All the dos and don'ts of choosing seafood for sustainability and health can begin to make your head swim. Here, 3 ways to simplify the process.
1. Recognize Fresh
When buying fresh catch, look for fish with clear eyes, bright-red gill rakers, and a glistening sheen on the skin. Buy a whole fish and have your monger fillet it in front of you—it will be in better shape than a fillet sitting out on ice. Save the head and bones, as they make great stock for soup and chowder. When shopping for mussels, clams, and oysters, choose ones with tightly sealed shells, a sign that they are less likely to contain pathogens.
2. Warm up to Frozen.
Ask if the “fresh” fish on the counter has been previously frozen. If it has, go to the freezer case and get the same product there. A piece of fish that has been carefully vacuum-sealed and frozen rather than sitting on ice will taste better. Also, you can use frozen fish at your convenience, defrosting as needed—allow 24 hours for it to thaw slowly in your refrigerator. Do not refreeze fish, as you can compromise the flesh and possibly introduce pathogens.
3. Plan ahead.
Fresh seafood with a high-fat content like mackerel, bluefish, sardines, and herring is best cooked the day it’s purchased, so buy these only if you plan to use them that night. Lower-fat-content “white” fish, like catfish or cod, keeps for as long as three days in the refrigerator.