Fish is a great source of proteins and Omega 3 as well as Omega 6 fatty acids which makes it one of the healthiest foods in the world. Home-cooked fish is the best and to get the best of the taste, you have to get your choice right while shopping. The sell-by date is important as well as the trustworthiness of the seller but you have to know how to choose the best fish before you get to the market. Whether you prefer fillets, fresh from the sea or smoked, you need to ensure it is fresh enough and good for food. Here are the top 10 features that will help you get the best fish.
Look For Bright, Clear and Sharp Eyes
Fish have a way of looking alive while they are stiff fresh from the water and they stay that way as long as they are preserved right. When buying fresh fish, you have to look at the eyes and ensure they look alive and shiny. Once the eyes look sunken and cloudy, then chances are that fish has been out of the water for over five days and the preservation isn’t the best. Sometimes, the eyes will go red and look blotched when the fish starts to go bad so you should look out for that too.
Fresh fish doesn’t actually smell bad. If you are buying the fish from the right place, then you should even feel the smell of rotten fish at all. You don’t have to get it close to your nose to get that smell of the sea around the fish. Fresh fish has a gentle pleasant smell that just invites you. Anything that smells awful or is too strong for your nose should not touch your plate.
Check For Bright Red Gills
Fish gills, when fresh look like fresh red mead meat. When the fish starts to go bad, the gills become soggy and collapse. They may also start showing black spots and becoming sticky. You may not have the chance to feel them for stickiness but once you notice that the colour is becoming purple or brown, you should move on to another fish.
Look For Firm and elastic Flesh
This goes for all types of fish whether fresh, filleted or smoked. The flesh of fish when cut shouldn’t look saggy. The flesh should be tender when cut and not dry. When you press your finger against the fish, it should not go in easily and should regain its shape immediately. The same goes for fillets and smoked fish. When cutting, if you notice that the fish sticks to the knife and has a slimy feeling, you should not eat that.
Look For Clean Ice
In most markets, you will find your fish stored on ice and it does tell a lot about how the fish was handled. Ice needs to be changed daily for fish to stay fresh and that goes for your fishmonger too. If you find greying or blackening ice, then chances are that the fish is spoiled or not changed regularly.
Check For Unscathed Scales
If you are going for fish that is direct from the water, you should look at the fish’s skin carefully. The scales should be firmly attached to the place and not look bruised or scratched. When the scales are intact, the fish will be shiny with no greying especially in the belly area. If it is smoked fish, then the skin will be shiny with a pleasant smoke flavour.
Look For Firmly Shut Shells for Shellfish
If you love shellfish, you should look for a trusted vendor because their quality can be very sensitive, The same goes for crab or other seafood. The shells on shellfish should be tightly shut and those that are not should shut evenly when pressed. Shells that stay gaping should be discarded immediately.
Check For Bruising
When buying fillets, you have to check the colour and texture of the fillets before buying. Whitefish should look firm and be white to translucent in colour. If not white, the meat should still be firm. You should also go for clean cuts because they signify professionally handled fish which tends to be safer.
Check The Packaging
Fish packaging will tell you a lot about how it was handled and how fresh it is. Soggy or broken packaging of course tells you something is wrong. The packaging should also have a sell-by date which will tell you how fresh the fish is depending on how soon the date on the packaging is.
Ask The Sellers
If all the tests in the list fail, then the seller will be your last resort. Ask them if the fish has been frozen before because that way, it should have been eaten and not from again. You should also ask them for the freshest fish they have in stock and which one will fit your needs. They may not be the most honest but you can trust their need for you to be a regular buyer to cause them to tell you the truth.