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Jan 23, 2008 09:09 AM

Fish Market Help!

I just posted on the "What's My Craving" board, then noticed that there's a lot more traffic here so I thought I'd give it a shot both places. Here goes:

I've been cooking a lot of seafood lately, but today's article in the Times about mercury in tuna and last year's "Guide to Guilt-Free Fish" have me wondering if maybe I haven't been as conscientious as I should be about choosing seafood that is healthy, safe, and sustainable.

I've turned to Monterey Bay Aquarium's website ( ) to find out more about making good seafood choices. I would like to try to follow their guide, but it requires me to know all kinds of things that the people at my fish market in Chinatown never know about the fish -- questions like,

Was this farmed in the U.S. or in another country?
What method was used to catch this fish in the wild?
Was this caught in the Mid-Atlantic or the Northeast?

I love my fishmonger, but I am willing to go elsewhere if I can find a market that has the answers to all my questions. Does anyone have a place they can recommend?

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  1. Citarella, Citarella, Citarella. Expensive, but worth it. Very knowledgeable about the origin of the fish they sell.
    Whole Food is pretty good, as well.
    That said, I doubt that any fish monger can tell you exactly where in the AStlantic the fish was caught or even what method was used to catch it.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Ann900

      I agree about Citarella, and it is not as expensive as some others (Eli's) and I think they do a pretty good job of marking their fish in terms of the signs. But, I'm just not a fan of WF's fish - it always looks a bit tired to me - same with Dean & Deluca, at least on Madison Ave. There's a well known fishmonger called Leonard's on the UES, but I've never bought anything there.

      1. re: MMRuth

        Citarella yes!
        Whole Foods hooked me for a customer the day I first asked where the fish came from and the counter person said not in American waters, and then I asked him if I could please smell it before he wrapped it and he said "sure." As I was smelling it he said to me, "great smell, hey?"
        And I replied, "I don't smell anything." And he winked and said, "I know. Great smell, hey?"

        Addendum: However, I must admit that I purchased that fish on Philadelphia's Main Line Whole Foods. (I don't know if that makes a difference or not)

        1. re: idia

          Which WF do you go to - Columbus Circle?

      2. re: Ann900

        I agree about Citarella's. Add Wild Edibles to your list as well.

        I hate Whole Foods for their seafood. And I don't find them very knowledgeable either.

        1. re: Miss Needle

          I was at Citarella's (Third Ave.) today deciding what fish to buy for dinner tonight. Standing in front of the full display at 10:30 a.m., I realized there was no smell. Really fresh fish does not smell. The best selection, the best counter help.

          Oh...I bought the cajun catfish...2 nice-sized fillets for $5.38.

      3. Don't remember where I got it but I have an EcoFish store list. Here are some other sites that may help you to purchase (and inform you for when you are dining out & ordering) sustainable fish:,,,, (antartic and southern ocean coalition), (has fish supplier lists and Afishianado newsletter), (has from sea to table program). Alton Brown has taken seafood sustainability on and was on the radio discussing the issue recently. I learned from this Board that wild salmon is available at Citarella and Westerly Foods (West side/midtown).

        3 Replies
        1. re: financialdistrictresident

          Thanks so much for the links! I will definitely check them out. And I'm going to look for that Alton Brown interview.

          1. re: lmoy

            The Alton Brown radio segment about fish and sustainability was on WOR 710's Food Talk show. If you go to maybe it's available as a podcast.

          2. re: financialdistrictresident

            I've also bought wild salmon from Garden of Eden recently.

          3. Thanks for the tips, everyone! I will definitely be trying Citarella and Wild Edibles.

            Also, it might interest some of you to know that I checked out FreshDirect yesterday and they carry a few safe and ocean-friendly varieties of fish (U.S. farmed catfish, U.S. farmed striped bass, wild salmon, and U.K. organic farmed salmon).

            1. I buy a lot of fish at the Greenmarkets. I think there's a fisherman at Union Square through the winter. That's only fish that's local to this area, of course, but they are going to know exactly when and where and how it was caught.

              2 Replies
              1. re: NYCkaren

                Yes - they were there last weekend. Long lines I'm afraid have kept me from trying them, but the fish always looks beautiful and they have steamed lobsters.

                1. re: NYCkaren

                  Totally forgot about that one. I like that place as well. I'm sometimes a bit hesitant to buy from them during the summer, though.