fish, go for the lamb!"

If you're buying the fish for tonight's dinner, then keeping it in the fridge is OK. If holding it for more than a couple of hours, though, as Ed stressed earlier in this thread, it should be done on ice.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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