Read these 9 Buying Fresh Seafood Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Seafood tips and hundreds of other topics.
One of the most popular fish in America recently is tilapia. According to some sources, it is currently one of the top ten seafoods in this country. What is tilapia and how do you buy it? Tilapia is a freshwater fish that has a mild, sweet flavor. Its flesh is usually white (however there is a red variety) and it has a flaky, yet firm structure. It is very low in calories and high in protein -- making for both a healthy and nutritious meal. Its versatility stems from the fact that it absorbs the flavors of whatever it is cooked with. Plus, fresh tilapia can easily be cooked either by steaming, baking, broiling, stir frying, or pan frying. Tilapia is seen quite commonly in sushi bars.
When buying fresh tilapia, you should notice a mild smell similar to that of the ocean. It should be a fresh smelling scent. Avoid it if it is an unpleasant odor, as in any whole fresh fish. Also look for clear eyes, clean gills (no dirt, grime, or slime), and scales that are moist, shiny, and tightly connected to the body. When buying fresh tilapia fillets, make certain there is no excess water in the package.
To store fresh tilapia, rinse it with cold water and pat dry. Wrap it in plastic wrap and put in a open container covered with ice. You can keep it this way for up to two days.
A very easy way to enjoy tilapia is by baking it. Simply put some dabs of butter on it. Sprinkle with some herbs and bake at 350 for about 10 minutes, until a fork can break apart the flesh. When ready to eat, squeeze some fresh orange over it. Viola! There you have a tasty, citrusy fresh seafood delight.
When buying your fresh seafood, you need to be careful where you buy it. There are some things to look for to ascertain the freshness. Here are some tips for you to follow:
Notice the smell. Upon entering the establishment, notice the overall aroma. If it reeks of fish, turn around and leave. A good fish store will have a pleasant, sometimes ocean-like smell. Any store that has a foul smell can assure you that the seafood it is selling is just as foul.
Notice the location. Fish stores located directly on the piers, where ships can unload their catch, are great. You can watch the fresh seafood being taken from the boats to the stores. How much more fresh can you get? If you go to your local grocery store, notice how clean the seafood case is. You do not want to see any blood soaked towels, unkept displays, or dirty signs. Cleanliness is important.
Notice the reputation. What kind of reputation does the establishment have? Is it highly recommended by others? Is it known for having knowledge about fresh seafood? Is it trustworthy? A good reputation is important. It can assure you that when they state your seafood is fresh, you can trust them to mean it.
Notice the handling. When watching fish mongers handling the fresh seafood that you may buy, notice if they appear clean. You don't want someone handling your fresh fish that looks like they have never cleaned their hands. Also notice the cleanliness of the knives and other equipment they use to handle your fresh seafood.
Buying fresh seafood can be fun and safe. Just be certain you know how to do it properly.
Sometimes you may want to buy your fresh seafood precut or sliced. Two of the most popular cuts are fillets and steaks. For starters, a fillet is a cut of fresh fish that is sliced sideways. Filleting does not mean that the bones are taken out. It is simply a cut of fresh fish. A steak is a straight cut through the bones.
When buying fresh fish that is pre-cut, there are some things to look for and do to make certain of its freshness:
Flesh. Your fresh fish fillets or steaks should be a clear, bright color. There should be no dull coloring of the flesh. If there is, do not buy it. The flesh should be moist but not slimy. Sliminess is a sure indicator of aging seafood. There should be no bruising or reddening of the flesh, either.
Edges. There should be no discoloration around the edges of your fresh fish pieces. If there is, do not buy it.
Smell. Same as buying a whole fresh fish, smell the fresh fish fillet or steak that you are interested in.
Ask. Ask your butcher when the fillet was cut (if it is pre-cut when you see it). If possible, also ask when the fish was flown in and where it came from. If your butcher states he does not know, use your best judgment. Smell it for disagreeable odors. That is probably your best indicator of freshness.
Prepackaged. You take a greater chance of losing freshness when you buy prepackaged seafood. There should be a packaged date on the label, at the very least. Be sure that it is not older than two days, and be sure to smell it and look at it closely. There should be little liquid in the package.
Red Lobster offers its customers a great way to enjoy buying fresh fish fillets without all the hassle. They offer online buying and shipping of a variety of fresh fish. By buying from Red Lobster, you are assured of the highest quality, freshest seafood around. Let them choose it for you. They also have gift cards available.
Here are some tips to help you when buying and storing fresh live oysters:
Is it alive? When buying fresh live oysters, be certain that the shell is closed. If the shell is slightly opened, if you gently tap on it and it closes, the oyster is alive. If the shell does not close, it is dead and you should discard (throw it away) immediately.
Shell. Look to see that the shell of the oyster is not cracked. It should not be slimy but moist. One of the shells should be what is known as "well cupped." In other words, the fresh oyster will be on/in one side of the shell. The other shell side will be empty.
Meat/flesh. When you crack open the shell (also known as 'shucking'), the fresh oyster meat should be covered with its own liquid. This liquid needs to be either slightly milky or a light gray color, or clear in nature. The flesh should also be plump in appearance. Also look to see that the flesh does not have any grit or shell bits in it.
Storing. Once you have purchased your fresh live oysters you will probably need to store them until you use them. The shelf life of a freshly shucked oyster is five to seven days. Storing live oysters involves a little more time. Fresh oysters in the shell can be stored for seven to ten days.
Store shucked fresh oysters in a plastic container, leak-proof bag, or covered jar. Oysters in the shell should be stored in a shallow dish covered with towels. Do not ever store live oysters in water or air-tight container since that will kill them. If you notice that the shell has opened a bit, tap on it. If it closes, the oyster is still alive.
At the grocery store and online, find fresh, frozen seafood in the frozen foods department and at the seafood counter. When buying frozen seafood, look for solidly frozen packages. Do not buy fish, shellfish and other seafood that is stored above the chill line of the case. Do not buy seafood with freezer burns or icy white discoloration.
When buying fresh seafood or shellfish, use your eyes, nose and hands. Buy only the freshest catch of fish and seafood. For whole fish, the eyes should be clear and not sunken, and the gills should be red and free of slime. The scales should also be firmly attached, and the skin should be shiny and not faded. For dressed or filleted fish and seafood, avoid those that show signs of discoloration.
When purchasing fresh or thawed seafood from the seafood counter, let your eyes and nose be the judge. Good quality seafood smells sea fresh. It should not have a strong odor or smell "fishy." Fish fillets should appear moist, firm and freshly cut. Shellfish should be bright in color with no discoloration or dryness. Prepackaged seafood should contain only a minimum amount of liquid.
Seafood is an excellent source of minerals. Fish are one of the most important sources of calcium. The soft bones of small fish such as sardines and smelts and canned varieties such as salmon are especially valuable sources of calcium. Other minerals in seafood include zinc (oysters and crustaceans), iron (oysters, bluefish, and shrimp), copper (oysters, crabs, and lobster), potassium (mussels, scallops, and clams), and iodine, phosphorus, and selenium (all seafood in general). Fresh seafood is low in sodium. For those who have to restrict the intake of sodium, fresh seafood is an excellent choice, although you should limit your intake of processed seafoods such as smoked, cured, and most canned seafoods.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|