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Telling Good Fish from Bad

A few simple tricks utilizing your eyes, nose, and fingers can help you assess the quality and freshness of seafood, like these two striped bass (the top one is from Esca, the bottom one from Chinatown).

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Looking for the Perfect Fish Taste Testing Six Fishes
  How to Cook & Eat Fish   Telling Good Fish from Bad  


Food styling by Stephana Bottom  

Skin
A light coating of sea slime, with the consistency of wet snot, says one chef, can help preserve the fish, so don’t be afraid of it.

Eyes
Always buy a fish with the head so you can check the eyes; they should be clear and bulging.

Gills
Ought to be red; anything that looks a little more purple or (gasp) brown is a telltale sign of age.


Scales
If they’re broken, it’s likely a sign of age or having been mishandled.

Flesh
Test the buoyancy by pressing the fish skin firmly—it should spring back: You don’t want to leave a mark.

Smell
The oldest trick. If the fish is cut open, sniff the guts. They ought to smell like the sea; if there’s the slightest whiff of ammonia, forget it.


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