Shopping for Fish: Whole Round vs. Dressed vs. Steaks and Fillets
When shopping for fish at the supermarket, you have many choices available to you. There's white fish and dark fish. There are many different varieties of fish. But in terms of preparing fish as an ingredient that you will be cooking with, there is one very important thing that you always want to look for and that's if and how the fish has been cut for you.
There are three basic types of fish that you'll find at the supermarket in terms of how it's been prepared for you to cook it so far. Those three types are:
Whole round. This type of fish hasn't been cut for you at all. In fact, the fish is pretty much the way that it was when it came out of the water. It still has its head on and it still has its organs inside. A lot of people don't want to buy whole round fish because it's the most difficult to prepare. However, there are good reasons to buy whole round fish. For one thing, it's the freshest type of fish and it's going to retain its flavor the best. For another thing, it's usually your least expensive option which is certainly something you think about when doing your grocery shopping these days. If you do decide that you want to buy whole round fish, you should look carefully at it to make sure its fresh. Choose fish that has moist skin but is still firm, smells like the ocean and not actually "like fish" and has eyes that are bright, clear and protruding a bit from the head.
Steaks and fillets. At the opposite end of the spectrum is the fish that has already been cut for you so that it's ready to cook as it is. There are actually two different types of fish within this category: steaks and fillets. Steaks are fish that have been cut widthwise. Fillets are fish that have been cut lengthwise. Steaks still have the large backbone in them and may have skin on a portion of the meat. Fillets don't have any bones or skin. Both are ready to cook as is. When purchasing steaks or fillets, you want to look for flesh that appears firm and moist. You don't want dried-out fish. In the case of steaks, look at the skin to make sure it is still shiny. And again, you shouldn't smell an overly fishy smell.
Dressed. In between whole round fish and steaks/ fillets, you will find another option: dressed fish. The parts of the fish that you might not want to deal with have been removed from this fish. Specifically, the entrails have been removed, and usually other parts like the head and tail have also been taken off for you. The fish hasn't been cut so you can cut it the way that you like but you don't have to deal with the messiness of taking out the insides. You do, however, still have to deal with the bones. And the skin is still on the fish. Many people like this option because it allows you to retain a lot of the freshness and flavor of the fish but cut out some of the biggest hassles in dealing with a whole fish. Choose this fish like you would when looking at the other cuts of fish, looking for shiny skin and moist, firm flesh.
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