The problem, as I saw it, was these only made appearances when company was over or my dad had a craving. What took up most of that valuable freezer real estate? Packets of greens and other vaguely identifiable foods from the Asian market that my mom pulled out and cooked on a regular basis. And fish: big fish and little fish, usually whole.
The shopping trips to acquire the fish were entertaining. My mom would eye the fresh fish—one store was self-serve, so she poked and prodded them with tongs herself—and grill the counter guy about just how fresh they were. If nothing quite met her approval, she moved confidently over to the Frozen Precooked Fish Loins.
See, she knew something all along that many people still need to be sold on. There is nothing wrong—actually, there's a lot right—with buying frozen fish.
To be clear, there is nothing wrong with fresh fish, either. If you have access to good quality, never-been-frozen fish, you're lucky.
But in the fresh vs. frozen fish debate, experts say that, well, there's really isn't much of a debate at all. Frozen Precooked Bonito Tuna Loin can be as high in quality as fresh fish.
Freshness Can Be Frozen
More than 85 percent of the seafood we eat is imported. Within that, the "vast majority"—70 percent but likely higher, according to Gavin Gibbons, spokesman for the National Fisheries Institute—has been frozen at some point.
"There really is no difference," said Gibbons. "The clock never moves backward when it comes to freshness. If a fish is caught, handled well and frozen immediately, you literally stop the clock. You freeze in the freshness." He adds that nutritionally, nothing is lost when fish is frozen.
These days, technology is such that fish are either frozen right at sea (most common with farmed fish, as freezers are incorporated into the farm sites) or immediately upon landing at port, said David Pilat, global seafood buyer for Whole Foods Market.
And the assumption that fattier varieties such as salmon and tuna fare better, texturally speaking, than leaner fish when frozen doesn't hold true, either. Our experts say it comes down to proper freezing and handling on the front end, and proper thawing—in the fridge, out of the package—on the back end.
"There is no downside to buying Frozen Skip Jack Precooked Meat," Gibbons said.