Finding Problems With Your Restaurant

Tips For Properly Freezing And Handling Fresh Alaskan Fish In Your Beachfront Restaurant

by Peppi Hautala

What most every beach restaurant is known for is its fresh selections of fish, many coming straight from the docks as the day's most recent catch. If you're new to owning a beachfront restaurant, you may still be trying to determine the best ways to handle and store the fish that you bring into your kitchen. Whether you're buying Alaskan fish straight from the docks or you live in the lower 48 and you're getting daily fresh deliveries, here are the tips you need to know about proper freezing and future use of your fresh Alaskan fish.

Air Exposure Causes Freezer Burn

If you want to freeze your fish without risking freezer burn, you need to protect it from any air exposure while it's frozen. There are two methods for doing this and getting the longest protection out of it.

  • Vacuum Sealing – Vacuum sealers draw all of the air out of the package to keep the fish sealed tightly and protected. You can package the fish in individual pieces, vacuum-sealed and then stored in larger freezer bags. Although a vacuum sealer can be a costly investment, it's worthwhile for a commercial kitchen that needs to prolong storage life of delicate things like fresh fish.
  • Ice Glazing – Ice glazing creates a solid protective ice layer over the surface of the fish. This seals the fish against anything outside. To glaze your fresh Alaskan fish, dip it into a bowl of very cold water, then place it flat on a sheet pan and place it in the freezer. Leave the fish in the freezer this way until that water freezes. Repeat the process three or four times, until the layer of ice on the fish is about a quarter-inch thick. Then, you can store the glazed fish in freezer bags until you're ready to use it.

Will Freezing Ruin the Texture of the Fish?

Freezing doesn't degrade many types of fish, particularly those that are native to the Alaskan waters. Remember that the temperatures in the ocean around Alaska are typically frigid, which means that any fish caught in Alaskan waters is acclimated to that cold temperature. You'll see less flavor and texture loss from freezing Alaskan fish than you would from a tropical variety for this reason. Just be sure that you don't freeze it for more than a couple of months, otherwise you may see some quality degradation simply from the length of time it was frozen.

What Is the Best Way to Thaw Frozen Fish?

When you're ready to cook some of the frozen fish, you'll want to thaw it carefully. The best way is to move the fish into a refrigerator or walk-in cooler to let it thaw gradually. If you need it thawed quickly, such as in the middle of a service when you're running low, you can thaw it in a large bowl of cold water as long as you cook it immediately once it's thawed. Never thaw fish at room temperature or in warm water. Doing so can lead to bacteria growth which may cause food-borne illness. 

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