Freshness is a measure by which food quality is judged and food choices are made by consumers. And in most cases, it’s a really good place to start. However, when it comes to seafood, ‘the fresh is best’ rule may not always be true. Often the best wild caught fish is actually frozen — and the reasons might be simpler than people think.
IS FROZEN FISH BETTER?
Seafood quality, that is, the taste, texture and nutritional content, is at its absolute best the moment a fish leaves the ocean. In a way, a fresh-caught fish is like a melting ice cube, its quality cannot be improved, only maintained. So unless you catch the fish yourself, or are living next to a harbour-side market, getting a truly ‘fresh’ caught fish is going to prove very difficult.
Thankfully modern freezing processes allow freshly caught fish to be frozen quickly, thoroughly and at temperatures far below those in the home freezer. So long as seafood is transported and processed correctly, it can be delivered to your door complete with the flavour and nutritional benefits of a freshly caught fish. ‘Fresh’ supermarket fish, by comparison, endure warmer temperatures, sensitive travel times and have a limited shelf life.
IS FROZEN FISH AS HEALTHY AS FRESH FISH?
Grocery shoppers may choose fresh over frozen seafood, believing it to be more nutritious. However, freezing does not actually reduce the nutritional content of fish. Proteins, oils, and vitamins such as A and D contained in fish are not altered during freezing. If done quickly and thoroughly, freezing can be used to lock-in maximum freshness and flavour. Chatham Island Food Company, for example, uses advanced refrigeration technology to ‘snap’ freeze its Chatham Blue Cod in minutes, and within hours of retrieval. This results in an export quality product that, when thawed, is virtually identical in taste to a freshly caught cod.
Snap freezing also allows us to take advantage of seasonal seafood bounties, spread availability across the year, and protect stock numbers for future generations.
THE CONVENIENCE OF FROZEN FISH
Frozen, freezer ready fish is convenient, less wasteful and environmentally sound. Hand packed Chatham Blue Cod fillets arrive at your door skinless, boneless and in layered portions — ready to bake, smoke, fry, or pop into the freezer. Fresh fish, on the other hand, has a short cooking and eating window that’s not flexible or practical enough for those with a busy schedule. That’s part of the reason an estimated thirty percent of fresh seafood caught globally ends up in the bin.
CHATHAM ISLAND FROZEN SEAFOOD
When it comes to marine ecology, the pristine waters of the Chathams are second to none. Free from intensive farming and urban sprawl, the ocean surrounding the Islands is cold, clear and full of nutrients. This results in some of the world’s finest, flavour filled seafood, right at the Islands doorstep. This means we have quick turnaround times for processing — ensuring your seafood is prepared and frozen in a way that maintains the true taste signature of the Island.