Tips for Buying Fish

by | Last updated Jul 12, 2020 | Published on Jun 26, 2017 | Article, Fish, Tips

How to buy fresh fish in the market? Characteristic? Color?

fish market

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Often I come across questions like how to tell if the fish is fresh? How do you choose fresh fish? What is the characteristic? What is the color? etc. So to simplify these questions, I take some time and compile all the best possible answers in this written article. Hope this helps!

To choose a fresh fish, you must;

  1. Inspect overall of the fish – See
  2. Feel the fish slime, skin and body – Touch
  3. Smell the fish odor – Smell

Whole Fresh Fish, Fillets, Steaks, or Pieces.


The fish should have these characteristic;

  1. The gills should be moist and bright red.
  2. The eyes should be shiny, full as in whole, and flush.
  3. The skin should be bright, tight, adhere to the flesh, and glistering.
  4. The flesh should be firm and elastic.
  5. The scales should be glistering, cling to the skin, intact and bright shine.
  6. The fish odor should be sweet and pleasant.

They should not have these characteristic;

  1. Brown gills.
  2. Sunken eyes into the bones.
  3. Dull colored skins and scales.
  4. The flesh is easily separated for the bones.
  5. Swollen belly.
  6. Muddy smell.


Should have these characteristic;

    1. The flesh should be firm, fresh, and glistering.
    2. Should looks solidly frozen with whole fish intact.
    3. Preferably watertight packaging.

Should not have these characteristic;

      1. Drying or freezer burn – a sign of left opened without proper sealing which will results in tough and hard texture due to moisture lost.
      2. No frost or ice crystals on the inside of the packaging – indicate good packaging procedure.
      3. Should not look dark brown – too long period of frozen.

Salt-Cured Fish & Smoked Fish

The flesh should have a pleasant odor and good coloration which still retain its juice and should not be dried out.

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  1. Shawn

    Always wanted to know this! Thanks for writing this.
    Btw, is fish with red eyes okay?

    • Ethan Wong

      Hi Shawn! It depends, some fish’s eyes are red naturally. Perhaps u could inspect the rest and see if the others is red too, then you would know.


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Ethan Wong

Hey, thanks for dropping by.
I curate recipes at the weekend, otherwise, on the weekdays I spend time hunting for stuff at YS. Oh yeah, I spend my break time learning to code.
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