Recognizing quality seafood is easy when you know what to look for.
Follow these guidelines when buying seafood, whether it's whole,
processed, or frozen. Always
purchase seafood from establishments that maintain these high quality standards.
Fresh - Whole or Dressed
Freshness is easiest to gauge when the fish is whole.
Look for these signs of quality in both whole and "dressed" fish:
- Appearance is bright and shiny.
- Scales are bright, most of them intact and adhering closely to the skin.
- Eyes are bright, clear, and full and often protrude.
- Gills are red - and indicatory that oxygen is present and the fish
is very fresh.
Gill color fades with time to light pink, then gray, and finally to greenish
or dull brown.
- Fish odor is fresh and mild, not "fishy".
- The flesh is firm and elastic, not separating from the bones.
Fish is often presented in processed forms, including fillets, steaks, and meat or
chunks. Look for these signs of freshness in pre-cut fish:
- Odor is fresh and mild.
- Flesh is moist, firm, and elastic and has a fresh-cut appearance
without traces of browning or drying around the edges.
- Pre-packaged steaks and fillets are in tightly wrapped packages,
with little or no air space between fish and wrapping material and
no liquid in the package.
And finally, here's what to look for in frozen seafood:
- Flesh is solid and there is no discoloration or freezer burn on the surface.
- Odor is fresh and mild, not "fishy".
- Wrapping material is moisture and vapor proof, fits closely around
the product, and is undamaged.
- Package does not contain ice crystals, or have water stains or other
indicators that the product may have been previously thawed.
- Packaged frozen seafood may have an expiration date stamped on the
label - always use the seafood before the expiration date.