At Mc Currie, we purchase fish and seafood regularly for use in our ready-to-eat product range. We share some tips here on how to purchase, prepare and cook fish.
The cooking of fish depends on its fat content. Lean fish are best for cooking in liquid as they remain firm, for instance cod, pike, sea bass and carp. The oily fish should be “backed” or “steamed”. The types of fish suited to this are salmon, mackerel, trout and herring.
After thawing, cook exactly as fresh fish. Frozen fish should be hard when bought. Never re-freeze fish after it thaws.
A good fishmonger’s or market will display the fish packed on ice. Fresh fish is very perishable and should be carefully handled and kept at a low temperature from the moment it is caught. Fresh fish has a characteristic smell which is pleasant and easy to detect with just a little experience. Fresh fish has a firm and elastic flesh that leaves no impression to the touch of fingers. The gills should be red and the eyes bright and bulging, with scales closely adhering to the flesh. Fish can be bought either dressed or drawn. Drawn (whole) fish have only their scales and entrails removed. Dressed fish have scales, head, fins, tail and entrails removed.
How much to Buy
A drawn or whole fish weighing ½ kg (1 lb) will serve two people; ½ kg (1 lb) steaks will serve three; ½ kg (1 lb) fillets will serve four.
If storing in the refrigerator, fish should not be allowed to pervade other food with its smell and should either be kept in a covered glass bowl or wrapped in greaseproof paper. Clean it before storing if it is not being used for a day or two. Unless purchased frozen, fresh fish bought from the fishmongers should be cooked the same day, as it is already 12-24 hours old.
Like any other tinned food, tinned fish can easily be heated and become part of a very pleasant casserole and the brine or oil from the tin can help to make the basis of a good sauce.
Preparation of Fish
Many fishmongers will obligingly prepare and clean a fish for you if asked. However, there will be some occasions when you will have to do it yourself.
Scaling : To remove the scales from a fish hold the tail and scrape a blunt edged knife over the fish from tail to head. Hold knife at a slant to prevent scales from flying. It is less messy if you do this with the fish held under water in a large bowl.
Skinning : Cut out the fins with scissors. Cut away a narrow strip of skin along the entire length of the back. Cut and loosen skin at the gills and pull skin off towards the tail, following closely with a knife to avoid tearing the flesh. Skin the other side in the same way.
Dressing : Make a slit in the stomach and remove entrails and any clots of blood. Remove head and tail unless fish is very small. Wash thoroughly and wipe with a dry cloth.
Boning : Use a very sharp pointed knife. Begin at the tail end and slip the knife between the flesh and the backbone and cut the entire length of each side of the fish, keeping knife as close as possible to backbone. On a large fish, do not cut all the way through the back but keep the two sides together for stuffing. Smaller fish are cut into separate fillets.
Visit the Mc Currie website for ready-to-eat seafood based products!