HOW TO BUY FRESH SEAFOOD
What’s summer in Australia without a beautiful selection of seafood on the table? When it comes to choosing good quality seafood, it can be a little overwhelming.
As we near the Christmas festivities and fresh seafood is bountiful this time of year, I thought it would be helpful in sharing my tips on choosing only the freshest, best looking seafood ever!
Here are a few tips that will help you choose top quality seafood for your summer entertaining or Christmas seafood platter.
- Purchase your seafood as close as possible to the time of eating.
- If possible, buy your seafood from your local fish market. The fish can often be fresher as they have a higher turnover than a small seafood store.
- Bring an esky along to the fish market.
- Ask the fishmonger to pack whatever you have purchased with some ice. This helps keep it fresh on your way home.
- When you get home, be sure to place all your seafood in the coldest part of the fridge.
- If you’re purchasing cooked prawns, ask for a sample to taste so you know what you’re buying. Cooked prawns can vary in taste. Fishmongers are happy to help.
- Ideally Oysters should be opened (shucked) at home. The reason is that Oysters within 20 minutes of being opened.
How to ensure you’re buying the freshest whole fish, cutlets or fish fillets.
- Use your senses. Pleasant fresh ocean smell is what you are looking for. Strong and uncomfortable smells suggest the fish is old. If the fish has a strong, fishy odour, it is likely to be old.
- Ensure the gills of the fish are bright in colour. Pinky-red gills means the fish is freshly caught.
- The skin of the fish should be bright and lustrous. The scales on a freshly caught fish glisten in the light.
- Ensure that the flesh of the fish springs back when touched.
- There should be no discolouration, gaping or bruising of the flesh.
When purchasing crustaceans and molluscs ensure that:
- The shells or flesh are brightly coloured.
- Any shells, heads, tentacles or flesh are intact and are firm to touch.
- The shells are closed or close when tapped or gently squeezed.
- There is a pleasant fresh sea smell.
- That there is no discolouration, in particular around the joints.
Once you’ve chosen your wonderfully, fresh array of fish and seafood, it’s important to store the fish properly so that their freshness is maintained.
As previously mentioned, it’s important to buy your fish close to the time in which you will be consuming it.
Here are some key refrigerating tips.
- Start with scaling, cleaning, and gutting the fish. You may wish to have the fishmonger do this for you.
- Place the fish on a plate or tray and cover with a damp cloth or tea-towel then wrap the fish with plastic cling.
- Fish should be stored in the coldest part of the fridge and should be consumed within 2 – 3 days.
CUTTLEFISH, SQUID OR OCTOPUS
- Clean and rinse before placing on a plate or tray, cover with a damp cloth and then with plastic cling wrap.
- Store in the coldest part of the fridge and should be consumed within 2 – 3 days.
- Prawns must be consumed as soon as possible after purchase.
- Keep them fresh for a day or 2 covered with plastic wrap and keep them in the coldest part of the fridge.
- Crabs and lobsters should be eaten soon after you purchase them.
- Keep in a cool place covered with a damp cloth. Ensure that cloth remains damp and does not dry up.
- Mussels should be eaten as soon as possible after purchase.
- Place in a bowl or tray and cover them with a damp cloth.
- Mussels can be kept in the warmest part of the refrigerator, such as the crisper. The optimum temperature for keeping mussels fresh is at 5°C.
- Ensure that the cloth remains damp until time to cook them
- Discard any shells that are open and don’t close when tapped or gently squeezed.