JTR

Ultimate Fish Care Thread - Keeping Your Catch as Fresh as Possible

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One of my fishing goals for this year is to eat as many different saltwater fish as sushi/sashimi. As many of you know, sushi requires top quality fish. I’m interested to hear what tips everyone has for keeping your catch as fresh as possible. 

 

For me, bleeding all fish immediately is very important. A quick slit in the V right behind the gills will cut an artery and takes care of bleeding the fish quickly. As soon as the fish is bled out, I then eviscerate the fish and get it on ice. If you aren’t bleeding your fish, you’re doing it wrong, trust me. 

 

The ice will be my first point of focus this year. I think I’m going to try saltwater ice. I’m curious if anyone else is either making their own saltwater ice or buying it somewhere. Most people that give instructions for high quality fish always say not to rinse the fish in fresh water...... but then store their fish in the cooler soaking in gas station ice. It makes no sense to me. A saltwater ice slurry in the yeti seems like the best solution to me.

 

My job this summer will allow me to fish before work, but any fish that I keep will need to be on ice for 8-10 hours. Hopefully the salt water ice offers a solution to the lengthy cooler stay. I’m interested to hear what else you guys do to keep fish as fresh as possible.

 

 

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Speaking strictly for myself now.

I kill and bleed any fish I decide to keep immediately. No flopping on the rock or boat deck. That only bruises the delicate flesh. I fish primarily at night. So all my fish are in a refrigerator within a couple hours of being caught. From there, they're filleted and stored in the the refrigerator, in a large tupperware container with a towel on the bottom to absorb all moisture and layers of paper towels between the fillets. Minimize as much moisture as possible since its a breeding ground for bacteria, and never wash fillets in fresh water.  

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42 mins ago, bob_G said:

... and never wash fillets in fresh water.  

I recently read the reason for this is that fresh water is drawn into the salter flesh by osmosis, softening the fillets and making them mushy.

 

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The next most important thing after bleeding and putting the fish on ice is to not let any fish slime get on the meat. I wipe the fish off with a paper towel and also wipe the knife off between cuts. This makes a huge difference in the taste.  I do wash the fillets off with fresh water and have not noticed it to have any negative impacts. 

I would be careful about eating any raw meat that hasn’t been frozen. There are a lot of worms and parasites in many of the fish. 

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1 hour ago, JTR said:

One of my fishing goals for this year is to eat as many different saltwater fish as sushi/sashimi. As many of you know, sushi requires top quality fish. I’m interested to hear what tips everyone has for keeping your catch as fresh as possible. 

 

For me, bleeding all fish immediately is very important. A quick slit in the V right behind the gills will cut an artery and takes care of bleeding the fish quickly. As soon as the fish is bled out, I then eviscerate the fish and get it on ice. If you aren’t bleeding your fish, you’re doing it wrong, trust me. 

 

The ice will be my first point of focus this year. I think I’m going to try saltwater ice. I’m curious if anyone else is either making their own saltwater ice or buying it somewhere. Most people that give instructions for high quality fish always say not to rinse the fish in fresh water...... but then store their fish in the cooler soaking in gas station ice. It makes no sense to me. A saltwater ice slurry in the yeti seems like the best solution to me.

 

My job this summer will allow me to fish before work, but any fish that I keep will need to be on ice for 8-10 hours. Hopefully the salt water ice offers a solution to the lengthy cooler stay. I’m interested to hear what else you guys do to keep fish as fresh as possible.

 

 

JTR you have the right idea in regards to the bleeding ,  / If the fish are kept on ice and allowed to get cold enough to let mortise before filleting you will have less chance of having blood all over the fillets and use less water to clean them up. Say what you want in regards to washing the fillets with fresh water, most places use high pressure  fresh water washes and I have personally used and have never ever had any problems with the quality of the fillet fresh eaten or quick frozen and vacuum packed. .

