Good fish markets?
I live on the Westside (Mar Vista) and am in search of good quality fish at affordable prices. I know about Santa Monica Seafood and Whole Foods, but prices are sky-high at both. I am interested in wild seafood, not farm-raised, which has scared me off of the smaller markets, Japanese markets, etc. I am willing to buy whole fish and scale/gut/fillet them myself. I am interested in buying from merchants interested in sustainable fishing.
Any ideas from any conscientious fish eaters out there?
there really isn't anything that fits that description. most seafood places do label their fish according to whether they are wild or farmed and country of origin. japanese markets are quite good for certain things ... sardines, squid, mackerels, tai snapper. chinese markets, such as 99 ranch, have good live tanks and do more whole fish, but quality is very variable. and sustainability is certainly not part of the vocabulary.
How about fish available from vendors at farmers markets? There's a regular fish vendor at the Culver City market on Tuesday afternoons. I have no idea whether the fishing practices or sustainable or not, but it'd be easy enough to ask.
In terms of quality, I really think Santa Monica Seafood is your place. Average prices are on the high side, yes, but get on their email list so you can the weekly specials. They're typically some excellent deals in there. Plus the diverse menu selection and service really make you feel good about supporting a local business.
The problem is that good fish is already expensive, and sustainably-raised fish, while very good for one's karma, adds to the price -- so finding cheap, good, wild, sustainably-fished seafood is pretty much a non-starter. Remove "cheap" and it works; remove "sustainably-fished" and it works.
You may want to go to the wholesale fish market downtown (go early, like 6 AM) if you're willing to bring the abattoir to your kitchen.
I dont know what the deal with Whole Foods is but I have always found their seafood section to be rather pathetic. Once in a while they will have a stand with fresh whole fish that are pretty good but the rest of the time I have found them to have rather poor quality, not too fresh fish and shrimp. Having said that, i find everything else at WF to be great (which is why i dont really get the seafood dept...everything looks good but really isnt)