December 10, 2023

How to buy fresh fish: The week before Easter is always a busy week for me. That’s because I always have to find the best fresh fish to make Escovitch Fried Fish for Good Friday. Since I never cook on that day, I have to do all my shopping and cooking ahead of time. Today I’ll be going shopping for fish. The fresher the fish the better; but that goes without saying.

Since Jamaica is surrounded by water it’s never difficult to find fresh fish like snapper, parrot fish or goat fish. However, even if you’re buying from a seaside fisherman, it’s still good to know how to pick the best fish. Here are some of my tips for knowing your fish is fresh:

1. Check the eyes. They should be shiny.

2. Pull back the gills to see if they’re red, or at least pink. That will indicate that the blood was recently flowing and the fish was caught not long before. If the gills are brown you’ll know it’s not fresh.

3. The smell test: All fish will smell like fish, but if it smells really fishy… you know, makes you turn up your nose, it’s probably not fresh at all; don’t buy it.

4. The touch test: Fish should be firm to the touch, not squishy.

When I buy fish at the market, I always ask the fishmonger to clean the fish and remove the fins and scales. Most will do it without asking, but make sure they do. You can also ask him to remove the head if you want, but I don’t have a problem with it so I never do.

When I get home I clean the fish again by scraping it, to remove any remaining scales, and rinsing it with lemon juice and water. I then use a tea towel or paper towel to pat the fish dry. Finally I season it with salt and pepper and place in the fridge overnight until I’m ready to get cooking!

I’ve been cooking Jamaican food for my family for more than 50 years! Now I'm teaching my daughter Angela and you how to cook my treasured family recipes! I'm happy to be of service and love hearing from you so don't forget to leave a comment below.


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