Dana Slatkin

How to Store Fresh Fish

How to Store Fresh Fish

How to Store Fresh Fish

My friends and cooking students are always asking me how to properly store fresh fish. It is a crucial step that often goes unmentioned in recipes and cookbooks. Because fish is our most perishable food, it needs to be stored carefully and methodically. I asked my friends at Santa Monica Seafood for their best tips and then compiled them with instructions from some of my favorite reference books. Here is what I learned…

  • The two things that degrade the freshness of fish, causing it to spoil and compromising flavor and texture: heat and moisture.
  • Only buy your fish from reputable sources. Check that the fish is displayed on crushed ice, there is no fishy smell, and the flesh is glossy and firm, not shaggy or rainbow-tinted. Fresh fish does not hold an imprint when pressed.
  • Make the fish counter your last stop before going home. Fish does not do well in the car, especially when the heater is on or the air temperature is above 70° Fahrenheit.
  • Once you get home, remove the fish from the paper or plastic wrapper and blot it with a paper towel so that it is very dry. You do not need to rinse fish with water before cooking or storing. Any residual bacteria will be killed in the cooking process.
  • Fish deteriorates when it sits in its own juices. Transfer the fish to a plate lined with two paper towels. Cover it with another two paper towels, and then wrap the plate with plastic wrap.
  • Store the fish in the coldest part of your refrigerator (i.e. the rear).
  • Every day that you wish to continue storing the fish, change the paper towels to eliminate moisture build-up. Consume the fish within three to four days.
  • Fresh fish never stinks. If it smells rancid, don’t take any chances. To be sure, cook off a tiny piece and taste it. Properly cooked fresh fish should have a slightly sweet taste.
  • Always use high heat when cooking fish to properly kill any bacteria and PCB’s.
  • If you chose to buy frozen or previously frozen fish (which I do not recommend because the texture becomes mealy), thaw it in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Never re-freeze fish after thawing. Once thawed, frozen fish should be consumed within two days.

A Variety of Fresh Fish

Looking for an easy, hearty, and healthy fish dish? Try Seared Halibut with Roasted Tomatoes, Anchovy-Stuffed Olives and Capers.

Photo credits: DonaldRussell.com and CodFarms.com

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