When people ask "Is the seafood fresh?" what they really mean is "Is it good quality?" It may come as a surprise, but the best quality seafood is often frozen. Seafood quality cannot be improved once it leaves the water, it can only be maintained. Therefore, Alaska has chosen high technology freezing as a superior method of preserving its seafood the minute it leaves the water.
The watchwords for maintaining seafood quality are time, temperature and cleanliness. As time passes and ambient temperature climbs, bacterial growth increases, seafood quality diminishes and eventually spoils. Seafood, like other foods, needs to be frozen very quickly to prevent cellular damage. Seafood is rapidly chilled down and held at 32 degrees F until it is flash frozen at a temperature no higher than -20 degrees F and protected from dehydration by glazing (a covering of water that forms a protective sheet of ice). Seafood is held or transported at below 0 degrees F for a resulting product that tastes every bit as fresh as the day it left the water. Numerous studies have shown that most consumers cannot tell the difference between high quality frozen seafood and high quality fresh seafood.
At the grocery store you will find fresh-frozen seafood in two places-in the frozen foods department and at the seafood counter. When purchasing frozen seafood, look for solidly frozen packages. Do not buy fish or shellfish that is stored above the chill line of the case. Do not buy seafood with freezer burns, or icy white discolorations. When purchasing fresh or thawed seafood from the seafood counter, let your eyes and nose be the judge. Good quality seafood smells sea-fresh. It should not have a strong odor or smell "fishy." Fish fillets and steaks should appear moist, firm and freshly cut. Shellfish should be bright in color with no discoloration or dryness. Pre-packaged seafood should contain only a minimum of liquid.
Do not allow frozen seafood to thaw until you are ready to use it. Refreezing seafood will severely alter its quality. Wrap seafood in moisture-proof paper or enclose in an airtight container. Do not store seafood wrapped only in waxed paper or plastic wrap.
Frozen cod, halibut, pollock and rockfish may be stored up to 6 months in a home freezer at 0 degrees F or lower. For best quality, frozen sablefish and salmon may be stored up to 4 months in a home freezer at 0 degrees F or lower.
Frozen king crab, Dungeness crab and snow crab may be stored up to 10 months in the home freezer at 0 degrees F or lower.
It's best to thaw seafood overnight in the refrigerator. Place the wrapped package on a plate or shallow pa to catch any liquid that drips out. Allow 8-10 hours (extremely large cuts may take a bit longer). Do not try to speed up the process of thawing seafood. Never allow seafood to thaw at room temperature or place it in warm water to thaw. Flavor and texture are both lost in this way.
Selection & Storage
This delicate fish from down under has pearly white flesh and a mild, shellfish like flavor.
Orange Roughy has high moisture content and should be stored in the refrigerator and either prepared or frozen within 48 hours.
Preparation & Eating Tips
Grill, marinate, bake, poach, sauté' or steam. The fat and cholesterol level of this fish is exceptionally low. The fillet remains moist, holds its shape and flakes nicely on preparation
Microwave: Because of its high moisture content, Roughy defrosts quickly in the microwave, so it's best to thaw it in the microwave in stages.
Substitutions: Cod, Snapper, Sole and Flounder.
Nutrition Facts: Serving = 3 oz. (edible portion: skinless, broiled) Calories = 70gm.; Protein 16gm.; Carbohydrates = 0gm.; Fat = 1gm.; Saturated Fatty Acid = 0mg.; Cholesterol 20mg.; Sodium = 70mg.; % U.S. RDA Vitamin A = *; Vitamin C = *; Calcium = *; Iron = *
* Less then 2% of the U.S. RDA
Melt margarine in skillet. When hot, pour in white wine and add dillweed, minced garlic and mushrooms. Add Orange Roughy and keep over medium heat until fish flakes when tested with a fork. Top with parsley and garnish with lemon wedges.
Selection & Storage
Farmed mussels have smooth, thin shells and are of uniform size. They are larger than wild mussels and have more plump, tender meat. Wild mussels vary in size and often have barnacles or seaweed attached to their thick, ridged shells. Greenshell mussels are farmed in New Zealand. Blueshell mussels may be farmed or wild. Females have orange meat, males have white. Mussels are best prepared the day of purchase, but can be refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 3 months.
Preparation & Eating Tips
Tightly closed mussels or open ones that stay shut after you close them, are alive. Cold mussels may respond slowly, so run them under some lukewarm water if you are unsure.
Discard mussels if they do not respond, if the shells slide back and forth easily or if the smell is not fresh.
Wild mussels must be scrubbed and debearded. Farmed mussels are usually sold debearded and ready to cook. The beard is the bundle of fibers which the mussel uses to attach itself to a rock, pier or other firm surface. It's edible but not tasty. Simply pinch it off with your finger. Do not debeard mussels until just before you cook them.
Nutrition Facts: Serving 3-1/2 oz. (raw) Calories = 86; Protein = 11.9gm., Fat = 2.2gm.; Sodium = 286mg.; Cholesterol = 28mg.
Simmer, covered, almonds, celery onions and garlic in 1/4 cup of water until onions are soft. Add tomatoes, coriander and pepper sauce. Cover and simmer 5 minutes. Add Mussels and 1/4 cup water and cover. Simmer 4-5 minutes, until open. Serve in bowls with side plates to collect shells.
This page originally published as a FoodDay article in 1997.
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This page modified February 2007
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