How to Choose Seafood at a Supermarket
If you love seafood but live far from the coast or in a small town with no good fish markets the only way to get quality fish is to purchase it at the supermarket. However, if you know how to find the best seafood available at the supermarket your chances of getting premium quality seafood are quite high. So, head to the nearest store with the following guidelines in mind.
Check the Freezer Section
When you are in the city that is located far away from the coastal area, just ignore the "fresh" fish you will see displayed in the supermarket. It сan be several days old or even thawed, pre-frozen. People who live inland don't eat fish as often as those who live on the coast, so the supermarkets don't bother selling top-quality seafood. However frozen fish offered for sale there is unlikely to be damaged much.
You can skip the first rule if you shop in the area with a local freshwater fishery. The northerners can treat on walleye and yellow perch considered world-class fish. Smoked whitefish is very popular in some states and great sturgeon can be purchased even in the Pacific Northwest. Keep in mind that farmed catfish and trout are offered for sale throughout the country, and the methods employed for raising fish are environmentally friendly.
When you are choosing frozen fish make sure you read the labels. Opt for seafood that was caught in America, Canada, Iceland or New Zealand. These countries are known for maintaining the highest level of fishing management practices on the globe, and when you buy American seafood, you support national employment as well. Stay away from farmed shrimp from Southeast Asia as they contain lots of chemicals and pesticides, and are bad for the environment and, of course, people.
You can find really good shellfish in a big inland city but if that is not the case avoid purchasing so called "fresh" clams, oysters, mussels or lobsters. You may retort that lobsters are sold live in tanks, but, in fact, they lose much of their quality when they stay in a tank. Again, this rule has exceptions. For example, Easterners eat a lot of lobster, so the stock of lobsters will move fast. But lobsters in a tank in Iowa could be waiting for the customer for several weeks. Also it is hard to ship live clams, oysters or mussels long distances without losing quality. It is possible, but the price will be high. So consider buying frozen shellfish or opt for fish instead.
Opt for Value-Added Seafood
Smoked fish and canned fish can be easily shipped long distances so you are sure to find really good products in most supermarkets. Consider purchasing local smoked fish like whitefish or trout, or the smoked salmon. If you prefer canned fish, European tuna, sardines or anchovies are really good.
Choose the Right Frozen Fish
Did you know that some fish may be unsuited to freezing? Do remember that oily fish like yellowtail or some tuna never freeze well. Salmon falls into this category as well as it can suffer if it stays frozen for a long period of time. Instead consider purchasing some of the following fish usually readily available in most supermarkets. These are: Pacific cod or pollock, American shrimp and squid, sockeye salmon, catfish, Alaskan king or snow crab, walleye, sole, swordfish or thresher shark, snapper, yellowtail tuna, Pacific halibut, tilapia, vacuum-packed sea scallops.
Look for the Seal
If the frozen fish is sold in vacuum-sealing it is a sign of good quality. The only exception to this rule is the seafood that was "flash frozen," i.e. it is freshly caught seafood frozen in a super-cooler. Seafood frozen this way can be stored without a vacuum seal for several months.