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Everything you need to know about shopping the freshest fish

Is the salmon you are eating safe? Here we get to the bottom of the fish you should be shopping.

When shopping fish, educating yourself on where and how they are sourced is vital to ensure long-term health for you – and the environment.

The seafood industry has received a bit of a bad rap lately, from claims of antibiotics being pumped into fish, through to catchment areas expanding beyond what is sustainable. But as Erik Poole, Seafood Trading Customer Account Manager at Sydney Fish Market points out, Australians can be confident that locally-caught seafood is sourced from fisheries that are being managed for sustainability.

“Australian fisheries are internationally recognised to be among the best in the world when it comes to sustainability and is of the most monitored and regulated in the world,” he told me.

Fortunately, we Aussies don't have a lot to worry about when it comes to shopping safe seafood. However, there are still a few concerns to be had about whether the fish you are buying is fresh and environmentally sound.

To help you make the right choice at the fish counter, here are Erik's best seafood shopping tips:

1. Read the label

If you’re shopping for fish of any kind at the supermarket, be sure to check the fine print. Some fish is ‘thawed’ for convenience, which means it has been frozen before and shouldn’t be re-frozen once you get home, consumer advocate CHOICE explains. If you shop thawed fish, eat it as soon as possible!

2. Fish to avoid

According to Australia's Sustainable Seafood Guide, no matter what you're craving, there are fish you should avoid at all costs.

Flake, Yellowtail Kingfish, and Pink Snapper may be overfished which heavily impacts the environment by killing and damaging habitats.

A smarter choice is to shop the fish that aren't at-risk of being over-fished, and are caught or farmed using techniques that have low environmental impacts. These include Australian Salmon, King George Whiting, and Snapper.

3. Shop with your senses

Choosing the best salmon is all about trusting your senses, explains Erik. Look for bright and lustrous skin or scales, as well as firm flesh “that springs back when touched.” A pleasant, fresh smell is paramount, and a good sign of quality produce is bright pink or red tinted gills. Fillets and cutlets are a slightly different beast, he notes. Yes, the colour should be bright and the flesh, firm, but when it comes to dark muscles, only choose those pink-red in colour. And beware of discolouration of any kind, gaping or brushing in the flesh.

Try these delicious salmon recipes: (Post continues after gallery)

4. How do you know it's fresh?

One thing to remember, Erik encourages, is that the freshness of seafood is often less about how long it has been ‘on the shelf’ and more about how well it has been handled and the temperature control along the supply chain. “Therefore the ‘shelf-life’ can be highly variable,” he explains, noting that Sydney Fish Market has developed a smartphone App to help suppliers, consumers and retailers check the quality and shelf life of seafood. “Using the Quality Index Method, the app uses a scoring system to assess some qualities of individual species to determine its freshness and how many days remaining until spoilage."

5. What you didn't know about freezing your fish at home

When it comes to freezing fresh fish, the rules vary. “Whole oily fish, and all fish fillets, steaks and cutlets can be frozen for up to three months at -18°C or colder,” says Erik. “Whole non-oily fish can be frozen for up to six months at -18°C or less.”

 
 

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