The key for me has always been to make sure that every thing you use from the fillet table, knife, and colanders are sterilized with a bleach spray . Including my special woven glove to prevent cuts and hands. That way you have no cross contamination from one to another item in the process. Also the water must be also cold as you can get it. Once the fillets are placed in the colanders they are washed[if you can get salt water that is great, but in all on my years cutting fish and thousands of pounds of different species I have never had one incident with any kind of bacteria contamination. The fillets go into the fridge right away and once they stop dripping I use fresh paper towels to absorb any moisture left. The dried fillets are then placed in the freezer for a short period of time to allow the vacuum pack to do its thing for those we freeze and for those we will eat that night simply placed on a dry dish with paper towels, covered with wrap and prepared at supper time for eating .

The key for me has always been using the bleach mixture[One part bleach for 10 parts water] to prevent cross contamination from any bacteria   you may have picked up and assuring that fillets or whole fish ever get warmed up to a point where one also needs to be concerned about any bacteria in the first place.

If you are using fresh cold water and follow good sanitary fillet procedures and then assuring that the meet remains cold and dry , I do not believe you will ever have any problem with freshness. later on down the road when you take it out of the freezer and let it thaw out in the fridge before cooking. Just one mans opinion from following what I learned many years ago from those in the field of supplying fish for eating. 

Edited by Angler #1

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Your routine as described sounds good as far as it goes. After you cut the gills put the fish into a saltwater ice slurry for a while, until right mortis sets in. Then pack the fish in flake ice, with the drain hole open so the fish only sits on the ice and not in any melt water. 

 

You need to do your homework, many of the fish we catch  are infested with parasites and those really should be frozen at vert low temperatures for a few days to kill the parasites. You can find the temperature and time periods on google. The amount of time to spend frozen depends on the temperature you can attain. Generally, tuna striped bass, sea bass fluke and scup are relatively parasite free, but Cod, haddock, pollack and mackerel are usually riddled with parasites. 

 

Most states required sushi/sashimi restaurants to only serve previously frozen fish. 

Edited by MakoMike

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1 hour ago, Joe G said:

I recently read the reason for this is that fresh water is drawn into the salter flesh by osmosis, softening the fillets and making them mushy.

 

Joe,

It was something we were taught in a state sponsored ServSafe program all restaurant and food workers were required to take.  

Washing in freshwater promotes bacteria growth upon storage. Also, possibly related to your mention of osmosis, when cooked, fish washed in freshwater give off water. This impedes the cooking process, esp when you're trying to brown the fish.

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I can see we may have a difference in opinions to use cold fresh water or not once we completed the process of filleting our fish.

 

If we can agree that it is difficult to fillet any fish without blood on the meat  or perhaps even the juices from the process of cutting the fish being on the meat ? How does one preclude having nice clean fillets with no blood, fluids from the fish still attached to the meat? Blood contamination and also fish fluids left on the meat would be a serious health consideration for me and I would like to know the secret that gives you a nice clean fillet that is free of potential bacteria with out some flushing of these elements from the meat itself.?  

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6 mins ago, Angler #1 said:

I can see we may have a difference in opinions to use cold fresh water or not once we completed the process of filleting our fish.

 

If we can agree that it is difficult to fillet any fish without blood on the meat  or perhaps even the juices from the process of cutting the fish being on the meat ? How does one preclude having nice clean fillets with no blood, fluids from the fish still attached to the meat? Blood contamination and also fish fluids left on the meat would be a serious health consideration for me and I would like to know the secret that gives you a nice clean fillet that is free of potential bacteria with out some flushing of these elements from the meat itself.?  

If you want fillets like that they have to be washed. No way around it. The industry does that because a majority of their customers restaurants, markets etc want their fillets that way. Processing houses lubricate their cutting lines with fresh water. You can see the water lines in the pic. This is in NB.

 

IMG_20171109_093518.jpg.cfe1d19345ab769018a9436a442ca48a.jpg

 

 

The beauty of being a commercial fisherman who keeps some for the table or the angler that harvests food is that we can bring home some incredible product that's so much better than anything available over the counter. 

I never overwash my fillets. You can actually wash the flavour right out of them!

