Selecting Seafood

Island Epicure

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Seafood, so varied in flavor, price, ease of cooking, so  high in nutritional value (think Omega 3 fat) deserves a place on our menus at least once a week. Son Steve and I eat fish, shrimp, oysters, or clams more often than that. Here are some tips for selecting seafoods.

Buy everything else on your shopping list first, fish last.   Even the freshest fish needs to transported to your home at once and refrigerated promptly in order to keep its best flavor.
In the store the fish should be displayed on ice, of course, and the ice should be clear with no rounded edges and no yellowing..

2.  If choosing from packaged fish, take the package with the farthest-off sell by date. It should be the freshest.
3.  Notice if there is any liquid in the package; that means the fish lost fluid while waiting too long for a buyer. Choose a package with no liquid in it.
4.  When buying a whole fresh fish, lookit  in the eye. Its eyes should not be sunken in.
5.  Prefer fish from northern waters; southeast Asian fish and shrimp may not have been  frozen promptly enough after being caught.
6.  There should be no ice on the skin of packaged fish. If there is, that suggests that the packaging lets in air and bacteria.
7.    Don’t buy exotic fish unless it you have great faith in your fishmonger. It helps if the fish has been flash-frozen and kept frozen or on ice in your refrigerator until just before you start cooking it. You should still be able to feel some ice crystals in the fish as it goes into the pan.
8.  Store frozen fish in the back of your freezer and use it within 4 weeks.
9. To use frozen fish, leave it in its translucent package, or put it in one, and run cold water over it until it’s no longer rigid.

As I wrote this, our world was mostly in shades of white. Snowflakes nearly as large as the palm of my hand had been falling all day and the depth of snow on our patio was about 8 inches. We’d had Bouillabaisse , a French fish soup, for supper, courtesy of my daughter, Suzanna, and delivered on skis by her son James. I give you a recipe for a simpler, but just as delicious, Italian fish soup.

CACCIUCO
Serves 3 to 4

3 garlic cloves, sliced
1 cup chopped onion
Dash red hot pepper flakes
2 Tablespoons minced parsley
¼ cup olive oil
½ cup dry red wine
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
2 cups chicken broth
8 ounces white boneless fish, i.e. sole, turbot, or tilapia, cut in bite size pieces
4 ounces small shelled shrimp
2 Tablespoons fresh herbs or 1 Tablespoon if dried:  marjoram, basil, or rosemary or a combination
In a large skillet or wok, over medium heat,  warm the olive oil. Add the garlic, onion, red pepper flakes, parsley, and wine. Srir. Cook about 2 minutes. Add the fish and shrimp if raw.  If using dried herbs, add them now.Stir gently.  Reduce heat to low. Cover and cook  7 to 10 minutes, until fish is opaque. Ladle over toast in bowls. Sprinkle with fresh chopped herbs.