What To Ask Your Fishmonger To Guarantee The Freshest Fillets

When it comes to fish, don't be afraid to ask questions. The fishmonger at your grocery store is more than capable of answering any questions you have about fish types, flavors, recipes, and sourcing. They can also give you information about freshness, provided you ask the right questions. We tend to think of freshness in certain terms, asking questions like "When was the fish caught?" and "When did it arrive at the market?" 

However, more important than asking when the fish arrived is when it was filleted. A filleted fish is one that has been scaled, gutted, and had its meat sliced away from the bone. The skin is either intact, as is common with salmon, or removed, which is more common with white fish. The flesh of the fish is now exposed to oxygen, meaning that the longer it stays out in the open, the less fresh it is going to be. 

A fish filet that's been removed from it's casing will go bad quicker

The reason it is more important to ask about when the fish was filleted than when it arrived is a simple matter of aging. Anyone who has ever fished for food and certainly any good fishmonger, will know that you should not eat a fish immediately after you've caught it. The flesh will be far too soft. It is better to let the fish rest for a while under refrigeration, which will allow it to firm up and gain texture and body.

Like anything that is removed from its natural casing, a fish filet will decompose faster than it would have if it had been kept intact. So, the question of when it was filleted posed to the fishmonger has more to do with how long the fish has been sitting with its flesh exposed to the elements. Raw fish can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two days. So, if the fish has been filleted within that time window or better yet within an hour of your purchase, you know you're getting the freshest possible fish available at the counter.