Talk to your fishmonger, they are experts and will be able to advise you what fish is plentiful and value for money. Be open to change, if the variety you want isn’t available, substitute another. Fish is very versatile and one type can easily be swapped for another in a recipe. Again your fishmonger will be a mine of valuable information.
Your fishmonger will be happy to fillet or skin fish if you feel you’re not up to the task. Get the fish into the fridge as soon as possible – remember it’s highly perishable and must be kept cool.
Choose whole fish with bright, prominent shining eyes, bright red or pink gills, distinct skin colour and above all a clean fresh ‘sea smell’. Fillets should be translucent with no sign of discolouration.
Fish can be offered for sale prepared in a number of different ways:
Whole ungutted fish: Whole fish should not have burst bellies as this is an indication of spoilage.
Gutted fish: Gutted fish should be free of all gut pieces, with clean washed gut cavity. The head may or may not be left on. If the fish is cooked "head-on" the gills should be removed as should every trace of blood along the back bone.
Steaks and Cutlets: Steaks and cutlets are made by cutting across the backbone of the fish. Steaks and cutlets should be about 2.5cm/1 inch in thickness. All traces of blood must be removed from steaks/cutlets. Steaks/cutlets should be neatly cut.
Block fillet/Butterfly fillet: With this type of fillet the flesh is cut from both sides of a fish with the two pieces remaining held together by the skin. Small whiting, herring and mackerel are often filleted in this manner.
Side/Single fillet: This is a slice of flesh removed from one side of a fish by a cut made parallel to the back bone. All fins and bones, with the exception of pin bones, are removed. Cod is usually filleted in this way.
Darne: A darne is a portion of a fillet cut perpendicular to where the backbone used to be. Salmon is often prepared in this way.
Certain types of fish are presented for sale in forms suited to the species.
Ray: Normally sold as wings with the skin removed.
Monkfish: Often the head is removed and just the tail presented. The skin is normally removed.
Rock salmon: Difficult to fillet and skin. Normally it is presented for sale in lengths (filleted and skinned) with just the central cartilage remaining.
Squid: Usually presented with head and tentacles removed and body opened out resembling a triangular shape.