The best way to store fish is over ice. Remove the fish from its original packaging, rinse under cold water, and dry with paper towels. Set fish on a cooling rack and place inside a container filled with crushed ice. The ice should reach just beneath the fish, but shouldn’t touch it. Cover the container, rack, and fish with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and place in the fridge. If the fish is stored longer than 24 hours, be sure to swap out the melted ice with a new batch. Ideally, any fresh fish should not be stored for more than two days.
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Some fish can be frozen for up to year (with three months as the standard), but its freshness depends entirely on its exposure to air. To limit this from taking place, you should first clean the fish, wrap it in aluminum foil or freezer paper, and place it in a freezer bag. Press down on the bag before closing to eliminate any excess air.
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Thawing frozen fish is quite an easy process. Simply leave it in the refrigerator overnight or place the wrapped fish in a bowl of cold water. Don’t microwave the fish, as some sections will cook while others are continuing to thaw.
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Next: How to Store Shrimp
Shrimp like to breathe, otherwise they start to get smelly. To avoid foul seafood, you’ll first want to store your shrimp in the coldest part of your fridge. If the shrimp was purchased in a bag, open the bag and place a paper towel over the top. Proceed to transfer the bag to a bowl of ice. The shrimp should be okay to use for up to two days.
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Next: How to Freeze Shrimp
For maximum shelf life, freeze raw shrimp with their heads removed, but shells still intact. Package the shrimp in freezer bags leaving about a quarter of an inch of space at the top. Frozen shrimp can last from three to six months before needing to be discarded.
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Like fish, frozen shrimp should either be left in the refrigerator overnight or thawed in a bowl of cold water. Never re-freeze shrimp. Most seafood is usually frozen prior to arriving at the grocery store and you don’t want to freeze it for a second time.
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Cioppino is an Italian-American seafood stew that originated in San Francisco in the 1930s, when fishermen brought their fresh catch to the docks and a little bit of everything was added to the soup pot the workers shared—which is one urban-legend explanation for the name; some sources claim “cioppino” was Italian-American slang for “chip in”. In reality, it derives from a Ligurian soup called ciuppin, which literally means chopped. The base of the stew is a wonderfully garlicky tomato broth with white wine and herbs, but the type of seafood you use is endlessly adaptable, so don’t feel constrained by this specific recipe (which was inspired, in part, by two of our Chowhound users, nstrada and giod).
Variations: The whole point is to use whatever’s freshest, and whatever you like best, so add crab or lobster, or double up on the shrimp and cut out the mussels, even try adding salmon in place of the firm white fish, or a little sliced calamari at the very end of cooking; just shoot for about 5 pounds of seafood in total. Some people like to sauté a little chopped celery and carrot along with the onion, and even a bit of bell pepper for additional sweetness, but we’ve gone light on the vegetables in general to really highlight the seafood. Feel free to add more to your mirepoix if you prefer.
Serve with: Garlic bread or toasted sourdough—perfect for mopping up all the rich, sweet, garlicky tomato broth left in the bowl.
Make ahead: You can make the broth a day or so ahead and refrigerate it, which can help to meld the flavors, then bring it back to a gentle simmer and cook the seafood in it just prior to serving.
For more true San Francisco treats, get Mission Chinese Food’s Chicken Wings with Explosive Chile recipe, and The Slanted Door’s Vietnamese Shaking Beef recipe.