Our company started processing a few fish at a time for a “direct to consumer” product that serviced a few hundred customers a month. Recently we struck a deal with our first large wholesale customer and things got big fast. After permitting and certifications were ironed out, we got 7000lbs+ of opah Frozen in Gaylord bins of about 1200lbs each. I have started trying to defrost them but if I move them from the freezer (-6f) to the fridge (38f) the defrost time is extremely long.
I have found that the outside of the fish starts to defrost in the first couple days but the core of the fish can stay solid for more than a week. This is unsafe and has ruined some of our products already.
Does anyone have a solution for how to speed up the defrost time for these fish in an FDA NSF approved fashion?
Notes of our setup:
We share freezer and fridge space in a commercial kitchen setup
I only have 200 sqft of space that is our private kitchen
I only have one sink basin that is too small for the fish to fit (except for the dish pit which is off-limits)
I only have two table areas to fillet and defrost on.
I am limited on capitol currently so cost-effective methods are appreciated
I’m also part owner of a small engineering firm and have access to a full machine shop with CNC and welding capabilities if you have an idea that can be fabricated cheaply.
Acquire or weld up a sanitary bin large enough to hold the Opah. Fill with clean chlorinated saltwater if available or make a clean brine if not. Place the Opah in the water filled bin in the refrigerator. The water will thaw out the inside of the fish. Add the above to your HACCP plan. Dispose of the water/clean the container after each batch of fish.
What a shame…opah is possibly my favorite fish to eat…somewhat hard to find. It fetches a good price in the market too.
How much do you need to defrost in any given batch and how frequently will you need to do so?
I second the idea of a water bath if some sort. If you need to up your quantities put them in a rolling bin that you can get into the walk-in fridge.
One of the great things about this forum is the wealth of different types of seafaring involved.
I have absolutely no idea what an opah is and over here Gaylord has nothing to do with bins.
Smaller bins? I know you’re up to large totes. But for this specific use to have small lots defrosted promptly small batch freeze seems to be the answer. Are you sure that this is the correct process? Wouldn’t IQF be the ticket? Then you can store and select specific portions to thaw.
If you like seafood and ever see it in the market or a restaurant, try it. You won’t be disappointed.
They are caught on rod and reel incidentally sometimes…really cool looking fish and fun if you luck out hooking one.
Seems to me that vacuum bagged and submerged in cold water while refrigerated would be best. Unit separation and mass reduction is very important. I’ve noticed that a piece of salmon and a piece of Mahi will defrost at greatly different rates, with the higher oil content salmon portion defrosting throughout much faster. I often prepare a portion of salmon and a portion of mahi for a lunch. Both are individually vacuum bagged and frozen. If placed in the refrigerator to thaw overnight, after approximately 15 hours, the salmon will be thawed and the mahi will still be frozen in the center. If similar servings are submerged in a container of water, they will both be defrosted in about 3 hours, although I’m sure the salmon defrosted earlier. Without the vacuum bag, the fish would become mushy.