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My Fish Problem - Fresh Seafood - or - How Fresh Is It?


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One of the reasons I advocate for seafood properly frozen at its source (like Alaskan seafood from Great-Alaska), is because seafood sourced from those places is often much better quality than seafood touted as fresh, if that fresh seafood hasn't been properly handled. Which, in the case of fish once it has been landed, means keeping it fucking cold.  

So, after a walk on lower Ludlow Street on a 90℉ day, I will continue to advocate for the good frozen stuff. Because the fresh...

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Might not be all that fresh. I especially like the big mesh bags of clams/mussels sitting out there, not even iced down.

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Another source I can recommend: https://gulfofmainesashimi.com/ Regalis are making it available to wholesale clients, I'm not sure if it's on their retail offerings yet. Everything ikejime a

Let's talk for a moment about the pandemic, which has changed my buying habits dramatically. Others' habits I can't speak for.  I haven't been to a farmer's market, where the seafood I'd occasionally

I hear you, believe me. Buying retail fish around here is terrible as the already very long time it spends in the market and distribution system (after not being bled or otherwise prepared for that) i

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Don't believe anyone. The "properly frozen" people are just trying to sell you stuff from their horrific ships that go out for months at a time.

Oysters, lobster, and other local seafood you should get same day out of water guaranteed.

The rest is more complex, but why buy Alaskan stuff when Alaska is so much further away than much of the northern Atlantic? 

 

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22 minutes ago, joethefoodie said:

Just go fishing.

That's what I do in Mexico, but over here you can buy local in season and then at least buy good stuff the rest of the time. 

 

As I said before, I wouldn't buy anything in Chinatown as they don't care if I die to make them a profit (and this is no statement about Chinese vendors in general)

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Today I lusted after fish, so headed out Clement Street to Seafood Center.      15 blocks modestly downhill.    This place is washed down so often that the floor is always wet.   Smells of the sea.   One wall of whole fish, shellfish tanks,  the other of fillets.    Smells of the sea.    Bought clams and ling cod.    Walked home, 15 blocks decidedly uphill.   

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Let's talk for a moment about the pandemic, which has changed my buying habits dramatically. Others' habits I can't speak for.  I haven't been to a farmer's market, where the seafood I'd occasionally buy (only whole body or shellfish) was good, since March. Clams and scallops were actually very good; were they guaranteed out of water the same day as posited above? No, because the only way I think that's possible (fish landed at 7 AM, sold to me at 3 PM) is to buy from a fisher when they return (like at their boat, or in the parking lot at the Rockaways/Jones Beach), or from a store at the docks...or just go fishing.  I do think it's possible, however, to buy fish which was frozen the day it was caught.

Let's talk for a moment about mere mortals (like me), who don't have access to the purveyors that someone in the food business might have access to. Even pre-pandemic, it was a very rare occasion where I'd shop at a retail fishmonger. Certainly I could pop in to a place like Aqua Best (god help me) to buy a lobster or a dungeness on its last legs...I never bought anything there by the way. Or the guy at Essex St. Market (actually, I liked the guy (no longer extant) at the old Essex St. Market, whose fish delivery schedule if you were on top of, you could get stuff as soon as it came in, so maybe 2 or so days out of the water).  But where are those vendors getting their fish from -  could it be Ludlow Street? Who knows?

And that's where I stick with my convention that frozen fish is often better quality than that which is sold fresh. (Like would I rather have fresh Copper River King Salmon the day it's landed - sure!)  But barring that, frozen Copper River King works for me. See

9 hours ago, Orik said:

over here you can buy local in season and then at least buy good stuff the rest of the time.

I can't really do this these days, and even it weren't these end days, I am constantly searching for where to get the good stuff. Is it Pierless? Is it Greenpoint? Will they bring it to me and will it arrive in great condition? Tough questions in these times.

@mongo_jones - yeah, it's pretty expensive. But at 8 lbs., the overnight shipping is included. The salmon (not smoked), halibut, tuna, and some shrimp I've tried have all been worth the price.

