Six Tips on Buying Fish, From Cod & Capers Owner Steve Gyland
The idea that fish is only a few hours old -- even just a few days -- is simply not realistic, said Gyland. The reality is that most fish is sold to the consumer at least five to seven days after harvest. Anyone who tells you it's just a few days old or "came in today" may be referring to the shipment -- not the actual catch date.
(Gyland was quick to point out that some independent markets or Whole Foods often do have local, fresh catches bought from locally licensed fishermen.)
Many people don't know that almost all shrimp are frozen, said Gyland. Shrimping boats can be out for days at a time before they are ready to take in the catch, so fishermen are forced to freeze what they catch in order to bring in a good harvest. So if it's frozen, don't shy away from buying it thinking it's subpar.
There's a big difference between buying from a private market and your local Winn-Dixie, said Gyland, and not just when it comes to price. Independent suppliers like Cod & Capers are able to pick and choose which distributors and farms they buy their fish from, whereas a large corporate grocer is less likely to be doing any small-scale buying from purveyors that offer organic (European only) or wild fish.
Gyland also works with a well-educated staff at all times -- people trained to tell a sole from a bass. Think it's not so hard? The picture above shows how a similar cut from two different fish can look almost identical (left is sole; right is bass).