What to look for when buying seafood

Why does fish in restaurants so often taste better than what I cook at home?

It's all about sourcing the best fish and handling it with the same care as good chefs do in their restaurants. Start by heading to your fishmonger with an open mind, let them advise you on the best fish on the slab that day and design your dish from there. Buy the fish whole, check that it has clear, protruding eyes, red gills, a clean fresh seaweed aroma and is firm to the touch.

Once you've selected the perfect specimen, don't let it anywhere near fresh water; the chemicals such as iodine and chlorine will cause the protein to deteriorate and the fish will lose flavour, texture and moisture. If you aren't comfortable or inclined to dress and fillet the fish at home, ask your fishmonger to scale, gut and fillet the fish for you. Once it's dry-cut, keep it cold up until cooking, then make sure the cooking method is matched to the oil or fat content of the fish. Regardless of the type, don't use too much heat - the protein will split and the flesh will dry out. And never cook the fish through - it will continue cooking when removed from the heat. Be sure to rest your cooked fish before eating, allowing it to relax and the moisture to flow back evenly through the flesh. Last of all, remember that fish loves salt, but always salt after cooking to retain moisture.

Here are some fast seafood recipes to try.

Illustration Lauren Haire


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