Tucker Ricchio, Truffle Shuffle Head Studio Chef, butcher, and all around culinary badass, has worked in some of the world’s top kitchens, including as a Sous Chef at the two Michelin-starred Acquerello, all while continuing to work at a butcher shop in her free time.
In other words, she knows a thing or two about picking out the finest ingredients, particularly when it comes to spotting the freshest fish!
I spoke with Chef Tuck about the go-to signs for how to pick a fish. Or, in her words, “peek a feesh.”
Should you buy whole or fillet?
There are pros and cons to each, so it really depends on your priorities.
The more the fish is cut up, the more exposure it has to bacteria and the quicker it will age. If your primary aim is the freshest fish possible, consider buying whole and butchering the fish yourself (keep an eye out for Chef Tyler’s fish butchery classes to learn how).
Or, simply bake or grill the fish whole for a nice, festive presentation–though you’ll have less control over the final result, as fish varies by size. While you may wind up overcooking the tail to get that perfect cook on the belly, at the end of the day it’s a super fresh fish that will still be delicious!
As an added bonus, a whole fish tends to be cheaper by the pound. That said, you really can’t beat the ease of buying a pre-cut fish fillet.
Should you buy farmed or fresh?
Again, it depends on the fish! While you can get some absolutely delicious and interesting wild caught fish, like trout or bass, you don’t want to sleep on the farmed fish just because it sounds slightly less sexy.
Fish farmers have the utmost control over the fish’s environment, controlling for variables like toxins and diet, often yielding incredible results. Ōra King salmon from New Zealand, for example, is some of the best fish in the world, achieved through farming and breeding techniques.
How to Select a Whole Fish
Identifying a super fresh whole fish is slightly easier, as it has some key indicators that are lost once it’s broken down.
Whether whole or fillet, these are the signs that your fish is fresh.
As an alternative, you can always order the world’s best fish from us! ;) Check out all of our delicious upcoming seafood experiences here.
This light and healthy dish is best served when basil and tomatoes are at the height of their season. The classic French Sauce Vierge lends a freshness to the richness of the salmon, making the two an excellent match.
2 6 ounce king salmon fillets, skin removed
1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
2 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed
½ bunch basil, leaves picked and chiffonaded
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
Balinese Truffle Salt
2 tablespoons canola oil
In a sauce pot on medium-low heat, stir together the garlic, olive oil, and a pinch of Balinese Truffle Salt. Continue stirring until the garlic has softened but hasn't taken on any color, about 1-2 minutes.
Turn off the heat and stir in the tomatoes and coriander seeds. Set aside to allow the tomatoes to gently warm.
In a large saute pan over high heat, heat the canola oil until smoking.
Pat the salmon dry and season on all sides with Balinese Truffle Salt. Add to the hot oil and turn the heat to medium.
Use a large spoon to scoop some of the hot oil over the salmon, basting it. Continue cooking over medium heat, basting from time to time, until the pan-side is golden brown and delicious and it’s nearly cooked through, about 5-8 minutes.
Flip the salmon and very gently kiss the flesh side. Remove from the pan and set aside.
Meanwhile, to finish the Sauce Vierge, reheat the tomatoes very gently over medium heat. Once warm, remove from the heat, add a squeeze of lemon, and stir in the basil chiffonade.
Spoon half of the Sauce Vierge onto your serving plate. Place the salmon on top, finish with a sprinkling of Balinese Truffle Salt, and top with the remaining Sauce Vierge. You just sauteed a perfect piece of fish and made a beautiful, classic sauce. Congrats!!