So you’ve decided to open a seafood restaurant. Or maybe your F&B outlet serves seafood dishes.
Either way, you need to ensure your seafood supply is fresh and delicious. We’ve listed a few tips here to help you pick the best products from your local supplier and keep your customers coming back for more.
Fish shouldn’t smell like fish
First and foremost, if seafood smells fishy, leave. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration states that raw fish “should smell fresh and mild, not fishy.”
All fresh seafood should be kept as close to 32°F as possible to maintain freshness. This is normally done by refrigerating it or keeping it on ice.
Here’s a caveat though. Raw prawns (or shrimp) should have a mild smell, not an overpowering one. The condition of the shell is a better indicator of fresh prawns. They should not have blackened edges or black spots. Black lines, the natural markings of tiger prawns are not a sign of staleness.
Crowds a sign of quality
Crowded marketplace is a good indicator that the produce sold there is good quality.
It also means that the inventory is constantly being restocked, ensuring that the seafood is also fresh.
Good skin, clear eyes.
Remember the days when you’d follow your momma or grandma to the market and they’d be there scrutinising the fish with eagle eyes?
And do you remember what they would have taught you in the process?
Fresh fish looks crisp and clean. The scales should adhere tightly to the skin, which should be shiny.
As for the flesh, firm is good. When you press it gently, it should bounce back immediately.
The eyes should not be sunken or cloudy.
The gills on the other hand should be red as old fish tend to have their blood drained out. Dull gills which are green, grey or brown should be avoided. The same applies for slimy seafood.
If you’re buying fillets, ensure the edges are not brown or grey. A clear sign that the seafood has left the waters a long time ago.
The iodine-rich squid is another popular seafood and picking top quality squid is not that hard. Keep an eye out for firm flesh and untorn, cream-coloured and red-spotted skin. The eyes should again (like all seafood) be clear and full.
Live crabs and lobsters should show some leg movement. These crustaceans spoil quickly after death, so only live crabs and lobsters should be selected and prepared.
Frozen can still mean fresh
Logic tells us that fresh is certainly better than frozen but that’s not always the case.
Heard of the term“fresh frozen”? It’s what happens when seafood is immediately frozen upon catch. This happens most often while still on the ship itself thanks to freezers being on board as well. These freezers use temperatures much lower than regular home freezers.
Immediately freezing the catch ensures all of its flavor and nutrition, as well as its texture, is locked in.
To find the best flash-frozen fish, you need to look for vacuum-sealed fish which have the same signs of freshness mentioned above.
Last item on the list
Finally, purchase your seafood last as it is the most easily perishable. Ideally, transport it in ice on your way back to your restaurant before immediately storing in the freezer. If it’s going to be the “Catch Of The Day”, keep it in your refrigerator at temperatures 40°F or below (check this with a thermometer). This way, you won’t have to spend time thawing the seafood before you start prepping and cooking it for your customers.
To learn more or collaborate with seafood industry experts, pre-register to attend the Malaysian International Food & Beverage (MIFB) 2020 Trade Fair from 22-24 July 2020.