Stillwater News Press


February 3, 2010

From the Meat Counter 2-3-10

— As I continue to do this article there must be a question as to knowing your trade.

The NewsPress asked me to write about meat cuts and products of my trade and this sometimes means calling on some of the older butchers I have been trained by or have known.

In being fair, I must name names. Durrel Craven, Homer Bear, Martin Childress - these were some of my teachers. They have given me books or papers through the years that I have studied.

There are no hidden agendas. This is a business trade that has to be taught and if you get to know it well enough you get to do this, maybe.

This week let’s talk about fish. Fresh fish should have a mild sea breeze scent. Do not buy fish that has an odor. Check the sell or use by date. Do not buy if it has expired. When buying bivalves, such as clams, ask to see the tag that verifies they came from safe waters. Stores are required to keep these tags for 90 days.

When buying whole fish, look for clear shiny eyes, pink or red gills and shiny scales. Don’t buy frozen fish if there is evidence of ice crystals or freezer burn.

Live lobsters and crabs should show movement in their legs. Live mollusks may be open but, when tapped, they should close immediately. Discard any that don’t.

Fresh shucked scallops and oysters have a mild sea scent. Oysters will have a slightly milky liquid surrounding them.

Purchase seafood right before checking out at the supermarket. If seafood will not be refrigerated within 30 minutes, put it in a cooler. Seafood should be used within 36 hours of purchase or immediately frozen.

Defrosted seafood should be used within 36 hours. Seafood that is frozen at home should be used within six months.

Fish is a fabulous fast food - it’s best cooked quickly over high heat. Just remember the 10-minute rule: For every inch of thickness, bake fish at 450 degrees  for 10 minutes. Measure fish at the thickest part to estimate cooking time. If ends are thin, fold them under for even cooking.

If fish is more or less than an inch thick, add or subtract time from the 10-minute rule. For example, if fish is a half-inch thick, divide 10 minutes in half and cook for 5 minutes. If fish is an inch and a half thick, add 5 minutes and cook for 15 minutes.

Add an extra 5 minutes if fish is wrapped in foil or covered in sauce. Double cooking time if fish is still frozen.

Salmon is my species of choice. They are sold fresh, frozen, whole dressed and as steaks and fillets. They are available year round but are most abundant in the summer months. The flavor is full and rich, especially if caught during spawning runs.

Tommy Welch is market manager at Food Pyramid. He says he has been in the meat business all his life.

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