How to choose fish and seafood

On the shelves of shops, sea and river fish gets in fresh (chilled) or frozen form. Let’s start with the first one.

How to choose fresh fish

First, look into the fish’s eyes. If they are cloudy, fell into or peeled off, the spoilage of the product began. With freshly caught fish, eyes shine.

fresh fish
Broken fish has cloudy eyes

Then look at the gills. They should be pink and fit tightly to the carcass. If the gills are gray, brown or green, the fish is stifling.

fresh fish
Left – the gills of fresh fish, on the right – stale

That’s why it is not recommended to buy fish without heads and fins. Often they are cut off to hide the spoilage of the product. It is better to overpay for “extra” weight, but be sure of freshness.

Look closely at the color: it must match the natural coloring of the fish. For example, mackerel has a blue-green back with many black strips and a silvery abdomen. If there are spots or “rusty” deposits on the carcasses, the fish is not the first freshness.

After visual evaluation, touch the fish. The carcass should be elastic, with scales close to each other. Flabby meat and flaking scales are a sign of spoilage.

fresh fish

Push down on the back of the fish. If there is a dent, it is better to refuse the purchase. In the same way, you can check the freshness of the chilled fillets.

Finally, smell the fish. The smell should be light and natural. If the fish smells like a swamp or gives ammonia, it is spoiled. In no case do not buy such a product.

How to choose frozen fish

Fish, especially marine, are frozen either on fishing boats or at processing plants on the shore. If the points of sale of the catch are far away, the fish is covered with ice icing.

Glaze is a frozen marinade (often with the addition of preservatives), forming an ice cake and increasing the shelf life of fish.

Start also with a visual inspection. The glaze must be smooth, uniform, about 2 millimeters thick. If the ice crust on the carcass cracked or beneath it, blood was seen, the fish were not properly stored and clearly frozen.

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Frozen fish

This is also evidenced by the unnatural “pose” of the fish. Do not buy fish if the carcass is curved, the tail is broken or the fins are broken.

Smell the fish. “Is the frozen and the more glazed fish something smells?” – you ask and you will be right. If a fish is caught and immediately frozen, the smell is practically absent. If frozen carcasses exude a strong fish ambret, they deteriorate even before freezing.

And the last check: take the fish in your hands. By weight, frozen fish should be about the same as fresh. If the carcass is too light, it was many times frozen. Even if the product has not deteriorated, the taste of such fish leaves much to be desired.

How to choose seafood

Seafood – it’s all edible, that is caught in the sea and not a fish. All seafood are low-calorie and very useful: rich in protein, amino acids, iodine.

Seafood is divided into mollusks (squid, oysters, mussels, octopus and others) and crustaceans (shrimps, crabs, crabs, lobsters and so on).

Regardless of the variety, almost all seafood comes to us on the shelves in frozen or canned form. Fresh them simply do not bring (well, or it’s very expensive). After all, shrimps are most often exported from Southeast Asia, oysters from the Mediterranean coast, and crabs and squid from the Far East.

These are delicacies, which you need to catch in the sea, to save and bring to the “big earth”. They can not cost cheap.

Price – the first landmark in the selection of quality seafood. The second is the smell. Even a slight aroma of ammonia should alert you. Seafood should smell like sea or not smell at all.

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Walk along the fish department of the supermarket. Is it cold enough? If not, then maybe there are weak refrigerators in the store or they have recently been disconnected. Any violation of storage conditions affects the quality of the product.

Carefully inspect the packaging of frozen seafood. It must be integral. The frost inside is a sign of thawing and re-freezing. If the inhabitants of the seas are covered with glaze, then it should not be more than 7-10% of the total volume of the product.

Now consider the features of choosing the most popular seafood.


Shrimps are usually sold with cooked-frozen (they are gently pink) or freshly frozen (they are gray), peeled or in shells, in a package or by weight.

Varieties of shrimp are very many: from small “beer” to large “royal”. Therefore, they are calibrated to the size and indicate on the packaging the numbers: 50-70, 90-120 and so on.


These figures show how much shrimp is contained in one kilogram.

Pay attention to the appearance of shrimp. Uncleaned tails should be bent into a ring. Straight as a vobla, shrimp – a sign that the product has repeatedly been refrozen or frozen has already been stale. Spots and unnatural shades are also a sign of poor quality raw materials.


There are a lot of species of crabs too. The size and color of the meat of these crustaceans depends on the species: from snow-white to almost brown.

In shops, live and boiled crabs (usually whole) are sold, as well as chilled and frozen (often in the form of meat, claws, legs).

Bev Sykes /

Acquiring live crabs, look how active they are. If you are sitting in an aquarium and do not move much, you better refuse to buy. The eyes of living crabs, like fish, should be black and shiny.

If you buy boiled crabs, they should come from a pleasant slightly sweetish flavor. But no fish ambret!

The shell of both live, and boiled or frozen crab should be firm, free from stains and damage.


In our stores, as a rule, already gutted (without beaks, eyes and viscera), but not yet peeled squid, are already sold. The color of the carcass at the same time depends on the habitat and the age of the mollusk: from greyish-pink to purple-violet.

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Fresh undivided squid

When buying, pay attention to the size of squid. The most tender meat in carcasses weighing about 300 grams and a length of about 15 centimeters.

Look, when the squid was caught and packaged. The fishery for these shellfish falls on July-August. If the package has summer dates, this is a good sign.

When buying peeled squid, consider carcases for slits and stains. Meat of peeled squid should be smooth and white.


In Central Russia, mussels are sold canned or frozen, in sashes and without.


When buying, you should focus on two important indicators.

  • Appearance of shells. They must be unbroken, without cracks and chips, and their shutters must be tightly closed. Well, if the sinks are wet.
  • The size. Ideal option – medium-sized mussels. This means that the mollusk reached the most delicious – one and a half year old – of age. About 40-60 of them in a kilogram.


The criteria for choosing oysters are about the same as for mussels. But there is an important nuance.

Oysters are eaten alive.

Therefore, in stores they must be stored in a special aquarium or in ice. Bringing home, they also need to be immediately put in cold water.

And one more lifhak. Opening the oyster with a special knife, pour on it with lemon juice. Meat should shrink. If this does not happen, the mollusc is dead and such an oyster is better not to eat.

Do you know the other subtleties of buying seafood? Share them in the comments.

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