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7 Things You Need to Know About Buying, Storing, and Cooking Fish

7 test-kitchen approved tips to make fish a staple of your family’s diet  
October November 2022

Whether you love fish or not, the verdict is in. Eating more seafood is one of the easiest and tastiest ways to add a health boost to your diet. It’s packed with lean protein and Omega-3s, cooks quickly, and can be prepared in so many delicious ways. So don’t overlook salmon, tilapia, or shrimp the next time you go shopping. Here are seven test-kitchen approved tips to help you make fish a staple of your family’s diet.

1: When shopping for fresh fish, look for bright colors and firm flesh.

A fish filet is probably the easiest cut of fish to cook, since the flesh has already been cut away from the bone and the scales have been removed. Luckily, it isn’t too tricky to tell a fresh filet from a not-so-fresh one: Look for bright, translucent flesh that is firm to the touch, and has no cloudiness or browning around the edges. Smell is a good indicator too. Make sure the fish has a mild, fresh smell.

2. Shop for just the right amount.

It’s easy to calculate how much you need. Just figure on about 4 ounces per person. Filets may be a little bigger than 4 ounces, but no problem. Leftovers can be used in salads for a quick boost of protein in lunches.

3: Frozen is just as good as fresh.

Believe it or not, most people have a hard time telling the difference between fresh and frozen fish once it’s cooked. The majority of frozen fish is flash-frozen, meaning it is frozen almost immediately after being caught, preserving its flavor and texture. What makes this even better? Frozen fish is often cheaper than fresh fish, and you can easily stock up on it so you’ve got your favorite fish ready for busy weekday meals.

Of course, there’s an exception to every rule: Some shellfish, such as oysters and mussels, should nearly always be bought fresh.

Try our Roasted Cod with Avocado Salsa for a delicious way to use frozen fish.

4: Try a milder fish for picky eaters.

Not a big fan of seafood? Don’t give up on it entirely. There are plenty of types of fish that will probably change your mind. If the stronger, more “fishy” taste of oily fish like salmon is a little off-putting to you or your kids, try a milder, sweeter fish like tilapia or cod, both of which can be dressed up to appeal to everyone in the family.  

Check out our super-simple Sheet Pan Tilapia recipe.

5: If not using fish quickly, freeze it.

Make sure to refrigerate or freeze your fish as soon as you get home. If you’re refrigerating, you should use it within two days. Otherwise, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or foil, label it with the date you bought it, and put it directly in the freezer. For best results, cook your frozen seafood within three months.

6: Frozen fish is a snap to thaw.

Simply put frozen filets on a plate in the sink and run cold (not hot) water over them for a few minutes until they’re thawed enough to cook.

7: There’s an easy way to cook fish perfectly

If you’re scared of over (or under) cooking your fish, here’s the trick to moist, flavorful filets: Wrap them in foil. The foil traps the tasty juices and lets you easily add flavorings such as herbs, garlic, green onions, and other tasty additions. Bonus: Clean up couldn’t be easier.  

Check out our Foil-Wrapped Baked Salmon recipe.

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