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Topic: Rinse fillets with freshwater or saltwater or not at all?  (Read 7681 times)

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Lutefisk

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I have had some previously frozen rockfish/lingcod fillets lack taste and texture. Sometime the texture is so soft and mushy that I don't even want to eat the cooked product....

When I fillet fish, I try my best to keep a super clean fillet board. Wipe down blood/guts with towels. Keep the fillets as dry and clean as possible and avoid rinsing them at all. But usually at the port-side cleaning stations, mess is inevitable and I end up rinsing my fillets, then put them in bags on ice for the ride home, then vacuum seal. I try to keep any rinse to a minimum to keep the flavor in the fish. Comparatively no-one would ever rinse a red-meat steak in water before cooking, thats just crazy, same with rinsing fish fillets.

But I was reading around other fishing forums and alot of people say that they rinse fillets in saltwater that they bring back in buckets. Obviously thats not going to happen when kayak fishing. So does anyone mix up a saltwater brine using freshwater/kosher salt and then rinse/soak fillets before freezing? Notice any difference in taste/texture?


craig

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I was up in Alaska helping build a lodge a few years ago.  The owner said he quit using a vacuum packer and showed us his technique, which is totally doable if you grab water from a larger bay, or the beach.  Depoe bay would be questionable since it is so small and due to the fuel I see in the water sometimes.  After fishing, we had three buckets of salt water.  We cleaned the fish and tossed the fillets in the first bucket.  After all were cleaned, they were rinsed in the second bucket.  The fillets were put into ziplock bags then, with the bag still opened, dipped and filled with the clean salt water from bucket 3.  The bags were zipped until almost closed. Then all air was squeezed out along with most of the water and the bag was fully sealed.  The fish were frozen in this small amount of seawater in just the ziplock bag.  He said he as eaten halibut that was three seasons old and could not tell when using this method.  The oldest I had was a year and a half old package that got lost in my freezer. It was delicious.  I think you could get away with one small bucket brought to the cleaning station and rinse the fish with the hose just to get the nasties off quick.  Then do the salt water rinse before bagging. 

That being said, the method of choice by me is to clean and rinse the fillets at the cleaning station, bring them home, candle for worms, wrap in plastic wrap, then vacuum pack.  I have a good chamber vacuum and when done this way I rarely get freezer burn.  I am still eating salmon from August of 2017. It still tastes great.  If you think you will eat a whole fish per meal (ie rockfish), gut them, vacuum pack, and freeze them whole.  A coworker gave me his salmon to smoke for him recently.  He ad a few vacuum packed fillets from this past September and a whole coho vacuum packed whole - as I described - from September 2017.  The vacuum packer was a standard Foodsaver, and those fillets were starting to get freezer burn.  His whole coho that was a year older looked and smelled like it was caught within the past month.  It was beautiful. 
 
Also, I have noticed rockfish do not keep as well as Lingcod or Cabezon.  I quit keeping them unless I was desperate for meat until I discovered this enchilada recipe.  It works great with rockfish and lings. It is the last page of the booklet. http://s3.amazonaws.com/assets.clients/cca/ckeditor_assets/attachments/1060/insert_2017_web2.pdf?1509571897
« Last Edit: February 27, 2019, 08:10:22 PM by craig »


rawkfish

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I keep my fillets as dry as possible.  If they need a rinse, I'll do a quick one once I'm ready to cook them.  I'll scrape them with the knife before vacuum sealing them if they've got a little stuff on them.  Salt water freezing like Craig mentioned sounds like it would work well, but only salt water, not fresh.
                
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pmmpete

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Cleaning fish can be a messy process, what with the guts, slime, scales, and other assorted goobers which it produces.  I rinse my fillets and cutting board several times during the process, for example, once after cutting the fillets off the backbone, and again after removing the ribs, skin, and pin or Y bones, so the processed fillets are as clean as possible before I vacuum pack them.  Any water remaining on the surface of the fillets when I vacuum pack them creates a thin layer of ice on the frozen fillets, and helps protect the fillets against freezer burn.  See the examples of frozen fish fillets shown below.  The fillets look beautiful when I peel off the plastic, and I have found that the quality of the fillets is consistently high.

