Choosing the Best Fresh Fish


It is a simple fact of life that fresher is better.  Fish is a fragile meat that begins to lose flavor and nutrients mere minutes after being caught.  This is the reason sushi chefs, who rely upon having high quality fish as well as very fresh fish are so very choosy about the fish they use.  What can you learn from the ways sushi chefs choose their fish?

First, notice the odor.  The aroma of a good fish market should be crisp, bracing like the ocean or Great Lakes, and not at all smelly or unpleasant.  Next, you must take note if this is a market that sells a lot of fish.  This doesn’t mean that they stock a lot of fish, or even offer a great many varieties, but that the fish leaves and is restocked frequently.  Your next clue to the freshness and quality of the fish, look at the way the fish is presented.  At the very least, the seafood counter should be neat, with the fish stored in clean, fresh displays with no sign of pooling liquids.  Those liquids can harbor all sorts of nasty diseases and bacteria.  Next, watch the counter help.  If the do not handle the fish in a careful manner, as you would expect of a delicate meat, you probably don’t want what they are selling.

If you are purchasing a whole fish you want to examine several things.  First, make sure the skin is moist and shiny with almost a slipper feel.  The fish should have firmly attached scales with none missing.  If the fish has been scaled, make sure the meat is bright in color, not dull or muddy looking.  The gills should be a bright, vibrant red and also appear somewhat moist without any slime present.  The flesh itself should have some elasticity – it should bounce back when you touch it.  The eyes of the fish should be clear, somewhat bulging and healthy looking.  Finally, there should be no foul or unappetizing smell to your fish.

Fish fillets or steaks should also have firm, elastic skin with a bright, even color to the meat.  White fish should appear almost translucent. The cuts should be neat with no tearing to the meat and the fillets should be packed together tightly.  There should be a fresh, pleasant aroma, nothing rotten or slightly foul.

The same should be true for other kinds of seafood, such as mussels and shellfish.  Mussels and clams that are open should close when tapped sharply.  Cracked shells are almost always a sign of inferior meat.   Crabs, prawns and lobsters should be heavy for their size.

If you are dealing with a knowledgeable fishmonger (and you should!), he or she will be able to answer questions about preparations and even offer suggestions of fish to try with different recipes or preparations.  Be daring, and dive into the seafood!

This post was written by

jasonjason – who has written posts on Home Tips Plus.
I'm a father of three, married and a home owner since 2006. I've worked in fixing up homes and rental properties.

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