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

Fantastic fish recipes

Prawn and avocado cocktail in an avocado skin

This prawn cocktail recipe uses prawns and avocado and is served in an avocado skin. If looking for recipes for prawn cocktail, this prawn avocado is great served with triangles of brown bread and butter.

Mussels in wine

This mussels recipe is for mussels in a cream and white wine sauce. This mussels in wine recipe is great if you are looking for a straightforward recipe for mussels.

Skate wings

This skate wing recipe is for skate wings served with darkened butter and capers. This skate wings recipe looks great on the plate and tastes fantastic.

Recipe for sprats

This starter recipe shows how to cook sprats. This sprats recipe is served with a horseradish sauce and you could use whitebait instead of sprats if you wish.

King prawns in tempura batter

This prawn recipe is for king prawns in tempura batter. This prawns in batter recipe makes a great starter or snack and is great served with sweet chilli mayonnaise.

Baked salmon with a herb crust

This salmon recipe is for baked salmon with a herb crust. If looking for salmon recipes, this baked salmon recipe will be ideal.

Smoked haddock chowder

This smoked haddock recipe is for a smoked haddock chowder. If looking for a recipe for haddock, this smoked haddock chowder will be ideal.

Smoked salmon sushi style

If looking for salmon recipes, this recipe with smoked salmon is worth a go. This salmon recipe is served sushi style with sushi dressing and sushi rice.

Fillet of cod in beer batter

This recipe for cod has a fillet of cod cooked in a beer batter. If looking for cod recipes, this cod in beer batter will be ideal and is great served with a pea puree and chunky chips.

Fillet of plaice

This fish recipe is for a fillet of plaice. If looking for recipes for plaice, this pan-fried fillet of plaice will be ideal.