Keeping it fresh from ocean to plate
Summer equals seafood and Sydney Fish Market has some tips for our readers on how to buy and store the best quality marine cuisine.
Australia is one big island blessed with beautiful natural wonders and unique creatures, from the red centre right into the deep, blue pristine ocean. With plenty of coastlines from which to cast a line or launch a boat, we have always been able to rely on the sea for nourishment. Very few of us, of course, actually catch our own food and that means we have to be vigilant about what we buy. Thankfully, all we need is a bit of knowledge and our five senses.
How to buy seafood
If it smells fishy, throw it back
It may sound counter intuitive, but you actually DON’T want your seafood to have a strong, fishy smell - that’s usually an indication that it’s a bit over-ripe. Have a good sniff. All seafood has a subtle, pleasant ocean scent when it’s fresh.
Go for looks
Whole seafood should look pretty much the same under a glass counter as it did when it was in the water with no discolouration, blotches or bruising. The skin, scales, shell, fins, claws and other bits should be lustrous and vividly coloured. Gills should be bright pinkish red and eyes shiny, clear and bulging.
If you are buying the creature whole, it should be completely intact with no visible breakages, missing limbs or scales and no deformities.
If you are buying fillets, cutlets, peeled etc, the flesh should still have good colour with no blemishes or gaping.
It shouldn’t leave an impression
Whether fish is whole or scaled/filleted, it should always feel firm and pliant. Your finger shouldn’t leave a dent - that’s not the impression you want. You also don’t want brittle or soft outer shells. With mussels, pipi, oysters etc go for the shy ones - the ones with their shells closed or that quickly close them if you tap them.
Definitely leave the slimy ones alone.
Bring a small esky or insulated bag with you with some freezer blocks. Get the vendor to also put some ice in the bag with your purchase. Make seafood the last thing you buy when shopping and get it home as soon as possible.
How to keep things fresh
Seafood needs to be kept cold until cooked or consumed. Most seafood can be kept in the fridge for up to 3 days, however, dead crustaceans (e.g. prawns), live crustaceans (e.g. crabs), live molluscs (e.g. mussels) should be consumed as soon as possible. Just before cooking or eating, do the freshness tests described above. Any open-shelled molluscs that don’t respond to tapping should be discarded.
Clean, scale and gut fish, and clean and rinse squid, cuttlefish and octopus before storing in fridge or freezer.
Most seafood can be frozen for up to 3 months. Non-oily fish can be frozen for up to 6 months. Be aware that frozen seafood needs to be kept at -18ºC or lower. A lot of home freezers can’t get that low. Check the specs for your appliance before loading up.
[visit www.sydneyfishmarket.com.au for more detailed guidelines on buying, storing, and preparing seafood.]