The Meaty Parts Of Fish Can Tell You How Fresh It Is

The freshness of fish isn't something to take lightly, especially since, according to the CDC, close to 14% of Americans contract a foodborne illness annually, of which 128,000 are hospitalized and around 3,000 die. Therefore, ensuring you buy only the freshest food depends on picking up vital safety tips

If you're a novice, shopping for fish can be intimidating, whether it's tuna steaks or cod filets. But there are several things to check for that can help you avoid the not-so-fresh or plain rotten fish. From the skin and eyes to the gills and fins, every part of the fish gives off tell-tale signs of freshness (or staleness), but the meaty areas are perhaps the most indicative of its level of freshness. If the flesh looks shiny instead of cloudy, that's a sign of freshness. If it feels firm and has a spring to it upon pressing, then that fish is probably the latest catch. 

Firm and bouncy meat is a sign of freshness

First, note how it's being stored and displayed; fresh, raw fish is best kept packed on ice in a clean environment. When it comes to the fish itself, do a thorough visual inspection. Are the eyes clear and haven't collapsed? Is the skin still shiny? Are the scales intact? And are the gills moist with a bright red color? If the fish you're staring at fails to check any of these boxes, you better look for another one. But if your answer is yes to all of these questions, you're most likely looking at a fresh specimen.

You can now go to the meat of the matter (pun intended). For fish cuts, ensure the color of the flesh is right for that fish species; for example, the flesh of salmon is typically pink, tuna tends to be red, and cod is either white or blue. And finally, for both whole fish and steak cuts, you'll need to do the press test; to test for wilted, bruised meat, gently touch the flesh to get a sense. It should feel firm and somewhat elastic, leaving no imprint from your finger. If the flesh seems springy and doesn't appear dull-looking, you're good to have it wrapped and toss it in the basket.