You all know by now that I’m a huge advocate for sustainable seafood, and today I’ve teamed up with Fishpeople Seafood to shed some light on the topic. I hope this post encourages you to eat more seafood, and helps you make better choices when you do.
When it comes to sourcing sustainable seafood, there is so much to talk about, but today I want to specifically address the topic of fresh vs. frozen. It’s no secret that fish is best when it’s fresh, which is exactly why I’d like to make the case for frozen.
Frozen seafood gets a bad rap. It’s automatically assumed to be of lesser quality than it’s fresh counterpart, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. I grew up by the sea, in a family of commercial fishermen, and “fresh is best” has always been the mantra. It’s true, there’s nothing like cooking up a fresh piece striped bass or flounder right after catching it that day, but in reality, how often does this happen for most people?
It doesn’t. And if you’re lucky enough to live by an excellent fish monger, even their freshest catch has usually been sitting around for at least a day. But it still looks pretty fresh, so you buy it, you bring it home… and then life happens and you don’t have time to cook. Two days later, you take it out and you smell it. It’s questionable. So when in doubt, you throw it out.
This happens with all kinds of food all the time. We do it with meats, vegetables, but especially with fish because it has such a short shelf life. Even I’ve been guilty of it. But with frozen seafood, you don’t have to worry about it going to waste, because it stays preserved in the freezer right up until you’re ready to cook. In addition, most of today’s frozen seafood has been blast frozen immediately after being caught, which retains it’s flavor, texture and freshness. So once defrosted, it’s no different than it was the minute it came out of the water.
Lately I’ve been talking to a bunch of folks about sustainable seafood, and I’ve found that most people have very strong, unwavering opinions about where their fish comes from. I think that’s fantastic, and it’s sparking important conversations about healthy eating and environmental consciousness. That said, I keep hearing people say that fresh, wild caught seafood is good, and the only thing they’ll consume, while frozen and farm raised seafood is bad, and they’ll avoid it at all costs. Unfortunately, the issue just isn’t that simple.
Those blanket statements are equivalent to saying all pitbulls are violent, all millennials are lazy or all food bloggers are dorks. Okay, maybe that last one is true. But if you look, you can easily find both good and bad examples of fresh, frozen, farmed and wild caught seafood. It really all boils down to being sustainable versus not being sustainable. Period. This is determined by the specific methods of sourcing, raising, packaging, and transporting used by individual fisheries, farms and distributors.
It’s important to know your source, and the fine folks at Fishpeople Seafood make it easy. They offer freshly frozen wild caught seafood directly from the Pacific Northwest, available in a number of different grocery stores across the country. Fishpeople are committed to harvesting only sustainable species in the US, using transparent business practices, and keeping their products accessible, convenient and affordable.
When purchasing frozen seafood, always look for tightly or vacuum sealed packages and avoid any that appear to have been open, torn or crushed. Inspect the packages for any signs of frost or ice crystals, which indicate the fish may have been stored for too long, or possibly thawed and refrozen.
The best way to thaw frozen seafood is to do it gradually overnight in the refrigerator. Seafood can be also be quickly defrosted by placing it in a bag (or leaving it in it’s original packaging) and immersing it in cold water. After about 20 minutes, depending on thickness, the fish will be thawed out and ready to cook.
Believe it or not, you don’t even have to defrost frozen fish before you cook it. Remove the fish from it’s packaging, run it under cold water and gently pat it dry. Place it on a lightly oiled baking sheet and season however you like. Bake in a 450 degree oven for about 20-25 minutes, depending on thickness, and you’ll end up with a perfectly cooked, tender, juicy and fresh piece of fish every single time. It doesn’t get easier – or fresher – than that.