THE SEAFOOD SPECIALIST

A Guide to Buying Fish: top tips from a fishmonger

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For many people, the process of buying fish can be a daunting one – especially if you’ve not shopped at a fishmonger before or you just don’t know what you’re looking for. This is why we’ve compiled this guide to buying fish, from our professional fishmongers, to help you know what to look for, what to avoid and feel confident when you’re buying fresh fish and seafood.  

Tip 1: The smell of fish should not be overpowering when you first walk into the shop

First up, contrary to popular belief fresh fish does not have an overpowering ‘fishy’ smell and so the shop you visit shouldn’t either. Fresh fish that has been properly iced gives off much less of a smell than fish that hasn’t been stored well. A fishmonger shop that is kept clean will also reduce this off-putting fishy smell.

Tip 2: Take a good look at the fish

By taking a good look at the fish, you’ll get a great feel for its freshness. If you’re happy to (and allowed to!), pick it up and smell it. As with the above tip, there should not be an overly fishy smell if the fish is fresh.

You can also take a good look at the eyes of the fish, they should be bright, clear and shiny.

Another way to determine the freshness of the fish is by looking at the gills. These should be bright red or pink, and not dull or brown.

Obviously these two tips apply to whole fish, but there are also things to look out for in fresh, filleted fish too. Smell being the most obvious, but also look at the skin on the fillet – this should be shiny and wet looking. If not, it’s a sign that the fish has dried out and lost its freshness.

Tip 3: Understanding seasonality is key

At George Campbell & Sons we are passionate about sourcing and providing the best fresh, Scottish fish and shellfish to our customers. We know the importance of understanding seasonality when it comes to buying fish and you should too.

As with lots of fresh produce there are particular times of year when the fish and seafood will be at it’s best.

Seasonality is really about when things are at their best, as most of the main species of fish are available all year round. White fish, such as haddock, spawn between February and May and will not be at their best during that time, but as the spawning varies all around the coast a good fishmonger will have the knowledge and access to source the best option for you.  

Weather is a huge factor in availability, when you look out of your window in winter and it’s blowing a hooley, you can be sure that at sea it’s far worse and the boats may not be out at all! Winter is a challenging time for fishermen and the fish trade and may have consequences on seasonality of fish.

Tip 4: Ask your fishmonger for any advice

If you’re visiting a professional and experienced fishmonger (like George Campbell & Sons), the team working behind the counter will be more than happy to answer any questions or offer any advice. All you need to do is ask! Speak to the fishmonger, find out what they have in stock today, what they recommend is in season or how to cook your chosen fish or seafood. Or even ask them more about their experience as a fishmonger, this could well give you the confidence to rely upon recommendations and advice.

Got any further questions for our fishmongers? You can visit our shop in Perth or get in touch on social media, we’re always happy to help!

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