Monday, June 27, 2011

Freezing fish

Despite my grandest plans to film a short video about my week with my CAFC seafood, life intervened and my fish sat in the fridge for two days before I even got a chance to get it out. I also knew I would be busy in the coming few days so I faced that dillemma that everyone that gets CAFC shares eventually faces: what to do with fish you wont be able to eat fresh.

The most obvious answer is to freeze your fish. If you plan to use the fish in the near future, freezing fish is pretty straight forward. Get as much air out of the bag as you can, make sure any water is drained out and throw the fish in the freezer.

If you plan to keep your seafood longer, freezer burn can become an issue. Freezer burn is when things dry out in the freezer. Seafood is particularly vulnerable to freezer burn as it has a high water content. One way to avoid freezer burn and prolong the life of your seafood then is to freeze your fish in a block of salted water.

Basically you make a solution of salted water, about 1/4 cup of salt per two pints of water and fill the bag you are freezing the fish in with the solution. This technique can extend the life of your filets and keep a much nicer texture than just plain freezing.

Back when there were no CSF's around I used to catch a bunch of Cod just before I took my boat out and freeze a bunch in a brine and we enjoyed cod filets all winter.

There are some other ideas about freezing fish here if you want to try some more elaborate techniques.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

A friend was recently asking me for some seafood cooking tips. Of course that gave me the opportunity to talk about freshness as perhaps the biggest factor in cooking really good seafood. And, of course the freshest fish you can get anywhere is right here from Cape Anne Fresh Catch (or one of the other CSF's that might be in your area).

If you are a CAFC member, you know about fresh seafood. But did you know that 84% of the seafood eaten in this country is imported? How fresh can that possibly be? Let's take the Pacific Cod as an example. These fish by the way are given the highest marks on the seafood buyer cards such as Monterey Bay Aquarium's seafood buyers guide.

The Pacific Cod is the less good looking sister to the Altantic Cod, with a slightly less firm texture, it is sometimes also called the Grey Goo. The Pacific Cod fishery catches and processes large numbers of Cod and freezes them and ships 30% of the catch to China to be re-processed into fillets or fish sticks, then re-imported to the U.S. or another country. If you see "Previously Frozen" Cod at the supermarket and it is not listed as being Atlantic Cod, chances are that fish has been to Alaska and China before arriving at your market. That's a well traveled fish!

In contrast, CAFC's fish is usually landed the same day it is caught, often in the morning. It is weighed and sorted, then delivered to Turner's Seafood - all of this happens before 9AM, where it is either filleted or bagged whole, then put on the truck for delivery. It really doesn't get much fresher than that.

But, I began talking about cooking tips. Here are some I use. Let me know what your secrets are!
  • When in doubt, 1 tblsp butter per person
  • The fresher the fish, the less you should do, as fish get older spice up the recipe.
  • Fish spoil being in water, ideally your fish should be on ice free to drain
  • 10 minutes per inch of thickness
I am off to fry up my share from last week for fish tacos! What did you do with your share?

Sunday, June 5, 2011

A meal so good I cant stop thinking about it...

Welcome to Cape Ann Fresh Catch's (CAFC) summer season. As an introduction, or re-introduction for those of you who may have read the blog before or are here for the first time, my name is Sean Sullivan. I work for the Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance (NAMA), which is one of the partner organizations that helped start CAFC and continues to support and encourage the CSF movement any way we can.

I am also a CAFC shareholder and I pick up my seafood in Marblehead. I've had some truly incredible meals from the seafood I've had from CAFC. Several stand out in my head because it was the first time I tried that species. I'd never had Acadian Redfish before, also know as Ocean Perch and just Redfish. Not only are these fish beautiful to look at, but they have a unique texture that makes them one of the few fishes we get you can throw right on the grill.

Another one of the memorable meals was the time I sauteed some whiting, whole, for my kids. I figured there was a 60/40 chance they would eat a whole fish where they had to pull out the bones. They loved it.

Still though, as a lifelong seafood lover, having worked in restaurants that specialize in seafood, and being something of a fresh/local/healthy food dork, I was unprepared for yet another meal that would leave such a lasting impression upon me that I continue to savor it now almost three weeks later.

The recipe was grilled monkfish kebabs. I served it with sauteed fiddleheads and asparagus. My mouth is watering as I type this. My daughter, the arbiter of all things good and evil, declared it the best seafood she's ever had. We eat fish at least twice a week.

That is why I am a CAFC member.....

.......ok, well thats only partly why. The other reason is that I care about the ocean, and I want my kids to grow up with a local ecology that is healthy and provides us with healthy protein. You can't get much more organic, fresh, healthy and local than CAFC fish.

I'll be talking more in the coming weeks about more fisheries issues as there is a lot going on, and there are ways you can get involved if you do care about the ocean. You can start reading here. Or you can read through previous blog posts.

Here is a blog from a Gloucester fisherman. It can get a little spicy over there, so if you can't handle dock talk be forewarned.

And here is another blog that you might find interesting and relevant to the issues of seafood and sustainability.

And lastly, feel free to get in touch to share recipe experiences, write a guest blog, or tell me what you want me to write about.

Thanks for reading.