Sunday, 11 October 2009

“Is the fish fresh?”'s complicated. I commute on my bike and I pass this place where the boats drop off their fish. I pick up what I need and have it back within an hour and a half. If the boat has just landed and the fish was caught it's possible for it to be under two hours old. Sometimes the fish is still moving when I'm bring it back. A fish can be twitching (dead but still moving) while I'm filletting. So yes, it's fresh.

There's a but here: I had these skate wings the other day. Under two hours old before they were cooked. So fresh and such an underestimated fish (i.e. not trendy and expensive). Two portions go out and they come straight back again with the customers noting that they taste like rubber – they're impossible to chew. They're too fresh to eat.

When a fish is really fresh and we grill it, it'll bend all over the place. The muscles aren't relaxed and it will end up looking awful. We had this couple in last month and the woman was complaining about her Dover as “too firm”. She told me that she knew about fish and she knew fresh fish should be really soft. What do you say? “Sorry you really have no idea about fish.” I can't see that working. The Dover she had was under two hours old and it was firm, too firm for her.

I want my fish to be so fresh. I vacuum pack it when I get it so that it doesn't lose that freshness. However I've got to leave the skate for two days and the dover for one just to get rid of that rigor mortis. I've also got to face the fact that some customers are unused to fresh fish and a fair proportion are going to struggle with it. Supermarket frozen fish has a lot to answer for.

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