Is Fresh Always Best?

Is Fresh Always Best?

The classic fresh versus frozen debate has taken the world of seafood by storm for decades. Traditionally fresh seafood has dominated in the public eye, but we have come a long way since the mushed up fish sticks that traditionally represent frozen seafood, and we at Afishionado want to celebrate frozen seafood for its many qualities.

Fresh seafood straight off the boat is undoubtedly top quality, however, consumers rarely have access to such a luxury. The rise of globalization has led to a large amount of seafood imports here in Atlantic Canada, and fresh seafood may not be as fresh as you think, especially once it’s traveled thousands of miles just to get to your plate. 

Freezing seafood may just be one of the most crucial steps to ensuring freshness. Flash freezing is a method of freezing where seafood is frozen at temperatures ranging from-40˚C to -60˚C degrees, freezing the fish extremely quickly, preserving the freshness of the fish. This method of freezing fish is often implemented on boats or landing ports so the freshness can be captured right at sea. Flash frozen fish allows you to enjoy the great tasting freshness of a fish from anywhere in the world and in any season. 

Frozen seafood is also better for the environment and for supporting your small-scale fisheries. Freezing seafood takes the pressure off small fishermen to deliver fresh product immediately after it was caught. Fresh seafood must be rushed from fisherman to plate and as a result are often shipped by air, whereas frozen seafood can be shipped in more environmentally sensitive methods such as rail or boat as there is no ticking clock. 

Much of the debate between fresh and frozen has also been on the health and nutritional differences between the two. Many people believe that frozen seafood is a lot less nutritionally dense than fresh. The truth is that this difference is minimal. While the water released during thawing does contain some nutrients, when thawing is done correctly and if the seafood has been frozen immediately after harvest there is barely any loss at all, not to mention that frozen fish can often be safer to eat because the freezing process kills harmful bacteria!

But what does fresh vs frozen seafood mean for you? As a consumer there are specifics that you are looking for when buying fish. Maybe it is sustainability, taste and quality, convenience, diversity etc. Frozen portions allow consumers to minimize waste by only taking what they need from their freezer and give them access to fish they would never be able to find fresh. Frozen seafood allows us to try new seafood from all over the world and at any time of year and is more affordable. 

At Afishionado we believe that both fresh and frozen seafood have their benefits and if you can have fresh local seafood, we will always encourage you to do so. We truly believe that freshness can be frozen and in almost all other situations, frozen seafood is better. We do our part in ensuring that all our frozen products are packaged and prepared to capture optimum freshness. The value and convenience of frozen seafood is well represented in our Catch of the Month Program. Allowing you to try new seafood every month our subscription boxes come with ~4 lbs of frozen seafood conveniently packaged in 8oz – 1 lb portions. These boxes give you the freshness and convenience you are looking for while also valuing sustainability and delicious tasting seafood! For more information on our Catch of the Month program follow the link Here! 

FROZEN PRODUCT 101

A couple tips for ensuring your frozen fish is as fresh and as tasty as possible:

  • Defrost fish in the refrigerator or in a cold-water bath – do not place in warm water as it will impact the texture of the fish.
  • Avoid refreezing fish once it has thawed. From a safety perspective, this is okay to do, but it will comprise the texture of the fish.
  • Know where your seafood is coming from to ensure it has been frozen correctly.

 

Brandin’ the Bugs

Article: Hana Nelson
Illustration: Scott K MacDonald

How do you make an arthropod world famous? Well, you could brand it. Nova Scotia is certainly committed to the cause.

Nova Scotia recently revealed a provincial seafood brand, and the federal government just granted $325 million to spur innovation in Atlantic Canadian fisheries. Stephen McNeil hinted that a portion of the funds could help create an Atlantic Canadian seafood brand.

Branding poses tremendous opportunities and challenges for our coastal communities. Could it promote price fairness and stability? How can the iconic lobster serve as an economic buoy for our coastal communities? Could a brand promote and protect the province’s owner-operator fishing fleet? How can we rally around lobster to make the world celebrate the quality of Nova Scotia’s seafood?

With landings and sales booming across the province, it’s no wonder there’s an effort to maximize the resource’s value. These are good times after all. In 2016, Canada exported almost a billion kilograms of live lobster and Nova Scotia’s lobster exports were worth just under a billion dollars. But let’s not get carried away. Lobster catches, quality and prices ebb and flow like the ecology of the ecosystems they live in. Only three years ago, the lobster industry was in a slump, with politicians and industry stakeholders meeting in Halifax for the Lobster Value Recovery Summit.

Graeme Gawn, president of the Maritime Fishermen’s Union (MFU) Local 9 in Southwest Nova Scotia, is interested in optimizing the value of the region’s lobster. “We’re interested in adding value to our product and working in partnership with the buying side of the industry to try to get premium prices for quality lobster,” says Gawn. “We’re all about quality.” Prices that reflect seasonality and quality could give an alternative to lobster fishers who often have to hold onto their product until market prices improve.

The brand could also spur cooperation amongst the mostly independent lobster fleet, and instill more pride in the product. “The pricing system should reflect lobster quality,” says Kevin Squires, president of Cape Breton’s MFU Local 6. “Getting an average price for anything we throw in the crate is hardly an incentive to deliver the best quality possible.”

