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Best Way to Buy Fresh Seafood in Small Coastal Towns

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Mediterranean diet is one of the healthiest. In 1999, French specialist for cardiovascular diseases, Dr. Michel DeLongeril, published a conclusion where he demonstrates how the Mediterranean is the region with an extremely low number of heart attacks. The 75-year-old Mediterranean has 8 times fewer attacks than Finns and 4 times less than Scotts.

Fishermans in Croatia
Fishermans in Croatia

The Croatian Adriatic Sea is one of the cleanest in the world. At the same time, marine life is abundant and extremely diversified.

So it’s no brainer that so many visitors are opting-in for Mediterranean dishes exclusively when they are holidaying in Croatia.

But what if you want to a) buy and b) cook by yourself?

Do you know how exactly to distinguish fresh seafood from a day or two old one?

Let’s say that you visit a local fish market early in the morning while spending your holidays is one of over a thousand coastal and island destination. Every place on the coast, no matter how small it might be, has a fish market, one way or another.

When you enter the market, the first thing that happens is this overwhelming sensation. Wherever you turn your head, there’s a display of different seafood. White and blue fish, big and small, shrimps, crabs, shells, salted anchovies and sardines; in short, whatever you can think of.

Fresh Fish Shop
Fresh Fish Shop

Here’s the trouble. You can’t really trust a seller that the seabass you’re eying is “fresh out of the sea” because trust us, they have means to turn a 3-day-old seabass in the “just caught” product.

So what do you do if you want to be sure that you’re buying “fresh outta sea”?

Arguably the safest way to buy such fresh seafood, no matter the species, is to:

Visit the local harbor early in the morning and buy directly from fishing boats.

Many small coastal towns and villages hold the tradition of selling from the ship/boat at least two times a week.

Fishing in Croatia
Fishing in Croatia

For example, in Tribunj, a beautiful and quiet gem right next to a major tourist hub spot for Europeans, Vodice, you can buy seafood right from the fishermen who spent the night fishing, every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Just make sure to arrive at the harbor early on; otherwise, you’ll find empty baskets.

With fish markets, things are a bit different.

Take it from someone who spent some time dealing with fish market sellers – it just appears fresh. Even if you see a shrimp moving on the pile of other shrimps, tread cautiously.

One thing you can do to be sure that the fish you are about to buy was caught only a couple of hours ago, is to check 3 things:

1. Eyes must be clear, shiny, and moist

2. There shouldn’t be any traces of blood between scales

3. The smell shouldn’t be awkward or in any way unpleasant

While an experienced seller can disguise one or even two from the list above, it’s near impossible to cover up for all three. One will give him away.

When it comes to shells, make sure that they are firmly closed and without any awkward or unpleasant smell.

Same applies to shrimps and crabs. Note the color (walk around and do a quick comparison) and the consistency of the shell. It should be hard.

Fresh Crabs in Croatia

There you have it. Your simple how-to-recognize-a-fresh-seafood tutorial. You’re welcome.
By the way, once you arrive, do make sure to try octopus under the bell, an excellent traditional dish of the Croatian coast.

Your CTC Team, I.K.

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