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Tips for buying fresh seafood

May 7, 2009

Cooking seafood is not my forte. Not sure if anyone thinks like me, but how toseafood-blog shop for and cook seafood is kind of a daunting task. I stick with the one fish I know how to cook: salmon. I figure since I live in a state surrounded by water on three sides that maybe I should start trying to incorporate more fish into my diet. Unfortunately, salmon is not one of the fish caught in Florida, so I never get it truly ‘fresh’.  So maybe I should try to find a fish I like that is caught locally.

I have two fears when it comes to seafood: how to buy it and how to cook it. I suppose that basically sums up the entire process. I guess you could consider me lucky, I do work with a chef who knows a lot about seafood. So I talked to him and got some tips on how to shop for seafood. I also did a little research (we also have a great seafood bureau), so I’ve got plenty of resources at my disposal. Now if only I could start to like fish…Anyways, here some things I learned about buying fresh (Florida if you can) seafood.

10 Tips for buying fresh Florida seafood:

1. Try to buy exactly how much seafood you need. Chef Justin recommends 4 – 6 ounces per person.

2. Talk with the person at the counter and ask them what is fresh. They should know. Watch out for the ‘previously frozen’ sign… try to get fresh.

3. That leads me into the 3rd tip. If you have a reputable seafood store in town (like here in Tallahassee, we have Southern Seafood), try to get seafood from them. Again make sure they are reputable. Ask around! If you don’t have a specialized store, your local grocery store is your next best bet.

4. When picking out seafood look out for the following things:

a. The fish should have a good color and healthy shine. It should look somewhat translucent with no discoloration.

b. See if they will let you smell the fish. It should have a mild fresh ocean smell to it. If it has a strong fish odor to it, don’t buy it.

c. Make sure the flesh is firm and not separating.

5. Try to make sure the seafood is not dried out looking, that’s never a good thing.

6. Buy your fresh seafood last on your grocery shopping trips and keep it cold. Ask the grocer to put it on ice for you.

7. If fresh is not a possible option, buying frozen is a good choice as well. Just make sure to properly thaw out the fish in your refrigerator, not in the sink under running water or just on the counter. Keep it in the refrigerator!

8. When you get home make sure to store your seafood in a leak proof container in the coldest part of your refrigerator for up to two days. It will be good for up to 10 months frozen.

9. When it doubt, throw it out. Do not taste food that you think may be spoiled.

10. If you’re still not sure, ask your grocer or supplier for any tips or suggestions for storing.

Let me know if this is helpful. Did I miss something? I’m still a little nervous about buying seafood (except my trusty salmon). Maybe, just maybe, I’ll try to buy some seafood this weekend. I’m just not a fan of it really. Chef Justin swears he can cook me some seafood that I would actually enjoy. I don’t know about that. 🙂

Look for tomorrow’s post on how to cook seafood. I think buying it seems rather easy, but cooking… now that’s a whole different story.

photo from flickr

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. Fish Schtick permalink
    May 11, 2009 2:14 pm

    There tends to be a fish eating switch in people. Like it/Don’t like it. I think this is probably due to freshness and preparation issues and fish sticks. Fish sticks are the hot dog of the seafood. Just because you don’t necessarily go to restaurants to order hot dogs (I do, by the way) doesn’t mean you won’t like beef or pork. Heavily breaded fried lumps of fish and shrimp are designed to mask the flavor of the seafood. This is what most chain restaurants and school districts interpreted as seafood for us. (Exception – Mobile County Alabama Schools – great Seafood Gumbo!)

    Your liking salmon must mean your fish switch is not in the off position. Try a mild flavored FRESH snapper or grouper right out of the pan or oven. Allowing fish to cool is where most people fail with seafood in my opinion. BTW, some of the best fish I’ve eaten was Garfish from the Ochlockonee River.

  2. Tom permalink
    May 12, 2009 9:21 am

    For consumers there is another very good seafood market in Tallahassee. It is Mike’s Seafood and Oriental Market. Located in the shopping center at the SW corner of Applachee Parkway and Capital Circle NE.

  3. Nicole permalink
    May 12, 2009 12:01 pm

    Spears is also a good choice. They have two locations- one on West Tennessee Street and the other on Lake Bradford Road.

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