When we speak of Seafood, it can be any marine life considered edible, and consumers in the US can choose from among a vast array of locally harvested Seafood as well as a tremendous variety of imported Seafood from around the globe. Due to ever-growing environmental concerns, and consumption, more and more Seafood is farm-raised, which presents an even larger variety of Seafood choices. Although available in the wild, fish such as Tilapia, Striped Bass, Rainbow Trout, and other fish are often farm-raised in The US. If you think about Salmon, Countries like Chile is a big producer of farm-raised Salmon and trout. Even delectable, sought after fish such as Dover Sole, is being farm-raised in different parts of the world.
With all the many seafood varieties to choose from, believe or not, the most popular Seafood served in America is shrimp. And like many other water creatures, shrimp can also be farm-raised. The nutritional value of shrimp is high, rich in calcium, protein, and omega-3s, to name a few. Shrimp and related prawns are used in a variety of dishes and can be baked, boiled, fried, and grilled. Many popular dishes include shrimp. Everything from a variety of gumbos to shrimp cocktail made a hundred ways, to dishes such as Paella.
Salmon and Tuna are also consumed in large quantities in the US. And the sushi revolution over the past ten years has helped the growth of America's consumption of these two species. Tuna has been a long time favorite for making sandwiches and a variety of small, easy to prepare meals and salads. Both these fish are high in protein, contain omeg3's and other nutrients that can strengthen our immune system if eaten in sufficient qualities. It no surprise that some of Tuna's popularity, as well as Salmon, is due, in part, to the food industry, making it widely available in just about every supermarket in America.
Other Popular Fish include Alaska pollock, pangasius, cod, and tilapia. The pangasius is a genus of a giant catfish and imported as Basa fish. It is not high in protein or omega3's like other fish, but never the less these types of fish are consumed throughout the world more than any othertype of fish.
Among other favorite kinds of Seafood in the US is, of course, Crab and other various shellfish such as Clams, Lobsters, and Oysters. King Crab, Blue Crab, and Snow Crab make up the most sought after Seafood.
An excellent seafood restaurant will usually have a decent selection of fish choices on the menu, but is the seafood they're serving to customers fresh? Some of the fish on the menu may be local catch or flown in from afar. You may have a favorite seafood restaurant you have been going to for years, but how do you know you are getting fresh seafood? Let's take a peek at some ways in which you can determine whether or not your favorite seafood restaurant is serving up genuinely fresh seafood.
Determining whether or not the seafood you are eating is fresh can be more challenging than you might think, especially if you haven't been eating fresh seafood. Restaurants that serve local catch, and buy from purveyors or fisheries situated along coastlines are more likely to serve more fresh fish than a seafood restaurant that serves exotic fish. But wait, what about the restaurants that advertise fresh, Dover Sole, or Chilean Seabase or some other type of fish that is not local to the area? Freshness will depend on where the fish is flown in from, and the methods used to preserve the fish in transit.
Although many fisheries utilize new technologies that flash-freeze seafood, which protects the integrity of the seafood by not allowing ice crystals to form between the membranes of the fish, there are still many others that freeze seafood using old, conventional methods. And, it is these freezing processes that strip the seafood of flavor, tearing the fishes membranes, so it does not have that tender, soft texture when thawed.
In truth, fish, regardless of species, may last up to five days or a bit longer when properly prepared and placed on ice. So, if a restaurant is serving fresh Doval Sole or Chilean Sea Bass, for example, they will have 2 to 3 days at most to serve that fish. And you'll pay upwards of $45 and more for an eight-ounce piece of fish. It's not practical in most scenarios. And, if we're honest, many of us would not want to pay the price.
If Dover Sole or Chilean Sea Bass is flash-frozen properly, it can be served as fresh fish for much longer, and you will not be able to tell the difference, except maybe by the price. Most restauranteurs worth their salt will know the methods used on the fish they purchase. Whether or not the seafood they are buying has been flash-frozen, put on ice, or frozen using conventional methods. Just ask the question.
If the fish is flash-frozen, the texture, when served, should be no different than a piece of fish caught hours before unless, of course, the chef overcooks it. Restauranteurs residing along Florida coastlines, sometimes buy large quantities of local catch, such as Mahi Mahi, before the end of the season, usually around August, to be able to serve customers what they like longer. So even some local catch you may be eating has been frozen using old methods, or flash-frozen.
If you are a seafood lover or enjoy eating fresh fish, you may consider a flash-frozen product as fresh, if prepared properly. Refrigerated seafood that was frozen using old traditional methods will never come close to offering the same taste or texture that freshly caught seafood or flash-frozen seafood and fish will provide.
Flash Freezing food such as cold water fish, for example, is different than using conventional freezing methods. Placing items such as seafood in a commercial freezer can take up to 24 hours or longer to freeze at a temperature safe for storage. The type of fish, fat content, and it's weight among other things, will cause variants in freezing times. Using conventional freezing methods to transport and store fish allow large ice crystals to form around the cells inside of the fish that compromise the cellular structure. This changes the texture of the fish, or even beef and other food items. It can also change the way food taste. Flash Freezing is a method that utilizes supercooled, circulating air far below the freezing temperature of water, to quickly freeze food products. And, the faster the airspeeds, the quicker the freezing process.
