Who doesn’t love seafood? Unfortunately, even the most avid fan might have trouble seafood shopping, what with all the elements you need to watch out for, from the quality to the ingredients that need to be used. There is a huge difference between eating and shopping, after all. Unless you are a chef, seafood shopping could be challenging. But nothing like learning a few tricks can’t solve.
Know which fish is high in omega-3 and low in mercury. Check out seafood guides that you can download to get such information.
- Choose wild salmon over farmed ones even if they cost more. They are fresh and abundant in summer months, but also available year-round frozen or canned.
- Choose domestic wild-caught shrimp over imported farmed ones. When buying frozen shrimp make sure it’s not mixed with other seafood or even breaded.
- Buy only live clams, mussels or oysters. Do a tap test to determine the freshness. If the shell doesn’t close when tapped, don’t buy them.
- Shuck plump clam, oysters and mussels for another fresh test. Make sure the liquid is slightly opalescent and clear.
- Buy fish that does not look dry or with scales peeled off, have clear eyes and vivid-red gills, and flesh that would spring back when touched.
- Buy fillets that have an even tone in colour and do not have any dry or dark spots.
- Buy seafood that doesn’t have a fishy smell. This may seem ironic, but the fresh variety will have that faint seaweed or salty aroma.
- Buy only live lobsters and crabs. If they are not swimming or crawling, there should be leg movement from the crabs and the lobster’s tail curl tightly when it is picked up.
If these pointers don’t already complicate seafood shopping, you also need to decide between buying fresh and frozen. The latter is not always bad but you would have to consider whether or not the seafood was fresh before they were frozen and packed. You also need to check if it is wild caught or farmed, and other similar considerations. So, unless a particular type is only available frozen, such as a Chilean Sea Bass, you should go seafood shopping at the fish market.
Fresh Caught versus Farm-Raised Seafood
Fresh caught seafood is what it is, except that it is “flash freezed” to preserve the quality, flavour and freshness. It is shipped at temperatures of -60F before being processed into steaks and fillets. Once it is thawed, it will have the same freshness and flavour as if it was recently caught. Farm-raised seafood, on the other hand, is a product of aquaculture. Fish and other seafood are raised in really clean waters and fed with scientifically formulated food to ensure flavour and texture. They are then processed quickly to preserve their freshness.
While there is nothing wrong with farm-raised seafood, those caught in the wild still comes highly recommended.
Whichever is the case, seafood shopping should be all about freshness, flavour and safety. Just take note of the tips listed above to make your trip to the grocery or seafood market less stressful. You can also befriend a reliable and reputable fish monger for an excellent source of seafood.