Freshness and texture are keys to find out the quality of the seafood. There are a variety of seafood in Hong Kong and they can be categorized by their growing environment as either seawater or fresh water. These include those freshly caught by fishermen, bred in fish farming rafts, and the frozen ones. The supply and quality would vary subject to changes in weather and seasonality.
To Determine the Seafood Freshness?
Many people check fish freshness by checking the fish gills to see their colours, or by checking the meat firmness by touching the fish bodies but these gestures should best be avoided as they would affect the quality of the seafood in the market. To know whether they are fresh and of good quality, some simple tricks will be helpful. Owner of Kuen Kee (Mrs. Kwok’s Seafood) said that this can be done by observing whether the fishes appear to be “favourable at first sight”.
But what it takes to be “favourable at first sight?” Fresh fishes have a natural colour with smooth fish scales, bright eyes and shiny red gills, with good firmness of the meat. In contrast, stale fishes look pale, with soft bodies likely covered with some mucus, cloudy eyes and dull-coloured gills. These are usually caused by improper or extended storage, and often appear after poor weather conditions like typhoons.
“Fat in Autumn Solstice, Slim in Spring Solstice”
The world under the sea has its own ecological cycle where the offering of seafood varies depending on seasonality. Mr. Chan, owner of Lee Hung Seafood shared that seafood are “fat in Autumn solstice, slim in Spring solstice”, in referring to the mating and reproduction cycles of the marine life. Seafood are “slimmer” during Ching Ming Festival in Spring after they reproduce, and become "fatter" again in Autumn.
How to Cook Delicious Seafood?
Mr. Ho of Yiu Fat Seafood Company said that fishes, shrimps and crabs are fatter and meatier from Summer to Mid-Autumn festival and therefore steaming and pan-frying are good cooking means to accentuate their unique tastes. Whereas, seafood in Winter are relatively “slim” and for example deboning them for hot pot meals is one of the desirable ways to enjoy the fishes.