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Do you ask to smell the fish?

  • care11 Aug 27, 2009 05:33 AM
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When you're buying fish from the market, do you ask to smell it first before they wrap it up? I purchased some salmon the other day from the supermarket (have never had a bad experience at this place) and cooked it up that night. When my husband unwrapped it, we knew it smelled a little "off" but we were starving and excited for salmon so he grilled it anyway. Well...we couldn't even take one bite, out in the trash it went. I always feel weird asking to "sniff" (something about sticking my nose in it) the fish but if I had... I would NEVER had purchased it...what do you do?

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  1. no not weird at all, especially shellfish. always ask to sniff FIRST. for whole fish also check the eyes.

    1. Now, I'm usually not a fan of "picky" behavior in stores (I've gone on and on about people shucking/rejecting corn). However, if you're in a supermarket, it's necessary to give the fish a sniff.

      It's always a joy to have a fish seller one can trust. I don't like the idea of "supermarket fish."

      The most glorious experience buying fish is in the teeming markets in New York City's Chinatown, where everything's right out there, on ice - usually superbly fresh. But even in that situation, they can and do make mistakes, and that's why "the nose knows."

      2 Replies
      1. re: shaogo

        I agree, I prefer not to buy seafood from the supermarket but we love fish so much that in my daily life, it just makes sense sometimes. Funny you mention trusting the seller. On this particular day, it was not the usual fish guy that I have come to know at this place. This might sound silly but this guy was so impersonal, it all just felt wrong. I haven't been back since.

        We lived in Manhattan for 6 years and loved going down to Chinatown to buy seafood...often exclaiming...what the H@&% is that?! But lots of fun! We also bought from Eli's on 91st and York. Those were the days...

        1. re: shaogo

          >>>
          The most glorious experience buying fish is in the teeming markets in New York City's Chinatown, where everything's right out there, on ice.. .
          <<<

          That's all well and good if you happen to live near Chinatown, but it's a bit of commute from Syracuse. Us peasants have to "make do" with what's available locally...which isn't bad nowadays.

        2. Never allow yourself to become so starved that you will eat spoiled fish! Even if you have to be rude, ask for a sniff first!

          1 Reply
          1. re: Lewes17266

            You are SO right! I learned the hard way. Never again!

          2. I do my "sniff test" long before I get up close to the fish counter. If I had a dollar for everytime I've ever smelled bleach or ammonia emanating from the fish department in a grocery store, I'd have been able to buy my own longliner long ago. If the place smells of cleaning products, I know I don't want its fish.

            Then, I rely on my eyes. If the flesh segments on the fish show even the slightest sign of beginning to separate, it's not fresh enough.

            I'm probably remiss in not asking to smell the fish, and perhaps I will now after reading your post. I buy my fish from one of two places: a small, family-held market that has the best meats, poulty and fish around. The fish and seafood come in fresh, every morning, and they buy only from small, private fisherman (yes, I guess there are actually one or two of them left here along the New England coast). The other place is a supermarket that *is* part of a chain, but it gets the fish in fresh four days a week. I only buy fish on those days, and I choose only from the varieties that came in those days. This is the only supermarket *I* remember shopping in where I've never *once* smelled cleaning chemicals obviously intended to cover up the telltale signs of aging fish.

            There are reputable, reliable fish markets around here. I need to zero in on one, but I just haven't got around to it yet.

            1. Yes - Tstae too! An earlier discussion:

              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/613482

              1. Each and every time. Never had a problem, but I smell every time, none the less.