Fish is delicate and begins to decay as soon as it is removed from the water, making purchasing fresh fish more difficult than purchasing a beefsteak. If you’re fortunate enough to live near a fresh fish market instead of buying them on the Internet, you’ll have the best chance of cutting the time between catch and plate in half. Otherwise, here’s a simple checklist of what to look for so you can buy the freshest fish no matter where you go.
- Examine the odour
A good fish market (and, by implication, good fish) will smell clean and fresh, possibly a little saline, like the sea. A “fishy” odour should never be encountered; an off- or fishy odour is the first clue that the fish isn’t fresh.
- Examine the eyes
One of the simplest methods to identify if the fish is fresh or not is to look at it. Keep an eye out for fish that have bright, clear eyes and a strong texture. If the fish has murky, wrinkled eyes, it has most likely been sitting there for quite some time.
- Examine the fins and tail
The fins and tail of the fish are other indicators of how well the fish has been treated. These are the components that protrude the most, and if handled incorrectly, the fins will tear. Touch the tail to see if it is still agile to see whether the whole fish is still fresh. Fins that have dried and become brittle are a sign of ageing.
- Examine the gills for colour
It’s time to get your hands dirty (if the fishmonger permits). Examine the insides of the gills to ensure they are red. This is essentially where the fish’s oxygen vessels are located, and the brighter red it is, the fresher it is. Because myoglobin oxidises into metmyoglobin, the gills darken over time. If the fish has become brown or black, avoid it.
- Examine the texture of the flesh
When purchasing steaks or fillets, ensure that the flesh is bright and firm, rather than dull and limp. Examine the flesh’s structure (or grain) to ensure that it is smooth and whole, not fractured or flaky. Also, make sure the flesh feels and smells clean; it may be moist, but any moisture should be transparent (not hazy), and it should never feel slimy.
- Examine the scales
Yes, the fish may appear gleaming and metallic (two visual indicators of freshness), but put it to the test by running your hands over the scales. Because it’s a type of protection for the fish, they should still feel firm. If the fish isn’t too fresh, the scales will readily come off.
Cooking is supposed to be enjoyable. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been cooking, there’s always something new to learn, whether it’s a simple tweak on an old technique or a time and energy-saving trick. Even though we are stuck in a pandemic and can’t go out to do grocery shopping like we used to, we can still buy fresh fish online in Malaysia. All you have to do is order fish, vegetables and every other grocery that you need and they will send it to your doorstep! Are there any other shopping guides you’re looking for? Please let us know in the comments section below!