At Aprons & Hammers, we believe that the key to serving delicious seafood dishes starts with selecting the freshest and best quality seafood. Here are our top tips for picking the perfect seafood at a market, so you can enjoy a delicious seafood feast at home.
First and foremost, it's important to shop at a reputable market that specialises in seafood and has a high turnover of products. This will ensure that the seafood you're buying is as fresh as possible.
Avoid markets that have a lot of seafood on display for a long time, as this could be a sign that the seafood is not being properly stored.
When you're at the market, take a good look at the seafood on display. Fresh fish should have clear eyes, shiny scales, deep red gills, and a firm flesh. Fresh shellfish should be closed tightly and should not have any cracks or holes. If the shell is open, they should close tightly when you tap gently on them indicating they are still alive.
Another thing to pay attention to is the smell of the seafood. Fresh seafood should have a mild, ocean-like smell. If the seafood you're looking at has a strong or fishy smell, it's probably not very fresh.
Always consider the seasonality of the fish, some fish are only available at certain times of the year, so it's best to buy them when they're in season. For example, Wild salmon is best from May to September. Although good quality fresh farmed salmon is readily available all year round.
Check for a tag that shows when the shellfish was harvested and make sure it's harvested within 24 hours of purchase.
When buying shrimp, pay attention to the size and count. The count tells you how many shrimp are in a pound, and the size tells you the approximate size of each shrimp. The smaller the count, the larger the shrimp.
Educate yourself on the correct color for the type of shrimp that you are interested in so that you can detect abnormal colors. Shrimp can be of varying colors from greenish to brown depending on the variety. Shrimp that has spots of pink on the surface and white meat may not have been properly iced which will not only cause it to lose its freshness, but also means that it might be partially cooked.
The shell should have a firm and glossy appearance. Black spots on the shell and head are an indication that the shrimp is no longer fresh.
Be wary of chlorine smells as well as this is often used to mask offensive odours of shrimp that were not handled properly.
If buying crab or lobster, it's best to buy them live. Live crabs and lobsters should be lively and active.
A general guideline is that the meat of a crab is approximately ¼ of its total weight. Held in the hand, it should have a nice heft to indicate that the shell is full of juicy meat, rather than a lightweight one that’s mostly shell.
When you get home, store your seafood properly. Fresh fish should be wrapped in paper or plastic and kept on ice. Fresh shellfish should be stored in the refrigerator and should be eaten within 24 hours of purchase. Frozen seafood should be stored in the freezer and should be thawed in the refrigerator before cooking.
By following these guidelines, you'll be able to pick the freshest and best quality seafood at the market, ensuring a delicious seafood feast at home. And of course, don't hesitate to come and visit us at Aprons & Hammers and enjoy our delicious seafood dishes made with the freshest ingredients.