How to Shop Like a Chef at the Seafood Counter

by Nicole Yorio, REDBOOK

How to get past the slime, scales, and fish eyes to shop like a chef.

1. Check for freshness. Whole fish are usually cheapest and freshest, so have one filleted instead of buying pre-cut pieces. When selecting a swimmer, look for bright, clear, protruding eyes and shiny skin. On fish fillets, the skin should also be glistening and metallic. And all seafood should smell of the ocean or clean water. At home, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and set it on ice in the fridge until you cook it.

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2. Make smart swaps. Is the fish you came for looking a little past its prime? Don't derail your dinner; just get something with a similar texture and flavor. Arctic char, salmon, and tuna are interchangeable, as are catfish and tilapia. Ditto swordfish, halibut, and monkfish. If there's no striped bass, you can sub in red snapper, sea bass, or mahimahi.

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3. Use a fishmonger if you can. Grocery stores often buy in bulk and freeze their catches, then thaw them in less-than-fresh batches. A fishmonger gets fresh fish in every day - and, if you live near water, probably goes to the boat himself to make his picks. Plus, fishmongers are great at answering all your questions about how to select, prep, and cook.

Once you found your perfect fish, try one of these delicious and surprisingly healthy fish recipes (ready in just 10 minutes!).
Read more: Serving Dish - Cooking Blog - Redbook


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