The Trick To Make Sure Your Seafood Stays Fresh Before Cooking It

If you've ever had seafood that's tasted sour, extra-fishy, or just off, you know the importance of keeping your proteins fresh. Plus, contaminated shrimp or oysters can cause food poisoning, which can lead to a whole host of unpleasant symptoms like headaches and nausea. So if you're looking forward to whipping up fish tacos or calamari this summer, you'll want to keep your seafood in the best condition possible before cooking it. Luckily, ice cubes can easily steer you in the right direction. 

After you take your protein out of the package — but before you start cooking — submerge it in a bowl of water with ice to keep it as chilled as possible. There are a few reasons to do this: One, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services advises not keeping your seafood out for more than two hours, or one hour when it's above 90 degrees Fahrenheit out. But also, letting it rest at colder temperatures than the fridge can offer will help it stay as fresh, smooth, and springy as possible while you get the rest of your ingredients ready. When you use ice, you can keep your fish at around 32 degrees Fahrenheit, instead of the 35 to 38 degrees of most refrigerators.

Ice can keep fish fresh in the fridge too

Keep in mind that although placing your seafood in an ice water bath can help maintain its freshness, you don't want to let it sit there forever. If you let your fish chill in the liquid for too long, it can turn soft and mushy. A good rule of thumb is to try to finish the other prep work for your meal before all the ice in your bowl melts, since this is when your water will start to warm up. Then right before you're ready to begin cooking your protein, make sure to pat it dry thoroughly to avoid sogginess down the line.

If you get home from the store and can't get to your seafood right away, however, this is another great time to use ice to keep it as fresh as possible. You'll want it to stay below normal refrigerator temperatures, as we mentioned, so seal your fish in a plastic bag and coat it on either side with crushed ice in the fridge. To prevent the mess from spreading, place the bottom layer of ice on a tray or baking sheet. When stored this way, raw fish and shellfish should stay fresh in the fridge for one to two days.