@voyager - I'm neurotic enough about seafood that I would bring with me an insulated bag with blue ice, to keep the fish in for the walk home. I did that when I used to go to the greenmarket to buy seafood. Then he'd also give me a bag of ice, so the fish would be icy cold when I got home...just the way I like it.

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I hear you, believe me. Buying retail fish around here is terrible as the already very long time it spends in the market and distribution system (after not being bled or otherwise prepared for that) is compounded by time and mistreatment at the shops - occasionally you see a lucky exception of course. Frozen is a solution for some fish (salmon, tuna, hamachi) when done well as you describe, but not for most fish from the general vicinity - bass doesn't enjoy it at all, smaller flat fish dry out, hake I don't even want to think about. Halibut you can process that way if you have to I guess (I blast freeze it down to -36 for a day anyway because of parasites). It's also a good solution for shrimp and octopus (if you have a lot of counter space then get one of the 6+ lbs pot caught spanish octopus available, they are terrific). 

One very specific option I can recommend right now is the steelhead trout from Hudson Valley Fisheries - they told me they've started coming to the USGM on Fridays. We get the fillets overnighted to us and they're processed to order so you have the benefits of fresh fish, parasite free, and direct from the source. I don't know what the future holds as closed system fish farms generally tend to only go in one direction, but right now it's just a very good product which gets even better when properly cured.

p.s. Baldor bought Pierless a few months ago after it's been in bankruptcy for a while (way before covid), so that ship has sunk.

 

 

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10 minutes ago, Orik said:

One very specific option I can recommend right now is the steelhead trout from Hudson Valley Fisheries

Ooh, that’s good to know - thanks! When you cure it, just salt?

The Pierless thing sucks.

I remember there was someone at the USQGM I bought shrimp from - they were farming it in an old mattress factory up in Newburgh. It was better than I expected. But yeah, shrimp and the other fish you describe - for me, frozen works best for sure. Also agree about other fish from the general vicinity and how lousily they freeze. Won’t touch them.  I’ve had a little bit better luck with cod, in bigger hunks.  

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WRT to Pierless and Baldor, the fish we have had delivered to date has been limited but quite good. Shrimp, halibut and Ora King Salmon. (Yes, I know it is farm raised).  I prefer wild salmon but I also like the fresh Ora King salmon more than the frozen wild from Great Alaska.   

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2% salt, 1% sugar, of course you can add dill or beet juice or other gravlax-ish things. 24 hours in a vacuum bag then rinse and pat dry, 12 hours on open wire rack to dry in fridge.

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 I remember there was someone at the USQGM I bought shrimp from - they were farming it in an old mattress factory up in Newburgh.

Right - Eco Shrimp. I don't see anything from them from the past year and a half and the website is gone so I imagine they went in the direction I described. It's just a very disaster prone business (diseases you can't get rid of, equipment malfunctions, etc.) and very few operators make it in the long term.

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Eco Shrimp was also very expensive. I'm sure their operating costs were quite high, and the quality of the product might have made it "worth" the price, but I - and I'm sure many other Greenmarket shoppers - can't/won't spend that much on shrimp.

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I just go by a fish's brilliantly clear eyes and bright red gills, firm touch or feel, absence of  or fresh smell.   That and a good boning knife is as much effort and angst as I'm willing to dedicate.   Has worked well for us so far.    Of course, fresh off the boat or line would be ideal.    I never buy alleged fresh shrimp or scallops in the shell, neither of which is "fresh" here.   

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1 hour ago, voyager said:

I just go by a fish's brilliantly clear eyes and bright red gills, firm touch or feel, absence of  or fresh smell.   That and a good boning knife is as much effort and angst as I'm willing to dedicate.   Has worked well for us so far.    Of course, fresh off the boat or line would be ideal.    I never buy alleged fresh shrimp or scallops in the shell, neither of which is "fresh" here.   

Of course - when they let you touch or smell them.

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