Education

To freeze or not to freeze, that is the question.

By CCH

Happy new year. Hope you had a cracker and of course, made some good, ‘sustainable’ resolutions.

You may have received some of our promotional flyers offering seasonal Canadian fish before Chinese New Year then a host of Icelandic products prior to Easter. I hope you’ll take advantage of these. However, some of our clients have raised some pertinent questions about the products, which leads me to this epistle.

Our website promulgates the sale of both frozen and fresh seafood. For the Canadian produce we state that it is in season, but it is frozen. There seems to be a disconnect here. How and why is seasonal seafood frozen? OK. Let me try to explain. I believe I have touched on this issue before but let me elaborate further here.

I would suggest that live market and then slaughtered seafood is the best. There is nothing like tasting freshly caught, slaughtered and cooked seafood. But to be honest this is either a rare or expensive treat, for instance when you are in a coastal city anywhere in the world or an expensive Chinese restaurant. In Hong Kong, seafood markets and some supermarkets do sell fresh/ chilled fish. These terms are used interchangeably, but basically refer to fish that has been caught, slaughtered and the meat has not been frozen. There is a lot of this in the markets. However, a great deal of produce is actually ‘previously frozen’ and then defrosted. It should state as such under Hong Kong labelling laws, but many outlets do not. This is where you need to be aware of your fish and be sensible.

To put some ‘meat on the bone’ excuse the pun, let me give you an example of two exquisite fish, the Patagonian Toothfish, normally called Chilean seabass, and the Sable fish, normally called Black cod. Both these fish are deep water fish. They are caught on long line, far out to sea and in deep waters. In a nutshell, the boats that catch them generally fish for days before entering port. The fish are then frozen on board. Sometimes they are processed and then frozen on board. This is called ‘single frozen’. The fact is that there is very little chance of these two fish being fresh when on sale, unless they are sold at an above average price for these already expensive products, the fish having been air lifted in from the Antarctic to the store or through some crazy logistics exercise. It must have been frozen and then defrosted. It is a ‘previously frozen’ product.

Back to single frozen produce. In my view this is in fact the best product you can get. Most of the Canadian and Icelandic products in the market are exactly this. Caught, slaughtered and frozen, IQF meaning ‘individually quick frozen’. They are the best because, as you can imagine, the fish is frozen immediately after processing. It is not spoilt, has had no time to deteriorate and maintains all its texture and taste. Compare this with fresh/ chilled produce which may have taken 3-5 days to get to the market. Most meats start degrading dramatically after say 5 days. So, you are not getting the best product. With single frozen you are.

Finally, I should mention ‘double frozen’ items. These are the great majority of seafoods in the marketplace. What ‘double frozen’ means is that the fish are frozen when caught, defrosted for processing, and then refrozen again, and packaged for sale. There is nothing wrong with this seafood. Processing techniques are so professional now and factories are licensed and accredited to high levels of food safety. So, don’t worry. But, when it comes to taste and texture, there is definitely a difference between single frozen and double frozen produce.

So, please make the most of this opportunity. Try the single frozen Canadian produce now available. Get your taste buds working and then set the goal to try the Icelandic prior to Easter. Just think you would have cracked out two resolutions for the new years, one, eating sustainably and two, supporting seasonality.

 

 

CCH20200108

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