Fresh Fish Article -
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Fresh Fish

Whether it is wild sockeye salmon in the Pacific Northwest, pompano in the Caribbean, or carp in China, the freshness of the fish you are buying is very important.

Fish are delicate creatures, and begin to deteriorate as soon as they are lifted from the water. If you're hoping to get your family hooked on fish, choosing the freshest fish available can make all the difference.

Choosing Fresh Fish

In the fish display section of your market, look for clean well-drained ice; whole fish should be stored directly on the ice. There should be no staining or greying areas on the ice, which might indicate that it's not changed frequently. If the fish is prepackaged, look for clean, dry materials.

Most importantly, there should not be a strong fishy smell. Fresh fish should smell like a sea breeze on an island in the Bahamas.

Spend a little time talking to the fishmonger. Find out who the wholesaler is, and where the fish was caught. Ask if the fish has been previously frozen. Flash-freezing techniques have improved to such an extent that texture is hardly affected by freezing, but a fish that was previously frozen then fish cannot be refrozen: it should be eaten on the day of purchase.

Ask for recommendations on choosing the fish, and how it is best prepared. A good fishmonger will know these things and more.

In choosing whole fresh fish, your senses are your best tool.

  • It should look as if it might jump up and swim away. The skin should be bright and shiny with close-fitting scales. Dry, dull flesh and loose scales are signs of age.
  • 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.
  • It may not be possible to poke and prod the fish before purchase, but the feel of the flesh is also an important indication of freshness. The flesh should be firm and elastic: when you press it, the flesh should bounce back, leaving no indentation.
  • Smell, as previously noted, is one of the most important indications of freshness. Fish should have a pleasant smell.

Browse our Fish Recipe Collection.

There are many good reasons to choose steaks and fillets. The cleaning is done for you, it is possible to buy just the right amount for your needs, and mealtime preparation is shortened. To choose steaks and fillets:

  • The flesh should be firm. It should appear moist; a whitish film on the surface indicates dehydration.
  • The coloring should be even. White-fleshed fish such as cod or bass should be white, with no darkened areas.

Browse our Fish Steak Recipe Collection.

Sep. 24, 2009 10:22 am
Excellent guidance on how to pick fresh fish. None of the grocers in my area are able to meet the requirements. The flesh of the fish is always too soft and doesn't bouce back. I wish we lived closer to the shores!
betty o 
Oct. 18, 2009 9:57 am
I am looking for salmon in a lemon butter sauce, please if there is a recipe out there i would love to have it!!!!
Dec. 6, 2009 7:27 am
a great recipe I use in my restaraunt, is grilled with Lemon Pepper and generous amount of homemeade tarter sauce,served with homemade fries and a scoop of coleslaw, its a hit
May 28, 2010 4:27 pm
Type in "Fish with Lemon Sauce." I found a recipe with lemon sauce.
rose wickham 
Mar. 8, 2011 1:36 pm
Salmon with lemon butter sauce, I use a cedar board bought from home depot for making fences.(make sure it hasn't been treated) cut into sink size peices so I can soak a board in the sink or a large roasting pan. I brush the salmon fillet with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic pwder.Then put it on the soaked board, put the board directly on the propane grill on medium heat, and close the grill. It will start smoking after about 10-12 minutes check the salmon....1 minute before it is done I mix fresh lemon juice and butter and garlic salt then baste the salmon with this cook one minute longer, take it off , board and all and put it on a insulated cookie sheet and serve after the board stops smoking.( My cookie sheet is an insulated one so I can put it on the table) My husband cuts up about 6 boards and keeps them on hand so I just grab a board when ever I want :)
Mar. 11, 2011 12:36 pm
I like the new inexpensive Swai fish. It is here in NY 3.99 lb. I stir fry in garlic butter. My husband who only eats shrimp cocktail-- love it.
Mar. 14, 2011 4:08 pm
hey...doesn't anyone here eat smelts?? or fresh sardines?? or whitebait?? or silverfish?? not one I better post some eh??
Apr. 21, 2011 10:52 am
Your funny Plaisham!You must be from the Old School most people want some kind of farm raised fillet they can bread and through in a pan I an Greek and enjoy what your looking for and the truth is if you eat more sardines smelts and silverfish I don't know what whitebait is there wouldn't be any reason to take a fish oil supplement Smelts are easy and I only know one way to prepare them a little flour salt pepper and fry them till they are crisp head tail and fins Sardines I season them bake for 15 minuets or so and then simmer them in tomato sauce and basil a few crackers a beer and your in Gods world Happy Easter
May 13, 2011 8:23 am
Why are there not many recipes on perch fish. It is a very tasty fish
Jun. 9, 2011 4:23 am
I live near the sea and FRESH fish is nowhere to be found. I am told the fishermen send it all overseas as they can make more money that way. I know they need all they can get, but I sure miss getting in my Grandpa's boat and hooking my own. Oh how I LOVE fresh seafood!!!
Jul. 25, 2011 8:00 am
I'd like to find agood recipe for mackerel, I remember my mother-in-law's cooking it in the oven with a sauce she made on the stove with onion,garlic, bell pepper and tomato, while the whole fish were roasting on foil in the oven. She placed them in a dish and poured the sauce over them, topping with lemon slices, served with soft polenta, it was finger-liking good! Sounds familiar to anyone? I'd like to see at least one recipe, thanks.
Feb. 26, 2012 9:16 pm
This is great info on how to buy fish. I live in India & it really helps me how to buy the fresh catch of the day. Thanks.
May 17, 2012 8:50 am
please a recipe for ''whole fresh bass''........head gone...!!!! thanks
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