Seafood: Selection & storage

The Sapphire Coast is famous for its seafood, fishing heritage & sustainable fisheries. As a major supplier to the Sydney and Melbourne Fish Markets, our fishermen and seafood wholesalers have learnt a thing or two about keeping their harvest in mint condition, recognising the precious resource it is.

Here’s how to preserve its quality and taste with the right storage choices.

Whole fishWhole fish

Buy When buying look for bright red gills, firm flesh which springs back when touched, bright eyes and lustrous skin.

Store If you need to store it any longer than it takes to heat up the oven and throw together a salad then you’ll need a tray with some ice and enough baking paper to cover it. Prop the fish up vertically in the tray, so that when the juices drain they are touching as little of the flesh as possible. Cover with a sheet of baking paper.

Freeze The fish must be gilled and gutted, but you can leave the scales on to help protect the flesh from freezer burn. Wrap, then bag the fish and remove air from the bag before laying flat to freeze. Label and date.

Thaw Straight to the top shelf of your fridge, where it’s warmest. Make sure the draining water is caught in a container and the fish isn’t sitting in its own juices.

Fancy catching your own? 

Fillets and Cutlets

Buy Fresh fillets should have shiny, firm flesh and not be dull, rubbery or waterlogged.

Store When storing, you can make your own drainage system by using a dinner plate and a bread and butter plate. Place the bread and butter plate upside down on the dinner plate and lay your fillets over it. This makes for easy drainage.



Buy When buying prawns look at to the joints and legs for brown discolouration.

Store Storing them is easy, pop them in a colander and cover in ice, then baking paper. Place a container under the colander to catch any juices.

Freeze Prawns can be frozen green or cooked, but it’s best to leave the shell on as this insulates the flesh from freezer burn. Two thirds fill a freezer proof container, topping it up water before sealing it with a lid and tape around the lid. Label and date.

Thaw Use the same method as for whole fish or you can make a chilled brine by filling up your sink with ice and water and a good dash of salt. Taste it too, if you can taste the sea you’ve done it! Place the block of prawns the brine and check it frequently. They are ready when they are firm, not solid. Store as above or serve.


Buy Joints, legs and head should be free of discolouration.

Treat them as for prawns.

 Few flavours beat that of a freshly opened Sydney Rock Oyster.Oysters

Buy Opened Oysters that look wet and have a fresh sea smell are the freshest. The oyster that is dry, sunken into the shell and smells fishy is too old.

Buy unopened Oysters that are closed and have a fresh sea smell are the freshest. The oyster that is gaping (and doesn’t close when you tap it) and/or smells fishy, has already died and should not be eaten.

Store From their harvest date, unopened Sydney Rock Oysters can keep for up to 14 days if they are kept around 20 degrees Celsius. If they are opened, refrigerate them until you are ready to eat.

Open Watch the experts at Tathra Oysters!

Eden MusselsBlue or Black Mussels

Buy Look for mussels that are closed and full of water. If open, a healthy mussel will close its shell if tapped. Make sure they do not smell ‘fishy’ or look open and dried out (these have long since died). You can buy them straight from the boat at Eden.

Store Fresh mussels can be stored in a moist, cool environment for between 8-12 days. They do need to breath, so no airtight containers, then cover them in ice ensuring the water can drain away.

Prepare Always rinse under cold water, discarding any with broken shells. To remove the ‘beard’ grasp it firmly and pull it back towards the hinge on the shell.

Unopened mussels  Around 10% of mussels will not open, but that’s no reason not to eat them. Give them a little more time or open them with a knife – if it smells good its fine! Australians throw away 370 tonnes a year! Find out more here.

Thanks to Blue Wave Seafood Bermagui for sharing years of expertise with us!

View all blog posts