Guide to choosing and cooking fish

For some, preparing and cooking fish is seen as a challenge, but in truth, it's a basic skill that once learned will add significantly to the repertoire. Fish, as a starter or main course is a fantastic choice. Most fish is healthy, sustainable, and delicious, there are a few basic rules to follow but once known fish fingers may give way to Cod Goujons, Prawn Cocktail to Langoustines with Rose Marie Sauce and boil in the bag white fish to North Sea Haddoock Loin in a Lemon & Dill Jus.

First Lesson - Catch the Fish

Many supermarkets in the UK have abandoned their "fresh" fish counters in favour of large multideck fridges with pre-packed fish, some may consider this a travesty but bear in mind their fresh fish counters were unprofitable and labour intensive and we all know that the supermarkets are in desperate need of higher profits and less staff. Regrettably, unless you have a local supermarket stocking truly fresh fish, staffed by knowledgeable people then forget it. If you buy pre-packed fish, chances are it will be smothered in a non-descript sauce made with unpronouncable preservatives and flavourings. It is a perfectly safe product, but it's basically processed protein. Check around for local fishmongers either in shops, mobile vans or on line, there are so many great fish mongers out there its worth searching them out. With modern transport and shipping there's a good chance you will receive fresh or well frozen food within a day or two of it being landed from online suppliers

Get Fresh with Fish.

If you are buying fish and you have the opportunity to see it whole before it's cut so much the better. The eyes should be clear, the skin should be shiny, if its from the sea it should smell of nothing other than a slight ozone, if its a fresh farmed fish like Salmon or Trout it should not have a pungent aroma, in fact if it smells off dont buy it. Sometimes when you buy fresh or smoked fish that has been freshly vacuum packed there can be a slight odor when opening it, but rinsed in cold water and patted dry the natural aroma should return. It should always be kept chilled to about 4-6 degrees.

The Big Freeze.

Frozen fish is generally extremely good depending on several factors. Firstly it should be frozen as fast as possible, by that I mean not only as soon as its landed and prepped but also in a spiral or plate freezer to freeze it properly. Some industrial processors use a technique called "Glazing" this add water to the fish before and during the freezing process. Processors will tell you that it preserves the fish surface better, what they wont tell you is that water is cheaper than fish, the more water in the glaze, the cheaper and heavier the final product, so, given the choice choose unglazed or lighly glazed fish. Most reputable suppliers will not glaze their fish prior to freezing so when it defrosts, you will get great quality product.

OK so now Im looking at a slab of fish, whats next ??

It depends.. Type of Fish, Size of Fish,