Fresh Fish Vs. Frozen Fish: Which Is Better?

We weigh in on the pros and cons of the fresh versus frozen fish argument.

IMAGE Miguel Nacianceno

A premium is always placed on the freshness of seafood—both fish and seafood must be shopped for and prepped properly to be able to cook safe, healthy, and delicious meals at home. Almost any market and grocery you shop in will present you two main options for your fish: you can pick out what you want in the open, fresh seafood section, or pick up a pack or two of fish fillets in the reach-in freezer section.


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When it comes to fish, which is better—fresh or frozen? Here are a few shopping and food care tips you should know the next time you head to the grocery to stock up on your fish.


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Fresh Fish


When you’re picking out fish from the fresh seafood section, it’s important to keep in mind that fish doesn’t travel well if mishandled. Look out for firm flesh, bright red gills, and a fresh (not fishy) smell when you’re picking out what you want.



This is a comforting dish best served with lots of steamed rice.


Buy and shop right: if you know you’re in for a long drive after a trip to the grocery, bring a cooler with you so that your seafood stays cold in the car. Place fresh fish in the freezer immediately after purchasing it so that it keeps its freshness, and cook it as soon as possible or a least two days after buying it.


Frozen Fish


Contrary to popular belief, frozen fish is actually very fresh. It is common for reliable fishmongers to freeze freshly-caught fish as soon as they are in the boat or once they get to the dock. In other words, all that freshness is sealed in! If you can get your hands on vacuum-sealed packs of fish, that’s even better.


This quick fish recipe is loaded with flavor from fresh seafood, shrimp paste, and coconut milk.


Keep an eye out for these red flags: discoloration and liquid inside the vacuum-sealed bag. If there is liquid inside, it usually means that the fish had been previously thawed either in the distribution process or from faulty grocery chillers. Look for packed fish that is frozen solid only.



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