Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Kitchen Tip Tuesday: Buying Fresh Fish

With the season of Lent in full swing, many people will be buying more fish and less meat for their family meals. However, just trusting that your grocery store has fresh fish isn't always the best practice. Fish is high in protein, Omega-3 fatty acids, offers several vitamins and minerals, and is a valuable addition to your diet. Here are some tips for selecting and buying fish, then be sure to check out the links to recipes at the end:


Eyes: Should be clean, clear, full and bulging. Redness is not necessarily an indication that the fish is spoiled, eyes may have been bruised when the fish was caught, or during the packaging process. IF eyes are cloudy, fish has lost its freshness, don't buy it.

Gills: Should be reddish-pink or red, free from odor, slime and discoloration.

Scales: Should be slime-free, hold tightly to the skin and have a soft shine to them.

Flesh: Should not be separated from the bones. It should spring back when pressed with your finger and should be firm and elastic.

Odor: Should not have a strong "fishy" smell. Fresh fish will have a clean, fresh from the sea type smell.

The Market: If you walk into a fish market and it stinks, walk out. A quality fish market will carry only fresh fish and should not have an overbearing fishy smell.

How Much:
 When buying fish, figure about 1/3 - 1/2 lb. of fresh fish per serving. If you are serving a whole small fish, choose one weighing a pound for one serving.

Market Types

Whole or Round Fish: No preparation, other than placing on ice, you will need to clean, scale, remove entrails, etc. Be sure to note everything in the "observe" section above when selection whole fish.

Drawn or Dressed: This means the entrails have been removed for you as well as the scales, often times the head, tail and fins have been removed as well.

Sticks: These are fillets that have been cut into uniform pieces, not as common as it used to be.

Single Fillets: These are the most commonly seen in fish markets and grocery stores. Everything has been done for you, they are skinless, and often times almost boneless.

Steaks: These are usually cut from larger fish, and like the fillets, are ready to be cooked.


Grab It Last: Hit the fish section at the end of your shopping trip. It should be the last thing you put in your cart.

Grab It First: When unloading your groceries, the bag with your fish should be the first bag you take inside. Place it into the coldest part of your refrigerator, then carry on unloading the rest of your groceries.

Wrapping: Fresh fish should be wrapped in moisture-proof, air-tight material, or placed in a container and stored in the refrigerator right away. 

Freezing: if you intend to freeze your fish, it should be in moisture-vapor-proof freezer paper or container. If you are lucky enough to have a vacuum sealing system, that's perfect. 

Thawing: Once you have thawed the fish, do not refreeze it. Keep the fish in its packaging while thawing in the refrigerator. If you need to thaw it quickly, place the fish under cold running water.

Recipes and More:

Eating Light With Seafood - Brenda shares recipes for halibut, cod, snapper and other fish
Growing and Cooking With Fennel - Fennel is an excellent compliment to your fish recipes
Learning to Use Herbs and Spices - Several recipes and tips for using herbs with seafood
Grandma Dorothy's Fried Fish - Tried and True old fashioned recipe from the past
Seafood Recipes - From Annie's Recipes
Fish Recipes - From Alicia's Recipes
More Fish Recipes - From Fabulous Foods


~ Amanda


  1. good tips - and the other thing is don't be afraid to annoy your fish monger. even if it's just a teenager behind the counter at your local grocery store, annoy him/her. ask for him/her to show you the fish up close so you can stare in its eyes and take a whiff... don't fear the fish!


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