How to Buy Fresh Seafood: A Palengkera Tip

Being able to select fresh fish or seafood is a crucial skill and work for a Palengkera. Except if you caught the fish yourself, you really never have means of recognizing exactly how fresh it can be. Nevertheless, buying fresh seafood is easy once you learn what to look for. Here are the Palengkera tips on choosing fresh seafood.

Whole Fish


  • Choose those with clear and bright eyes. Like humans, the eyes are the window to an undeniably fresh fish , for they diminish rapidly into gray dullness . Remember that red-eyed fish might have been caught using explosives/dynamites which ruins their innards and flesh. Red and Dull-eyed fish might be harmless to consume , however they are past their best quality .
  • Look at the body. Does it shimmer? It should not look dry or have scales coming away. You may also press the meat with your fingers and it should be resilient so much so that when you press it springs back. If your fingerprint remains, move on.
  • It Should not Stink. The smell test is especially important with fish. They should have no pungent aromas. If not a touch of briny or cucumber-like smell, a fresh fish ought to have a clean water scent. Under no circumstances should you pick up a nasty smelling fish. Cooking won’t improve it.
  • Bright Red Grills. They should be a rich red. If the fish is not fresh, the gills color turns to dull brick red.

Live Sea Creatures


The easiest way to select a live fish or crab or lobster is usually to try to look for, definitely, life. Do you find it scampering around in the aquarium? Swimming comfortably? And is it sulking in a space or hanging motionless and panting? If so, don’t buy it. Lobsters and crabs starve themselves in tanks and often can be almost empty inside when you crack open one that’s already been imprisoned in a container for weeks.
Your best choice would be to earn friends with the Vendor and find out when the new shipments arrive. Arrange for a time or schedule to visit the Palengke. You will be rewarded for your extra effort. 

Shellfish and Invertebrates


Buy only at the finest fish markets/wet markets. These are the places where turnover is so rapid you can be assured of fresh mussels, clams or oysters. You may still get a dead one, but the ratio will be far lower.  When you are not living near the coast, make sure to visit the best Palengkes that offers the freshest seafood.  In Metro Manila, the best I visited so far are Farmers Market, Marikina Public Market and Fiesta Market- Taguig.

Shellfish are sold alive, so they should react to you. You can tap the shell. It should close tighter than it was or it should spill water and closes its shell. Oysters are a little tough to do this with, but clams and mussels will definitely react. You can also tell a dead shellfish after you’ve cooked them all. Dead ones do not open after being cooked (like when steaming Tahong/Mussels).


Shrimp should have a shiny, wet appearance with tight scales and, as with all other fish, no odor.


The Seafood Stall (Palengke)

Finally, a comment on the shop itself. The undoubted conclusion is the fact that a sea food store should never reek . I’ll say it once again : Should you enter a fish market which stinks, turn around and leave .Superb seafood are accessible at a farmer’s market stall , a hole in the wall or in a fancy store , nevertheless not one should really stench like garbage.


When talking about choosing fish and seafood, quality and freshness never should be in question. When it’s very hard to measure freshness whenever you buy seafood in a restaurant, you do take charge when you’re looking for yourself.


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