Very often, when we are choosing fish, clams, cockles, oysters and other seafood for our table, we do not know how fresh they are, especially if you are the type to shop at a supermarket or a morning market. Stale seafood can be the cause of food poisoning if you are not careful and can taste rotten as well.
Fresh seafood not only keeps us disease free, it also guarantees that your cooking tastes excellent and all the natural flavours of the seafood are highlighted. Here’s how to tell good seafood from bad ones:
Frozen Prepackaged Fish
Frozen fish should be firm with not pockets of air or water in the package. It should also not have any traces of ice in the vacuum packaging either. Do not buy the fish if there are any white dehydrated areas visible as this is a sign of freezer burn. Also, vacuum packaged fish is better than if they are wrapped over fish.
After purchase, you should not thaw your fish at room temperature but place it in the refrigerator for 18 to 24 hours. For a quick defrost, place it under cool, running water. Never refreeze a fish that has been thawed.
Fresh fish should have a mild marine smell and not a bad fishy odour. Also the flesh should be firm enough to spring back when you press it. The fish you choose should not show any signs of drying or browning at the edges either. Use fresh fish within 2 days of purchase.
Clams and Mussels
The clams and mussels you buy must still be alive when you purchase them. The way to tell they’re still alive is if their shells are tightly closed. If the shell is open, a slick flick should cause them to close tightly. If not, you have a dead clam which you should not buy. At home, store them in an open container so they can breath and not in a plastic bag.
Oyster are sold either shucked or still in their full shell. Those in the shell should be firmly closed, just like clams and mussels. If they are shucked, the flesh should be creamy and the liquid clear.
Fresh prawns must have a firm flesh and be odour-free, or only have a mild smell.
Crabs should be bought alive so check for movement when you buy them. If you are buying frozen crabs, make sure they are frozen through and show no signs of decay by sniffing them.