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How to Buy Fresh Fish

Fresh fish is a delicate food that can be cooked in a variety of ways, and even eaten raw. Purchasing the highest quality can be tricky, but it's easier if you know what to look for.


  • Step 1: Go to a reputable fish market Go to a reputable fish market. If you live near the ocean, this is easy enough. If you don't, you may have to ask around, search for online reviews, or rely on your instincts.
  • Step 2: Check the eyes Look at the fish's eyes if you are buying whole fish. They should be clear, not cloudy. If the eyes are cloudy, then the fish is old.
  • Step 3: Check the flesh Press the flesh to test it for elasticity. The flesh should be firm and springy, and it should appear shiny.
  • TIP: Dark spots and bruises on the flesh indicate poor quality.
  • Step 4: Smell the fish Smell the fish. It should not have a strong, "fishy" odor. Most fresh fish should smell faintly of the ocean. Fresh flounder should have no smell at all, and white fish should smell of melon or cucumber.
  • Step 5: Check the gills Look at the fish's gills, which should be wet and appear bright red or bright pink. If they are faded or graying, or if the gills are dry or slimy, the fish is old.
  • Step 6: Check for separation Check for separation or gaps in the flesh of fillets. The flesh on a fish fillet should be tight with no separation. If there is any liquid on the meat it should be clear and not milky or slimy. A fresh fillet from a white fish should be translucent and not discolored.
  • Step 7: Check smoked fish Feel smoked fish to check for firmness. Fresh smoked fish should never be sticky and should appear glossy and have a smoky aroma. However you like your fish prepared, the closer it is to when it was caught, the fresher the taste will be.
  • FACT: The largest fish in the ocean is the whale shark, which can grow more than 50 feet long and weigh more than two tons.

You Will Need

  • Fish market
  • Whole fish
  • Discerning senses
  • Fish fillets
  • Smoked fish

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