What’s For Dinner? The Right Questions For Your Fishmonger

Monahan's Seafood Market | Fresh Whole Fish, Fillets, Shellfish, Recipes, Catering & Lunch Counter

When visiting your local fish market, you should arrive with a clear, inquisitive and open mind. You may know just what you’re looking for, with a specific recipe in mind, or you might want to look around and see what looks good. One thing for sure, a good fish market will have many, many options with lots of different preparations for each fish or shellfish. One question that we get from customers everyday is “what came in today?” Of course they’re looking for the freshest fish possible, but is this really the right question?

We at Monahan’s are happy to tell you what just came in but that may not always the best choice. The finest thing in the case may have come in yesterday or even the day before yesterday. It all adds up to how that fish was handled from when it was caught until the time you serve it. Was it bled and immediately iced in small totes or dumped in a hold with tons of fish dumped on top? Or left on the deck until someone took the time to properly store it? Keeping fish well chilled all along the way is imperative to good shelf life.

Spanish turbot

We sell plenty of “dayboat fish” such as black sea bass, porgy, yellowtail snapper, whole squid and more, that have been caught off of small boats that go out for a day or two. Those fish get to us quickly and usually in pristine condition. “Trip boats” that fish off shore for fish such as cod, sole, swordfish, tuna to name a few, may be at sea for one, two, three weeks or more. Remember the movie The Perfect Storm? The vessel Andrea Gail was chasing swordfish for weeks before she met her fate way out on the Flemish Cap. The swordfish are headed and gutted then heavily iced and held just above freezing for the trip. The “top of the catch”, (most recently caught) will be the freshest. This is where buying from a market that has high quality standards and knowledge of what’s at its best makes a big difference.

The great thing about seafood, aside from deliciousness and healthfulness is that there is something at its best all year long. We just finished a great summer of wild Pacific salmon, soft shell crabs, wild striped bass, Alaskan halibut and great local lake fish. We now are starting to see the freshest, richest bluefish and swordfish (New England and Canadian) that we’ll see all year. So the question “what came in today?” maybe should be “what’s in season and at its best today?”, or even ask your fishmonger what he or she is having for dinner that night. Since the possibilities are endless, be open to changing plans. If you were planning on a specific fish that’s not available that day or doesn’t look as nice as something else, just switch gears. If the snapper for your Veracruz isn’t in but the razor clams are undulating on the ice, perhaps steam, fry or grill some razor clams tonight! Looking to steam a black bass but the bronzino look gorgeous?– switch it up! If you see another customer in front of you purchasing something you’re not familiar with (especially if they are from another country) ask them how they are going to prepare their fish. That’s a great way to get new ideas and maybe introduce you to something new!

Also consider available seasonal produce when deciding what fish to purchase. My wife, Lisa, just came home from the farmers market with some salad greens, cherry tomatoes, green beans, fingerling potatoes and farm fresh eggs. This week we received the last of the season’s Maine Bluefin tuna so with a few of our Ortiz anchovies and some niçoise olives we’ve got the fixings for the freshest salad niçoise that you’ve ever tasted!

Keep an open mind and you just might find that “fish of the moment”.

Have fun shopping,

Mike

 

 

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Monahan's Seafood

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