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The factory ships add water to fillets.

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

They must be doing that. I used to live on the CA coast, and as a fishing fanatic, always had ling cod fillets ready to go. I caught other species of cod, too. But when I thawed them and cooked them, water didn't come bubbling out, shrinking the size of the fillet, causing it to boil instead of quick-fry.


I'm toiling with a brand of wild-caught seafood called Simply Seafood. I have a bag of individually vacuum sealed fillets. I thaw the sealed bags in cold water, and when I cut the clear plastic open, several tablespoons of water dribble out. I pat it dry with paper  towels, pressing pretty hard. But when I put them in a smoking-hot pan, the water bubbles up and boils the fillet. I hate that. It doesn't taste bad, but I know the real thing and this isn't it.


Could I pat and press the fillets as dry as possible, then lay them on 1/4 inch steel mesh, elevated, so a close fan can blow all around them to try to dry them out? I'd probably have to protect the thin areas of the meat, so the thicker parts can dry. Does this make any sense? I know about the dangers of growing slippery colonies of bacteria patches on the fillets.


Any suggestions?


I can hear it now, "Find a source of good seafood". But I live up in the sticks now. No more seafood deliveries that I know of.


Thank You,



post #2 of 11

Roger....welcome to ChefTalk.


The ice in the packages comes from the fish itself.

Although it is Individually quick frozen, all proteins cells break down from the freezing process.

They hold the water in so when thawed release the liquid they've held.

I have the same problem with IQF scallops.


The best answer is to place the thawed piece of fish on a few folded pieces of paper towel and allow to sit for an hour at room temperature.

Don't press down or weight the fish as you are affecting the texture and this will show up later in the mouth feel and flavor profile.

post #3 of 11
I once upon a time was buying frozen fish from a discount grocery store that stated that their supplier coated the fish with water "for its own protection ". There was definitely a thin layer of ice. It kept the filets separated (as long as it didn't thaw and refreeze). The bubblubling when cooking is not just annoying but prohibits proper cooking. I can't prove it but believe that to result from use of additives to keep the protein plump. Had same experience with discount ground beef. Moral of the story: buy only from trusted supplier. It costs more but less frustrating.
Edited by BrianShaw - 7/31/16 at 8:25am
post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 



Thank, y'all!.

Of course.When the water in the cells of food freezes, it expands, rupturing the cells. I learned that long ago, but it didn't occur to me lately. That could explain the water that bubbles up uring cooking. But, nevertheless, the frozen fish that I had for forty years caught myself, even when in a zero degree  residential freezer for up to two months, never had this problem. So I'm still convinced the factories add water to the inside of the fillet. BTW it's fresh water or light both.


I have an idea for how to protect food from growing bacteria on it's surface when it is put out to dry. It's kind of advanced..  No chemicals are involved. But that will come in another post.



post #5 of 11
You may want to do additional research on STPP. It's often more than just normal freeze-thaw effect.


What these folks aren't disclosing is that it keeps the weight for more money to them but makes it difficult to cook. Works for them but at our expense! Another hidden fact is that they don't need to disclose these facts. Ask any supermarket or fish monger and most will feign ignorance.
post #6 of 11

I freeze my own copper river salmon filets in vacuum seal bags. I never get this from salmon. I do see a lot more moisture with cod and Halibut after freezing and thawing in vacuum sealed bags. I wonder if it's just the nature of the beast. I don't see it in fresh halibut when i cook it....Welcome to Cheftalk...........Chef Bill

post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 

What is STPP ?. I'm just a beginner. I've only ever cooked fish in two ways: fried and roasted.. Always in a hurry. I've never even made fish soup, which I imagine would be very tasty.



post #8 of 11
STPP = sodium tri poly phosphate. See the linked information.
post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 

OK tis is surprising. I had no idea about it's use in food. Industrially it's called E451.  I use a similar if not exactly the same crystalline product that when I add I/4 tsp to one cup of water, large soft crystals appear until all the water becomes 3/4 inch diameter clear crystals of the consistency of, well, water. Softer than the softest gelatin. We reptile owners often use it because liquid water spreads out and can grow fungi, and some reptiles react to water bowls by climbing in and defecating. So some of us force them to 'eat' water. I think it's an uncalled-for shortcut of dubious benefit to the captive reptile. But there is no recognized health hazard with it in this case of limited use.


My reasoning is, if the crystal can hydrate, then it can dehydrate. It probably requires heat. I'm going to look into this and see if there is a non-cooking-hot high temperature that will make the Tri- lose it's H2O. The product will remain, but a least it's water will be gone.


Did you see the Rubber Chicken UK article that Google finds when the search term is "E451 in seafood"? Aack, gag. I doubt that any organization has followed 2,000 people through 40 years of eating that stuff. I don't trust it. I might have to try to find a source of E451-free fish meat. It's easy to find privately raised, chemical free chicken, but I don't want to give up eating fish. Maybe I'll have to start catching lots of mountain stream trout.



post #10 of 11
Thread Starter 

Well,, 170F made the fillets dump their 'hydrous': Their water. Broiling did not draw any more water out. But now I have to see if E451 drops it's water at 110F, then 130F, then 150F, then 160F.

When I'm done, I'll report back.


You know, a while ago I found out that I could make chicken breasts extra tender by microwaving them until 1/2 inch of the edges turn white. That reduces the rosy blush in the thicker sections of the breasts. Then I quick fry them until just the point where they lose any trace of pink. This does not put enough color to them, so I sprinkle it lightly with chili powder, and turn them a few times. If I finish the meat quickly, it comes out surprisingly tender and good-tasting. I wonder how much of this process is mediated by the dreaded E451. I'll have to experiment with ice-glazed frozen chicken parts too. The people at pot-lucks like this chicken I bring. For pot-lucks, I usually top 1 inch cubes with pre-melted cream cheese or sharp cheddar, just for fun and decadence. :-)


Roger again.

post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 

I said "This does not put enough color to them, so I sprinkle them lightly with chili powder, and turn them a few times."  


I meant put them in a piping hot frying pan and turn them for a few seconds a few times until they get the right look. I use small amounts of olive oil.



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