Most Fridays I call James and he tells me about a new product he has in, or I learn some interesting things about fish which I then pass on via this blog. That said, no two weeks at The Fish Society are ever the same, and this week’s post illustrates that point perfectly.
This week is all about the vast range of enquiries which James and co receive. And we’re not talking about from just down the road either. Take this email from down under, which is becoming more common than you might at first think:
I have been looking for a long time to get Arbroath Smokies delivered to
Australia. I see on you site you have delivered to Sydney and I am hoping they
can be delivered to me on the Gold Coast in Queensland.
[As I am] Originally from Arbroath it would be a special Christmas to have these on
the dinner table.
Can you deliver these?
And here’s another example, this time an exceptionally comprehensive enquiry from Austria. You may want to put aside a few minutes to read this one!
Customer: I just started making sushi at home and found your website looking for premium frozen fish. Before making my first order I would like to ask a few questions.
James: Yes that’s fine.
Customer: The main reason I am looking for flash-frozen premium fish vs fresh is to make sure that any possible parasites have been killed. Are all your products safe to consume raw (frozen solid below -20C/-4F for at least 7 days or -35C/-31F for 15 hours according to US FDA), or just the ones labeled for Sushi ?
James: All our fish is frozen to -21.
Customer: If both are safe to eat raw, is there a difference in quality of fish selected for sushi strips versus fillets and whole fish ?
James: Yes. We select the best portions of the fish for strips. Not all portions make good strips.
Customer: How much time elapses on average from shelling/killing of prawns or scallops to freezing? Do you make sure they are all still alive right before? Are they safe to eat raw as well?
James: 2 days for prawns. All prawns arrive here frozen. They were processed and frozen in faraway places. All to high standards, Otherwise they could not get export licences for EU.
Scallops are from Scotland. We buy from the processor. They shell on day one and deliver to us day 2 or 3. We freeze on day 3 or (rarely) 4. Nevertheless, because shellfish is prone to carrying toxins, I personally would never eat a raw scallop. Only a cooked scallop.
Customer: Is the fish frozen soon after rigor mortis has passed, a few days after or maybe still before? How much time does it take on average from landing the fish until it is frozen? To my knowledge some fish is best aged, marinated or wrapped in kelp a few days to use for sushi, does frozen and carefully thawed fish behave the same as fresh fish in this regard?
James: It is impossible to give you a simple answer to this. We sell 400 fish from 380 suppliers. We do not witness their process which could occur 5,000 miles away. We simply buy good product based on our experience.
Customer: In the pictures on your website there is quite a difference between eg Red Snapper portions vs XXL fillets, or Tuna loin vs sushi Tuna.Are all the pictures representative of the actual products ?
James: In most cases, yes. We took the pics ourselves of product on our premises. Fish naturally varies in colour. And light conditions add more differences.
Customer: Which delivery zone does Vienna, Austria, Zip Code 1030 fall into ?
James: It’s Zone C but if you became a regular or even semi-regular customer, I’d cut you a bit of slack on the delivery surcharge.
Customer: When ordering large quantities like a filled 5kg box, is there a discount available ?
James: 5kgs is not a large order. Our discounts for quantity, where we offer them, are available on the website in the form of saver packs. The discounts are sometimes quite significant.
Customer: What is the ideal thawing procedure regardless of work involved (on top of crushed ice/changing it every few hours/etc) to ensure the best final quality?
James: Best = put the wrapped product in your fridge for 12 hours. If the product has an ice glaze (this is described on the packaging), allow the defrosting glaze to drip away into a bowl.
Customer: You state that in case of a delivery delay of 1 day that the fish will still be cold enough to refreeze again. To my understanding the temperature ceiling for this is about 4C. Could you maybe include temperature indicator strips within the box to be certain it has not been exceeded?
James: 4C is right. The arrival temperature is the highest temperature experienced by your shipment. No one in the chain is going to chill your parcel.
Customer: Which products would be too large for the 5kg box ? Does the XXL Red Snapper Fillet fit ?
James: I think we could fit a XXL RS fillet into a 5kg box.
Customer: Thank you in advance for taking the time to answer these questions.
And here, lastly, is a great little comment just posted on our Facebook page by one Claire Ross:
My order received safe and well today Phew! Didn’t know how was gonna get thru Christmas period without smoked haddock and spring onion fish cakes!!!
Thanks for that Claire!