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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Alaskan Adventure - Cod Processing

It all starts with catching the cod. There are two methods:


First are the trawlers. They drop a huge net off behind their ship and drag it around, scooping up whatever is in front of it.


The second are pot catchers – which are the ships also used for crab. They drop off a huge “pot” (a wire cage) that is baited and the cod swim in to get the bait. I was told by one of the pot cod ship’s crew that cod caught this way are a better product as they are fresher (they don’t die in a net) and the flesh is in better condition (they are being mashed by thousands of pounds of other fish in the same net). To my eye, they definitely looked to be of better quality.

For a drawing of these methods, go to this link at the Trident web site:
http://www.tridentseafoods.com/company/harvest_diagram.php


The catcher ships come to the Independence to drop off their catch. It is stored in the ship’s hold in sea water to keep it VERY cool. A huge hose is put over from the Indy into the holds and the fish are pumped out.

At the first station, which is up on the deck, the fish are sorted with the messed up ones and any by-catch (fish who were in the wrong place at the wrong time) being put into different bins. Records are kept of all this. And yes, they are sorting during a blizzard.

Then it’s down the conveyor belt to “the slime line”. Here they are headed and gutted…

Split down the middle…

Filleted…

And sent to trimming. This is where they take the side of fish and trim it into the nice fillet that you get on your plate at Red Lobster. The “skirts” are minced and these get made into fish sticks.

Then it is “candled”. That is where each fillet is laid out on a ‘light table’ so you can see thru the fish and remove any nematodes, stray bones or bruises there may be.

After all that it goes past the QC (quality control) people who chuck out any that aren’t up to standards.

Once all that is done, it is laid out on trays to be flash frozen.

The frozen fish is then packed into the boxes according to grade or cut.

And sent down to the huge freezers in the bottom of the ship.

Also harvested are the stomachs, eggs and milt. Don’t know what milt is? Go look it up. It’s used on sushi. Yum, yum!!

Everything else is ground up. There is a reason that the seagulls love us!

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