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)
The fishmonger at my local FM (Monday morning, Plummers Park, WeHo) is amazing.
His name is Pete.
I only know that he also does Long Beach on the weekend. I could ask for his actual business name and the other FMs that he services.
Don't even ask him if his fish is farm-raised. He will throw you out of the park.
He only sells wild. And his fish is the best I have ever bought, here, in New York from various fish mongers, even in Paris.
Last week I was on line behind the actor who played "Big Pussy" from the Sopranos.
He sleeps with the fishes.
He knows good fish.
that's Pete Siracusa who runs J&P West Coast Fish with his Dad John. Pete does a bunch of markets, including Sunday Long Beach. His dad does Sunday Hollywood. Pete is one of my favorite seafood sources. though i do have to say that he's not as locally oriented as he used to be. in the old days, it was all stuff caught out of central california--white sea bass, local salmon, halibut, spot prawns, ridgeback shrimp. now he's got some hawaiian fish in there and other stuff that seems to be flown in from Seattle, just like every other fish market. but one thing is still true--if Pete says it's great, it's gonna be great.
Fish King in Glendale is better then santa monica seafood in my opinion. Fresh, fresh ,fresh..
Fish King Seafood & Poultry Co
722 N Glendale Ave, Glendale, CA 91206
It's all the way in the Valley, but "Fish in the Village" is a kosher market/cafe in a strip mall on the southeast corner of Whitsett and Burbank. Its not all sustainable, their salmon is farmed and they sell Chilean sea bass, but their quality and price are unbeatable in my experience. Once again its kosher, no shellfish and they are closed on Saturday. Very nice people, and excellent fish.
Sadly, good quality, wild, sustainably raised fish is often quite expensive.
Less expensive options (like local sardines) can be very difficult to find. Los Angeles doesn't have the same local traditions that some East Coast areas have.
The only place that has both quality + sustainability seems to be mccalls and it isn't cheap. On the plus side, it has been the highest quality fish I've purchased in recent memory and I've never regretted a purchase or the price I've paid.
In addition, there are some farmer's markets that have some good options.
If you know your fish, you can make wise purchases at the Japanese markets. They often have sole and halibut for instance, any many of those are good choices. Trader Joes has reasonably priced wild shrimp.