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Fish Buying Guide

Fish Buying Guide

There is no doubt fish is good for you. All fish and shellfish are low in fat and high in proteins, minerals and vitamins. Oily fish can actually improve your health by lowering cholesterol levels and unclogging arteries. The Japanese, whose diet consists largely of fresh raw fish, have the lowest incidence of heart disease in the world.

Fish Buying Tips

Fish is worth buying if it is absolutely fresh, and it is best if you eat on the day you buy it. Fresh fish have shiny skin with a metallic glint and they are covered with transparent mucus that becomes opaque when fish is old and stale. The eyes should be clear, bright and slightly bulging. The flesh should feel firm and springy when you press it lightly with your finger – if it feels limp and you finger leaves an indentation, the fish is past its best. Stael fish has an unpleasant “fishy” smell, the skin looks dull, dryish and unattractive and the eyes are sunken.

The best test of freshness for whole fish is to open up the gills; they should be a clear red or rosy color, not a dull brown. Look for a firm tail and plentiful, shiny close-fitting scales. A fish which has been dead for an unacceptable length of time, or which has not been properly kept, will shed its scales all over the counter. Sea fish should have a pleasant odour, redolent or seaweed; freshwater fish should smell of water weeds. There should never be more than a hint of a “fishy” smell.

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Ready-prepared white fish fillets, steaks and cutlets should be neatly trimmed, with moist, firm, translucent flesh. If you must buy frozen fish, make sure that it is frozen solid, with no sign of thawing, and that the packaging is not damaged.

When buying fish, shop with an open mind and be prepared to purchase whatever looks freshest and best on the day. If you want a specific type of fish, it is best to ask the fishmonger in advance so that it can be bought fresh from the market for you. It pays to develop a relationship with one particular fishmonger – if you show that you are really interested in what you are buying, you are sure to get a much better standard of service.

An accommodating fishmonger will gut and clean your fish for you and even scale, skin and fillet it. It is not unreasonable to expect this service, but it does take time. At busy periods, therefore, be prepared to place an order and come back later to collect it. However, if you have to prepare fish yourself, don’t despair; it is really not difficult, given a sharp, flexible knife and a little dexterity.


Allow about 175g/6oz fish fillet, cutlets or steaks per serving for a main course. There is a lot wastage in whole fish, so allow at least 300g/110z per person if buying fish this way.

Paleo Fish Recipes

Good health is only one of many reasons to eat fish. When properly prepared and cooked the fish can be among the most delicious foods imaginable.

The Paleo Recipe BookFish is an extremely versatile food and there are many number of quick and delicious ways to cook it, “quick” being the operative word, since it is all too easy to overcook the delicate flesh. Because fish is so delicate, it is always better to undercook rather than overcook it – you can always give it a little extra cooking, but there is no redressing the dry texture and lack of flavor once is overdone.

For more information about preparing and cooking fish and great paleo fish recipes check out The Paleo Recipe Book.

Storing fish

Fresh fish should be eaten as soon as possible after purchase, but most types can be kept in the refrigerator for a day or overnight if necessary. Remove any wrapping or packaging and rinse the fish in a very cold water. Pat dry with kitchen paper and place on a plate. Cover with clear film (plastic wrap) and store at bottom of the refrigerator

Frozen fish

Although fresh fish is much nicer than frozen, for practical reasons it is not always possible to buy it, and on some occasions frozen fish may be your only option. Of course, you cannot apply the usual test for freshness (prodding, smelling and judging the color) so it is important to buy frozen fish from a reputable store with a quick turnover. Transport it in a freezer bag if possible and get it home and into your own freezer without delay. White fish can be kept in the freezer for three months and oily fish for two months.

Commercially frozen fish is frozen extremely rapidly and at a lover temperature than can be attained by average domestic freezer. This preserves the delicate texture of the flesh. It is not advisable to freeze fish at home, but if you must, it should be kept at – 18˚C/ 0˚F or bellow.

Buying Fish Online

For more info about buying fish online please visit the Paleo Food Online, particularly buy fish online section.

Thawing fish

If possible, thaw frozen fish overnight in the refrigerator. If you need in in a hurry, microwave the fish on the defrost setting. Separate the pieces as soon as they are thawed enough and spread out in an even layer. Remove from the microwave while still slightly icy; if fish over-thawed it will become dry.

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