Handling Frozen Seafood
--photo by Captain Troy Frady
Basa or Swaii filets are what some local restaurants in Alabama call Groupers cousin. This fish is actually an IQF white catfish that is raised in ponds in Asia and sells for about $3.00 a pound retail. If you see a local Orange Beach area restaurant selling (AYCE) all you can eat fish, this is probably what it is. It is a very good, mild flavored fish.
There is an advantage to buying fresh frozen seafood from local shops. You get a better quality if you buy fish and seafood that has been flash frozen. 98% of all shrimp sold in the US is done this way. More and more fish that are not native to the Alabama Gulf Coast are handled the same way. The purpose of this page is to inform you about handling fresh frozen seafood and freezing your seafood.
Individually Quick Frozen Seafood Preserves Quality and Flavor
A lot of the seafood retailers carry are processed, IQF (individually quick frozen). IQF fish is good or better eating than fish that has been caught on boats that leave them in a hold until returning to port. IQF fish and seafood have good color, firm texture and good flavor. The process freezes seafood quickly so the ice crystals that form in the flesh are smaller, thus not deteriorating the flesh of the fish. Almost all of the seafood you see today that is filet out in local markets is IQF. Go to your local grocery stores seafood market early in the morning. You will see the filets are still frozen and or defrosting during the day. This is not bad, unless they re-freeze the fish that did not sell at the end of the day. You should never re-freeze previously frozen seafood.
Freezing Fish and Seafood Slowly Reduces The Quality and Flavor
--photo by Captain Troy Frady
Royal Red Shrimp are caught in deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico. They taste like lobster. They are relatively inexpensive at about $5.50 to $6.50 per pound for 20 to 25 count. Don't miss out on some good eating.
Those who freeze seafood slowly, damage the fish by allowing larger ice crystals to form and rupture the flesh of the fish. When you thaw the fish out, the large ice crystals inside the flesh causes additional liquid to be lost by having broken cells in the flesh. This is called drip loss. It affects the flavor and the texture of your fish. When you cook your fish that has been slowly frozen, you end up with a piece of dried out fish with little or no flavor. Defrosting by sitting on the counter for hours or using the microwave also deteriorates the flavor and firmness.
Thawing Fish and Seafood
The proper way to thaw out your fish is slowly. Leave them in the refrigerator and let them thaw out slowly for more than 24 hours. You should never thaw out fish at room temperature or under running hot water. If you are in a rush, use cold running water to help speed up the process. Remember, the more contact your seafood has with water deteriorates the fish and washes away the flavor. If your fish is in a vacuum sealed bag, leave it in the bag until fully thawed out and ready to use.
Identifying The Best Frozen Seafood
Properly frozen seafood and fish should be somewhat shiny coloration. Look for even colored flesh. It should not be all dull and flat looking when thawed. If you see white spots or spots that are whiter than other portions of the seafood, this usually means freezer burn. Thawing out of seafood and re-freezing them is almost a guarantee of poor quality.
We hope this helps you understand a little more about handling frozen seafood.