Spotlight on Fish
Have it raw (think Sashimi) or perhaps in beer batter or grilled, whatever your fancy you can make fish into main delicious meals and it’s easy to store and cook. In this post, we look at Fish, why it’s good for you and how to get the most benefits out of them in your balanced diet.
Generally speaking, all types of fish are good for you, however some fish are better than others, and the fatty types of fish (Salmon, Trout, Sardines, Tuna and Mackerel to name a few) are considered the healthiest. Most fish (especially fatty fish) contain Omega-3.These fatty acids are crucial for your body and brain to functions optimally, and are strongly linked to reduce the risk of many conditions such as arthritis. The Omega-3 found in Fish also helps to lower your risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Fish and fish products are also the best dietary sources of Vitamin D, by far. Fatty fish like salmon and herring contain the highest amounts. Vitamin D functions like a steroid hormone in the body and helps with the absorption of Calcium and promotes bone growth.
Picking a whole fish
Whatever the variety, whole fish have certain characteristics that indicate freshness:
- They should have bright, clear, full eyes that are often protruding. As the fish loses freshness, the eyes become cloudy, pink, and sunken.
- The gills should be bright red or pink. Avoid fish with dull-colored gills that are gray, brown, or green.
- Fresh fish should be free of loose or sloughing slime. The flesh should be firm yet elastic, springing back when pressed gently with the finger. With time, the flesh becomes soft and slips away from the bone. The skin of a fresh, whole fish should be shiny with scales that adhere tightly. Characteristic colors and markings start to fade as soon as a fish leaves the water, but the skin should still have a bright, shiny appearance.
Selecting a fish steak or fillet
- They should have firm, elastic flesh and a fresh-cut, moist appearance, with no browning around the edges.
- Fillets separate if they are left too long in the case.
- The flesh should be almost translucent – as if you can almost see through it.
- There should be little evidence of bruising or reddening of the flesh from retention of blood. Prepackaged steaks and fillets should contain minimum liquid.
Handling, Safety & Storage
- Cleanliness – a clean working environment is essential in the prevention of contamination when working with fish. Make sure to wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling raw fish. When working with other foods at the same time as preparing and cooking fish, be sure to use different utensils for each food. Don’t use the same platter for cooked fish as was used for the raw meat, unless it has been properly washed and dried before using.
- Refrigerating – For the best flavour and quality, fish should be prepared for eating within 24 hours of catching, but if stored properly it is safe to keep refrigerated. Raw fish can be stored safely at 5 degrees Celsius or lower for 2 to 3 days. Oily fish will store longer than lean fish and whole fish will store better than steaks and fillets. To store, rinse fish in cold water, then pat dry with a paper towel. Line a plate or pan with a double layer of paper towels and place the fish on the towels. Cover them tight with plastic wrap or aluminium foil and place in the coldest part of the refrigerator, the top shelf in the back. Be sure the fish is tightly wrapped so that if there are any juices, they won’t come in contact with other food.
- Freezing – If you want to store fresh fish beyond 2 or days, then the best answer is to freeze it. There are several methods to freeze fish. The method you use depends on if you’re freezing the whole fish, large cuts, steaks or fillets. Fish should be frozen at -18 degrees Celsius or less. When freezing, be sure to mark the packages with contents and the date so you can be certain how long it has been stored in the freezer and what it contains.
– Double Wrapping: this freezing method works well on smaller whole fish, steaks and fillets. Individual pieces thaw easier when you are ready to use them. As the method’s name suggests, wrap the fish individually in plastic wrap or aluminium foil twice. When placing in the freezer, don’t stack a lot of packages together in one area. Try to spread them out in the freezer so they freeze quicker. Once frozen, they can then be stacked neatly on top of each other.
– Glazing: this method is best suited for larger whole fish or cuts. Glazing will seal the fish with a thick layer of ice to protect it from exposure to air. To do this, lay the fish out on a baking sheet in a single layer without wrapping. Place in the freezer until frozen. Remove the fish from the freezer and dip each individual fish into a bowl of ice water. Place back on the baking sheet and freeze again. Repeat this process until the fish has an ice coating built up to at least ⅓ cm thick. Place the glazed fish into an airtight freezer bag or container. From time to time check the glazing on the fish. A layer of glaze may have to be repeated if stored for an extended period of time.
Super-chill your fish if you are planning to transport fish when freezing capabilities are unavailable. If stored properly, fish can be kept fresh up to 6 or 7 days. First, clean fish properly and leave whole. Wrap the fish tightly with two layers of plastic wrap or aluminium foil. Mix 500mg of rock salt with 9kgs of crushed ice. If storing a small quantity of fish the amount of salt and ice can be reduced proportionately. Then get a cooler and place a 10cm layer of plain crushed ice on the bottom of the cooler.Then place a layer of the wrapped fish on top of the ice layer. On top of this, put a layer of the ice-salt mixture on top of the fish and repeat until all the fish are covered. Be sure to have a thick layer of the ice mixture on top when finished. Then place the ice cooler cover on top tightly.
Ready to cook
Thaw frozen fish in the refrigerator or in cold water (never thaw fish at room temperature). Do not allow cooked fish to sit at room temperature for more than 2 hours. Never refreeze fish that has been thawed.