As caretakers, we want to feed our family healthy food without breaking our budgets.
Buying your fish whole is the easiest way to guarantee the highest quality, best tasting fish for your money. The skin on a whole fish gives a protective cover: ensuring more flavorful and juicy cuts. By purchasing the fish whole, you can check for the freshness and quality before it is dressed or sliced.
It is very important to purchase fish only from reputable sources. Fortunately, Seattle has many fish markets, including the great ones located in Pike Place Market. Fish deteriorates faster than meat: meaning it will quickly have more bacterial growth and less flavor.
The maximum holding time for nice fresh fish is about five days so it is very important to ask about its arrival as well as where it was brought in from. If you are concerned the fish in the display have not been kept cold enough, ask to have one brought out from the back.
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Steps to ensure you get the freshest fish:
Start by using your eyes:
Look for skin that is both moist and shiny. The gills should be moist as well and either red or pink. The eyes need to be crystal clear, bright and still be protruding. A fish with hazy, sunken eyes and/or dull dry skin should be passed up.
Next, use your nose:
Lean down and smell the fish. Really, you do need to do this. If they are behind glass, let them know you need to examine the fish closer. Sniff the fish in more than one area. You want to smell either nothing or a slight, mild scent. Never purchase a fish that has a strong fishy or sour smell.
Move onto your finger:
To do this step, either ask the person working the counter to give you a pair of gloves or simply use a piece of paper towel between you and the fish. Push down slightly on a fatty area of the fish. The flesh should be firm and yet, elastic enough to quickly bounce back. The skin should be moist and even a bit slippery which you can still tell without a bare finger. If you prefer, you can ask the person working the counter (who will be wearing gloves) to test the fish while you watch. Pass on any fish that has soft skin.
A final look-over:
After the fish has passed the above tests, give both sides a quick once over. If you see slime or any dark, bruised spots move on to another fish.
Once you find the freshest fish, have them either wrap it whole, dress or slice it immediately. Keep it as cold as possible, preferably in a cooler, until you get home. Store the fish as cold as possible in your fridge. Cook the fish within 24 hours, rinsing it first in cold water.
Fish that is not going to be cooked right away needs to be double wrapped first and then put in the freezer for up to three months.
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