Matt Mixter was ahead of the curve when he opened Wixter Market in Wicker Park. With many consumers convinced nothing could be “fresher than fresh,” he limited his inventory to top quality frozen fish and premium conservas (canned seafood). Three years later, that same inventory is fueling his recently launched wholesale and online businesses.
Mixter says he has nothing against fresh fish, as long as it’s really “fresh.”
“A lot of the fish sold at retail markets have been out of the water for a week or more," he explains. “They’re safe to eat, but the taste, texture,and smell have deteriorated.”
Frozen fish, as long as it’s commercially frozen at 0-degrees F (or less) soon after it’s caught, will retain its “just caught” flavor and texture for as long as 18 months. To destroy impurities normally killed when fish is cooked, sashimi grade fish is "super frozen" at even colder temperatures.
Wixter’s fish are all portioned for single servings, a real plus for both smaller households and households where the number of people expected for dinner changes from day to day. Mixter guarantees zero waste, an important point given the cost of fish in general. As long as the packaging remains intact, Wixter's fish can be stored in a home freezer for as long as eighteen months.
Fish is simple to cook, and if it’s been handled properly, it doesn’t need a lot of embellishment. Mixter suggests brushing the fish with a tablespoon of grapeseed oil and a sprinkle of sea salt prior to cooking it, skin side down, on a rimmed sheet pan in a 375-degree oven for 10 minutes. Cooking the fish skin-on keeps it from drying out, much like cooking chicken skin-on does. Once the fish is cooked, the skin can be discarded.
I typically cook fish, skin side down, in foil packets placed on a rimmed sheet pan. Sometimes I brush the fish with honey mustard or teriyaki sauce, other times I simply use a mix of melted butter and a squeeze of lemon juice. In a 400-degree oven, the fish cooks in about 20 minutes.
Curious, I bought two portions of steelhead salmon and defrosted them overnight in the refrigerator. For dinner, I cooked one portion a la Mixter and the other a la Revsine. The latter was moister, but-truth to tell- they were both excellent. When you’re cooking fish, quality will out.
Wixter Market, 2110 W. Division St., 312.248.2800
Fahlstrom’s Fresh Fish Market, 1258 W. Belmont Ave., 773.281.6000: conservas