It’s never been a better time to eat more seafood. There’s no better time to eat more seafood.
Fresh seafood is packed with nutrients and protein and tastes great.
There’s a caveat, however: only eat it when it is fresh. These delicate fruits are very susceptible to spoilage. They can be damaged by improper storage, preservation, and even thawing. You can’t know the exact journey of your seafood unless you catch it yourself or buy BAP-certified (which allows you to track its path).
You could be at risk of scombroid, a reaction that produces histamine, as soon as 15 seconds following the consumption of your seafood. It’s vital to know the red and orange flags of a fish that is about to go bad.
- Lack Of Visual Appeal
If the fish is still whole, look at its eyes. “Are the eyes clear, hazy, or turbid?” asked Eddie Barret, executive chef of Atlanta seafood restaurant BeetleCat. Michael Nelson added a second criterion to the list: The eyes should not be sunken. They should look clear, almost alive, and be looking at you.
You don’t always need to see something to decide to leave. The sniff test is often the first thing professionals do.
Kizilbayir stated that a good fishery smells like the ocean. There could be a bad mussel in the corner, which would ruin the smell of the whole area. This happens all the time. Does it smell foul, gassy, or in any other way off-putting? Barrett said, “That’s our first dead giveaway.”
It will be a subtle, clean scent,” said a data-vars-itemname=”Pattie Lawlertratana” data-vars’ position in subunit=”10″ data vars’ subunit name=”article The smell will be subtle and clean, according to Pattie Lallratana of Snap Thai Fish House, Atlanta.
- Squishy, Squidgy Fish
It would help if you weren’t afraid to get up close and personal when it comes to your seafood. You can poke your seafood if you ask a reputable purveyor like Frank Palermo of Claws Seafood Market on Long Island in New York.
Kizilbayir explained that “the flesh should bounce back a bit”; “there should be a resilience to the touch.” Barrett explained that “some fish break down while they are sitting, resulting a mushy feeling fish”.
Lawlertratana added that you should also feel the skin and check if it is slimy, sticky, or has missing scales. Nelson says that the two previous criteria apply to fillets. It’s a sure indication that it has gone bad. However, a dense, clear film is a good sign that the fish may have been caught recently.
- Brown Gills
If the gills are turning brown, it is a clear indication that the fish has been sitting. Barrett stated that fresh fish should have a reddish-pink color to the gills. “Or bright red,” Palermo said. “I’m not a fan of brown blood or gills.”
Check the freshness of your fish by checking its bloodline. Barrett suggested that you check the origin of fish like redfish or snapper. If it’s old or frozen, the fish will look brown or gray. Nelson told me, “You don’t want that fish!” If it’s fresh, the fish should be cherry red.
Fillet fish with brown tinges is also not allowed. He said that if the fish is discolored, particularly around the edges, this could be a sign of aging.
- Curled Tail
Nelson warned that if the tail is dry, frayed, or curled, it could be an indication that the fish has been subjected to temperature abuse. This could be due to the fish being left too long on the deck of the boat. In this case, the damage had already been done before the fish reached the seafood case.
- A Torn Belly
Palermo warns that “a whole fish with the insides intact will always spoil from the inside out, starting from the belly.” “Any sign of tearing in the belly would be an indication that the fish has aged.”
It’s worth checking even if you have gutted the entire fish. He said that in this case, the fish would be considered a pass if its rib cage was separated. This means the membranes of the fish have dried out and begun to decompose.
When you tap on live clams, they should close immediately.
- Sleepy Shellfish that Won’t Close When You Tap Them
As Kizilbayir says, “One bivalve that is dead could ruin the entire group.”
Nelson stated that they should be closed completely before cooking. Kizilbayir said that they would start to open up if left out too long. If you notice any closing movements, you can knock them together. That’s an effective trick. “If they don’t move, they’re bad.”
Lawlertratana states that “fresh bivalves are tightly closed or close when tapped.” If they are still open after being tapped, they may be dead. They’re not safe to eat.
When cooking, however, you want to get the opposite result. Nelson advised: “If the mollusks don’t open during cooking, toss them out and DO NOT force open!” It won’t affect the safety of other mollusks, but this is an indication that this is the bad egg.
- The tags are old or missing.
Palermo stated that “by law, all products displayed for sale are required to include tags which tell the consumer: where the shellfish came from; the date the product was harvested and the day it was shipped to the retailer,” Palermo explained. The FDA also adds the certification number of the processor.
The tag on the bivalve is the best way to ensure that it is fresh. Barrett said that it is important to use them within seven days. Return anything you receive after that time.