How will branding impact coastal communities? One thing is clear: the brand will certainly benefit from the romantic imagery of small boats and coastal communities. The independent owner-operator fleet still makes up most of Nova Scotia’s lobster fishing effort. The lobster fishery is integral to many other fisheries in Nova Scotia, including haddock, tuna, halibut, scallops and herring. Small-scale fishers work year-round.

Squires believes in cooperation because “it allows current players to be successful, while avoiding the need for industry consolidation.” If a unified brand will represent our lobster, then we need protective regulations along with it. This should mean enforcing Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s owner-operator policy, a policy created to protect the independence of the inshore fishery and which, if enforced, could make it more affordable for the next generation to enter the fishery.

Lobstering is a different game now. Kevin Squires bought a lobster licence for 25 cents in the 1970s. There is limited entry to the fishery now, and licences can cost more than a house. Evan Baker, a 27-year-old owner-operator from East Jeddore, is an exception. Thirty years younger than the industry average, he knows the recent boom might not last. “I don’t see it going up forever. It’s got to level out or go down at some point.” He fishes halibut and herring outside his short lobster season to stay resilient.

Our lobster is world class. A well-structured lobster brand offers an opportunity to promote the independent fleet that so many of our coastal communities and fisheries rely on. There’s no better time to work co-operatively, focus on quality and create fair prices for fishermen and processors alike.

Originally posted in Local Connections, June 10, 2017

http://localconnections.ca/home/nova-scotia-lobster

How to Enjoy Oysters at Home

Oysters are amazing organisms. They filter feed in the water column, cleaning our waters and diversifying ecosystems. About 95% of the oysters we consume are farmed and, if you are knowledgeable about where they are coming from and how they were grown, they have the potential to be truly sustainable seafood choice. Local Nova Scotian Oysters can be enjoyed at anytime in the year and make for a wonderful (and also impressive) party appetizer.

Step 1: Buy some oysters

Yes, this is obvious, but an important first step. Head to the online Afishionado shop and purchase some oysters! On our shop we currently have a variety of oysters from ShanDaph, Colville Bay and Eel Lake Oyster Farm. However, we this supply is ever-changing as we source from many local suppliers. Check out our new and improved supplier page to find details about their business and the oysters they sell! On the website we offer plenty of options including platters of 25, 50 and 100 oysters and a delicious kimchi mignonette from a local vendor, Cabbage Patch Kimchi, to top the oysters off!

Step 2: Store them properly

If you don’t plan on shucking and consuming the oysters right away, store the oysters in a bowl with a wet towel over it. Storing the oysters with the curved cups facing downwards will also help to preserve the Oysters juices. Afishionado’s fresh Oysters will be happy in this state for up to 3 weeks! However, be careful when storing them over ice because if the ice melts while the oysters are sitting in it, they will die from the freshwater exposure.

Step 3: Shuck the Oysters

Ready to get shucking at one of our past workshops!

Shucking an Oyster can seem like a scary task at first, but it is quite simple and just requires a little bit of practise! So grab yourself a proper oyster knife and some oysters and practise with this informative video.

Other items to have when shucking:

  • A plate with ice to place open oysters
  • A towel to help chuck and wipe away pieces of shell
  • A trash can or bag to discard the shells, can put them in the garden

If you are in need of some more Oyster shucking guidance, Afishionado often hosts Oyster shucking workshops that are fun and informative, with 14 Oysters included in the price!

Step 4: Dressing your Oysters

Oysters are wonderful raw and on their own. You should eat a couple like this to really get a sense of the oyster’s unique taste. However, if you want to go above and beyond the classic squeeze of lemon and a drop of tabasco sauce, here are three ways to do so.

Oysters with chili, ginger and rice wine vinegar

  • 12 oysters
  • ½ thumb-sized piece peeled ginger
  • 6 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 red chili
  • a little fresh coriander
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  1. Shuck your oysters and place them in the half shell on ice
  2. To make the sauce, mix all ingredients together in a small bowl. Drizzle the sauce over the oysters and serve straight away.

Oysters with Raspberry Mignonette

  • 12 Oysters
  • 3/4 cup raspberries (preferably fresh, but if frozen simply thaw), divided
  • 2 tablespoons shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 cup red wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Dash of freshly ground white pepper
  1. Add ½ cup raspberries to a fine strainer and force through with the back of a spoon, collecting the juice in a small bowl. Discard the seeds caught in the strainer.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients to the juice bowl. Cover tightly and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, but up to 24 hours.
  3. When ready to serve, shuck your oysters and place them in the half shell on ice, then slice the remaining raspberries into slivers. Add about ½ teaspoon mignonette to each oyster on the half shell and place a raspberry sliver on each shell. Serve immediately.

Garlic, Butter and Paprika Grilled Oysters

  • 6 big shell-on oysters
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp, chopped parsley leaves
  • Paprika, to taste
  • 2 tbsp salted butter, melted
  • Lemon wedges, optional
  1. Shuck your oysters and set aside
  2. Top the oysters with the chopped garlic, parsley leaves and season with paprika, then add some melted butter on each oyster
  3. Grill on outdoor grill for about 5-8 minutes or until they are cooked. Serve immediately with lemon wedges on the side.

*Note: you can also bake these in your oven at 375F for 15-20 minutes