How to buy the freshest fish possible

So far, we have talked extensively about meat as steak on a stone is our signature dish. Yet we also sell a lot of fish and given that we are a seaside restaurant in Blackpool, we should talk about our second best-seller a little more. So with that in mind, we talked to our chef about buying fish and that essential question, “how can you ensure you get the freshest fish possible.”

The single easiest way to get good, fresh fish is to use a local fishmonger. They have access to the best of that day’s catch and can offer guarantees about where it was caught, when it was caught and the quality of the fish itself. Working with a local fishmonger is by far the easiest way to ensure you get the best product at the best price.

If you prefer to select your own fish, regardless of where you buy it, here are some key things to look for.

Look at the eyes. Clear, bright eyes are a sign of very fresh fish. Eyes fade very quickly, so if they are clear and relatively bright, the fish is a fresh one.

Look at the skin. Shiny fish is usually fresh fish. Look at the scales and judge if they are clean and look metallic. Depending on the species, scales should have a sheen and look shiny. Dull skin or skin with discoloured patches can be signs of older fish.

Gills. The gills of a fish are a real giveaway as to how fresh it is. Freshly caught, the gills will be a rich red colour. Older fish will begin fading to pink, eventually going a sort of dusky pink or brick colour.

Smell. Fresh fish should not smell. You may detect a hint of sea water but that’s a good thing. A fish that smell “fishy” isn’t fresh. Again, depending on the species, you may detect brine or cucumber. Anything else is not the freshest fish.

These tips hold for selecting fresh whole fish and for fillets or pieces too. Obviously, you won’t be able to check the eyes, skin or gills of a fish fillet, but you will be able to look and smell. A fish fillet should still look clean and shiny. Older flesh fades quickly.

Fish pieces should be firm to the touch too. If you’re buying pieces, ask the fishmonger to press the flesh so you can see it. Fresh flesh should rebound quickly from a finger press. If it takes a moment, it isn’t as fresh as it could be.

As with many aspects of cooking, you don’t have to spend a lot to get quality ingredients. You just need to shop clever. If you would like to experience the best fresh fish around, maybe even our signature fish on a stone, book a table at The Stone Grill today. You’ll love it!

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