To enjoy fish at home – make friends with your fishmonger. They are there to help and I have never met one who wouldn’t (how else will they ensure future trade?). Any fish or seafood you buy should be squeaky fresh and unsure if it is the simplest test is a quick sniff. It should never smell fishy but be an aroma of the sea. As this method isn’t popular with fishmongers also look for:-
- Whole fresh fish will have eyes that are bright and not sunken. The skin should have a shiny, moist, firm appearance.
- When buying fillets look out for neat, trim fillets and a white translucent appearance.
- Flesh should be firm to the touch, not soft or mushy.
- Fish should have no brown spots, which are an indication of the beginning of decay.
- Fish should give the appearance that it’s still alive but not wriggling of course.
- Shellfish, like lobster and crab, should be purchased either alive or frozen. If your market has a lobster tank, ask how long they’ve been in the tank. Truly fresh lobsters should be lively and frisky.
- Smoked fish should look glossy with a fresh smoky aroma.
- Select shellfish with shells tightly closed and without any gaps or cracks.
- Lobsters and crabs should be heavy for their size.
- With frozen seafood is must be solid with no signs of partial thawing, in undamaged packaging and with no sign of freezer burn.
And the secret of cooking fish?
Start to stop before you need to stop. Overcooking will quickly destroy the texture, taste and succulence of fish so always remove it from the heat when it is almost there; the residual heat will finish the cooking perfectly.
The convenience of cooking fillets is tempting but where possible buy and cook fish on the bone for the juiciest flesh, once cooked the bones will simply fall away.