For those who have been disappointed by the quality of their frozen fish, how are you caring for them between the time that you catch them, and the time that you process them?  Are you bleeding and/or gutting them and putting them on ice in a cooler within a couple of minutes?  Or are you throwing them in the back of your kayak on a stringer to heat up in the sun?


Captain Redbeard

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There are some good threads from history on here regarding this same topic if you can find them.

I do not follow "best practices" with regard to rinsing fillets, so I'll keep out of that discussion, but here are some related tips:

- If your meat is mushy later make sure that you are bleeding your fish and keeping them as cool as possible until you're back at your vehicle, at which point they should be put on ice immediately (fish or fillets). I strongly prefer to pack fish with actual ice, not just cold packs.

- If your fillets are thawed or more than 24 hours old, soak in milk with a few squirts of lemon juice for a while (10 minutes to overnight). I have found this not only improves the smell but also the flavor and texture.

- I realize you're not talking about it being mushy after cooking, but I've found with the more delicate white meat ocean fish (striped perch and greenling in my case) you really want to cook them fast and get them off the heat.

Like Pete said, in my experience the biggest factor is how the fish is cared for from the time it is harvested until the time it is on ice.

As far as long-term storage, I have had the best results with freezing fillets submerged in water. I just fried up rockfish from the back of my freezer from late 2016 and it was great. It does take more room, though. I don't freeze salmon because I've never caught enough to need to.  ;D
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INSAYN

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No fresh water touches my ocean filets until just before cooking.

My practice that seems to work really good for us and even for year old frozen rockfish.
I would agree that rockfish won't last as long as Ling or Cab.

Here is my goto:
*Bleed the fish thoroughly at the time of capture and when they are the most active.  I reach under the gill plates with long handle pliers and twist out the gills.  Blood rushes out nicely, and their heart is still pumping from the action of the fight.  Longer fish I try to hang on to the tail and put the head in the water to aid in a gravity drain approach. 

*Then the fish goes directly in the kill bag that is loaded with ice (the ice is also in a bag to avoid fresh water contamination).

*Fish stays in the bag on ice and out of the sun until I get to my portable cleaning station/table. 
(I haven't used a public cleaning station in years for several reasons.)

*If I am at Depoe I collect about 3 gallons in a dry bag somewhere well outside the hole and bring it back to the launch area in my lap. The dry bag gets I use this to rinse filets off as I process my catch. 

*If I am at a beach launch, I try to wade back out into the surf to collect my water. 

*If I don't have the salt water, I don't rinse until cooking and I try to not use tap water, rather the filtered water from my fridge or jugged drinking water.

*Filet quickly to avoid having filets sit out and get warm. Using a very sharp knife will aid in this process.

*Candle or headlamp the filets to remove worms or random scale.

*Before I seal my filets in the vacuum bags, I dab them dry with a Dollar Tree shamwow knockoff towel.  These can take several filets before ringing them out and continuing. 

*I vac seal at camp or my truck if I am not going straight home. 

*Packages go on ice until they get to the freezer at home.  Or my camper freezer immediately.

*Upon pulling from the freezer, I snip the corner of the bag so the meat does not thaw under vacuum, which can draw the moisture out of the meat. 


What things I have learned by trial an error at what deteriorates ocean caught fish filet quality:
*Not bled promptly or bled thoroughly.
*Not put on ice and out of the sun.
*Rinsed with a municipal water supply that most likely contains chlorine.
*Lollygagging while filleting fish, or dragging out the process using a dull knife.
*Thawing under vacuum.
 

"If I was ever stranded on a beach with only hand lotion...You're the guy I'd want with me!"   Polyangler, 2/27/15


crash

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What things I have learned by trial an error at what deteriorates ocean caught fish filet quality:
*Not bled promptly or bled thoroughly.
*Not put on ice and out of the sun.
*Rinsed with a municipal water supply that most likely contains chlorine.
*Lollygagging while filleting fish, or dragging out the process using a dull knife.
*Thawing under vacuum.

That right there is the ballgame.  Rinsing with freshwater doesn't matter much.  You're putting it on ice which is basically the same thing just a little colder.


