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Jul 19, 2008 11:45 AM

how best to keep fish fresh

i just bought some fish in chinatown but i don't plan to cook it until tuesday (3 days from today). what's the best way to keep it fresh and edible until then? i say leave it in the fridge, my wife says put it in the freezer. who's right?

Thanks in advance for hte help.


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  1. For types of fish that lose a lot of flavor after being frozen, and for stone crabs, I keep them in a cooler in ziplocks, packed with ice. I drain off the melt and add more ice as necessary. Keeps it colder than your fridge. If you monger assured you it was same day when you bought it, Tuesday should be fine.

    1. Well, 3 days is too long for most fish - 2 max in my experience, very preferably within 24 hours, but if they killed it for you on the spot, that's different than most fish that's been killed a day or more before it reaches the market.

      Anyway, freezing in home freezers is a great way to ruin most fish. It never recovers its succulence.

      It needs to be kept tightly wrapped (as close to waterproof as possible) in the coldest part of your fridge on ice. (I keep little freezer packs in the freezer in case I buy fish, just for this purpose.)

      1. If I were you I'd freeze it til Monday am, then thaw it in the fridge til Tuesday. Unless it's mackerel. If it's mackerel, you have no hope - cook it right away. Most fish don't get ruined while frozen for a few days. That's not to say they will still be GREAT, they just won't be ruined. It takes a little bit of time before the cells rupture causing fish to taste 'frozen.' Usually - unless it's vacuum sealed very well, you have a week or two in the freezer before it's ruined. A day or two should be fine. Again, it depends on the fish, but for most species, you can freeze for a week before they get ruined.

        1. Sorry, three day old fish isn't fresh - no matter how you preserve it. But wrapping it very tightly in a heavy freezer paper or in an evacuated freezer bag and keeping it on ice as suggested elsewhere in the thread will help maintain some of its qualities.
          My advice would be never to purchase fish unless it is undoubtedly fresh and you intend to use it the same day.

          1 Reply
          1. re: todao

            We're missing two data points before one can reach your conclusion: type of fish, ( perishablilty varies considerably by specie) and date of catch. Many excursions for cod, or palagics like swordfish or tuna, are 5-7 days or more, with a day run to the outer banks, and the catch is iced. On the docks, unless you had a cousin on the boat, you have no way of knowing if your fish was caught day 2 or day 6.

          2. I dislike both options. Why not eat it right away and save the other meal for 3 days off? Unless you're down at the docks, or know your fishmonger, fish is likely to have a couple of days age on it when you buy it.

            BTW, I disagree with the comment that fish loses succulence if it's frozen. Seafood that's flash-frozen at sea is superior, in my view, than most trucked-in supermarket seafood.

            2 Replies
            1. re: mpalmer6c

              Duh..Veggo slaps forehead...if Tuesday is special, buy more on Tuesday. For whatever freshness your present inventory has, Janis sang it best: "Get it while you can".
              Sidebar: certain fruits of the sea can never be exquisite if they have been frozen- pompano, boquinette, conch, octopus, spiny lobster, strawberry grouper, trigger fish.

              1. re: Veggo

                Thanks all for the advice. I ended up listening to mpalmer and steaming it all last night.