Advantages and obligations of blast chilling for raw fish
Lowering the temperature very quickly for food preservation is a very useful process for catering professionals and is imperative when it comes to fish.
The procedure, which consists of lowering the temperature of the food, raw or freshly cooked, very quickly, uses the properties of cold to increase the conservation period and guarantees greater safety by limiting the proliferation of bacteria.
The Italian cuisine includes a number of dishes using raw or marinated fish, crustaceans and molluscs, yet it was sushi that made the consumption of this type of food even more popular. To prepare it safely, however, it is necessary to use a professional blast chiller.
Blast chillers for fish: the advantages
The speed at which food is cooled is very important, as it ensures that bacterial proliferation is inhibited, as it is at its highest in the temperature range between 10° and 65°. Different types of bacteria can develop in fish, which only by being killed will prevent the danger of poisoning and infection.
One of the risks of eating raw fish is the parasite Anisakis, which can be harmful to health if eaten, causing nausea, abdominal pain and allergies.
Chilling the temperature to -20° for at least 24 hours can neutralise this parasite and other bacteria, and has become a legal requirement for the consumption of raw fish.
Fish blast chilling: Regulations
When talking about the blast chilling of raw fish, it is important to emphasise that this is a legal requirement.
The First Directive was introduced in 1992, specifically targeting the Anisakis parasite: ‘Urgent measures for the prevention of Anisakis parasitism’. Since this regulation, blast chilling to minus 20 degrees Celsius for at least 24 hours has become mandatory for certain fish products, such as cod, mackerel, mullet, sardines, herring and anchovies. Later, in 2004, the 853 European Regulation was issued extending the obligation of blast chilling to all fish intended to be eaten marinated or raw.
The consumption of these foods must also be subject to control and supervision by means of self-control sheets complying with HACCP protocols.
The self-monitoring manual must contain the procedure for using the blast chiller, instructions on the time it takes for the product to reach the temperature and information on blast chilling processes, allowing storage times and activities to be monitored.
In 2013, the Ministry of Health established that, for proper communication to the consumer, a sign with information on the blast chilling procedure performed must also be displayed.
Fish blast chilling and organoleptic qualities
Blast chilling allows the food to be preserved with the utmost regard for its integrity. The speed of the process means that micro-crystals of ice form inside the food without altering the consistency of the tissues. Conventional freezing, on the other hand, creates larger crystals that damage the cell structure, and once thawed the product loses liquid, becomes chewy and has an unpleasant taste.
When brought back to room temperature, the blast chilled product appears very similar to fresh fish, a significant factor in the case of valuable species, and its texture and flavour are almost intact.
The more delicate the food, the more appreciable the advantages of using blast chilling for its conservation.
Fish blast chilling and food preservation
Fish preservation times also benefit from blast chilling, as the product can be stored for longer while maintaining the highest levels of food quality and safety. This allows the best use of ingredients in the kitchen, with a significant reduction in waste and scrap, which translates into economic savings.
A reliable blast chiller should therefore never be missing from a restaurant kitchen that is committed to the preparation of fish and sushi, guaranteeing the safety, quality and flavour of its best dishes.
ILSA professional blast chillers
ILSA offers a wide range of blast chillers, suitable for the most diverse needs and specially designed for catering professionals.
The models of the EVOLVE line in particular are extremely easy and practical to use: they facilitate work in the kitchen as they are equipped with an electronic LCD board that allows the machine to identify the type of food and automatically calculate all the parameters to perform the proper blast chilling cycle. The user only has to insert the probe and start the cycle, the ILSA blast chiller takes care of the rest.
Discover the full range of products in the Blast Chillers section or contact us for a personal advice.