Well, that was quite a year! Do not blame me for the late posting, but I have already warned you.
Anyways…A new year, a new post, a new adventure. I started my comeback with a trip to the fishers’ market. Located in Beirut’s port- Karantina, the market is a big hall, with a large number of fishermen, each with a small “kiosk” and a few polyester boxes displaying today’s catch on layers of crushed ice.
I have to admit, the market exceeded my expectations. The floor was clean, no major smell was noticeable, and the vendors were very friendly. As soon as you cross the entrance, the shouting starts. Every fisherman promotes the fish he is displaying. A small chit-chat and you can find out where the fish is from. Some are local and some are freshly imported from Turkey. Naturally, a closer look and examination should be made, as some may not be as fresh as claimed.
Small tips to know if the fish is fresh:
1- The eyes.
The eyes are number 1 to inspect. Clear eyes, with no cloudiness or blue glaze, are what you should be looking for.
2- The gills.
The gills ( in the back of the head) should be deep red. The fader the color, the older the fish. Of course, grey gills are a no-no.
3- The flesh.
Don’t be afraid to touch the fish. The flesh should bounce back when you press it. If the fingers sink in and the flesh does not come back to its place, then the fish is not fresh.
4- The smell.
Perhaps this is THE most important element on the list. The fish should not smell “fishy”. It should smell like the ocean, or salty water to be precise
After our fish passed the freshness test, we asked one of the workers to clean and “fillet” one of them. The knife used may not have been as sharp as it should have, but the guy knew what he was doing. He kept the scales on so that the skin keeps its strength, and started removing the guts. Then, he glided the blade along the backbone from one side to the other. Last, but not least, he removed the skin. Of course, he gave us the fillet in one clean bag, and in another, the head and the bones, so that we use the latter to make some amazing fish broth. And that is it! A good start and a new discovery. This will not be my last visit, and I hope the hygiene stays the same for as long as possible.