Fresh fish is revered by fishmongers, grocery stores, and restaurants worldwide, but how do you really know it is “fresh?” Studies show that the fish they serve could be three weeks old, and here’s the kicker: the restaurant may not even know it!
A fish that isn’t cleaned and frozen within hours of being caught could sit on a dock or airport runway for days waiting for transport. Sure, that fish is on ice, but it’s still degrading by the hour.
The taste of salmon, halibut, and shellfish is directly impacted by the way it is handled during catching or harvesting. Preserving that fresh, clean flavor starts on the boat.
Fresh fish have two major enemies: time and temperature. Consistently controlling those two elements is essential to locking in the delicious flavor. “Previously frozen” fish that you buy from fishmongers is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, fish frozen at the source (which means on the boat within hours of being caught) is often “fresher” than fish that is merely chilled.
When buying fish, look for the following indicators before you buy:
- Touch it: Flesh of the fish should bounce back when touched.
- Look into its eyes: with whole fish, the eyes should be bulging, shiny and clear. Avoid fish with cloudy eyes. Tip: buy whole fish if you can, then ask the fishmonger to fillet it.
- Smell it: Fish does not smell. It should have a mild scent, but if you detect a fishy smell, keep shopping.
- Check it: gills should be pink with no discoloration, brown or yellow sliminess around the edges, and with no spongy texture. If you see any of this, move on.
Before you dine out, check out Smart Catch, a simple way for diners to vet restaurants that are thinking beyond their menus. It will make you a smarter diner.
Seafood is one of nature’s wonders. With the diminishing of our wild salmon stock, fresh wild salmon should be treasured. Follow these simple tips when selecting fish to cook at home and only dine at quality restaurants that intimately know the source of each and every fish they are serving.