How to Tell if Fish is Fresh

If you’re a budding seafood chef, knowing whether a piece of fish is fresh or not is vital if you want to optimise your cooking skills. Fortunately, the signs are very easy to recognise once you get to know them. Here are a few tips we’ve listed to help you out.

Something smells fishy…

The scent should be mild and pleasant and not too sour or strong. Avoid fish that have an overpowering odour or a nasty stink. Fresh fish normally smell a bit like clean water with a touch of brine that is vaguely reminiscent of cucumber.

Check the eyes and gills

Skip over any fish that have dull or cloudy eyes, or that are sunken into its head. Fresh fish have eyes that are bright and shiny with a clear shine to them. Bear in mind that certain fish like mackerel or kingfish are quickly put in ice after being harvested, so that will affect the clarity of their eyes even while fresh. If unsure, ask a nearby expert for advice.

As for the gills, ensure that they’re a rich red or bright pink in colour. Older fish generally have gills that are light brown and faded. It’s also a good sign if they’re not too slimy or too dry but just slightly wet.

Look at the flesh

Examine the skin – the shinier it is, the fresher the fish will be. It should have a metallic and clean gleam to it without any cracks or scales falling off. A fresh fish should have a tight and firm surface with a bouncy feel to it. Ask the shop attendant or fishmonger to see whether you can touch it in order to be sure of the texture.

How to store fresh fish at home

1. Wash the fish by running it under cold water and dry it with a paper towel.
2. Rewrap it in its packing paper but not as tightly.
3. Before putting it in the refrigerator straight away, fill up a bowl with ice.
4. Place the fish (still wrapped in paper) right on top of the ice.
5. Cover the bowl with everything inside and put it right at the back of the fridge (this is the coldest area).
6. Store for a maximum of 48 hours.
7. If freezing, follow the same procedure. However, place the fish inside a freezer bag or container after washing it (don’t keep it wrapped in paper). Set the temperature to 0 degrees or below. Freeze for a maximum of 2 weeks.

Make your way over to Azzopardi Fisheries in St. Paul’s Bay, one of the best places to find fresh fish in Malta. Our assistants will be more than happy to offer their expertise if you need any help.

Come and view our display of rock fish, grouper, red mullet as well as an assorted and fresh collection of shellfish.

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