How to buy fish at the fish counter

In lieu of our month long sophisticated detox, Tom and I have been eating quite a lot of fish – firing up the grill and throwing it on there for a nice meal for two. We used to, like most people, find it easier to buy the pre packaged, deboned, perfectly cut filet.

The fish counter (or any food counter that involves you making decisions about food and needing the staff to assist) can be quite daunting and intimidating. “Do they remove the scales and bones? (yes), do they take all the yucky insides out? (yes), can they cook it for me? (depending on the store you go to yes, they can actually deep fry it for you!)

We live in Las Vegas, a baron desert where if there are any lakes, they are man made, so in lieu of catching one fresh the next best step is to go to your grocery store. I tend to find that international markets offer better quality and a much broader range of fish to chose from, so we head to Chinatown to buy our fish. My mother is from Thailand so I was already accustomed to accompanying her as a child to Asian markets to buy foods that they don’t typically sell in an American supermarket; but as a child I never really took notice, all I knew was we had to drive an hour to the big city to buy foods that the typical American store didn’t carry.


The most important thing to do when you approach the fish counter is this – ask questions. There’s no need to feel insecure about asking questions on how a certain fish will taste, what’s a good way to cook it, or how many will it feed. This is why the fish monger is there- to assist you. Trust me, they’re not going to judge you because you’re asking a question.

Things to look for when selecting a fish:

  • Touch the fish. When you press your finger into the body it should be firm  and bounce back
  • The fish should appear moist with no dry spots, shiny and the scales should be tightly adhered to the fish
  • The fish should not smell fishy but smell oceanic or like cucumber
  • The eyes are a great way to tell if the fish to fresh and healthy. The eyes should be wet, crystal clear and plump. If they’re cloudy or sunken in, it’s a sign that it’s not the freshest.
  • If the fish is labeled FAS, even better. FAS is Frozen At Sea; these are fish that have been frozen at extremely low temperatures while still in the ship where they were just caught. When they are put on display at the market the FAS fish are almost indistinguishable from fresh fish

Once you get home place the fish in the coldest part of your refrigerator and should be consumed within 24 hours of purchasing. Bon appetit!



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