Some people are afraid to buy fish because they don’t know how to tell if fish is fresh but buying fish isn’t rocket science and armed with the tips below and some common sense you will be buying fresh fish with confidence in no time.
Firstly get to know your fishmonger; does he arrange his fish neatly and with care? Just have a look around, a lot can be said for a fishmonger who takes pride in the appearance of his produce. If the fish is just dumped in a heap and left smelling then you can decipher that you don’t want to be buying your fish from this person.
Fish should be kept and displayed on ice but should not be stored flesh side down as the ice can give the flesh frostbite which gives the fish a grey cotton wool tough appearance. If this has happened then do not buy.
Check the fishes eyes, they should be bright, full and not sunken and should not look cloudy or glazed over.
Check the fishes gills, they should be a bright deep red colour and not at all slimy.
Whole fresh fish should feel stiff firm, be opaque in colour and should also be resilient to touch for example when pressed the impression quickly disappears and the fish should never feel limp. When using whole fish in a fish kettle it is very important to use the best quality fresh fish.
Follow this guide for fish fillets too but also make sure the fillets aren’t flaking apart.
Check the fish’s scales which should be intact, flat, moist and have plenty of them, they should not be half rubbed off.
The fish’s skin should be smooth and covered with a slight sea slime that should not smell fishy or sour. It shouldn’t have any bruising or discolouration.
Fish should not be kept hanging around in your fridge for days on end, it should be purchased preferable on the day you are going to use it or well wrapped and kept in a cold fridge for 24-36 hours maximum.