… And what does FAS (Frozen At Sea) mean to me?
So often, I write up a fabulous and easy recipe and then file it away and forget about it. (On the other hand, I discover new things in the meantime.)
At the Friday Farmers Market at Garden Shop Nursery on Mayberry Drive in Reno, I found a fish guy. He had a nice selection of FAS (Frozen At Sea) fish, as well as FAS scallops. He claimed that they were frozen within hours of being caught and were virtually fresh. And if you’re living more than 200 miles from the sea, as we are, chances are, any fish you buy has been frozen at some point.
OK, I bought the scallops. I know a little bit about what fresh scallops look, feel and taste like, so this will be a good test.
I got out THAT RECIPE, but planned to grill the scallops on my swell grill pan, rather that sear in oil. Hmmm, when thawed and opened, I found that they were not the large whole, round scallops that I’m used to, but rather, thicker, smaller scallops. But they looked wonderful and fresh.
I cooked them in oil for about 1 1/2 minutes a side, served them as I had those real fresh scallops, and dang-all, they were GOOD. To my mind, they would have stood up in a blind tasting.
The recipe is at the end of this piece, and in the linked “Scallops” on eats…
So what about FAS? I perused the interweb and — surprise — like so many of life’s choices, it comes down to making your own judgement:
First: Do your homework.
Second: Trust your source. Have they always met your expectations?
And of course: Choose your fish carefully. Fatty fish — I’ve had salmon and swordfish that were great — will stand up well to freezing, whereas drier fish — think anything white and thin — will not.
Here’s what the internet had to say when I Googled “fish frozen at sea.”
Seafood Source.com, Your Global Seafood Solution — sez it’s a value-added and marketing tool
What is special about frozen-at-sea fillets?
Filleting at sea is a clever option for adding value to seafood, although it involves more work and a higher cost.By freezing fillets within four to five hours of the catch, we can produce a very high quality product that is better than fish filleted and frozen after eight to10 days at sea.
What are the benefits for customers?
Frozen-at-sea fillets are a high quality commodity that can be released onto the market in a controlled way [to stabilize price].
Is frozen fish as good as “fresh”?
What about FAS (frozen at sea) or flash frozen fish? FAS is a nice marketing term and no more than that. At sea or not, frozen is frozen. “Flash frozen” is a very fast freezing methodology that is an optimal way to freeze fish — supposedly, much better than your home freezer.
From my experience the type of fish makes a much bigger difference. I’ve had excellent fatty fish like Chilean Sea Bass and fatty salmon that have been flash frozen and home frozen and they tasted fine. But I’ve never had any luck with previously frozen lean fish even if it was flash frozen.
The quality of the fish, the fat content, freshness at the time it was frozen, and storage conditions all make a difference. The stuff that sat in Trader Joe’s freezer for 6 months is not an option… (at least not a tasty option).
Can Chefs Cozy Up to Frozen Fish?
By Juliet Eilperin Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Culinary leaders who care about reducing greenhouse gases linked to global warming need “to get people to understand that frozen is fresher than raw” most of the time, according to Food Network host Alton Brown. “What we need is more trains,” he added. “There needs to be a fish train.”
Although the idea of a “fish train” might sound like a fantasy, Brown is making a serious point: Bon Appetit Management, which operates 400 cafes nationwide, estimates that shipping seafood by air generates 10 times as much greenhouse gas as transferring it by container ship and five times as much as shipping by truck.
“If it’s frozen at sea and handled right, properly, we can live with it. There’s not a difference,” said the company’s chief executive, Fedele Bauccio, addressing a crowd at the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Cooking for Solutions 2008 sustainable-foods conference in May. “We have to get consumers behind us, to make a difference in what we eat.”
And here are THOSE RECIPES:
Sea Scallops Jacques
For the scallops (Tom Colicchio, Think Like a Chef)
Dry six scallops thoroughly with paper towels then season on both sides with salt and pepper.
Heat the peanut oil in a well seasoned skillet over medium high heat until it shimmers. Add the scallops and adjust the heat so the oil sizzles but doesn’t smoke. Cook the scallops until they begin to brown, about 2 minutes, then turn them and add 1 tablespoon of butter. Cook the scallops, basting them with butter, until they are opaque and beginning to firm, about 1 minute more.
Red Bell Pepper Oil (Jacques Pepin)
1 red bell pepper, peeled with a vegetable peeler, seeded and cut into 1 inch pieces (about a cup)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons xv olive oil
dash of Crystal hot sauce
Put the red pepper pieces inna blender with the salt and olive oil and blend until smooth. Reserve in a microwaveable bowl.
When ready to serve, microwave for 1 minute, pool on a plate and place scallops innit.
Pimiento Relish (Jacques)
1/2 cup roasted red pimientos, cut into thin strips
10 pitted black olives, sliced
1/4 cup finely minced scallions
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons xv olive oil
Mix all inna bowl.
Arrange on plates.
Add on top of scallops.
The only thing left to say is, “YUM”