I've been buying, cleaning, and eating fish all my life, so for me its second nature,
but anyone can pick out fresh fish if they know what to look for.
Your local fish market should be clean, of course it's going to smell like fish, but it shouldn't smell too bad, that indicates an overall lack of cleanliness.
Fresh Fish and Shrimp
Only buy fish that is refrigerated or displayed on a thick bed of fresh ice that is not melting (preferably in a case or under some type of cover).
- Fish should smell fresh like the ocean and mild, not fishy, sour, or ammonia-like.
- A fish’s eyes should be clear and bulge a little.
- Whole fish and fillets should have firm, shiny flesh and bright red gills. Fresh, bright blood in the body cavity is a good sign of freshness. Dried blood, brown in color means the fish is old.
- The flesh should spring back when pressed with your finger.
- Fish fillets should display no discoloration, darkening or drying around the edges or seperation/gaps of the flesh.
- Shrimp flesh should be translucent and shiny with little or no odor.
- Some refrigerated seafood may have time/temperature indicators on their packaging, which show if the product has been stored at the proper temperature. Always check the indicators when they are present and only buy the seafood if the indicator shows that the product is safe to eat.
- Follow these general guidelines for safely selecting shellfish:
- Look for the label : Look for tags on sacks or containers of live shellfish (in the shell) and labels on containers or packages of shucked shellfish. These tags and labels contain specific information about the product, including the processor’s certification number. This means that the shellfish were harvested and processed in accordance with national shellfish safety controls.
- Discard Cracked/Broken Ones : Throw away clams, oysters, and mussels if their shells are cracked or broken.
- Do a “Tap Test”: Live clams, oysters, and mussels will close up when the shell is tapped. If they don’t close when tapped, do not select them.
- Check for Leg Movement : Live crabs and lobsters should show some leg movement. They spoil rapidly after death, so only live crabs and lobsters should be selected and prepared.
A good point about the Nautical Mile fish markets is their popularity, so many people shop there that the fish doesn't sit around for very long before it's sold.