Monday, June 30, 2014

How to Buy Fresh Fish

On an average I eat fish 3-4 times a week but have never really checked in make sure how safe my purchases of fresh fish actually are. So for those of you who love fish as much as I do, this is what I found.\

When buying fresh fish the fresher the better but how can you tell fresh from less-than-fresh?  The first thing to do is to take a deep breath.  What do you smell?  You should receive just a faint smell of the sea and nothing else.  No iodine, no ammonia, and no "fishy" overtones.  Next, look for the thermometer in the display case.  It should read 33 degrees, no more and no less.

Fresh fish is sold in a variety of forms ranging form right-from-the-water to pan-ready.  Whole fish, also called round fish, is just as complete as when it was swimming, with head, tail, gills and entrails intact.  Drawn fish is the entire fish, but it has been eviscerated, with the intestines and sometimes the gills removed.  The freshness of these two forms is easy to gauge at a glance.  Take a good look at the eyes.  They should be clear, shiny and bulging.  Dull, opaque or sunken eyes, or those with a great deal of redness, indicate fish that are over the hill or have been roughly treated. Red snapper eyes are naturally red so make sure they're also clear and bulging.  Gills should be pink or red, not brown and shaggy.  Take a sniff if you're not sure.  Any strong smell is an age giveaway.  Buy about one pound of whole fish per serving, about 3/4 pound of drawn.
Dressed fish has been scaled as well as gutted and may or may not have lost its head, tail and fins.  Its flesh should be firm, the skin shiny and moist.  Buy about 1/2 pound of dressed fish per serving.

Fillets are the two boneless (or nearly so) slabs of flesh removed from both sides of the backbone.  When they are left attached to each other, they're known as butterfly fillets.  Fillets are a little more difficult to judge for freshness.  They should be moist-looking and shiny, but only your nose knows for sure.  If think fillets look opaque instead of translucent, chances are they've been frozen and thawed.  Avoide them if you're paying high prices for fresh fish.  Allow about 1/4 pound per serving of filtered fish.

Steaks are generally cut form large, thick fish such as salmon, swordfish and tuna.  They are cross-cut form 1/2 to 1 1/2 inches thick from dressed fish and often contain small bones.  Look for the same characteristics as in fresh fillets and buy about 1/3 pound fish steak per serving.

OK, now we know how to buy fresh fish so we can all enjoy it even more.  Where did I get my information?  From a great source - Betty Crocker's Best Recipes for Fish and Shelfish.
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