WHAT SHOULD BE REMEMBERED?
Fish should be bought very carefully, especially fresh ones. When they are stored outside a refrigerator, it will be better to walk away. To see if a fish is fresh it is best to press it with your finger. If the hole fills in quickly, we can pay without any fear.
Basic criteria for assessing quality and freshness of fish are:
– Fish colour should be vivid, intense;
– The appearance of fins must be perfect, without any loss;
– The smell should not be intense and nauseating;
– Bones should not come away from meat;
– Amount and appearance of mucus on the skin should not be in excess or cloudy;
– Loss of scales should not be excessive;
– Fish should not be yellow, as bile may be released during cleaning of the gall bladder.
If you want to buy a fish, its freshness can be assessed by looking at its eyes and gills:
– The gills should not be stuck together, and their colour should be intense, red, with no coating;
– Fish eyes should be clear with an intense colour.
Never buy bloom-covered fish or with an unpleasant rotting smell! It is not just about the taste, but also about avoiding food poisoning. Remember that a fresh fish smells of the sea, lake or river, but it does not stink.
Only such fish should be paid attention to, bought and prepared!
Why do fish go bad so fast?
Dead fish are perishable, go bad very fast, and food poisoning caused by their consumption is a major disease. Short fish life is due to the fact that they contain a lot of bacteria on the skin, they are not bled like animals for slaughter and they have digestive enzymes, which work very actively even at plus 2 – 4°C.
Moreover, they contain water and protein substances, which are easily accessible to microorganisms, which also favour the decomposition processes. Fresh dead fish are of good quality when their skin is smooth, shiny, covered with opalescent mucus and muscles are tense, springy under pressure (there are no holes after touching the skin).
Prior to thermal processing (cooking, frying, baking or smoking), we need to prepare fish:
1. If a fish is alive, we must kill it quickly by stunning and cutting the spine at its base.
2. In the case of a frozen fish (excluding fillets) – thaw it, leaving washed carcass in a refrigerator (on the lowest shelf) for a few hours.
3. Keep in mind that a defrozen fish must be prepared as quickly as possible, once thawed it should not be re-frozen!
4. A killed or thawed fish should be rinsed and scales should be scraped. We have to remember that we should scrap the scales first, and then take out the guts. An attempt to degrease a fish that has already been gut usually ends up in an inaccurate and time consuming “scraping”. There are very handy and effective scrapers for fish on the market. We can also use an ordinary knife and cut small scales in the direction from tail to head. Scales of thick skin fish, such as an eel or a burbot, are removed along with the skin, which is removed after cutting it around the head, separating from muscles with a sharp knife. Species such as a trout and a tench, which have a very fine and delicate scale, do not require its removal (according to many people), but if someone wants to do it before scraping, the fish should be scalded with boiling water first.
5. A fish with no scales and slime should be laid on a board and its abdominal wall from the anus opening up to the front of the neck should be cut.
6. Carefully remove the entrails, being careful not to damage the gall bladder, as it can affect the taste of meat (the taste would be awful).
7. It is necessary to remember about thorough cleaning and rinsing of the body cavity getting rid of traces of blood, in particular on the dorsal side (where a fish has kidneys).
8. Fish like water, so we should rinse them thoroughly, cut their heads off as well as fins, and make portions depending on how the fish are going to be served.