Storage & Handing
if you plan to store your Village Fishmonger share for more than a few hours after pick-up and before cooking, we recommend that you take it out of the original paper packaging and sealing it in plastic wrap or a ziplock bag so it’s airtight. if you’re only waiting a few hours before cooking, then it’s fine to store your share in the original packaging. regardless of how long you’ll be storing your fish, storing on ice and refrigerating it will yield the best results. doing so will keep the fish at a consistently cold temperature versus just refrigerating it. by keeping your fish at the coldest temperature possible without freezing, you can help extend its usable life, keeping it firmer and fresher tasting for longer.
we recommend doing so by via 1 of 2 methods:
- filling a bowl with ice and keeping your fish wrapped (either in original packaging or sealed in plastic wrap or a ziplock) and putting it on top of the ice, or
- filling a bowl with ice and laying a piece of plastic wrap over the ice. the ice should be completely sealed and the plastic wrap should touch the top of the ice. unwrap your fish, lay it directly on top of the plastic wrap, and cover it with another piece of plastic wrap.
note that the ice in the bowl will melt with either method, so you will have to be sure to drain the water and replace the ice at least once a day. you want to make sure that your fish isn’t sitting in melted water, which can damage the quality of the fish. if stored properly, your fish should keep for several days.
Village Fishmonger’s fish shares come in ready-to-cook form whether it’s in whole fish (head-on, scaled, gutted) or filleted form. we love it when member cook whole fish as is — cooking fish in whole form actually optimizes flavor and moisture. but if you are feeling adventurous, you can fillet your fish and use the bones for making fish stocks or other yummy treats! fillets can come skin-on or skin-off depending on whether or not we think that’s the best way to cook the fish and the majority of pin-bones will be removed in the butchering process.
clams & oysters
your clams and oysters will come to you in a nifty mesh bag. Village Fishmonger will have given them a quick scrub and rinsed and dried them off before dropping them off in your share distribution, but it’s worth running them again under cold, running water before shucking or cooking. but if you aren’t cooking or shucking them right away, you’ll need to store them in a way so that they stay alive until you are ready to eat them!
the best way to do that is to keep the clams or oysters in your refrigerator covered with a damp paper towel and in a container with drainage as they might give off some moisture. don’t put them in an airtight container — since they are alive, they will need to breath. you can put them on ice if you don’t think your refrigerator is consistently cold, but then you’ll definitely want to make sure that the melting ice has a place to drain. melting fresh water can kill an oyster. they like temperatures between 35 and 40F, so make sure refrigerator is running cold but NOT near freezing.
some shells may open during storage. if so, tap them — they will close if still alive. when you are ready to eat, give the clams or oysters a quick rinse to remove any additional grit.
Village Fishmonger scallops are dry-packed, day boat scallops and should be stored at temperatures below 38F. this is generally lower than most people keep their refrigerators, so you’ll have to make some adjustments. an ideal set up for storing scallops is to have a shallow container with holes in the bottom set in a deeper container. place ice in the shallow container and spread the scallops on the ice. cover everything with a damp paper towel, and store in the coldest part of the refrigerator. even with this care, make sure to use the scallops within a day or two.
Village Fishmonger squid are already cleaned and separated into tubes (or hood) and tentacles, so ready to cook. fresh squid should be used within two days or frozen immediately for later use. if not using right away, cover tightly and refrigerate in the coldest section of the refrigerator or on a bed of ice. to freeze, place cleaned squid in heavy duty plastic freezer bags, being sure to squeeze out all the air, and seal tightly. be sure to use frozen squid within two months.
frozen squid can then easily be thawed under cold running water. once cooked, squid may be refrigerated in a tightly-sealed container for two to three days or frozen for two months.
lobsters have a limited ability to take in oxygen while in air, a fact that makes shipping live lobsters in air possible. however, for the lobster to be able to extract as much oxygen as is required to remain strong and healthy, they must be kept cool and their air moist at all times. so keep the lobsters cool in the refrigerator and try not to disturb them much before cooking. live lobster should never be placed in fresh water or on ice. if you need to pick them up, pick them up by the body, not the claws or the tail.
