Fresh Fish: What to Look For

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The American Heart Organization recommends including fish in your diet at least twice a week. Not only does fish include a lot of protein, fish can also be relatively low in fat and calories and rich in Omega 3 fatty acids. Knowing what to look for when purchasing fresh fish will not only make for a better meal, but it can also keep you from getting sick.

Ask About Freshness

In the ideal situation, you would be able to eat any kind of fish that you could ever want right after the fish is pulled from the water. Unless you only eat local fish you purchase right off the boat, you'll most likely be buying your fish at a grocery store or specialty fish market.

No matter where you buy your fish, it is important to ask what the "fresh" label means. Does "fresh" mean that the fish arrived today or four days ago?

Look at How the Fish is Displayed

Markets should display fish on fresh beds of ice. The case should also be refrigerated so that the ice doesn't melt. It is even better if the display has a plastic cover, one that you can see through and can be opened when necessary, but helps prevent insects and other contaminants from coming in contact with the fish.

Beware of Fish Smells

If a fish smells "fishy," the fish is probably past its prime. In general, fresh fish should smell like the sea if the fish lived in the ocean. Fresh water fish should smell like fresh, clean river water.

If your nose is trained, individual types of fish have different smells when fresh. For example, when fresh:

  • The smell of whitefish may resemble cucumbers.
  • The smell of halibut should be smoky.
  • The smell of salmon may resemble cucumbers or melon.