Safe Storage and Preparation of Seafood
Fresh seafood is one of life's luxuries. However, inadequate preparation can lead to a variety of gastrointestinal problems which not only spoil any dinner parties you might have, but could also pose a risk to health. Follow these 5 basic tips to ensure that you prepare your seafood safely and enjoy a mouthwatering feast.
Check Before You Buy
Always smell your seafood. Bizarrely enough, fish won't smell fishy if it is fresh and has been stored correctly. Always take the time to check the date on any products you buy and ensure that you transfer them to the fridge or freezer as soon as possible at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or less. If you plan on shopping for long periods of time, collect your fish last so that they remain cold for as long as possible. Fish eyes, while a little creepy, should be bright and firm, the scales should cling tightly to the fish, and the gills should be free of grime. Don't be afraid to ask your fishmonger to physically hold the fish and inspect it before you buy.
Always wash your seafood in clean freshwater from the tap. Seafood, particularly shellfish, often contains grit and other particles that house bacteria. While this bacteria may be killed in the cooking process, removing it will not only improve the texture and flavour, it acts as an additional preventative measure against stomach bugs. Alongside this, always wash your hands with anti-bacterial soap before and after handling the fish to avoid transferring bacteria. Having a handy packet of anti-bacterial wipes is a quick and easy way to wipe up any spillages without having to touch the tap with grimy hands.
Always make sure you prepare your seafood away from the other components of your dish to prevent cross-contamination. In professional kitchens, a blue chopping board is used purely for seafood. In the home, you may not have one. However, avoid using cheap wooden boards, as the scratches caused by cutting can house bacteria if not properly cleaned. Instead, try to use heavy duty plastic or glass boards.
Always store raw and cooked fish in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer. It will reduce any odours from tainting the fish and keep your home smelling fresh. However, if you are storing live shellfish such as oysters, use a large dish and cover it in a damp cloth to help them to retain moisture and stay alive.
Whenever buying or cooking seafood, always follow your instinct. If you don't feel certain about the quality, then don't buy it or throw it away. Always buy the best seafood you can afford, and follow these basic storage tips to help you create a gorgeous seafood feast for everyone to enjoy.