What do I do with a 25 pound box of haddock fillets?
November 2, 2018 8:01 PM   Subscribe

Its a whole lot of fish. I'm not exactly sure why I bought this, but in my mind they would be packaged up into smaller units that I could defrost individually. But no. It's a 25 pound rectangle of fish fillets partly frozen together. What do I do with it?

I don't think the McMurphy family could consume 25 pounds of fish before a lot of it goes bad. Removing individual fillets doesn't seem possible. I don't have the tools to cut off a segment. I don't want to defrost the whole thing and then refreeze portions. I'm not up for inviting over a dozen friends and family for a big old fish fry. Could I defrost the whole bunch, prep a bunch of meals and then refreeze without having it taste like mush? Maybe make fish pate? Please share your ideas for how to approach this.
posted by RandlePatrickMcMurphy to Food & Drink (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You could probably slice it with a hacksaw - you'd have chunks, not whole fillets anymore, probably. Make delicious fish & corn chowder every month for a while. Fish tacos. Batter it and make fish nuggets.
posted by theora55 at 8:05 PM on November 2, 2018 [5 favorites]

Your instinct about refreezing is a good one, the fish gets pretty nasty the second time around. I'd break up the chunk with a hammer and chisel, a saw is hard to handle while holding a big frozen block. Clean you kitchen sink, bust it up in there. If you try chiseling along the seams, you might get some fillets. But the chunks are tasty as well. Any recipe that calls for fish chunks is yours.
posted by Marky at 8:34 PM on November 2, 2018 [2 favorites]

Yeah, somebody gave me a block of salmon like this once, and I ended up chucking it, because there was no way for me to reasonably thaw it and eat it as fillets. Thank, tho'.

You can either saw it up as people have said or thaw and eat what you can and give it away, but it's not really a gift that keeps on giving.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 8:42 PM on November 2, 2018

I would donate it to a soup kitchen. Call ahead and make arrangements first and make sure they want it, etc.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 8:50 PM on November 2, 2018 [20 favorites]

You could do the old fashioned thing and make salt cod out of it.
posted by otio at 9:49 PM on November 2, 2018 [3 favorites]

You have to make a soup or stew and refreeze it in portions. I'm sorry, you'll be eating that soup for the next 5 years.
posted by Toddles at 10:27 PM on November 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

This is probably not food-safe, but if I had this block of fish, I’d try letting it partially thaw in the hopes that I’d be able to break them up before they completely thawed. Of course, if you time it wrong or that doesn’t work, you’re now left with the whole block thawed...
posted by Weeping_angel at 11:15 PM on November 2, 2018

In a similar quandary some years ago, I repeatedly dropped the whole block onto the (stone) floor from about shoulder height. The vibration of the shock through the whole block caused the individual pieces to separate. I was able to pack them quickly in portion-sized bags and return to the freezer. It worked perfectly, but after a while I was giving the portions away, unable to face the same menu any more.
posted by aqsakal at 12:33 AM on November 3, 2018 [9 favorites]

a saw is hard to handle while holding a big frozen block.

Put the block of fish on your kitchen counter, with something behind it to keep it away from the wall. Preferably two items, so that you can position them to the side, away from where you're going to cut. These items should be reasonably solid and something you don't mind spoiling because of fish juices or saw cuts. Saw strokes would push the block of fish away from you, which those things (and the wall) will stop.
posted by Stoneshop at 2:41 AM on November 3, 2018

I don't have the tools to cut off a segment.

Why not acquire them?
posted by flabdablet at 3:42 AM on November 3, 2018 [1 favorite]

If you know a mom and pop butcher shop or fishmonger, they could probably cut it up and repackage it for you.
posted by BibiRose at 3:54 AM on November 3, 2018 [6 favorites]

If you drop it repeatedly on a hard floor, please take video and share. Hard to tell without seeing it but this does work to solve many similar problems!

That’s definitely the potentially easiest way to get a manageable pile of individually packaged smaller portions, and if t doesn’t work, you can still fall back on the other good options listed above.
posted by SaltySalticid at 5:40 AM on November 3, 2018 [1 favorite]

The Wikipedia article for “fish ball” lists examples from a variety of different cuisines. Since making them involved pureeing or mashing the fish and obliterates the texture anyways, presumably they would handle further freezing and thawing better than whole fish would.
posted by XMLicious at 7:29 AM on November 3, 2018

If you're going to drop it on the floor, put it in some clear plastic garbage bags first; several layers. Contain the mess.
posted by seanmpuckett at 10:46 AM on November 3, 2018 [2 favorites]

You could try pickling it.

You could also practice some dishes or techniques without the pressure of needing it to be edible at the end.
posted by krisjohn at 11:32 PM on November 3, 2018

I also have had luck with the "drop on concrete floor" method with a 10 pound box of pork chops I got from a fundraiser. They were packed in a large heavy-duty plastic bag that helped protect them from dirt and contain the ones that came loose.

As for recipes, chowder is good.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 5:42 AM on November 4, 2018

As a kid we used to buy big blocks of prawns frozen (wet) in rectangular blocks.

We'd transfer it into a heavy duty garbage bag and drop it on concrete, then individually re-wrap.

Ideally, you'd want a vacuum sealer to repack the chunks. Barring that, big ziplock bags - submerge into water to drive the air out and seal.
posted by porpoise at 10:43 AM on November 4, 2018

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