As anyone reading this blog knows by now, I am rather batty for cooking seafood. Over the years I have stored fish and shellfish a lot of different ways, and have finally settled on what I consider one of the best ways to keep seafood super fresh in the fridge at home.
The idea for this came about from a chat one day with my favorite local fishmonger. I knew there must be a reason that in any decent fishmonger the products get stored on ice – more than just the fact it makes everything look pretty, and our two year old son constantly thinks it has “snowed in the fish store”. Turns out to be something very logical indeed. Most fish swim in very cold water. Far colder than my fridge. To keep the fish in the best possible condition, it is best to try and keep the fish thusly as cold as possible, without freezing.
“Store your seafood on ice” suggested Ron. “But be careful, because when the ice melts you end up with fish sitting in water, and that can be a little funky” (not quite word for word, but you get it).
Turns out this is the same advice as in the French Laundry cookbook too. And who am I to argue with Mr Keller.
So, for a long time now I have been bringing home the fish, laying out a dish of ice, popping the fish down skin side on the ice, and bunging it in the fridge. The fish does certainly stay fresher, especially if you aren’t using it that day. The only bugger is that melting ice – and the fish swimming in a pool of melted ice problem.
The solution I found was to use two cheap plastic storage containers – they don’t have to be big or fancy, just something inexpensive but sturdy from a home improvement store.
I got two the same size, they will fit inside each other (snugly), but there will be a small gap between the bottom of the top container, and the bottom of the lower container.
You can see where I am going with this…
MAKING THE STORAGE VESSEL:
- Break out that swanky drill you never use, and drill a bunch of holes in the bottom of one of the containers – just big enough for water to drain through.
- Use a little sand paper to smooth off the holes.
- Half fill this container with the holes in with ice.
- Sit this container with ice inside the other container.
- Fish goes onto the ice.
- Container (opps, “storage vessel”) goes into the fridge
Now as the ice melts the water doesn’t pool up in the ice and fish, it drains through the holes into the lower container.
If you use two different sized containers, the fish and ice goes in the smaller one, and this sits in the larger one. You can place a couple of small cups (sake sized) under the small one to raise it up off the base of the larger one holding it.
Want to get real fancy? You could always get a few plastic blocks, glue them to the underside of the smaller container – bingo! permanent feet, to keep this smaller ice container up, and not sitting in water.
FURTHER STORAGE TIPS:
- MUSSELS/CLAMS: Do not try and store these in cold water, saline water or the like. If they do survive long enough to eat, the freshwater will change their texture somewhat, and they won’t taste great. Store them on the ice bed. Mix in some smaller cubes of ice between the shells. It is best to buy these the same day you wish to eat them.
- LID: You can put the lid on the container if you are storing “dead” seafood (fish etc). The lid isn’t a great idea when storing live seafood like mussels and clams – they will eventually suffocate.
- FISH FILLETS: store them skin side to ice.
- FISH WHOLE: Lay them on the ice, with ice up the sides of the fish. Cover with a little ice if you wish. For every day of storage, turn the fish over so the other side gets to lay on the ice.