Choosing and Buying Fish

Choosing Fish

With the advance of technology, it is now relatively easy to transport fish over long distances in a freshly caught state. This gives us the opportunity to experiment with the huge variety of fish not previously available in the UK. However, it's important to be able to recognise the quality of a fish before buying it, so that you can avoid the ones that been in and out of the freezer several times, thawed out and sold as 'fresh'. Never be afraid to ask if you can smell the fish before buying it, or to ask pertinent questions.

Fresh Fish

A really fresh fish looks almost alive; it has firm, yet elastic flesh, and its skin is bright and shining with a clear, viscous slime. Its eyes should be bulging and bright, with black pupils - stale fish have dull, sunken eyes with greyish pupils and red rims. The gills should be bright red and clean; never slimy, dark or dirty. Finally, a fresh fish will smell pleasant; the more unpleasant the odour, the staler the fish.

Frozen Fish

Many fish have been frozen and thawed out; these are usually imported and have travelled some distance. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as it gives us the chance to try out fish not found in British waters, such as red snapper or tilapia. However, it's important to make sure that the fish has not been subjected to repeated freezing and thawing, as this will make the flesh unpleasantly watery and woolly. A badly thawed-out fish will have a sad appearance and flabby, dull skin that has lost its natural shine and sliminess.