Choosing Your Fish: Freshness and Quality

Appears in

A Feast of Fish

A Feast of Fish

By Ian McAndrew

Published 1989

  • About
Choosing your fish is probably the most important and crucial part of your intended dish: without good quality fresh fish, your dish will be ruined before you start.
My first rule is: do not use anything frozen. However, before I go any further, I must admit that this is as much a personal preference as it is for any other reason. Let me clarify my reasoning before the frozen food industry accuses me of overreacting.

Firstly, I have a policy (and always have had) of not using anything frozen, tinned, bottled or preserved in any way unless I have either done it myself or it is absolutely necessary. Secondly, there are a lot of dishes where frozen fish is definitely unsuitable. Mousselines are a prime example of this. The freezing of fish seems to break down the gluten content of the meat and therefore a good binding of egg white and cream cannot be achieved. Thirdly, have you ever noticed how much ice you get with frozen fish (or glaze as the manufacturers call it!)? Prawns and scallops are both heavily-glazed items; when defrosted, see how much smaller, limp and tired looking they are compared to those lovely, plump, shiny examples of their species sold fresh.