Essential tips for buying fish

The following gives some essential tips for buying fish as well as what to look out for when buying.  Information is also available on the different ways of cooking fish.  There are also some great recipes for fish for you to try.

Essential tips for buying fish

  • Fresh fish is becoming an expensive food item these days, so try to buy the best you can find.  The best place will always be from one of the many little fishing ports all around the coastline
  • The next best thing is to find a very good fishmonger in your area.  If there is a market near you, you will very often find a stall or two selling really fresh fish.  Great places to buy fish
  • Gutting and boning a fish is not one of the most glamourous jobs in the kitchen.  Again, having a good fishmonger is essential.  If you ask, they will have your fish cleaned within seconds and ready for you to cook.  And, if you have purchased any white fish such as cod or plaice, ask for the bones to make your fish stock
  • If buying whole fish such as mackerel or herring, look at the eyes.  They should be bulging, bright and clear, whereas as the fish gets older, the eyes become more sunken and dull looking.  If you check the gills, they should be deep red in colour, rather than dry and greyish.  If the fish has been filleted, so there are no eyes or gills to check, then check the flesh itself.  It should be firm and really glimmer at you.  An older fish will be dry, soft to touch and very often limp and turning up around the edges
  • It may sound silly, but we don’t want fresh fish to smell fishy, but just a pleasant odour of the sea.  Fish that is not so fresh will smell unpleasantly fishy and you may have a smell of ammonia.  If you find this, even more so with flat fish such as plaice, sole and skate, please don’t buy it
  • When buying fish such as smoked haddock, buy fillets that have been smoked naturally and not the bright orange, yellow stuff we see so much of.   The few extra pennies it will cost you will be well rewarded

Essential tips for cooking fish

  • You can always exchange the fish in the recipe, e.g. cod to haddock or plaice to lemon sole, or salmon to sea bass.  Same as with most things in cooking, cook what you like best and will enjoy
  • Most fish are quite delicate not only to handle but also in their flavours.  Remember, any flavours you add to your fish should also be delicate and not overpowering. Although some fish (e.g. monkfish) are much more meaty and will cope with stronger flavour
  • Most fish are quite delicate and need to be handled lightly.  Try not to overcook your fish.  Small fish such as squid will only take a few seconds and scallops about 1 minute on each side and they want to be eaten instantly.  Larger flat fish such as plaice or sole, when shallow fried, will take about 2 minutes on each side depending on the thickness of the fillet, whereas a more meaty fish such as a monkfish will take maybe up to 7 or 8 minutes


User Rating

0 (0 Votes)



author-avatar is different to all other cooking websites in that it shows you the preparation ('mise en place') you need before cooking and provides simple videos and step-by-step instructions for great tasting recipes and all the skillls and tips you need.