Do you get intimidated walking up to the fish counter? With so many different names, colors, sizes and textures, it can definitely get overwhelming. Luckily, there is always someone behind the counter! The fishmonger is there to answer all of your questions and help you find the best-tasting, most sustainable and nutritious fish available. Not sure how to pick his or her brain? Here’s a guide to the top six questions to ask if you want delicious fish!

Top 6 Questions to Ask a Fishmonger

  1. What fish or shellfish would you recommend this time of year – what is in season? Yes seafood does have a season.

A lot of people don’t realize that most fish have seasons, this might mean that you have to adapt your recipe—but most recipes adapt easily to other varieties of fish. Your fishmonger should know what’s in season or what is the freshest product to use on that day.

  1. This could be followed up with “what would you recommend?”

Depending on your cooking method, the fish monger could recommend an oily fish like amberjack if it’s being broiled or a salmon steak if being roasted or pan-fried.

  1. Where was this fish caught? Who supplied the fish? 

These questions are a good way to gauge both how fresh the fish is and how knowledgeable your fishmonger is. Don’t be afraid to ask where the fish came from and how it was caught or farmed.

Ask about freshness, check out the fish cabinet: Is there a fishy smell in the air? (Hopefully not) The fish filets should look firm. Whole fish should look shiny, with clear, bright eyes; the gills should be reddish. 

  1. If you’re unsure of how to cook fish or shellfish ask the fishmonger for his advice.

Most fishmongers can offer suggestions on how to cook a whole fish or smaller portions of fish to shellfish. For me if you are unsure or it’s the first time cooking fish, then ask for an 6oz fillet, when you get home, just rub a bit of olive oil on both sides of the fish, sprinkle on salt and freshly ground black pepper, bake or broil the fish for about 5 to 7 minutes, or until the required doneness and serve with lemon and a sprinkling of chopped parsley. Pan-frying is another excellent, easy option.

  1. Buying whole fish?

Ask the fishmonger to scale, gut and wash the fish to even taking off the filets. You can ask for the bones if you want to make your own stock or broth.

  1. Before leaving the fishmonger, ask “How should I store the fish until I cook it?”

Hopefully you are planning on using the fish the day of purchase, but if not. Then the fishmonger should advise you take it out of the packaging, place it in a zip-top plastic bag, squeezing the air out and sealing the bag. Place the bag between two layers of ice in a colander set over a bowl, and put the whole thing in the refrigerator until you decide to use cook it.

Sure, it may be overwhelming, but there is no need to be scared of the fish counter. Using a fishmonger as your guide will give you the confidence to experiment with new species and flavors, and, maybe even the desire to become a seafood expert yourself