Look and learn Fresh whole fish should have clear, bright eyes and shiny skin and flesh. If they look dull in colour, they’re no longer in their prime. Check for rich red gills and make sure any liquid is clear rather than milky. Never buy fish that smell pungent – they should smell like clean water. If you’re allowed to, press your finger into the flesh. If your indentation disappears after a few seconds, it’s fresh. If your fingerprint remains, don’t buy it.
S-health-fish Shellfish are always sold alive, so tap on the shells – if they react by closing tighter, they’re alive. If they don’t, they’re probably dead. When cooking the shellfish later, discard any that haven’t opened during the cooking process. If you’re buying crab or lobster from the tank, look for happy, active ones, because motionless ones have probably been stuck in that tank for a few days. Grabbing some scallops? They’re usually sold shucked – it’s better to buy frozen, vacuum-sealed ones than the ones stored in brine.
Cod-versation A simple chat to your fishmonger will educate you. Ask them when new fish shipments arrive – then you can meet them and buy the freshest fish possible.
To market, to market Don’t buy ‘fresh’ fish from the supermarket, as it’s probably already been frozen and thawed. Instead, go to the finest seafood markets where turnover is quick and produce is fresh. But remember, the market shouldn’t stink any more than the fish should.
Eco eating Always by locally caught produce to support Australia’s seafood economy. Australia’s Sustainable Seafood Guide website or phone app will help you check which are the greenest fish choice for you.