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Seafood Preparation -
Tips for Identifying Fresh Fish & Seafood

When preparing your fish and seafood for recipes, below are some useful tips and information that make life easier!

Tips on Identifying Fresh Fish:

* Fresh fish have plump, bright eyes.  If the eyes are glazed or dull and sunken, the fish is not fresh.

* If a fish is gutted, the blood along the backbone should be brightly coloured, if it's not the fish is not fresh.

* A strong "fishy" odor is another indication that the fish is not fresh.  The smell should be fresh and pleasant.  Spoiled fish has a strong, unpleasant ammonia-like smell that you will quickly recognise.

* If you have frozen fish, once thawed you should use it within 24 hours - 48 at the most.  Do not refreeze fish.

Picture of a fresh whole fish. Notice the bright eyes- this is a very good indication of the freshness of whole fish. The longer the fish have been dead, the more the eyes are glazed or opaque, dull or sunken.

Picture of a fresh whole fish. Notice the bright eyes- this is a very good indication of the freshness of whole fish. The longer the fish have been dead, the more the eyes are glazed, opaque, dull or sunken.

How to tell if fish fillets are fresh:
Fish fillets and steaks should have firm, elastic flesh and a fresh-cut, moist appearance, with no browning around the edges. Fillets separate if they are left too long in the case. The flesh should be almost translucent as if you can almost see through it. There should be little evidence of bruising or reddening of the flesh from retention of blood. Prepackaged steaks and fillets should contain a minimum of liquid. Fish fillets stored in liquid deteriorate quickly.

Picture showing what fresh fish fillets look like, fresh red snapper fillets

Fresh Red Snapper Fillets

Scallops are not usually sold live because they are highly perishable. Typically scallops are shucked at sea shortly after capture. On occasion, day boats will bring whole scallops to market or local restaurants. Fresh scallop meats have a firm texture and a distinctly sweet odor. A sour or iodine smell indicates spoilage. The smaller bay and calico scallops are usually creamy white, although there may be some normal light tan or pink coloration. The larger sea scallops are also generally creamy white, although they may show some normal light orange or pink color.

Fresh Scallops on Shell, shellfish, scallop

Fresh Scallops on Shell

Live crabs and lobsters should show leg movement, and the tail of lobsters should curl tightly underneath the body and not hang down when the lobster is picked up. Lobsters and crabs will not be very active if they have been refrigerated, but they should move at least a little bit.

Cooked lobsters, crabs, slipper lobsters or bugs in the shell should be bright red and have no disagreeable odor. Picked lobster meat will be snowy white with red tints, while crab meat is white with red or brown tints, depending on the species or the section of the body it was picked from.

Photo showing fresh cooked moreton bay bugs or slipper lobsters

Fresh Cooked Moreton Bay Bugs or Slipper Lobsters

Cooked, picked lobster or crab meat should have good color and no disagreeable odor.

Picture showing fresh cooked canned crab meat

Fresh Cooked Crab Meat

Prawns | Shrimps | Raw shrimp meat should be firm and have a mild odor. The shells of most varieties are translucent with a grayish green, pinkish tan, or light pink tint. The shells should not have blackened edges or black spots this is a sign of quality loss. Cooked shrimp meat should be firm and have no disagreeable odor. The color of the meat should be white with red or pink tints. Tiger shrimp have bluish colored shells with black lines between the segments of the shell (these are not black spots). The photos below show fresh green (raw) prawns or shrimp and freshly cooked prawns shrimp.

Freshly caught Red Spot King Prawns - Very Fresh Shrimp

Fresh green (raw) King Prawns - Very Fresh whole Shrimp

Fresh Cooked Tiger Prawns | Freshly cooked Tiger Shrimp

Fresh Cooked Tiger Prawns | Freshly cooked Tiger Shrimp

Whole squid should have eyes that are clear and full, and the skin should be un-torn and the meat very firm. The skin of fresh squid is cream colored with reddish brown spots. As squid ages, the skin turns pinkish and the flesh will yellow.

picture showing what fresh squid looks like

Fresh, cleaned Squid


Seafood Recipes


Fish & Seafood Recipe Videos - How to cook & clean abalone, sea bass with pepper sauce, Kentucky fried catfish, miso glazed barramundi, rock oysters with caviar, linguini with white clam sauce, Wild Alaska Tamarind Cod, Jamaican codfish cakes, lobster, scallops, mahi recipes and more


More information: Seafood Health Facts: Making Smart Choices - A joint project of Oregon State University, Cornell University, the Universities of Delaware, Rhode Island, Florida & California and the Community Seafood Initiative.

Red snapper cooking
Red Snapper with Island Citrus Shrimp Ceviche and Lemon Beurre Blanc
Crispy Salmon
Crispy Salmon
Mahi Mahi with Citrus Salsa
Mahi Mahi with Citrus Salsa
Seabass with Tarragon wine sauce
Seabass with Tarragon wine sauce

Barramundi and Prosciutto
Barramundi and Prosciutto
Trout Burger, fish burger
Trout Burger
Tuna Stuffed Pasta Shells
Tuna Stuffed Pasta Shells

Other sections that may help you:
Retail Seafood Sales - Where to buy your seafood, list of fish shops by country. Fish Photos & Info - Photographs, information, nutritional information, locality, suppliers and scientific data.
Seafood Recipes - Hundreds of recipes for fish and shellfish, many including photos. Fish Information - How to cook fish, identifying fresh fish, identifying your catch, links to recipes, photographs, nutritional information.
Seafood Restaurants - Can't be bothered cooking? Find your local seafood restaurant.


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