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Fishmonger's guide: buying the best fish

We asked Pauline Ivaldi from Which? Local-recommended West Norwood Fishmongers about how to get the best fish.


How to buy the best fish

Buy local fish

Most British langoustine and hake, for example, are exported due to low demand at home. Ask your fishmonger for advice on eating local varieties.

Eat fish when in season

Meaty tips from a top butcher

We asked a Which? Local-recommended butcher about choosing ordering and storing meat.

Bucther's tips

Avoid fish during its spawning season and it'll be of higher quality, taste better and be cheaper, too.

Different fish have different spawning seasons, so there will always be something at its best.

Lobster and crab come into their own in summer, for example, but eat mussels and oysters from early spring for best quality and price.

Try lesser known varieties

Try lesser known varieties of fish – you'll be doing your bit to prevent overfishing of popular species and might find a new favourite in the process.

Coley or pollock are both a great alternative to cod, for example, and are usually a bit cheaper.

You could also try dab in dab in recipes calling for lemon sole, or swap sea bass for grey mullet.

Ask your fishmonger for more inspiration.

Support your local fishmonger

Buy from local, independent fishmongers. They go to market every day so their fish will be fresh and seasonal.

'They can tell you about the star of the fish counter that day – the sparkly fish you'd be a fool not to buy!' says Pauline.

Supermarkets, on the other hand, tend to offer the same 10 types of fish all year round.

The other advantage of using a good, local fishmonger is that they'll be able to prepare the fish for you, usually at no extra cost.

What to ask your fishmonger for:

  • Straight clean: de-scaling and gutting.
  • Filleting: slicing away the flesh from the backbone.
  • Pin boning: removing the smaller set of bone that run through the centre of the fillet.
  • Butterflying: removing backbone and ribs of a whole fish but leaving the two fillets joined. This is especially useful if you want more space to stuff fish.

About our expert trader

Pauline Ivaldi works at Which? Local-recommended West Norwood Fishmongers in south London.

Customers have praised Pauline's unrivalled enthusiasm for all things fish.

One reviewer said: 'Her recommendations have led us to try several kinds of fish we had never eaten before. We have always found Pauline's fish to be of excellent quality and reasonable price.'

Read reviews for West Norwood Fishmongers