Fresh or Fetid? A Brief Guide to Buying Fish and Seafood

There can be some hesitation for even the most enthusiastic eaters in the fish and seafood department. There’s an idea that fish markets and mongers are trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the consumers by trying to sell discount fish for a marked up price. In most cases, the average household shopper isn’t even aware it’s happening. Buying fresh seafood can result in homecooked dinners almost as satisfying as those found in the finest seafood restaurants, like Stella’s Fish Cafe in Minneapolis. Here’s a brief guide for the every

The first thing of note is that fresh fish isn’t always caught the same day that it is served. So long as the seafood has been packed and stored properly, it’s still as safe and as tasty as the day that it was caught. Don’t put too much stock into whether a restaurant advertises its wares as “fresh caught daily.” If it sat out on the counter all day, it’s more dangerous than properly stored fish from two days ago.

Whole Fish

  1. If it is a whole, look at the eyes and gills. The eyes should be glossy, not creamy colored or dull. The gills should still be bright red, a sure sign of freshness.
  2. The scales should still look shiny, with little discoloration or dullness.
  3. The smell should be minimal. You may smell a little brine, but a fishy smell is a sign that the fish is past its prime.
  4. The flesh should feel firm and spring back from your touch. If the flesh maintains the indention from your finger, the fats and oils from the fish have been depleted, another sign that it is no longer fresh.

Shellfish

  1. When purchasing shellfish such as clams or mussels, they should still be alive at the time of purchase. When handled, their shells should clamp down tighter. When you cook them, the ones that stay closed were dead before they were cooked. Do not eat those, as there is no guarantee of how long they had been dead before they were purchased.
  2. Never buy scallops that have not been fresh packed and vacuum sealed. Scallops that have been wet-packed are not nearly as fresh tasting as their dry-packed brethren.
  3. If you happen upon fresh octopus or squid in a market, check the eyes. They should be bright and shiny like the standard whole-fish.

At Stella’s Fish Cafe, we want your whole family to enjoy the bounty that the sea has to offer. If you’d rather leave the seafood to professionals, give us a visit. We can show you what fresh seafood is meant to be.

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