Frozen fish can be a good thing so pay no heed to the myth that fresh is necessarily best. Think about it. Fish is often caught way out in the ocean by a trawler that’s out to sea for weeks at a time. Simple refrigeration won’t do the trick. Foods have to be stored below 28 F in order to retard the natural decomposition.
Freezing, alas, is not kind to fish. If you were to simply put a fresh caught fish in your conventional kitchen freezer, the fish is frozen at a relatively slow rate that allows for snowflake like crystals to form inside the flesh. This freezer burn destroys the cell structure of the tissue and causes the flesh to loose liquid when thawed. The impact is noticeable on both flavor and texture. Hence the axiom warning against eating frozen fish.
But a dude named Clarence Birdseye while working for the US government way back in 1916 as a field naturalist in Alaska made a dramatic discovery. Mr. Birdseye noticed that when the Eskimos tossed their fresh caught fish onto the Artic ice in the Artic wind, the fish froze solid in a flash. Better yet, the Eskimo flash frozen fish retained all it’s natural flavor when thawed. Following a long line of public servants who made a valuable discovery while working for the people, Clarence dumped public service, invented the “blast freezer”, founded Birdseye Foods and did pretty well for himself.
The principal that Clarence built his empire on still holds true today and commercial fishing boats now employ one of the following flash freezing methods:
- Plate freezing where the fish is frozen between to really cold plates
- Brine freezing where the fish is frozen in saltwater slurry
- Blast freezing where sub-zero air is blasted across the fish
- Cryogenic freezing where the fish is frozen in ultra-low temp inert gas
So thanks to a Mr. Birdseye, your fisherman is able to flash freeze your dinner within fifteen minutes of reeling it in. Compared to refrigerated fish it is a much better product.
For certain types of fish the, FDA requires the fish to held frozen at -20 F for no less than twenty-four hours. This process kills off any nasty bacteria. Therefore if you have ever had salmon at a sushi bar, you have tasted premium flash frozen fish.
Next time you buy fish, don’t be scared off the word “frozen”. It’s not a dirty word.