PLANO (CBSDFW.COM) – More and more people eat fish during Lent, leading up to Easter Sunday. But choosing the right fish can be quite the challenge. Luckily, the folks at Sea Breeze Fish Market & Grill in Plano offered a quick education in selecting seafood.

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First, you wouldn’t drink a glass of wine or receive a bouquet of flowers without sniffing. So, why would you buy fresh fish without knowing just how it smells? The old adage is ‘the nose knows,’ and that is equally true when it comes to fresh seafood. “Fresh fish doesn’t smell,” explained Rick Oruch from Sea Breeze Fish Market & Grill. “If that smells, I would leave. I would go to another store.”

So, when buying seafood at the market, always ask the person behind the counter for a sniff of their fish. Any odor is a bad sign.

A recent study published by conservation group Oceana last month said that seafood fraud is a problem in many cities across the country, including some in North Texas. The group claimed that some restaurants and grocers have mislabeled fish per FDA guidelines. This means that you could end up spending more money on a cheaper cut of fish.

So, what is the best way to tell if things are really as they seem? “Texture,” said Oruch. “It’s all about texture.” Snapper is the most mislabeled fish in the study. It will have a larger flake than, say, tilapia. But once a fish is served and sitting on a plate with garnish, it is much more difficult to tell. To avoid overpaying for seafood, always be sure to purchase your food from a reputable market known for high quality.

And remember, halibut and wild salmon are in season from March to November.

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Also, watch out for products with a ‘previously frozen’ label. “The problem with frozen fish is you don’t know when it was thawed,” Oruch said. “This morning? Two days ago? You have no idea.”

When buying fresh seafood, ask for it packed on ice — most places will not give that to you automatically — and then, make sure that you hang on to that ice packing. “You get it home, a lot of people throw the ice away,” Oruch said. “Home refrigerators run 45 degrees, however, seafood needs to be at 34 degrees.”

Follow these tips, and you should be able to dine on great seafood — at home and at your favorite restaurant — all year long.

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