I don’t live anywhere near the ocean/sea so around here, all of the really tasty fish comes frozen. Yesterday I was down at my local fish market, and I realized there’s a lot of differences between what looks like, at first glance, to all be different kinds of frozen fish.
If you’re buying frozen fish (or other kinds of seafood), whether for yourself or your cat, it’s important to understand how the fish is frozen. If you want to see the process (and differences) for yourself, simply take a non-frozen piece of fish and place it in your freezer. After it’s rock solid, allow it to thaw. You’ll see right away that it is just mush, as the inner cellular walls of the tissues have been exploded. That’s because water entered into the cell walls, and, as water always does, it expanded until it bursts the cell tissue, completely ruining the nutrition (and taste) of the flesh of the animal which died to give us (and our cats) life.
But some frozen fish, such as the kind I bought yesterday, thaws nicely and smells, looks, and tastes exactly like it is fresh-caught. So what is the difference?
The secret is how fast the fish (or anything else) is frozen. Commercial fisheries use special freezers that are far colder than the freezers people have in their homes. The fish is “flash frozen” in a few minutes or less, and the water molecules never have a chance to seep into the cell walls, so they don’t expand and destroy the flesh of the fish.
Commercial fishing boats have these flash freezers onboard. The fish go from being hauled in by a net and deep frozen in five minutes or less. Although nothing is as good as a truly fresh-caught fish, a flash frozen fish retains about 98% of the nutritional value.
It’s really a great deal for your cat (and you!) because frozen fish is easy to handle and store (and has no odor), and you still get (almost) all the nutritional benefit of a fresh fish.
Thawing fish is really simple, and I’ve used a number of methods:
- Microwave on low power (some ovens have a “defrost” setting) until it’s hot, but not boiling hot. Remember, cats like animals to be at the same temperature as if they were freshly hunted and killed.
- Take a (well-wrapped) frozen fish and place it in your
refrigerator for about 24 hours and allow it to defrost slowly and thoroughly. It’ll be chilled but can be quickly “zapped” in a microwave to bring it up to “tasty” temperature.
- Place the frozen fish in a container and add hot (even boiling) water. Wait about 30-90 seconds and the fish (depending on size) should feel flexible and soft in your hands, just like a fresh fish. The benefit to this method is the fish is also nice and warm, just like kitty likes!
- Put a frozen fish in a pot of cold water on your stovetop. Using low heat, allow it to slowly warm up. You’ll know it’s ready when your puny human nose gets a strong whiff of fish odor. Again, this method is nice because the fish is ready to go at “tasty”
Be sure not to actually cook the fish, as then you’re just destroying the nutritional value, especially the vital proteins that your cat needs. If the flesh of the fish is changing color, this means you’re cooking it.
Two Kinds of Frozen
Flash frozen fish is awesome. But sometimes shops and markets sell fish that’s frozen, but it isn’t flash frozen. So how do you know the difference?
Luckily, it’s really easy to find out. If the fish is whole, and has the head, tail, and all its parts still attached, then it was flash frozen.
If the fish has been filleted, the head/tail removed, or been otherwise “prepared” in some way, then logic tells us that the fish wasn’t frozen when that happened (unless you have a
diamond-tipped saw, it’s impossible to fillet a frozen fish LOL) and then frozen afterwards. Yuk!
So the rule of thumb is: always buy frozen whole fish, and then you’ll know for sure that it is delicious, tasty, and still in possession of all of its awesome nutritional value.
HAPPY FROZEN FISH BUYING!