3500 Kodiak brown bears can’t be wrong when it comes to Alaskan seafood. For generations, seafood has sustained both Alaskan brown bears and coastal Alaskan peopple. Wild, natural, healthy seafood, that is full of vitamins, minerals and heart healthy Omega 3’s, is an essential protein source for a healthy diet.
Now comes the question we answer several times a year – fresh or frozen seafood, which is better? Really, the actual question should be are you buying the best quality fish. According to experts, there isn’t much of a debate because frozen fish can be as high in quality as fresh seafood – it may come as a surprise, but it can actually be better to buy frozen, but more on that later.
The moment fish is caught, the clock starts ticking on the quality timeline. There is no way to unwind the clock. Time and temperature are the two primary factors that impact the quality of seafood, so managing time and temperature is the best way to control the quality of the seafood that eventually makes its way to your dinner table. When fish is first received at the dock, it should be held in a refrigerated or iced hold and should be at 32 degrees Fahrenheit to preserve freshness and flavor. All the way the production process, temperatures should be monitored to ensure that the fish is handled properly and the quality preserved. Typically, fish is filleted, vacuum packed and then frozen within hours of being received at the processing plant. The freezing process for vacuum packed fillets occurs in a blast or tunnel freezer which quickly brings the fillet temperature down to minus 20 degrees. At the completion of the freezing cycle, the fillets are boxed and held in a freezer until sold.
Fresh fish is usually flown or trucked (or both) from the processing plant to a distribution facility and then is delivered to a fish market or supermarket. If you consider the logistics, this fresh fish could have been out of the water for several days before it arrives in your fishmonger’s display case. This doesn’t mean that the product has lower quality, but thinking back to the quality timeline, if a fish fillet has been handled and held under refrigeration for several days, the clock has been ticking on the remaining “shelf life” of the product. In other words, quality might be fine, but you have limited time to cook the fish.
How can you evaluate the quality of fresh fish? First, we would look at the color and texture of the fillets. If the flesh on the fillets are beginning to separate or appear dried out then they probably have experienced aging or temperature spikes. You should especially look for this when buying “previously frozen” fillets. Fresh fish should have an “ocean fresh” odor. If there is a strong odor, it could be the sign of degrading quality as the fillet starts to decompose. If you have questions, by all means ask your fishmonger about the origin and age of the fish.
Gavin Gibbons, a spokesman for the National Fisheries Institute, says that “70% or higher of all seafood has been frozen at some point. If a fish is caught, handled well and frozen immediately, you literally stop the quality clock. You freeze in the freshness.” Technology today is designed to permit the maximum retention of freshness and flavor in frozen seafood. When buying frozen seafood, look at the vacuum bag to see if there are any punctures or ice crystals on the fillet. This would indicate that the vacuum was lost on the bag. If the edge of the fillet is beginning to change color, this is another indication of either freezer burn or a lost vacuum. So it is important to inspect the product before purchasing and then handle it correctly when it is in your freezer. Typically, you can expect to hold vacuum packed, frozen seafood for up to one year in a freezer. When thawing the fillets, it is best to thaw under refrigerated conditions, so thaw in your fridge for a day or in a bowl of cold water.
When buying seafood online, it all comes down to trust. In order to gain and hold your trust, we must produce the highest quality seafood products possible. This means that the quality clock is monitored and tracked from the moment the fish is caught until it is taken out of the freezer.
At Kodiak Fish Market, we know each of our fishermen and buy only the best quality seafood at the dock. Our production plants operate under strict quality guidelines and are inspected by both state and federal health inspectors. In order for us to succeed as an online seafood market, we do our utmost to ensure that you always receive the highest quality product for the best value.
Feel free to contact us if you have questions. We are always ready to talk about fish!