Go Fish! Buying High-Quality, Affordable Fish and Seafood

by Gina Blitstein · 0 comments

Most home cooks know their way around the three most popular sources of protein: beef, chicken and pork, but some may feel less comfortable buying fish and seafood. That’s probably because fresh fish and seafood isn’t “native” to all parts of the country and many are therefore unfamiliar with certain types. Although high-quality fish and seafood may be readily available nationwide, some people may still be stumped about how to buy it at an affordable price. The following information will hopefully guide those who remain trepidatious about buying high-quality fish they’ll enjoy without spending more than necessary.

Guidelines for buying fish and seafood

  • Fresh – If you can find it – and if the price is right, fresh fish and seafood is preferable. Whole fish looks fresh, with bulging eyes and bright red or pink gills. Filets should appear freshly cut and have moist flesh. Fresh fish and seafood should have a mild smell and should under no circumstances smell strong or “fishy.”
  • Frozen – If the fresh fish and seafood you want isn’t available, up to quality standards or you simply want to have it on hand longer than a day or two, frozen is a marvelous option. Frozen fish and seafood can deliver an abundance of variety and nearly the same quality and flavor as fresh. Great frozen fish and seafood also has a mild smell and no ice crystals or blood present.
  • Previously frozen – Many butcher cases feature fish and seafood that appears fresh but is identified as, “previously frozen.” This fish and seafood is a fine choice, as long as you find out just how long it has been thawed to be certain it will remain fresh until you’re ready to prepare it. If you’re assured that the fish or seafood has been properly thawed, you may be able to refreeze it, although when you do, there may be a loss of quality and/or flavor.

Tips for finding quality, affordable fish and seafood

  • Get to know a butcher/fishmonger – Finding quality fish and seafood is all about knowledge – and who knows more about such things as a butcher or fishmonger? If you’re fortunate enough to have a fresh fish market nearby, it should be easy to develop a relationship with a helpful person in-the-know behind the counter. If, like many landlocked Americans, you shop for your seafood at the grocery store, you’ll want to discover a butcher who knows the ins and outs of fish and seafood to steer you toward wise purchases.
  • Learn the store’s discounting practice for fish and seafood – Regardless of where you buy your fish and seafood, inquire about when their fresh shipments are delivered. Stores often discount perishables like fish and seafood the day before the new shipment arrives. This tip may allow you to enjoy fresh fish and seafood more affordably.
  • Research pricing of fish and seafood – You’ll be able to judge a good price for fish and seafood if you’ve done your homework prior to shopping. Tilapia, cod and perch are on the less-expensive side, though fish and seafood prices can vary according to the time of year. Some fish and seafood may be more affordable when it’s “in season” in the area where you live, and some (like salmon, yellowfin tuna, shrimp, crab and lobster) are simply more expensive than others. Fish and seafood prices go down when demand is higher, like during Lent, when many people go meatless.

You can serve up high quality, affordable fish and seafood when you know what to look for  and expect in the marketplace.

How do you find affordable, high-quality fish and seafood?

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