How to Buy Seafood and When to Find the Fish You Want
HOW TO BUY SEAFOOD
Finding out if a fish is fresh
- If a fish has bright eyes, a glistening skin and firm flesh it will be fresh.
- A bright red colour under the gills is also a good sign, and so is afresh, salty smell.
- Avoid any fish that is dull or limp, or that has red, sunken eyes or smells strongly of ammonia.
Shells should be intact and the shellfish should feel heavy for their size. Poorer quality shellfish may contain liquid if the shells are cracked before cooking, so check by shaking them gently. Cooked prawns and shrimps should always be firm and pink in colour.
WHEN TO FIND THE FISH YOU WANT
Fish seasons vary from year to year and region to region, so there are no fixed dates, but the table below gives an idea of when you can expect to find various types of fresh fish at a reasonable price. Imported and frozen fish are generally available at other times as well.
Catches of fish vary with the tides, the weather and the time of year, so buy what’s plentiful and don’t stick too rigidly to your shopping list. You’ll get better value and fresher fish.
Male crabs have larger claws than females, so there is more white meat in them. On the other hand, female crabs have more and better quality dark meat inside the shell. So make your choice according to preference.
Oysters, mussels, scallops and clams
When live, the shells should be closed or should shut rapidly when tapped; after cooking they should open up. Discard any that don’t behave like this.