When you buy seafood, especially in larger cities, you’ll often see shops selling pre-opened fish. That is, the fish have already been cleaned and gutted, so you just need to grab it, pop the head in the fridge, and eat it within the week – minimal effort and maximum flavour.
What’s more, freshly opened fish sauce has a considerably better flavour than the stuff that’s been sitting in a fridge for a couple of weeks. You can put that down to freshness: nothing beats the taste of raw fish, freshly cooked fish, or any other form of live food when it’s been freshly caught, quickly prepared, and served. It’s almost like it was made just for you.
The Evolution Of Fish
Of course, that way of thinking was largely limited to wealthy people living in large cities. You won’t find many people – certainly, not in rural areas – who could spend their time and money on fresh seafood. Especially not when there are cheaper and easier options available.
That is, until the twentieth century. With the rise of supermarkets and the conveniences of fast food, people started to realize that they could buy cheap frozen fish and enjoy the benefits of fresh fish at the same time. It was only a matter of time before freezer packaging made its way into the mainstream and allowed people to stock their freezers with all kinds of fish, including exotic species that were previously only available at high-end restaurants.
Where Can I Buy Fresh Fish?
It depends what kind of fish you want to buy. You’re obviously not going to want to freeze a whole fish, so you’ll have to decide whether to go for whitefish, which you can buy frozen, cleaned, and pre-stuffed, or salmon, which you can buy fresh, whole, or portions.
If you want to keep your fish fresh, the best thing to do is to buy it live. That is, frozen or chilled fish is best avoided. The same goes for fish that have been frozen and then defrosted. The enzymes in the water deteriorate the quality of the fish, and you’ll end up with something that tastes inferior, not to mention that it may also be harmful to your health.
So, you’ll either have to go for live fish if you want to eat it fresh, or you’ll have to order it frozen and pre-stuffed, which is essentially the same thing. In either case, the fresher the better, especially when it comes to salmon, as any older the salmon is, the more runny and fishy it will taste.
How Long Does Fresh Fish Stay Fresh?
It depends on the kind of fish you buy. Certain fish, like salmon, can be stored in the fridge for up to a week. Other fish, like sea bass, can only be stored for a couple of days, so you may as well eat it the moment you get it.
The same goes for frog legs. You may want to buy them and stick them in the freezer straight away, as they won’t keep for very long. Even then, you may want to eat them within a couple of weeks, as they start to lose their freshness once they’re frozen. So, the quicker you eat it, the better. Just make sure you pull them out of the freezer when you’re ready to cook, so they don’t ice up and become tough.
Should I Buy Whole Fish Or Portions?
Once you’ve bought your fish, you may want to consider buying portions rather than buying the whole fish. Not only will you be able to prepare it in a variety of ways, depending on the season and what you have available, but you’ll also be able to gauge how much you need, rather than having to make a purchase you may not need.
For example, a three-and-a-half-pound piece of fish may seem like a lot to buy, especially if you’re on a tight budget. However, if you pull that amount into equal portions, you’ll have a bit more than you need to enjoy a complete and satisfying meal (excluding sauce, of course, which you’ll need to buy separately).
So, instead of buying a three-and-a-half pound whole fish, you may want to consider buying a fifteen-pound striper or a twenty-pound bass.
What Season Is Best For Fish?
The best time to buy fish is when it’s fresh off the water and still alive. That is, the water in which the fish have swum is preferable to any other kind of water. Even better would be to buy your fish live and cook it as soon as you get it.
Now, in some cases, you may not be able to keep the exact same flavour profile when cooking your fish. For example, if you buy a large fish, you may end up with portions that aren’t equal. If you want to keep the same taste, then you may have to adjust the spices or change the way you prepare it.
However, in most cases, you can still prepare and enjoy your fish regardless of what stage it’s in.
Also, make sure to look at the quality of the fish you buy. For example, if you see that most of the fish in a shop are pale, dry, and lifeless, chances are, they were frozen some time ago and haven’t been thawed out yet. That kind of fish won’t taste the same as the fresh stuff you can find in a market. Especially if you’re buying something that’s already been frozen, there’s no need to defrost it first. That just takes time and is unnecessary work.
What Are The Ingredients In Fish Sauce?
While it’s relatively easy to buy fresh fish, preparing it and serving it in a variety of ways can be quite time-consuming. For that reason, many people end up buying pre-made or pre-packed fish sauces, which is exactly what you’ll find if you click on the link to the right. In most cases, these soups and sauces contain a high percentage of corn, which may contribute to the increase of diabetes in the American population.
If you want to keep your fish fresh, eat it raw. Or, at the very least, cook it quickly (cooking it too long will result in its deterioration) and remove the skin, which is quite difficult. The less fat you have when cooking the fish, the better. That is, the healthier it will be for you, both nutritionally and from a flavour perspective. Otherwise, most of the flavour will be extracted from the fat during the cooking process.
When you buy fish, you’ll always need to decide whether to buy whole fish or portions. When it comes to portions, you may want to consider buying smaller fish, as they tend to be less expensive, and you won’t have to worry about over or under-ordering.
Also, when you get your fish, make sure to cook it quickly – the less you cook it, the more fresh and tasty it will remain. And, finally, make sure to buy the best quality fish you can afford, as it will make a considerable difference in the overall taste of your meal. So, if you’re on a tight budget, buy the cheapest, ugliest fish you can find and still prepare it thoroughly. You’ll be glad you did – it might even be delicious!