Knowing how to choose fresh fish or seafood is a great skill for a cook, but quite often one that is overlooked. Unless you caught the fish yourself, you really have no way of knowing exactly how fresh it is. But buying fresh fish is easy if you know what to look for.
Here are tips on choosing fresh fish.
(1). Look for bright, clear eyes. The eyes are a great way to tell how truly fresh a fish is. The eyes will fade quickly into gray dullness, the longer the fish has been out of the water. Dull-eyed fish may be safe to eat, but they are often past their prime.
(2). Look at the fish. Does it shine? Does it look metallic and clean? Or has it dulled or has discolored patches on it? A fresh fish will be shiny, like polished metal, there should be no dull blemish-like patches on the skin and the scales and flesh should be smooth and un-broken.
(3). Smell It. A fresh fish should smell like clean water, or a touch briny or even like cucumbers. Under no circumstances should a fish ever smell strongly of fish. If a fish smells past its best always remember . . . cooking won't improve it.
(4). Look at the gills. They should be a rich red. If the fish is old, they will turn the color of faded brick.
(5). If in doubt. The main rule when buying fish is if your not sure about it's freshness, DON'T buy it !!!!!
(1). Look for vibrant flesh. All fish fade as they age. If the fillet still has skin, the skin should look as the skin on an good whole fish – shiny and metallic.
(2). Smell it. The smell test is especially important with fillets. They should have no pungent aromas or overly fishy smells.
(3). Is there liquid on the flesh ? If so, the liquid should be clear, not milky. Milky liquid on a fillet is the first stage of the fillet going off.
(4). Press the meat with your fingers. A fresh fillet should be resilient enough that your indentation disappears. If your fingerprint remains, leave it.