The benefits of Flash Freezing are extraordinary. For one, the cellular breakdown of the fish becomes virtually none existent, because the speed at which the fish is frozen interrupts the formation of large ice crystals that negatively impact the cell membranes of the fish. Flash Frozen fish maintains its texture and should taste no different than a fish caught hours before, never frozen. Of course, the safety benefits are a consideration too. Flash Frozen fish may even provide a higher level of safety to consumers killing parasites faster than conventional freezing methods. And, you do not have to give any thought to the kinds of preservatives used, because there aren't any. And for people who crave sushi, there is only one question to ask, has the sushi been flash frozen or was it rendered frozen using conventional freezing methods, because It is illegal to serve raw seafood in the US, exception being tuna, unless it has been frozen first at temperatures at -4 Fahrenheit / -20º Celsius for seven days.
Dry aging beef involves the process of storing large distinct portions of an animal such as strip loins, rib eye, and sirloin at near freezing temperatures while smaller cuts of beef can be dry-aged on racks in climate-controlled coolers in a drybag. For dry-aging to work, you must use high-grade beef with high-fat content. Dry-aging beef removes moisture from the muscle and allows the animal's enzymes to break down the connective tissue of the muscle tenderizing the beef. During dry-aging, fungi grow on the surface of the meat which also aids in tenderization and flavor. It, of course, is scraped off when prepared for cooking. The whole process can take up to 28 days or longer at a considerable loss of product weight. The result, however, is a tender, delicious cut of beef, unlike any other prepared meats. Wet-aging beef attempts to achieve some of the dry-aged results by vacuum sealing cuts of beef in bags for several days up to two weeks. This process retains moisture in the meat and therefore has a higher value when sold by weight, but, will not be as tender nor have the flavor of dry-aged beef. The process Wet-aging beef is extensively used in the US.
If you're a passionate coffee drinker, you may have wondered just how many types of coffee beans there are. There are four primary coffee beans used globally. All of those are grown in what's referred to as the Coffee Belt. This Coffee Belt is along the equator because most coffee grows best in a hot climate. Growing conditions vary between beans: some like more altitude or rain than others.
Arabica Coffee Beans
Approximately Sixty percent of all the beans used throughout the U.S. and abroad consist of Arabica beans. Roasts made of Arabica beans are considered higher quality and sometimes pricier. Coffee shops typically serve Arabica bean blends. Overall, these beans have more acidity compared to Robusta beans. Arabica beans are grown throughout the Coffee Belt, but mostly in Latin America. Considering where they grow within the three Coffee Belt regions, they will have vastly different flavors.
Liberica Coffee Beans
Liberica beans grow only within the Philippines. These beans have a floral, fruity aroma, but produce coffee that features a full body and woody, smoky flavor. A shortage of Arabica beans in the late 1800's resulted in the U.S. importing Liberica beans from the Philippines, and this practice continued until the Philippines claimed independence, and U.S. trading stopped.
Excelsa coffee beans aren't used very widely; they represent approximately 6% to 7% of the world's coffee consumption. They grow in Southeast Asia and are considered a genus of Liberica beans. However, the flavor is more tart and fruity.
Robusta Coffee Beans
Robusta coffee beans are the second most widely used coffee bean. These beans are most often brewed by Americans, and purchased in grocery stores. Supermarkets also sell blends consisting of Robusta and Arabica beans combined. Robusta beans contain twice the maximum amount of caffeine as Arabica beans but appear as little balls rather than the more common almond-shaped bean. Robusta beans are mainly grown in Africa and Indonesia. They're easier to grow than Arabica beans because they will thrive in low or high altitudes; however, the taste tends to be harsher and more bitter the Arabica beans due to the affect roasting has on the bean. However, they're great for creating espresso shots due to their deep flavor. This sort of bean holds up better once you add cream and sugar, unlike Arabica beans, whose flavor tends to vary. Robusta beans are grown only on the Orient and thus appear only in two of the three regions within the Coffee Belt.
Paella is thought to have begun around the tenth century, with the cultivation of rice in Spain. Casseroles consisting of Rice, Seafood, and a variety of spices were used to create splendid meals for religious and family gatherings. Rice became a prominent food source in Spain, and later, customs of preparing meals with Rice, Vegetables, and Meat, among other things, had been established. Meat was one of the primary ingredients of earlier day Paella. As the popularity of the food spread to the Mediterranean coast, Valencians began using seafood instead, and Spaniards living outside Valencia used a combination of Seafood & Meat. Tradition, according to Valencians, has it that authentic Paella is to be prepared over an open fire, with rice never fried in oil. It must consist of Short-grain Rice, a combination of either Chicken, Rabbit, Snails, or Duck, and include Butter Beans, Artichoke, Tomatoes, fresh Rosemary, Paprika, Saffron, Garlic, Olive Oil, and of course water. Fast forward to the 20th century, and we begin to see a culmination of a wide variety of Paella dishes utilizing a vast base of ingredients, usually some form of Seafood, Meat, or Sausage with some combination of vegetables, and a broad range of spices.