Fish is one of the most common food items of Indian people especially those inhibiting along the 7500 Km long coastline. A number of cuisines are prepared from fishes ranging from curries, pickles, papad etc. The most commonly consumed freshwater fishes are Major carps like Labeo rohita, Catla catla, minor carps like Labeo calbasu, trouts, catfishes etc. The major marine fishes of India are Mackerel, Pomfrets, Bombay duck, Sardines, and salmon. Hilsa is both freshwater and marine.
Selection of the fresh fish is necessary to get a proper savory of the item being cooked. Stale fish can be identified by a number of external factors. Fish is also highly prone to microbial spoilage due to high protein content in it.
The most basic signs to check a fresh fish are :
- Clear and bright pupil and transparent cornea with bulging eyes. Spoilt fish have milky eyes which do not pop out.
- Gills are red in color. The gills cover also adhere firmly with no blood spots. Gills are brown in stale fishes. Gill covers are detached and opaque.
- Scales are tight i.e. they are attached firmly to the skin whereas in spoilt fishes they come out easily.
- The flesh is firm. Spoilt fish have soft flesh which does not spring back when touched.
- It should not produce any ammoniacal odor. Fresh fish has a clean briny smell like sea water. Fresh water fishes when spoilt produce an ammoniacal smell. Marine fishes if spoilt produce a combined smell of ammonia and TMAO (Trimethyl Ammonia N-oxide).
- Greenish or yellowish discoloration is common in spoilt fishes whereas fresh fishes have their typical shiny color. They may be slimy and mushy at places.
- Fresh fishes have a tight and adhering skin whereas spoilt fishes have wrinkled skin which can be removed easily.
- Fresh fishes have a vertebral column which sticks firmly to muscles but it does not stick in spoilt fishes.
- The abdomen in fresh fishes is not tight, saggy or swollen whereas in spoilt fishes they are flaccid and swollen with spots.
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So next time when you go to buy a fish,do remember these points and surprise your elder ones.
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