There’s nothing quite like local North Carolina seafood and fish,
so think of local crab, bass, grouper, North Carolina shrimp – it’s all really delicious.
But there are a few food safety tips and tricks that you should keep in mind.
Whether you’re ready to try a new local North Carolina fish or maybe go back to your favorite when it’s time to purchase your fish there are a few food safety tips to keep in mind.
The first thing is to make sure that when you do purchase seafood it’s from an approved source, meaning that the retailer has high standards for quality and sanitation of that fish.
Color alone isn’t an indicator of the freshness of the fish. So when you’re looking at the display, don’t just go by the color. Fish should smell fresh and mild, they shouldn’t smell fishy,
sour, or ammonia-like. Fish’s eyes also should be clear and shiny. The fish filet should display no discoloration, darkening, or even drying around the edges. Then if you’re looking at shrimp or scallop, they should be clear with a pearl-like color, with little to no odor.
When preparing seafood and fish, you want to treat it just like you would with raw meat, so you want to separate cooked and raw seafood. Make sure that you wash your utensils, any cutting boards that you use, and surfaces that come into contact with raw seafood or other foods before reusing.
Make sure that you wash your hands before and after handling that raw and cooked food as well.
And then keep fish and seafood out of the temperature danger zone.
So this temperature danger zone is when harmful bacteria grow the fastest between 41 degrees Fahrenheit and 135 degrees Fahrenheit, particularly at room temperature.
So foods like these can support the growth of harmful bacteria and they shouldn’t be left at this temperature danger zone for more than four hours.
Maybe you’re one of the lucky ones in North Carolina that caught fish.
If this is the case, make sure while you’re preparing the fish
that it’s washed, scaled, and eviscerated before cutting it into desired pieces.
If you purchase frozen fish instead of fresh fish, it’s important that you removed the frozen fish from its packaging before you decide to thaw it. So when you’re thawing and there’s no oxygen,
harmful spores actually can produce toxins during thawing that can make you sick. So remember fish and any sort of reduced oxygen packaging should be kept frozen until you are ready to use it.
Other safe thawing methods that you can use are, you can refrigerate your frozen fish and seafood, so the refrigerator should keep the food at 41 degrees Fahrenheit or colder.
Also, you could use cool water, so you would cover the food in a package in the sink or container with cool water and you’d want to change the water every 30 minutes. The other thawing method that you can use is to microwave the food. So you want to cook the food immediately after if you decide to microwave the food to thaw it. Or simply you could end up cooking the food as a method of thawing, so it could be part of the cooking process.
You want to allow at least 50% longer time to cook through though.
When cooking fish, this is the time to take out that handy food thermometer to check the temperature. Fish should be cooked at an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit, and you’ll want to check the temperature in the thickest part of the filet. Fresh fish is very perishable after one to two days in the refrigerator you’ll notice that your fresh fish will start to spoil. What you can do to preserve this fresh fish though is by freezing it, frozen food can be safely stored indefinitely, but over time the quality of your fish is going to decline.
So food quality can be extended by storing in a freezer that consistently maintains promptly. And then also always work with clean hands and make sure those prep areas,
equipment and utensils that you’re using are clean in your kitchen.
You also want to choose containers appropriate for freezing. So that includes freezer foil,
wrap or bags, plastic freezing containers as well, and when packaging the food, make sure that you wrap the food tightly, pressing out as much oxygen as possible.
With that, I’m Candice Christian, and this is Homegrown in the Kitchen.
I hope you get to enjoy all of the local North Carolina fish and seafood our state has to offer.