- Fresh fish should have a mild sea breeze odor. A strong fishy or ammonia odor is not acceptable.
- Whole fresh fish should have bright, clear and shiny eyes. Scales should be shiny and cling tightly to the skin.
- Look for bright pink or red gills. Avoid any fish with sores or lesions on the skin.
- Steaks and fillets should be moist with firm and have shiny flesh. The flesh should spring back when pressed.
- At the market, make sure that cooked seafood products are not in contact with raw seafood products in the display case.
- “Shell on” products such as mussles and oysters should be purchased live. Shells of live oysters may gape naturally but will close tightly when tapped indicating they are alive.
- Fresh shucked oysters have a fresh odor. A clear slightly milky or light grey liquid should surround freshly shucked oysters.
HANDLING: PREPARATION OF SEAFOOD & SAFETY TIPS
- Always wash hands thoroughly with hot soapy water before and after handling raw seafood.
- Don’t leave seafood out of the refrigerator for more than two hours, including preparation time and time on the table.
- Never defrost seafood on the kitchen counter—use the refrigerator, or cold running water.
- Never place cooked food on a plate that previously held raw seafood.
- Always marinate fish or shellfish in the refrigerator, never at room temperature. Discard marinade after use.
- Wash containers, utensils, knives, plates, cutting boards and other surfaces touched by raw seafood with hot soapy water before reusing them.
TRANSPORTING & STORING
- Get seafood purchases home and into the refrigerator as quickly as possible. Don’t leave perishable items in hot cars for extended periods unless packed in ice or in a cooler. It is a good idea to transport seafood in an ice-packed cooler from the store to your home.
- Store fresh fish in its original wrapper.
- Keep seafood products cold to keep them safe. Maintain a refrigerator temperature between 2 degrees and 4 degrees Celsius and your freezer at -17 degrees Celsius or colder. You may want to keep your seafood purchase packed in ice in your refrigerator until you are ready to prepare it. Discard ice and wash containers thoroughly after use. This will doubly ensure your food will remain safe, wholesome and delicious.
- Oysters and clams should be refrigerated in containers covered with clean, damp cloths—not with airtight lids. Use fresh shellfish within one or two days.
- If you are not going to use your seafood within one or two days of purchase, freeze it. However, do not refreeze previously frozen products.
- Keep frozen fish and shellfish at -17 degrees Celsius For best quality use them within three to six months.
- The longer these foods are frozen, the more likely they are to loose flavor, texture and moisture.
- Refrigerate or freeze leftover cooked foods immediately in moisture proof packages or containers.
About Grilling Fish
Grilling seals in the moisture, nutrients, and flavour of the fish – so it’s no surprise that it’s one of the most popular methods of cooking fish. Our top tips for grilling:
- Be sure to baste the seafood during grilling, to prevent it from drying out.
- Place fish skin-side up.
- Score whole fish at the thickest part to enable the heat to penetrate.
- Cooking time, on a medium heat, is usually between 8 and 10 minutes.
About Baking Fish
Baking fish is perfect if you’re looking for a way to cook your seafood along with other vegetables, herbs or spices. Our top tips for baking:
- Fish can be baked either in an oven-proof dish or kitchen foil.
- Fish doesn’t benefit from high oven temperatures. Small whole fish, fillets, steaks and cutlets can be cooked for around 15-20 minutes at 200ºC/400ºF/gas mark 6. Large whole fish should be baked at 180ºC/350ºF/gas mark 4 for about 30-40 minutes.
- Delicate whitefish should be coated with oil or butter before baking.
About Poaching Fish
Poaching is fantastic if you’re looking for a way to cook your fish while keeping it moist and tender. Our top tips for poaching:
- Poach your fish in water, milk, stock, wine, or cider.
- Use the leftover poaching liquid to make a sauce for your fish.
- Cook the seafood just below boiling point.
- Poaching takes from 5 minutes, for cubes of fish, to 10-15 minutes.
About Shallow Frying Fish
If you don’t want to deep fry, shallow frying is probably the closest you’ll get to chip shop fish ‘n’ chips – it’s also a bit healthier. Our top tips for shallow frying:
- Coat the fish thoroughly in batter or breadcrumbs to protect the flesh and stop the fish from absorbing too much fat.
- Use seasonal flour and a small amount of oil for frying – just 2-3 tablespoons.
- Shallow frying should take around 4-5 minutes, and the fish should be turned once.
- Whitefish is fully cooked when its colour is an opaque white.
About Steaming Fish
Moisture is sealed in and vitamins are not lost through the water. This involves cooking the seafood by the heat of the steam between two plates over a large pan of boiling water or in a steamer. Because no liquid is required the seafood retains much of its original flavour and tenderness. Just add seasoning and a little lemon juice and steam for 5-10 minutes for thin fish fillets or 15-20 minutes for thicker pieces of fish or whole fish.
About Deep Frying Fish
Remember to coat the fish thoroughly in batter or breadcrumbs to protect the flesh and stop the fish from absorbing too much fat. Batter protects the fish and locks in the flavour and moisture, breadcrumbs provide a crunchy texture but aren’t as protective of the flesh. Don’t deep fry oily fish as it won’t have the same effect. Dust the fish with seasoned flour or with flour, egg, breadcrumbs, oatmeal or batter. Heat the oil to 180ºC/350ºF. Cook for approximately 4-6 minutes until it is golden brown and then drain on absorbent kitchen paper before serving.
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