Christmas is usually the time of year Australian shell out their hard earned money and buy seafood. But for the inexperienced seafood purchaser, choosing fresh seafood can be a scary prospect! Today we show you how to tell if the seafood is fresh or not, and what to look out for! For the very freshest seafood, buy from a sea monger or at a supplier near the wharfs. Alternatively look for a busy seafood market. Markets that are busy have a high seafood turnover rate – guaranteeing the seafood you buy – is the freshest available!
Ensure that the shop you purchase your seafood from smells fresh and not ‘fishy’ and is impeccably clean – this is always a good start!
The eyes should be clear and shiny, the longer the fish has been out of water, the more dull and cloudy the eyes become. The skin appear undamaged and be shiny and metallic. If it has dull patches or isn’t shiny – avoid it. Have a peek at the gills too, they should be red and vibrant. The fish should also smell like the ocean, not fishy.
Prawns are the most popular seafood purchased at Christmas time. They can be purchased raw or cooked, peeled or unpeeled and come in all sorts of sizes. Most seafood suppliers will cook the prawns on the morning of the sale – if there doesn’t appear to be a high turnover of prawns, ask your supplier when they were cooked. They should be bright orange in colour and not damaged or crushed.
Raw prawns should smell fresh (like the ocean) and have a green/blue hue to them.
Look for smooth and shiny shelled Mussels that smell like the ocean (not fish). Keep them wrapped in a damp cloth for the trip home and refrigerate them as soon as possible. Mussels should really be cooked on the day of purchase – they don’t last long so if you are keeping them in the fridge – remember buy as close to the serving date as possible!
To prepare mussels for cooking, scrub the shell well with a stiff brush and remove the beard. Rinse in cold clean water and drain well.
Fresh scallops should be white and firm to the touch and the roe should be bright orange. It should smell fresh like the ocean. Try and avoid freezing scallops if you can as they often taste ‘water-logged’ on defrosting and seem to retain a milky colour. Of course you can be pre-frozen vacuum sealed scallops which are quite good to have on hand, but fresh is best.