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How to tell if Seafood is Fresh

Tip 1:  Beware of Soggy Seafood
Fresh seafood looks firm and shiny, not soggy.  Sogginess indicates that the seafood has been processed, which typically means it was a lesser quality product to begin with and won’t be pleasing to the seafood lover’s palate.  Also, beware of anything in a pre-packed in buckets.  Pre-packed = processed!  If you suspect seafood to be processed, ask your retailer.

Tip 2:  Look Your Fish in the Eye
Remember, a fish’s eye are a clear indicator of freshness.  Cloudy eyes indicate that the fish has been on the shelf for a couple of days, whereas clear eyes indicate a recent catch. 

Tip 3: Look for Fresh Flesh
A more vibrantly colored flesh is an indication of freshness.  Color should not appear dull.  Fresh fish will be vibrant, glistening and firm to the touch.  Handle the fish, if possible.  Any indentation you make with your hands should spring back immediately.  Bright red gills are another indication of freshness.

Tip 4:  Beware of Fishy Fish
As my father “London” Lennie Barnes always told me: “Only bad fish smells fishy.”  Fresh seafood should smells like the sea.  If seafood has a sour “fish” smell, don’t buy it. 

Tip 5: Beware of Fake Fish
Fish is the most frequently mislabeled food.  Familiarize yourself with what each species of fish looks like and compare fish side by side. You’ll begin noticing small differences in color, markings, body shapes, fins, gils, etc that you did not notice at first glance.

Tip 6: Bargain = Bad
If seafood is being offered at bargain basement prices, it probably isn’t fresh.  Specialty seafood like Nantucket bay scallops, sea urchin and lobster are not supposed to be cheap.  Top notch Nantucket bay scallops fetch around $25/lb while popular Red Snapper fetches $15.0/lb on average.  Although some fish and seafood are less expensive than others, if seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Courtesy of Leslie Barnes, owner of London Lennie’s Seafood Restaurant in Rego Park, Queens, New York



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