How to Choose Fresh & Frozen Fish at the Market
Fish is a nutritious and healthy option for everyday cooking. Rich in protein, fish have vitamins A, K and B complex; minerals like iron, zinc and selenium; and are a source of omega-3 fatty acids that our body cannot produce, but needs for heart and brain health.
However, it is necessary to be careful when buying; if the fish is not well preserved, it can cause food poisoning in the worst scenarios. I compiled a few tips I use when looking to buy fresh and frozen fish. Always make sure to check the following aspects:
Tips for buying FRESH fish:
• Eyes: Fresh fish have lively, bright, clear, transparent eyes that occupy the entire orbital cavity. Avoid buying fish with opaque and gray eyes;
• Gills: Must be reddish; do not choose products with pink or gray gills;
• Body: The surface of the body must be clean and without unusual pigmentation. Take the animal (with gloves, of course) or ask the fishmonger for help and make sure the scales are firm and attached to the body. If they come loose easily, choose another product. Also gently press the animal's belly- you're looking for firm flesh that does not leave a lasting impression from your touch;
• Smell: Fresh fish have a mild odor. Although all fish have a strong smell, you will be able to identify one that resembles the sea and one that indicates too much time out of the water.
Tips for buying FROZEN fish:
• Do not buy frozen fish that are soft in the package or have accumulated liquids. This indicates that they have already been defrosted.
• The packaging must be hermetically sealed and intact in order to avoid the occurrence of contamination, deterioration and dehydration of the fish;
• There should be no loose ice inside the package. If this happens, it means that there were thermal variations from the moment the product was packaged, until the moment it reached the shelf;
• The fish must have the characteristic color of the species to which it belongs and be wrapped in a thin and homogeneous layer of ice. No matter if the fish is packed whole or as in slices or fillets, the ends should not be dry or yellow as these are indicators of dehydration;
• Bear in mind that an excessive glaze (layer of ice around the product) can camouflage defects in the fish;
• The compartment where the fish is displayed for sale must have a thermometer that indicates the temperature. This should remain constant at least 0 °F (-18 °C).
• Fish, like any frozen item, should be the last to be purchased in the market in order to minimize its time out of the adequate temperature. In addition, it should be transported in an insulated bag and placed in the refrigerator (this depends on whether the product will be consumed shortly after purchase or not), as soon as it arrives home.
I hope this helps you choose the freshest fish next time you visit the supermarket! Leave in the comments section what is your favorite saltwater and freshwater fish!