Selecting the right fish for cooking is an art that needs to be mastered. We ask city chefs to reveal the secret of buying a good catch and storing seafood properly.
Being a low-fat source of high quality protein, seafood is one of the healthiest diet options. Consuming seafood regularly can help ward off risks of stroke, obesity, heart attack, and hypertension. The US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) recent dietary guidelines that recommend eating two servings of seafood every week reestablish the position of seafood as a super food.
American TV show host Oprah Winfrey’s medical guru Dr. Oz too urges people to increase their seafood intake. Oz listed Barramundi (also called koduva in Tamil and bhetki in Bengali; available at fish markets in CR Park, New Delhi) as one of his ‘5 Super Foods To Eat Now’ on his website for the fish’s anti-aging, immune boosting and cancer fighting properties.
Seafood is also one of the most easily perishable foods. If the fish is not refrigerated well, or if it is exposed to sun during transportation, it develops toxins that can cause illness on consumption. We have three chefs — ‘seafoodoholics’ by their own admission — telling us how to buy and store seafood in the right way.
It requires skill and effort to gauge the quality of the catch. Always go to a reputed store to buy seafood. Remember that a supermarket buys in bulk, so their seafood won’t be as fresh as compared to a stand-alone shop that sells only seafood and gets a fresh stock daily.
The seafood that you buy should be properly iced; fish should be placed with their belly down (that’s how you should also keep it in the freezer), to ensure that when the ice melts it gets drained and the fish does not spoil. Do check the eyes and the gills too — the eyes of the fish must be clear, bright and little protruded, while the gills must be bright red without any slime. (This is one characteristic that you won’t find in frozen fish that may still be good to eat.
In case of fish fillets, discoloured edges will tell you that they are not fresh. This rule also applies to prawns or shrimps. Their shells should be firm and glossy — don’t pick ones with broken or slippery shells. Make sure that the eyes are not missing or shrunken. Most importantly, while buying frozen seafood read the tags to check the dates of catching and packaging. Do not buy a seafood packet if it’s torn or worn out.
Where to buy seafood in the city
INA market: You’ll find a large variety of fish here, and the stock is fresh. CR Park fish market I, II: Reach early morning to find the freshest catch here. You can even bargain the prices a little. Ghazipur fish market: Buy seafood at wholesale price here. Most hotels buy their fish from. Grilled whole jumbo prawn with Thai chilli
4pcs whole jumbo prawns
2tbs Thai chilli sauce
50gm chopped tomato
60gm Chopped garlic, onion
30 spring onion
1tbs Healthy Boy soya sauce
Cut the jumbo prawn in the middle from head to tail. Marinate with seasoning — Thai seasoning and chilli sauce. Grill the whole jumbo prawn and keep aside. When the wok is hot and ready, pour some oil in it. Toss chopped tomato, onion, and celery together in the oil. Then add Thai chilli paste, chilli paste, and Healthy Boy soya sauce and cook. Pour this sauce on top of jumbo prawns, sprinkle spring onion over it and serve.
Things to remember
Check the fish for its smell, colour and firmness. The fish should smell fresh and mild. Seafood doesn’t have a very strong smell of its own, and only begins to smell when its deterioration begins. So, if the fish smells ‘fishy’, or ammonia-like, it’s not fresh.
The fish should be firm and the flesh should be shiny, moist and firm. It should not sink. When you press the flesh with your finger, it should spring back. When storing seafood, wrap it tightly in plastic wraps. Lobsters need to be packed individually. Be sure that any melting ice drains away. If the flesh comes in contact with moisture, it may become discoloured and dry out.