Amateur chefs and even those experienced in the kitchen can easily become overwhelmed by the process of buying seafood. It is often hard to tell if a particular catch is fresh, and making the wrong choice can ruin an entire meal. Do not be discouraged however. Depending on the type of seafood you are selecting there are some easy tips and tricks to guarantee you are buying the freshest and tastiest product. Obviously, you must first start by going to a high-quality seafood provider. While it is tempting to pick up seafood from your local grocery store, you cannot be sure this is the freshest or best quality selection.
You do not want to be frugal when it comes to buying seafood, so make the effort to find the best seafood market in town and forge a relationship with the fishmonger. They will be able to tell you what their freshest catch of the day is and many will even call you to tell you when a special product has come in. They are also particularly helpful when selecting types of seafood that are more difficult to pick out, such as delicious Alaska shellfish. If you want to learn how to select quality seafood on your own, here are some tips:
– When selecting whole fish, make sure their eyes are bright and clear, not foggy. Clear eyes are a sign that the fish is fresh, as they quickly begin to fade after several days out of the water. It is also important to look at the whole fish. Any sign of dullness in the color of the fish is an indication that it is not fresh. Make sure to smell the fish as well. It should smell fresh like the ocean, not fishy or rotten.
– For live seafood, don’t assume that it is fresh just because it is in a tank. Look for the lobster or crab that is most active. The ones that are hardly moving or are slunk into the corner have usually been there much longer. To guarantee freshness, ask your fishmonger when the next shipment of live crabs or lobsters will arrive, and pick them up on that day.
– Lastly, shellfish can be particularly difficult to select, but well worth the trouble. Depending on which ingredient you are looking for, try to go with Alaska shellfish, as it is fresh and very tasty. All shellfish, aside from scallops, are supposed to be sold alive, but that doesn’t mean you won’t come across a dead one in the bunch. Before cooking, leave the shellfish on your counter for a moment, and then tap the shell. Live shellfish will react by closing their shell tighter, while dead ones will not. Throw these away because they will not taste good and could even make you sick.
In short, there are countless ways to prepare seafood and so many wonderful ingredients to choose from. Do not be afraid to try a variety that you have never cooked with before, or tackle a recipe that once seemed too daunting. Just remember to stick with only the freshest most sustainable ingredients, like Alaska shellfish or locally caught fish. It will make all the difference in the end.