There are two words that cannot exist without each other: “FISH” and “FRESH”. So how do you know your fish and seafood are as fresh as they can be? Well, it’s a sensory thing, and it always starts with your sense of smell.
Everyone "nose" when it's FRESH!
Fresh fish and seafood should never smell fishy. They should smell briny, just like the sea. If you detect anything else, you’re not dealing with the freshest product.
Take a CLOSER LOOK!
Inspect your whole fish. You should see bright, vibrant red gills and clear eyes. Pale gills or cloudy eyes are an indication that the fish is old and not for you.
Just the right TOUCH!
Press on the flesh of your fish. If it’s firm, it’s fresh. In fact, the freshest “just out of the water” fish will sometimes display signs of rigor mortis. That’s a good thing!
Back to the eyes...
In addition to making sure they’re clear, apply a little pressure on them. If they bounce back, the fish is fresh. If they sink into the head, the fish is older than it should be.
Believe it or not, a bit of “slime” on fish is perfectly natural. It should be rather light when you rub your fingers together after touching the fish. A stickier, more viscous fluid means the fish is old, and therefore not suitable.
AS FOR THE REST...
Lobsters & Crabs
As for lobsters and crabs, that’s fairly easy. If they are squirming and brandishing their claws, they are alive and ready for cooking.
Oysters & Mussles
When inspecting your oysters, mussels and clams, be sure that their shells are tightly shut. If they are open, they are dead and should be discarded.
Dry Scallops are the exception here. Any slime or phlegm-like substance is a cause for concern. Dry scallops should be just that: dry, with little or no water.