whole, ungutted fish in the freezer, is it too late to gut and refreeze?
July 15, 2007 8:01 AM   Subscribe

I'm a novice at fishing. Caught a 12lb bluefish and threw it in the freezer whole...it was late, i was sleepy...did i screw up? or do i just gut it after thawing and refreeze? or gut, clean and cook right away since it was frozen?
posted by Jujee to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (7 answers total)
Don't refreeze fish you froze slowly in a home freezer. And do take 2 minutes to clean your catch in the future, before refrigeratoring.

Bluefish are bottom feeders, and the gut contents are going to largely determine whether the gut ruptured in slow freezing. Oily fish like bluefish are also generally cleaned and gutted as soon after catch as possible, so as not taste any stronger than they will as a result of being a species with a high oil content. Same would go for mackeral, shark, tuna, etc.

But fish are frozen whole accidentally, all the time, and not every fish that's ever been frozen whole has been turned over to the cat food processors. You'll probably be fine if you thaw the fish, clean it (gut, head & gills), wash it thoroughly, and cook it immediately. It might seem a bit more "oily" than it otherwise might have.
posted by paulsc at 8:51 AM on July 15, 2007

I agree with all paulsc said plus if you only 9/10 defrost it before cleaning it may be better, sometimes the guts will stay frosty and solid after the flesh is mostly defrosted and getting them out early is better than letting them just sit and marinate in the gut cavity.
posted by Iron Rat at 11:14 AM on July 15, 2007

I think you screwed up.

It is certain that refreezing will ruin the fish anyway, gutted or not.

You might get away with the suggestions above, but you probably won't, so resign yourself to probably waving goodbye to this one.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 12:36 PM on July 15, 2007

I used to work at an aquarium-museum and gutting whole (flash frozen) herring was part of the job. I'll second Iron Rat's suggestion of gutting when the fish is still partially frozen, the guts won't smell as much nor will hey "squoosh" all over creation. Generally, they are much easier to handle when partially solid.

Slit the belly from anus to the base of the gills.
Cut the head and gills, try to be careful not to go through the guts themselves.
Slide your finger between the guts and the backbone and push the guts out the belly slit.
Generally, everything comes out in one piece and cleans up easily.

In any event, do *NOT* refreeze fish. You should be OK to let it thaw the rest of the way (once gutted) and then fry it up and chow down.
posted by aedra at 1:54 PM on July 15, 2007

I'm curious, are there health concerns or taste concerns here?
posted by effugas at 2:55 PM on July 15, 2007

The concern about refreezing is simply one of taste and texture.

For me the concern about not gutting the fish as soon as possible is mostly about spoilage (and consequently taste).

I have actually tried to gut a frozen fish caught by someone else as a favour to them. It was not a success. Maybe I have more refined tastes or something, but I wouldn't ever bother doing this (and I'm somewhat sad about the waste too).
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 6:17 PM on July 15, 2007

use a cooking method that doesn't heavily rely on the fish's own flavor (something with a strong sauce, or fry it). That's all i'm sayin'.
posted by The Esteemed Doctor Bunsen Honeydew at 10:04 PM on July 15, 2007

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