Table of contents:
- 1. Don't smell
- 2. Stop on the surface
- 3. Forget that too much is good
- 4. Fly over the provenance
- 5. Be lazy
2023 Author: Cody Thornton | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-05-24 11:20
After the market, the fishmonger it's my favorite shopping spot. The man who wants to make me happy does not have to take me in search of It-Bag or décolleté with red soles, but of St. Peter's fish, magnificent scorpion fish, live mantis shrimp that when you touch them they snap and you can already imagine them ending up in the sauce to season spaghetti.
The fish counter has the effect on me that, as a child, the toymaker's window where grandmother accompanied me at Christmas had.
As I was then enchanted in front of the Barbie's house and yes, even at the Dolce Forno, today I enlighten myself in contemplation of a superb lobster swimming in the tub or a handful of humble and sparkling anchovies. I would always buy everything.
Of course, if the fish shop and the goods live up to expectations. The right choice, needless to say, must be made after a careful examination of what the fishmonger offers. And, above all, avoiding making mistakes: the 5 mistakes that could constitute the crime of careless gastronomic purchase.
1. Don't smell
It's true: the fishy smell is strong. But not unpleasant. It does not stick in the throat, it does not curl the nostrils. It brings to mind holidays by the sea, boat trips, gathering sea urchins on the rocks, walks to the port along the quays of the fishing boats. It is intense and characteristic, but immediately suggestive of the goodness of the dishes you are going to cook.
If we are talking about fresh fish. That is: beware of any unbearable smell you feel, from that of putrefaction, which does not need further explanation, to that of ammonia, a sign that additives have been used to mask the real state of the product (see point 3).
And if the stench invades the store or announces that of the fishmonger at a distance, run away.
2. Stop on the surface
At the bottom of the crates, among the splinters of crushed ice, blood and sewage flow and collect. The more hours pass from the death of the fish, the more these humors are abundant, dark, smelly.
It matters little that on the surface the mountain of sardines present perfect, intact, sparkling specimens: decoy and superficial buyers.
The hand of the fraudulent fishmonger will plunge into the heap and put the lower down fish in your bag: those of yesterday or - diononivoglia - of two days ago, which languish and drip for hours and hours.
So, don't stop at appearances but learn to peek and use your special X-ray vision if necessary. To check that what is underneath is of the same, excellent quality as what is peeping above.
3. Forget that too much is good
The too red of tuna: carbon monoxide. The too white of cuttlefish: hydrogen peroxide. The too pulpy of cod fillets: polyphosphates. The too pink of prawns: sulphites.
Nature is lively and it is always said to check that the fish has firm and elastic flesh and bright colors, from the silver of the livery to the black of the eye to the white flesh. There is a difference between the brilliant and the blinding, and it is called additives. Some legitimate, some not, all serve to mask a quality that is not exactly immaculate.
How to flush them out? Comparing the appearance with the smell referred to in point 1 and the sewage referred to in point 2 is not always sufficient, even if it can be revealing.
What dispels all doubts and guarantees that the superlative aspect actually corresponds to an extra freshness, is the label: the tag must bear the date of fishing and certify the absence of any ingredient other than the fish but, above all, the absence. of E-something.
4. Fly over the provenance
I will be self-sufficient, but if I can choose between a national and a foreign fish, I will prefer the Italian. Between the Mediterranean and the Oceans, the first I mentioned. Followed by the North Seas, the North East Atlantic and the Central East Atlantic, practically beyond Gibraltar.
Well, what am I going to tell you to do? The less road the fish traveled to get to the market, the better. While frozen or thawed specialties should be chosen based on the peculiarities of the places of origin, such as lobsters from Maine or Moroccan octopuses.
I tell you a secret: what comes from Southeast Asia does not give me much confidence. But maybe I am strange?
5. Be lazy
The fish stinks from the head. That of the crustaceans, then, becomes really black, as well as the legs. Taking everything away, the rest of the body is still acceptable for one day.
This is why mullet fillets and shrimp tails (especially if entirely shelled) should make you suspicious, rather than entice you.
Of course, they tempt you, immediately ready to cook. But perhaps they were not prepared out of courtesy but to make presentable a product that, intact, would have inspired little confidence.
Do you want clean and filleted fish? Befriend the fishmonger, choose the intact specimens and ask to prepare them at the moment.
Or, better yet, shelled and filleted yourself. After all, a pinch of dexterity and, if necessary, a good knife are enough.
What then, part of the pleasure of a good fish dish lies in the choice, but also in the preparation.