How to Buy the Freshest, Healthiest Salmon

You’ll need all five senses for this one.

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Seafood newbie? The fish counter at the grocery store can be an overwhelming part of your food shopping trip if you’re not sure what to look for. Sometimes it might seem less intimidating to head to the freezer aisle and buy some salmon fillets, TBH.

In this video, cardiologist and chef Mike Fenster, MD, has all the tricks to help you master the seafood counter experience. If you’re looking to buy a whole salmon, follow these guidelines:

  1. Give the salmon a quick visual exam, especially the eyes and—if possible—the gills. The eyes should be clear, not cloudy, and the gills should be a bright red hue.

  2. Touch the salmon skin. It should be pretty firm.

  3. Give it a sniff. After feeling the skin, smell your fingers. Dr. Mike says the aroma should be fresh, almost like a salty cucumber, instead of actually smelling like fish. That fishy smell is actually a bad sign anytime you’re buying seafood.

  4. If possible, learn where the salmon came from. The best salmon to buy, according to many chefs, is Alaskan salmon. The water surrounding Alaska and parts of Canada are known for being a little cleaner thanks to sustainability efforts, which means the fresh salmon should be cleaner and healthier as well.

Sure, the frozen salmon fillets may still provide the health benefits you are looking for, such as omega-3 fatty acids and lean protein, but the best flavor comes from fresh salmon. Buying a fresh salmon will give your meal the best texture, taste, and nutritional content possible.

Here are more tips for buying salmon and other seafood.