Always keep your tuna same side down and dress the upper side with rice paper.

Bleed and rip everything ASAP

Saltwater ice/brine so much better than freshwater ice.

If you don't have saltwater ice just keep em chilled with frozen water bottles but don't let the skin dry out!.....Rice paper!!

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31 mins ago, Angler #1 said:

I can see we may have a difference in opinions to use cold fresh water or not once we completed the process of filleting our fish.

 

If we can agree that it is difficult to fillet any fish without blood on the meat  or perhaps even the juices from the process of cutting the fish being on the meat ? How does one preclude having nice clean fillets with no blood, fluids from the fish still attached to the meat? Blood contamination and also fish fluids left on the meat would be a serious health consideration for me and I would like to know the secret that gives you a nice clean fillet that is free of potential bacteria with out some flushing of these elements from the meat itself.?  

i fish Lake Erie for eyes.

from boat i catch fish,put her on metal stringer cut the throat and throw her in water to bleed 10 min to 20 minutes.

i use ice  7 UP or coke botles for ice,fish is blead i put her on botled ice.

when i come home i filet the fish same day,when i am fileting i put the filets in cold water.when i am done ffileting i wash the filets,fill zip lock bag 1/2 way with water and throw in filets,squize air out and put in freezer,the fish are fresh even after 5 years,never had problem this way.

i do not like wacum,the bag brake and the fish has freez burn taiste,no good you have to throw them out.

when i fry fish i take frozen fish one day out and put in frige next day for super they are good to fry.

i never dry fish,i put them in candalir for 10 minutes after that sprincle salt and spice and mix them.

i put the fish in flour that dry the fish,then in egg and then in japaneese penko and put in 350 degree oill 2 minutes a side to golden brown.

serve with mash potatos and tartar soce.

 

if you need to tie the frozen fish quicker,fill 5 galon bucket 1/2 way with hot water from  sink,put the frozen bag filet in,2 or 3 hours everithing melted the water in bag is cold the filets are perfect,pul them out rinse and cook.

 

i like the 7 up botles for ice,they are tuf do not brake and you can use how many you need,the water melt but stay in botle no mes in cooler.after i am done i wash botles and cooler and put them to freezer,redy for next trip.

if you go fishing 20 times a month you would have to spend  $200 for ice.

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Rob any fish house that I ever been in to watch them cutting fish all has similar washing stations to clean the fillets once cut/ Power cold water before packing them away for the counter with ice on the bottom . The ones in Boston might have been using recycled salt water stations ? I never gave that a thought at the time? But it may have been possible. You are correct one can wash the flaver right out of the flesh. I still believe from my experiences   cold fresh water cleansing of the fillets is better then leaving the juices from the cutting process on the fish .

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Snag what we once did was use a stainless steel square container . mix in some salt Kosher with the water and place in the freezer until solid and then find a plastic bag to place it in and keep freezing until we had the space in the freezer filled. The salt in the water helped to make it last longer once out of the freezer as well . Try it and let us know how you did.

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1 hour ago, Angler #1 said:

I can see we may have a difference in opinions to use cold fresh water or not once we completed the process of filleting our fish.

 

If we can agree that it is difficult to fillet any fish without blood   

Topic aside, Carl why is it so imperative that we all agree? We're all entitled to our individual opinions, and that's what keeps SOL and the Ma firum vibrant.  But in no way do we all have to agree.

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10 mins ago, Angler #1 said:

Rob any fish house that I ever been in to watch them cutting fish all has similar washing stations to clean the fillets once cut/ Power cold water before packing them away for the counter with ice on the bottom . The ones in Boston might have been using recycled salt water stations ? I never gave that a thought at the time? But it may have been possible. You are correct one can wash the flaver right out of the flesh. I still believe from my experiences   cold fresh water cleansing of the fillets is better then leaving the juices from the cutting process on the fish .

Ahhh....That pretty dirty saltwater......Don't think public health would allow it even if the pump was siphoning under 10 feet of bottom........Way too many heavy metals in NB & Boston harbour.....

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