Avoiding Rotten Fish

Nowadays if you live in Lagos and frozen fish is a favorite of yours, you need to be careful.

I watched on the 8 p.m. news yesterday the Honorable Minister of Agriculture and his entourage ordered immediate closure of seven cold rooms of two Lagos-based companies on the basis that they stocked rotten fish.

The visibly angry minister held up a pile of frozen fish and stated “This is a rotten fish, can you see that? This is what these people are selling to Nigerians; they’ve been selling rotten fish. These importers bring in rotten fish to Nigeria; they don’t declare it to the government.”

So how can you be sure the fish you are buying is safe?

1. Smell the fish. A fishy smell is not good as it signals the fish is getting spoiled. Food experts describe the proper smell as being cucumber-like or with the clean smell of an ocean breeze.

2. Look at the scales and gills. The gills should be a bright color and the scales shiny. Dark gills and dull scales signal “old.”

3. Poke the fish flesh with your finger, if you you’re buying at a fresh fish market stall. If the flesh springs back quickly, it’s fresh. If your fingerprint stays, move on. Fresh fish should have a bright, firm appearance and should appear moist, not dry or dull.