When buying fish, you don’t want to just grab any old fillet and take it home. Frozen fish doesn’t require as much caution because it doesn’t spoil as quickly, but if you prefer fresh fish (I know I do), it pays to understand how to choose the freshest and most delicious product you can find. Whether you shop at the supermarket or are lucky enough to have a nearby fish market, these are great things to know when buying fish.
1. Find a Reputable Seller
Most grocery stores count when buying fish, but if you’re seeking out a direct seller, be cautious. You don’t want to buy fish from just anyone. Make sure you find out about how they catch the fish, how they store and transport it and how long since it was caught. If you live near the sea, the chances are higher of finding reputable sellers. If you live inland, it might be better to shop at the grocery store for your fish.
2. Ask for the Catch of the Day
If you don’t care what type of fish you eat (I like most species), it’s always a good idea to ask for the catch of the day. That way you know for sure you’re getting something at its peak in terms of freshness and flavor. If there isn’t a catch of the day, ask for the freshest options available.
3. Look for Firm Flesh
The freshest and best fish options are ones with a firm flesh. That means that when you press on it, it bounces back quickly. If the flesh is mushy and doesn’t return to normal after you touch it, pass on it. You also want to be sure the flesh is firmly attached to the bones. If it’s falling off the bones, you should look for something else because it’s not that fresh.
4. Smell It
I know – you might look funny at the store, but it will pay off because the scent of the fish points to its freshness. If you notice a strong fishy smell, the species in question is probably not the best option. You want to smell the ocean, but you don’t want a gross smelly fish.
Even if you’re not buying frozen fish, you want to be sure it’s kept on ice. When you go to the fishmonger or the grocery store, look in the fish cases and see how the fish is kept. If you see ice under the counter and beneath the fish, you’re in luck because the fish is likely fresh and delicious.
6. Look at the Eyes
The freshest fish you can buy will have clear eyes. If they’re cloudy or strange looking, that’s fish you definitely want to pass on. On the other hand, if the fish eyes still look bright and like the fish was just caught, it’s one to grab and take home for a delicious meal.
7. Peek at the Gills
If you’re buying fresh fish, chances are it is still whole. That means you can get a good look at the gills for the best choice. You want fish with bright pink and wet gills. Off colored or slimy looking gills mean the fish has been out of the water for too long and won’t be as fresh and yummy as you want. Don’t be afraid to ask for a closer look if you can’t see the gills outside the case.
Do you buy fresh fish? How do you know you’re getting the best choice there is?