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Does anyone else have an "ick factor" with the seafood dept in grocery stores?

After having had some less than fresh purchases I have always been leery of buying seafood in any of the grocery stores and pretty much stick to the frozen stuff. Bagged raw shrimp mostly. I never buy the shrimp cooked and the fish just never appeals to me.I was in Hannaford on John Devine a couple of days ago and ( without confidence) bought some mahogony clams. As I was waiting at the check out I noticed a god awful smell. The woman in front of me was looking around too when I figured out it was the clams!
Is it just me or do other find the quality poor?

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  1. There are plenty of fish markets near my house, so I almost always get my seafood there. It's an extra trip, but it's peace of mind. I figure that if my local supermarket (Shaw's) cant make sure I don't buy rotten onions three times in a month and a half, can't make sure the Gogurt I buy for my kids is not expired, and can't make sure the deli guy doesn't give me the nasty, gel-fat stump of turkey breast because he doesn't feel like busting out another one, then I'm sure as hell not going to trust how they handle their fish.

    1. I find the same thing and it is not market name specific. It has occurred in Hannaford and Price Chopper though the more local Price Chopper (Hudson NY) takes better care of the department and when we need whole or more ofter fileted fish that is where we go and there has been no bad aromas from that source. My wife is a fussy fussy shopper and insists on getting a "sniff" before she will ok the purchase and sometimes very good "looking" product is not up to her freshness standards.

      1 Reply
      1. re: feelinpeckish

        Seems like she sniffed you out OK before selecting you. ;)

      2. We have been satisfied with our fish from Hannaford and Shaws. It seems to be fresher than Market Basket/Demoulas. We prefer fresh over previously frozen and think their dry scallops are excellent.

        1. I always ask to smell the seafood prior to purchasing. BY now, they now me and have bagged the "Why ? Our fish is fresh" lne after the third or fourth time I passed a piece of Marlin back across the counter. We do not have many fresh catch markets in land locked Vermont so my advice is to buy frozen unless you are lucky enough to have a supermarket with a few honest and knowledgeable employees.

          1. I seem to remember a recent posting on one of the N.E. or N.Y. boards that stated mahogany clams have an aroma unto themselves i.e. quite different from the soft shells most New Englanders are familiar with. Can anyone confirm or deny this please?

            1. I have long since given up buying fish at supermarkets, especially since I'm very, very sensitive to "off" fish.

              Usually, if I buy fish it's from Blood's Seafood in Wilder, VT. Otherwise, most of my fish is either from a reputable sushi joint, or something I caught myself.

              1. Yes, and for a couple of reasons. First of all, when I go to a fish market, I expect that the person handling the fish will be more knowledgable than I about it (how to cook it, filet it, handle it, substitute for it, etc). And I expect to cultivate a relationship with him/her so that he'll know I like mackerel, or that I want the skin left on the haddock, or whatever. I can't expect that in my local supermarket. However, on occasion I have bought both fresh shrimp, salmon and tilapia from our local Stop and Shopt and have been happy with the quality of the fish. If I am on my way to meats and I see something eyecatching, I will pick it up, but I don't go out of my way to buy fish there. We're spoiled in New England!

                1. I agree, supermarket fish (I go to Stop & Shop but I don't think there's much of a difference among the large chains) is highly variable. I think a lot of it is seasonal. For example, Northeast flounder is fished in the winter, but it's in stores year round. It doesn't come back well if it is frozen that long.

                  Also, the farmed fish (salmon, tilapia, catfish) is usually in better shape because it is frozen quicker (it doesn't have to sit on a boat).

                  I think the trick is to go to the store without a specific fish in mind, because there is usually something acceptable. Then, figure out what to make with it. If you have something specific you want to make, go to a quality fishmonger.

                  Also, if you have less than perfect fish, make a dish that will mask the off aroma and imperfect texture (like a stew or fry) and don't steam it.

                  1. There was an interesting article on NPR last night on "green" fish farming that was interesting.


                    Here in Burlington VT seafood can be a bit of a crap shoot, our local Price Chopper has the usual suspects and is fairly middle of the road when it comes to freshness. The worst is our local co-op (which is half co-op half comercial.) I refer to their seafood dept. as the chum counter, everything has that "been here far too long" tired look.

                    I have debated about ordering sushi grade tuna on line, has anyone tried this?

                    1. Only one supermarket has impressed me with its fish market -- Whole Foods (a/k/a "Whole Paycheck"). Everything looks great and tastes great, and the variety is often better than at your local fish market (except, of course, Whole Foods no longer carries live lobsters). I WILL buy haddock, cod and lobster at another supermarket -- haddock and cod because it's New England and there are a lot of sources for same-day caught fish, and lobster because -- well, you buy it living, so it better be fresh (plus the price for lobster at supermarkets is usually cheaper than at fish markets).