The Fish Buyer's Guide

Before deciding whether to grill, poach or fry, check out these pro tips for selecting the perfect fish.

 

It’s All in the Eyes
When purchasing whole fish, the eyes are indeed a great indicator of freshness. Ideally, the eyes should be clear, shiny and plump, as if the fish has just been pulled from the water. If the eyes are dull, sunken or cloudy, it’s best to pass.

A Good Body
The body of the fish should be nice and glossy and shimmery, with no discolouration or change in texture over the length of the fish. Like the eyes, gills are another great immediate indicator of freshness. Fresh fish will have bright red gills: the brighter the gill, the fresher the fish. The tail and fins should be healthy and intact, too. Any damage here usually means that the fish was mishandled or netted for too long.

The Hands-On Test
If you don’t mind getting your hands dirty, ask your fish monger if you can feel the produce. Cold, wet and slippery are all good signs, but slimy definitely isn’t. Give the fish a gentle prod to check if its flesh is firm and springs back to its normal shape. If it feels soft, it’s best to avoid.

No Bones About It
Fillets might not look as impressive as a whole fish, but they save you having to rake through your meal for any hidden bones. White fish like snapper, barramundi and whiting should be almost translucent. Bigger game fish such as marlin and swordfish will have a bit more colour. Darker fish, like tuna and salmon should be bright and saturated in colour, with good contrast between the flesh and fat. The poke test works equally well with fillets, which should be firm and springy.

The Nose Knows
The most obvious signal that fish, whole or filleted, is past its used-by date is the smell. Fresh fish generally has a very neutral odour specific to its habitat. If it smells too fishy, ironically, it’s probably past its prime.

To find the freshest catch, head to Central Seafood Market (Level 1, Shop 1094).