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Old 01-09-2013, 12:21 AM   #1
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Getting to know your fish monger

First of all, I live in a quite small town (3500), in the Midwest, with no direct flights to either ocean. We have two grocery stores, only one of which has a butcher and a fish/seafood counter. Very, very small.

One thing this counter always has is IQF, beautiful, large, sea scallops. They've been a favorite of mine since we moved here a dozen years ago. Once a year or so, live clams. Fresh trout every few months or so. When I see the latter two, I stop and talk to the guy and discuss the food, and what I'm going to do with them. This has been a rough year for me, and I was just delighted to see the clams, which I can only get once or twice a year. I asked him for 8 of them, and watched as he expertly counted out them, and when finding an open one, thunked and, when it didn't close, trashed it (it only happened once). I complimented him on his knowledge of the clams, after discussing how long I could keep them in the fridge (it was a Friday, I planned on cooking them Saturday). No problem. Then, as he counted out my scallops for the freezer, I mentioned how I loved them.

Here is what is great. He told me that I was his favorite customer, that I consistently come over and buy what is best, am always nice, and always have good questions.

This rather surprised me, because it isn't like I buy seafood every week. I do remember at one time in conversation, mentioning that I don't know why people would buy "those" (the thawed scallops and shrimp on ice) when they could buy the IQF ones, because anyone with any sense would know they were thawed, not fresh. Take home the IQF and thaw yourself, or keep for awhile. He shrugged and agreed with me (this was several years ago).

Anyway, the compliment made my week. It is well worth your while to stop and chat when you can, and get to know the people you are buying your food from.

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Old 01-09-2013, 11:44 AM   #2
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I suspect it's kind of frustrating for a knowledgeable fishmonger working in a general grocery, having few opportunities to talk with people who know enough to ask useful questions. Mine knows I like the fresh Dover sole they sometimes get a chance to stock, and he will alert me that it's on the list for the next week, so I can have some ordered and set aside.
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Old 01-09-2013, 01:40 PM   #3
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I would love to have a real fish monger. It would be so nice to get some fresh fish, like cod for example, I have not had cod in years.
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Old 01-09-2013, 02:04 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CharlieD View Post
I would love to have a real fish monger. It would be so nice to get some fresh fish, like cod for example, I have not had cod in years.
Charlie, have you tried Coastal Seafoods in St. Paul? They're closed today (remodeling), but I happen to know that this Friday and Saturday they'll have fresh wild Alaskan Cod on sale for $9.99/lb.

They also have salt cod in the freezer case. One of the few places in the area I've been able to find it.
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Old 01-09-2013, 02:24 PM   #5
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Steve, they ususally have filets, because of kashrut issues I cannot buy fish if there is no sckin wisible. Long story.
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Old 01-09-2013, 03:55 PM   #6
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Your remarks reminded me of a personal failing that I need to work on. Here I am with fresh fish available and not making use of that luxury. I need to get my priorities in order and shift some of the budget that has been going to the fats & sugars that I love so much and begin to buy local fish on a regular basis. Thanks for the poke. I even have in the garage a long fish-baking pan that's never been used.
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Old 01-09-2013, 05:53 PM   #7
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When I am in Florida I love ordering fish in restaurants it is so fresh, mmm.
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Old 01-10-2013, 04:46 AM   #8
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Having been involved with an organization managing a wholesale fish facility, I learned that in NY state the legal definition of 'fresh' fish is merely fish that has not been frozen.
My experience with crabs and scallops that I have harvested myself is that they do not freeze well.
I prefer cod steaks to fillets both because of taste and the predictablility of bone location. Unfortunately steaks are tougher to come by than fillets.
I see my fish monger several times a week as he drives his truck to and from the boat that he keeps near my house to his shop which is about 1 1/2 miles away. Like most good things, this will not last much longer because the man is over 75 years old. Fortunately my wife is a tad younger, so I hope she'll enjoy the bull rake that I'm looking forward to buying as a present for her
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Old 01-10-2013, 11:47 AM   #9
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Those fortunate to live near the coast or with access to reputable fishmongers who offer quality fresh seafood are among the minority. For the rest of us, selecting good quality fish and shellfish can be a challenge. I'd much rather buy IQF (Individually Quick Frozen) seafood than buy "fresh" seafood that's been shipped in and held on ice for a week or more before I buy it.
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Old 01-10-2013, 01:50 PM   #10
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What is bull rake and why are you buying it for her Bill?
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