Market Basket Cod. Frozen vs. fresh............
My husband goes on these weekly guerrila-style shopping forays to the local (Salem) MB. On a whim, I asked him to pick me up a piece of haddock, like a pound. I figured this would be a little tricky as he does not eat seafood. I told him to wing it.
He came home with a big package of cod fillet, for under ten bucks. Luckily my daughter and a friend were here. I did a simple pan roast. It was absolutely delicious. I had to check the label. It was the "previously frozen" cod at $5.99/lb. Normally I pay like 4x this price at the local fish market. And this was better.
So good, in fact, that two days later the girls were begging for it again. So I went over on my own. When I got to the checkout, it seemed significantly pricier. A manager checked, and it turns out that this was the local, unfrozen cod @ $9.99/lb. I guess they should have asked at the counter. And they offered to switch it for the frozen. But I decided to spare myself all of that. I took it home and cooked it the same way and it was also absolutely wonderfully fresh and delicious. Completely on par with high end restaurant cod, which I know from experience often runs $20+/serving. Deservedly so.
OK, here is the really cool, Chow-y part. On his next mission, I was able to get him to order about 1.5 pounds of BOTH. Again, I cooked them within four hours of purchase, same simple method as before for both. Same three of us devouring. (I was the only one who know which was which). While there was a bit of a difference in taste, we could not declare a winner. I felt that the local/fresh seemed to have a bit more "density" in terms of texture and flavor. The most striking thing was the outstanding quality of both, with the simplest of preparations.
The other thing is that for some random reason it had been years since I bought cod to cook at home. I have been spending way more money on thinner fillets of haddock and flounder, with unspectacular results. I finally feel like I have mastered a beloved New England classic. Couldn't be easier! Hope you like!
MB could have a very good seafood manager who carefully thaws just what is needed for a short time keeps the fish well iced.
You have found a good local supplier but I don't know if I would have the same results if I bought previously frozen cod from Whole Foods on Westland Avenue where the fish department is not as outstanding.
I worked my way through college in a good retail seafood operation and know the many ways handling can impact the product.
Market Basket is known for it's good seafood department. We shop for fish once a week at the Reading MB and have never been disappointed with the freshness or quality of whatever we've bought.
Because of long time overfishing and other environmental issues we haven't eaten cod since we belonged to the Gloucester Community Supported Fishery. Do try MB's wonderful selection of other seafood. You'll be pleasantly surprised at how delicious all their fish is. We especially like the wild Florida Gulf shrimp and the wild Pacific salmon!
I love this experiment! Thanks for sharing. Very rigorous with proper controls and blinded randomized study. I've also found that previously frozen fish (even at Stop and Shop) can be absolutely fine. I think most fish is frozen at sea (unless marked day boat). Fish can be made almost anywhere these days based on better shipping/flying and handling. I had wonderful fiah and shrimp at a Mariscos in Tucson, which I recall is in the desert.
Thanks for sharing, I have to also mention that the market basket brand frozen fish filets are deliscious as well. I keep a bag of salmon, talapia, haddock in the freezer almost all the time. They are individually frozen so you can grab one or two and throw them on the grill, the cook up great right from the freezer!! charred outside, moist and juicy inside. We usually throw a few on the grill while grilling dinner and use the cooked filets on salads for the next days lunch.
You don't specify but maybe the $5.99 frozen cod was Pacific Cod?
It's often sold frozen and sells for quite a bit less than Atlantic Cod.
As you discovered, the Pacific can be a good product, so t shouldn't make a difference.
As an aside, I bought some Grey Sole..aka flounder at Hook's the other day, provenance unknown. It was delicious. The kicker was $18/lb which is about the going rate. I had a laugh with a friend from Scituate about how we used to catch so many of these as kids (me off LI)..some years ago and used to have to give them away..:)
I don't have a MB near me, but I do have a Star market (yes, yes, I know....) ANYWAY, I am somewhat leery of their "fresh fish" department, but, they have a section in the meat aisle with the frozen shrimp and such, where they have vacuum-sealed packages of frozen fish. I have bought halibut fillets there, as well as ahi tuna, mahi-mahi, wild pacific salmon, sea scallops and cod. It's probably frozen and vacuum-packed on the boat and to be honest, it's delicious and fresh-tasting.
It's also somewhat cheaper than the unfrozen stuff at the fish counter. I find it is easier to use as well, since I can keep it in the freezer until just before I need it. The "previously frozen" stuff you really need to cook that day you buy it.
I've noticed that Roche Bros,has a good selection of this as well. I haven't seen it as much at Stop and Shop, though.