Cutting & Preparation
A fishmonger’s tools:
that’s great for a fishmonger (this picture is actually of our fishmonger, Ben’s, kit), but for lay people just cooking a fabulous home meal, you need only need a few good tools. we recommend having:
fish spatula – has a flexible head that slides neatly beneath fish without breaking the delicate flesh, with slots that allow cooking oil or poaching liquid to drain back into the pan.
filleting knife – generally this means a knife with at least a 10 inch, flexible blade.
clam knife – a good clam knife should be longer and leaner than an oyster knife, with a completely flat blade and a rounded tip. Clam knives are designed this way so they can slide between the two shells of a clam.
oyster knife – when it comes shucking oysters and clams, you need a knife that is specifically designed for the purpose. a good oyster knife should have a thick, mostly flat blade with an upwardly curved tip, which gives excellent leverage when popping the hinge and can slip under the meat, curving along the inside of the shell to neatly sever the muscle and detach the oyster meat.
tweezers or fish bone pliers (shown in the photo of our fishmonger’s tools) — though it’s easier to take bones out once fish is cooked, if you want to take out large pin bones before cooking, the long, slender tips of fish bone pliers or seafood tweezers will aid in extracting fish bones without tearing the flesh.
fish – fish contains a lot of moisture, so whether you’re cooking whole fish or fillets, you should pat your fish dry before cooking with paper towels. making sure your fish is dry before cooking will ensure crispy skin (if you are cooking whole fish or skin-on fillets) if pan-frying or broiling, and also will prevent your fish from sticking to a hot pan and having all the flesh break apart.
clams – Village Fishmonger’s clams have already been cleaned with a kitchen brush and rinsed for grit. however, they may still contain some sand, so in order to purge all of the sand before cooking or shucking, mix 1 cup of salt per 3 quarts of water and add a handful of cornmeal to the water. by soaking the clams in the salt solution in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight (changing the water at least once) will purging them of of all sand. do not use fresh water, it will kill the clams.
oysters – Village Fishmonger’s oysters have already been cleaned with a kitchen brush and rinsed for grit. as long as they are stored probably from this point on, they are ready to be shucked and cooked.
scallops – Village Fishmonger’s scallops already have the side-muscle or “foot” removed. to prepare them for cooking, you can just rinse them under cool running water and pat them dry.
squid – smaller squid tend to be more tender especially when cooked quickly, so if you happen have larger squid and are not planning on cooking them “low and slow”, a good way to help keep them tender after cooking is to score the hood. to do so, use a sharp knife to cut along one side of each squid hood. open to lie flat, with the inside facing upward and cut into the squid diagonally, at 1 cm intervals, without cutting entirely through the flesh. at this point, you can keep the hoods whole if you’re grilling them on skewers or you can cut into strips for other preparations. just make sure you pat dry the squid dry to remove excess moisture before cooking. another sure fire way of making sure your squid is tender is to to tenderize the squid with some light pounding prior to cooking (this can be accomplished with a kitchen mallet or if improvising, the back of the pan). you want to just gently pound the squid a few times — do not hit the meat so hard that the meat tears.
lobsters — If you are boiling or steaming your lobsters, then no preparation needed!
fish generally fall into 2 spectrums — lean, white-fleshed fish and fattier, dark-fleshed fish.
white-fleshed fish tend to have less fat, so works best with gentle cooking methods such as poaching, steaming, or baking. if it’s a firmer fleshed white fish (not flaky) then pan sauté will work as well with a good amount of oil or butter in the pan, since there’s very little fat in white-fleshed fish. also, because of their mild flavor, white-fleshed fish pair well with light cream or butter sauces or just a sprinkling of fresh herbs.
dark-fleshed fish have more fat and can be oily, so we lean towards cooking methods that will render and utilize their fat content such as broiling, grilling, pan sauté. also, dark-fleshed fish tends to have a stronger taste than white-fleshed fish, so we recommend working with citrus and other strong flavors such as garlic, ginger and chili pepper. dried herbs may work as well since they are more pungent than fresh herbs.
We like the following general resources for their approaches to the different types of fish:
Village Fishmonger will also have specific recipes that correspond to the fish being handed out each week, as well as any recipes that CSF members contribute.
also, here are some photos of what our members have cooked up!
we love this infographic from One World One Ocean as a starting point to understand the health benefits of eating sustainable seafood. gut for more specific health information related to seafood in your geographic area, don’t hesitate to ask your local market, fishmonger, or fishermen as differences can exist from place to place!
coming soon…for now, check out mercury info sites at organizations like Food and Water Watch (PDF).