Storing and thawing fish

Yield: 1 servings

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Storing Fish

All fish except canned varieties are extremely perishable. Every precaution must be taken to preserve freshness and flavor. When shopping be sure to purchase fish last and store it properly.

Fresh fish should be stored in the refrigerator or packed in finely crushed ice to preserve its quality. it should be wrapped in vapor-proof paper and stored in a tightly covered dish at 35-40 F. It is best used on the date of purchase.

Prepare fish for freezing the same as you would prepare it for table use. It should be washed and drained. Small fish are generally frozen whole, while large fish are most often filleted or steaked. Fish should always be frozen at their peak of freshness.

Fresh fish may be frozen in a block of ice or by glazing. To freeze fish in a block of ice, fill a container with water. Place the fish in the container, and place the container in the freezer until it is frozen solid. Then wrap the block in moisture-vapor- proof material and return it to the freezer.

Glazing is as efficient and, in fact, more advantageous than block freezing for it requires less freezer space. To glaze a fish, clean and fillet or steak it as desired. Place it in a single layer on a tray. As soon as the fish is frozen, dip it in ice-cold water. A glaze will form immediately if the fish is completely frozen. Repeat this process three or four more times. A coat of ice will result from each dipping. It may be necessary to place the fish in the freezer during this process. To avoid breaking the glaze, handle the fish carefully. Once glazed, the fish should be wrapped in an airtight wrapping such as freezer paper or aluminum foil and stored in the freezer. The glazing process must be repeated if the fish is not used within one to two months.

Commercially frozen fish should be stored in its wrapper at 0 F.

The length of time fish can be frozen depends upon the fat content.

Fat fish should be frozen no longer than three months, while lean fish can be stored in a frozen state for up to six months.

Thawing Fish

It is best to thaw fish in their wrappings in the refrigerator allowing 18-24 hours per pound. If you need to thaw fish more quickly, you can place it in an airtight wrapper and under cold water allowing one to two hours per pound. It should be cooked while still chilled. Prepare defrosted fish in the same manner as fresh fish. If the fish is only partially thawed, allow additional cooking time at a lower temperature.

Frozen fillets and steaks do not have to be thawed before cooking, provided additional time is allotted. However, if you plan to bread or stuff fish, it should be thawed first.

Cooked fish may be stored in the freezer or in the refrigerator. To freeze, the cooked fish should be packed in a moisture-vapor-proof material and stored not longer than three months. To refrigerate, the cooked fish should be placed in a covered container and used within three days.

Caution! When defrosting fish remember never to thaw at room temperature, in hot water, or refreeze frozen fish.

Adam Starchild has combined business travel with discovering the delights of native dishes from Hawaii and Hong Kong to Russia and the Caribbean. He is the author of The Seafood Heritage Cookbook (Cornell Maritime Press), co-author of another seafood cookbook, and the author of a number of food and cooking articles.

Submitted By BARRY WEINSTEIN On 08-30-95

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