INSAYN

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What things I have learned by trial an error at what deteriorates ocean caught fish filet quality:
*Not bled promptly or bled thoroughly.
*Not put on ice and out of the sun.
*Rinsed with a municipal water supply that most likely contains chlorine.
*Lollygagging while filleting fish, or dragging out the process using a dull knife.
*Thawing under vacuum.

That right there is the ballgame.  Rinsing with freshwater doesn't matter much.  You're putting it on ice which is basically the same thing just a little colder.

Two things to consider though. 
*The fish is on the ice, but the skin is the barrier between any freshwater and actual meat fillet. I don't know if this actually changes anything or not, as I have no idea what water the absorption rate that a dead fish has through its skin.

*In my case, as I mentioned earlier, I have my ice inside of a modified dry bag and this inside of my kill bag, and the fish sit on the dry bag so the actual fish isn't touching any freshwater at all.  8)
 

"If I was ever stranded on a beach with only hand lotion...You're the guy I'd want with me!"   Polyangler, 2/27/15


Lutefisk

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but I've found with the more delicate white meat ocean fish (striped perch and greenling in my case) you really want to cook them fast and get them off the heat.


I just cooked up my first striped perch and it was SO MUSHY. So that makes me feel better that you have also noticed the same issue with striped perch. And that maybe it was not my fillet prep. that caused that bad texture.

As for my last batch of rockfish that was soft and mushy, probably because I was lollygagging at the cleaning station. Too many beers after GS12.

Also I like that idea of using a dry bag to collect saltwater on the way in.


INSAYN

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but I've found with the more delicate white meat ocean fish (striped perch and greenling in my case) you really want to cook them fast and get them off the heat.


I just cooked up my first striped perch and it was SO MUSHY. So that makes me feel better that you have also noticed the same issue with striped perch. And that maybe it was not my fillet prep. that caused that bad texture.

As for my last batch of rockfish that was soft and mushy, probably because I was lollygagging at the cleaning station. Too many beers after GS12.

Also I like that idea of using a dry bag to collect saltwater on the way in.

Striped perch can be REALLY delicate meat to cook.  Same with small flounder. 

Be aware that having around 3 gallons of water in a bag in your lap is also having 25 extra pounds of sloshy top heaviness to deal with. 
I pick my battles as necessary on sloppy days.  So be smart about it.
 

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Clayman

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but I've found with the more delicate white meat ocean fish (striped perch and greenling in my case) you really want to cook them fast and get them off the heat.


I just cooked up my first striped perch and it was SO MUSHY.
I thought you knew what you were getting yourself into when I saw those striped perch on your game clip  :D.  I'm personally not a fan of them for the table, or greenling.  But they make for good photos.
aMayesing Bros.


crash

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but I've found with the more delicate white meat ocean fish (striped perch and greenling in my case) you really want to cook them fast and get them off the heat.


I just cooked up my first striped perch and it was SO MUSHY.
I thought you knew what you were getting yourself into when I saw those striped perch on your game clip  :D.  I'm personally not a fan of them for the table, or greenling.  But they make for good photos.

Greenling are ok if you cook them super fast in very hot oil, kind of like red tail perch.  Striped perch otoh are not worth the trouble.  I've thought about making ceviche with them to see if that helped the texture problem.


INSAYN

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I found that perch with a sprinkle of Tequila Lime powder pan fried quick and slapped into a sammich with some slaw is really good.
 

"If I was ever stranded on a beach with only hand lotion...You're the guy I'd want with me!"   Polyangler, 2/27/15


Captain Redbeard

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I found that perch with a sprinkle of Tequila Lime powder pan fried quick and slapped into a sammich with some slaw is really good.

Did you wait around all morning to post at exactly 5:55:55, or was that a happy accident?  :confused2:  :icon_salut:
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Captain Redbeard

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I feel like whenever I discuss greenling and perch as food with people they kind of go away from the conversation believing I must have terribly low standards. Perhaps that's true. But my experiences echo INSAYN's - cared for and cooked according to the needs of the species, I've had some great meals out of all of those. He's right about small flounder too - very easy to overcook but very good when you don't.
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