Food - Buy, Store, Prepare & Cook Fish & Seafood
Advice on buying, storing, preparing and cooking fish and seafood, from Bord Iascaigh Mhara Irish Fisheries Board Website:
1. Shopping for seafood should be an adventure!
- Talk to your local Seafood Circle member. They are experts and will be happy to advise you.
- Be open to change. If the variety you want isn't available, simply substitute another. Fish is very versatile and one type can easily be swapped for another in a recipe.
- When buying whole fish, choose fish with: bright, prominent shining eyes; bright red or pink gills; distinct skin colour and above all a clean fresh 'sea smell'.
- Fillets should be translucent with no sign of discolouration.
- Seafood Circle members will be happy to take on tasks you shy away from. Just ask to have your fish gutted, filleted or boned.
- Refrigerate fish as soon as possible after purchase – remember it's highly perishable and must be kept cool.
- Refrigerate fish as soon as possible after purchase.
- Ideally, remove the fish from its wrapping and store it on crushed ice cubes on a plate in the fridge. Cover loosely with foil. Replace the ice as it melts.
- If the fish is packed in special foil wrapping by Seafood Circle Member do not remove the fish from packaging, simply refrigerate as soon as possible.
- Fresh fish in good condition and properly stored should last a day or two after purchase.
- All fish can be successfully frozen.
- Fresh white fish can be frozen for a maximum of 6 months.
- Oil-rich fish is best if used within 3 months.
- Remember to freeze fish as you intend to use it. For example, cut a whole salmon into convenient portion sizes before freezing.
- Do not freeze previously frozen fish.
- Please do not ask your retailer to vacuum pack fresh fish, i.e. whole salmon for your convenience, as this is not safe practice.
- Preparing fish is easy; however, if you don’t feel up to the task of filleting or skinning fish your Seafood Circle member will be happy to help.
- To prepare whole fish such as salmon or trout it is important to snip out the gills using a kitchen scissors. Also check that no blood remains along the backbone and rinse out the belly cavity with cold running water.
- Place the fillets on a board with the tail towards you, with the flesh side up. Using a sharp, flat bladed – not serrated knife make a small nick backwards through the flesh but not through the skin. This gives you something to grip. Change the direction of the knife and keep both knife and skin flat on the board. Work towards the top of the fillet using a gentle saw-like motion. The skin should come away in one piece.
- To remove the bones from round fish fillets (Cod etc) simply cut the ‘V’ shaped piece containing the bones from the top of the fillet.
- Use a tweezers to remove pin bones from salmon and trout.
3. Quick Guide to Cooking Fish
- These instructions are guidelines only. Exact cooking times will depend on the thickness and size of the fish, also individual ovens and grills etc.
- When fish is cooked it will turn white or opaque in colour.
- A simple way to test if fish is cooked is to check that a fork or skewer can pass easily through the flesh.
- Try not over cook fish for best flavour and texture.
- Preheat the grill to a medium setting, place fish on a grill tray and cook. Turn larger pieces of fish halfway through cooking.
- Heat a little oil in a pan over a medium heat. Turn seafood gently halfway through cooking. Do not turn the fish too often as it may break apart.
- Heat the oil to 180ºC / 350ºF. Coat the fish thoroughly in a batter or crumb before cooking. Cook until crisp and golden. Allow fish to drain on kitchen paper.
- Place the fish in a steamer, or between 2 plates on top of a saucepan of boiling water. Cook over a medium heat for a couple of minutes until the fish flakes easily.
Microwave in an 800w oven:
- Put the fish in a suitable container. Cover and cook. Ensure that the fish is fully cooked through. Allow to stand for 1 – 2 minutes before serving.
- Microwave ovens may vary, so adjust cooking times for your individual model.
- Place fish onto a suitable ovenproof dish or tray. Cover and place in the centre of the preheated oven at 180ºC / 350ºF / Gas Mark 4. Oven assisted fans will cook fish more quickly.
- Fill a shallow pan with liquid to half cover fish. Water, milk, stock, wine or combinations of these are suitable for poaching. Bring the liquid to a gentle simmer and poach for recommended time.