07-02-2011, 09:49 AM
For those of you who fly fish for fish that are abundant enough to keep to eat, I have a couple tips for freezing them which makes a world of difference in the taste and texture down the road.
First off, if they are to be kept, I throw them in the fish box which is filled with both frozen water bottles and cube ice. As soon as the first fish goes in, I add enough seawater that the entire fish can be submerged. This makes the slush colder and in turn, the flesh firmer and much easier to skin and fillet. It also makes a HUGE diffference in taste later. It is the first essential step to fish that don't taste "fishy".
When filleting, I keep the fillets away from the blood and guts, washing down the filleting board frequently. The fillets then go into fresh ice with fresh seawater until I get home.
There, I trim what bloodline I missed while being chewed by mosquitos, and bag as I go. After trimming the bloodline, I do a quick rinse in fresh brine then split the thick fillets thickness wise so there aren't a bunch of thick ones and thin ones in the same bag. Then they will all cook at about the same rate. Then I pat dry and put meal sized portions into the freezer bags with the zippers that say "Freezer bags" on the box.
Now here are two tricks. I then add a splash of half and half to the bag, and gently squish all the fillets around so all the meat surfaces have just a little coating of half and half fat on them.
Then, I pull the zipper just a little bit closed, and immerse the bag very slowly in a sink full of cold water, making sure none gets inside the bag. The pressue gets nearly all the air out of the bag. Then I seal it all the way with the zipper. And into the freezer it goes at once.
IMO this method is better than freezing fillets in brine, in water or any other way I have tried. The fat in the half and half, I think, is what seals in the taste and keeps aill air away from the flesh, without leeching out any flavor like freezing them in water seems to do.
When they are thawed out, I give them a quick rinse and pat them dry immediately before preparing them however I am going to do it.
It amazes me how many fishermen go fishing for fish they intend to keep and neglect to bring enough ice to keep what they catch properly chilled. It is disrespectfull not only to the fish, but to their own taste buds too!! This is so common that when someone asks me to go fishing, I bring extra ice with me, and see to the handling of the fish.