- How can I tell if the fish is fresh?
Your senses are your best tool for choosing fresh fish. First choose a likely specimen, and look at it closely. It should look as if it is about to swim away. The skin should be bright and shiny with close fitting scales. A layer of transparent mucus allows the fish to glide through the water when alive, and makes the fish gleam on the shelf. Dry, dull flesh is a sign of age, as are loose scales. The eyes should be clear and bulging; if the fish has sunken or cloudy eyes look for a fresher specimen. Gills should be reddish and damp, not sticky.
- What is the best fish for batter frying--as in 'fish and chips'?
Usually, inexpensive white fish is used to make fish and chips. However, you can use almost any firm fleshed fish for batter-fried fish. Cod, haddock, halibut, dogfish, catfish, red snapper and flounder are good choices.
- What oils are best for deep frying?
When deep-frying, it is best to use neutrally flavored oil with a high smoke point, such as safflower or corn oil. The smoke point is the stage at which heated fat begins to emit smoke and acrid odors, and impart an unpleasant flavor to foods. The higher the smoke point, the better suited a fat is for frying. Because both reusing fat and exposing it to air reduces its smoke point, it should be discarded after being used three times. Though processing affects an individual fat's smoke point slightly, the ranges for some of the more common fats are: butter (350 degrees F); lard (361 degrees to 401 degrees F); vegetable shortenings (356 degrees to 370 degrees F); vegetable oils (441 degrees to 450 degrees F)-corn, grapeseed, peanut and safflower oils all have high smoke points, while that of olive oil is relatively low (about 375 degrees F).
- What is the difference between bay scallops and sea scallops?
There are many scallop species, but in general they're classified into two broad groups--bay scallops and sea scallops. Bay scallops, generally found only on the East Coast, are very tiny (the muscle is about 1/2 inch in diameter). They average about 100 per pound and their meat is sweeter and more succulent than that of the sea scallop. The muscle of the larger, more widely available sea scallop averages 1 1/2 inches in diameter (about 30 to the pound) and is not as tender as the smaller varieties. Though slightly chewier, the meat is still sweet and moist.
Firmly grasp the shrimp with your thumb and forefinger. Carefully rip off its legs. Gently peel away the shell (if you leave the tail on, the shrimp won't curl up). Using a sharp paring knife, cut a shallow line down the back of the shrimp. Using the tip of the knife, find the vein, and pull it out.