Fishes on display at the Indoor fish market in Birmingham.
12 Red Flags To Look Out For When Buying Fresh Seafood
By Lizzy Briskin
Fresh-caught seafood will smell like the ocean — fresh and mild, with a bit of a salty odor — and certainly not sour or like chemicals. The longer the fish is out of the water and in the open air, the more it will smell “fishy,” so ask your fishmonger if you can give it a whiff before you purchase it.
1. It's Smelly
Healthy, living fish have clear, mostly-white eyes with dark irises, but after it's caught, the cloudier and more yellow its eyes will become. Michelin-star-winning chef Thomas Keller of The French Laundry advises shoppers to check that the fish has clear, slightly bulging eyes and flesh that bounces back when pressed.
2. The Eyes
The gills should be bright red, firm, and frilly-looking — once caught, gills will slowly turn red to darker red, then light brown, brown, dark brown, and finally green as the fish ages. Also, injured gills can be a sign that the fish had a disease before it died or has been mishandled.
3. The Gills
The flesh of seafood should be firm, wet, shiny, and taut, so consider it a major red flag if you see any signs of flaking, dryness, or mealiness, or if there are gaping spaces between the muscles. If unsure, ask your fishmonger to gently press on it and see if it bounces right back.
4. The Flesh
Belly burn, a lumpiness and/or discoloration on a fish's stomach, can occur if an angler waits too long to gut the fish after catching it. If you see yellowing along the fish's underside or inside the cavity, it’s a sign that the intestines decomposed inside the fish, causing potential rotting and bacteria.
5. Belly Burn