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Overheard... and outraged!

  • l

I was having a dinner at a seafood place in Hilton Head when I hear the couple behind me telling the table next to them that they are from Boston. The Wisconsineers at that table say, "You must get a lot of fresh seafood in Boston" and the man from Boston says, "Not really, it is mostly flown in from somewhere else and frozen." So one of the Wisconsineers says, "What about Lobster?" and Boston guy says "True, but I'm more of a crab leg guy myself so I always eat them when I come down south."

I lived in Boston for 10 years and couldn't believe what I'd heard... not only was I outraged that someone would say that there's not fresh seafood in Boston but to then to say that he eats crab legs when he's down south made me want to interrupt the conversation- doesn't he know that crab legs are always frozen since they are caught, and must travel, from Alaska?

So, can you name other types of seafood that can be found "fresh" from the waters in New England? Or am I an idiot that doesn't know fresh from "previously frozen"?

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    1. re: southernitalian

      What is scrod, exactly? I've heard some say it's baby cod; others have said it's a fish unto itself. Can you clarify for me?

      1. re: CindyJ

        I have no idea! I've only seen it on menus and stores in Boston. Who knows? It was a joke amongst my friends in college. And of course it's pronounced "scrawd" up there. Can someone enlighten us?

        1. re: CindyJ

          According to the MIT student handbook, IIRC, scrod has at least 2 definitions.
          1 - a food fish - "I got scrod by the cafeteria."
          2 - what happens when you eat there (past participle) - "I got scrod by the cafeteria."

          1. re: CindyJ

            Cod and Scrod are one in the same. Sizing is the difference. The term Cod comes from Boston, from the late 1800s. It means "Catch of the Day" where as Scrod means or meant "Special catch of the day".

            1. re: Lenox637

              Utter and complete hogwash. The name codfish dates back centuries before the founding of Boston, and we find references to the variation "cotfish" dating back to the 13th century. See http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?t...

              1. re: BobB

                Well, for what it's worth here's the Wikipedia article on scrod...

                "Scrod (or schrod) is a generic term for a young (2-lb or less) cod or, less frequently, haddock, split and boned. It is a staple in many coastal New England and Atlantic Canada seafood and fish. markets.

                A dubious folk etymology holds that the term comes from the acronym "Small Cod [or Haddock] Remaining On Dock", but it more likely comes from the obsolete Dutch schrood, piece cut off. Another dubious folk etymology holds that "scrod" is cod and "schrod" is haddock.

                Others claim the term comes from either a sign on a wharf in Boston or a restaurant that advertised this kind of generic whitefish as "Special Catch Recorded (sometimes 'Right') On Day."

                Others still claim that the term was coined by Guy Perry, the maître d' for many years at the Parker House Hotel in Boston, to describe the hotel restaurant's "fresh catch" even before the chef returned from the fish market."

                From Merriam-Webster 'online'...

                Main Entry: scrod
                Variant(s): also schrod
                Function: noun
                Etymology: probably from British dialect (Cornwall) scrawed, past participle of scraw, scrawl to split, salt, and lightly dry (young fish)
                Date: 1841
                : a young fish (as a cod or haddock); especially : one split and boned for cooking

        2. Without giving it a lot of thought, New Bedford and Gloucester have large fishing fleets... bring in cod, haddock, various sole, scallops, tuna, swordfish..Oysters and clams..soft and hard shell are harvested inshore. Maine has a short shrimp season.

          OT, but I hope you had the chance to try some local SC shrimp.


          4 Replies
          1. re: 9lives

            Whew! I knew someone would set my mind to ease...

            I'll have to check out your recommendation the next time I'm in HH.

            1. re: 9lives

              Thanks for the link to Benny Hudsons I will be making a stop there in June.

              1. re: swsidejim

                just a heads up -- I am a resident of HHI - no one local actually eats at Benny Hudsons restaurant. Buy the fish at the Hudson store - take it home and cook it, and u will be a lot happier. The restaurant itself is nothing more than a tourist trap with average food and service.

                1. re: dibob817

                  thanks that was my plan to get some of their product @ the store, and fire up the grill by the pool at the house we are renting.

                  thanks for the tip though.

            2. So, can you name other types of seafood that can be found "fresh" from the waters in New England?
              Scallops. Clams. Haddock. Atlantic salmon. Yellowfin tuna, if they're lucky. :-)

              2 Replies
              1. re: LindaWhit

                It is my understanding, based on what I've read lately, that there are no wild Atlantic salmon left in the U.S. All Atlantic salmon in this hemisphere (and most in Europe) is farmed.

                1. re: pikawicca

                  I did read that several days after I had posted. I'll keep ordering the wild Alaskan salmon in June of every year so I know what it tastes like.

              2. I'd be the one who, on my way out of the restaurant, would .....ever so politely....say, "Well. I've lived in Boston all my life and have always been able to find fresh native New England seafood in Boston!"

                1. He may have meant "Stone Crabs" they do have large claws! Miami Beach made them famous.(Joe's Stone Crabs..and I believe they are caught relatively locally...

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: ChowFun_derek

                    Or Blue Crab in the Chesapeake Bay area in MD/Del/VA.

                  2. In addition to the above, some of the best bluefin tuna in the world -- the type loved by us sushiheads -- is from the area, although it's a short season.

                    1. Actually, a lot of the seafood offered her is From Away, because of the collapse of many of the fisheries in the Gulf of Maine and beyond. The catch in those fisheries is much less than it used to be.

                      Even most of the fried clams people eat here in the warmer half of the year are not local.

                      2 Replies
                        1. re: Aromatherapy

                          Interesting - more skate than cod/haddock/schrod combined.

                          One thing most people aren't aware of: Point Judith/Galilee RI is the center of the squid market. Which is why RI has the best calamari.

                      1. Why were you outraged? I hear people saying stupid things all the time. You can only set so many people straight.

                        1 Reply
                        1. No one mentioned Bluefish, so I thought I would....

                          1. I'm not from Boston but here on the west coast of Florida one must search for fresh local seafood if you aren't out catching it yourself. Most of the red snapper is sent out of state where they can get higher prices for it. A search of most local grocery stores will reveal that even the Mahi and grouper is not local. Tyring to find mullet, mangrove snapper, cobia, mackerel and king mackerel, all local fish is not an easy task.

                            17 Replies
                            1. re: scubadoo97

                              Same here in Washington, DC, only a few mile from the Chesapeake Bay. Hard to find local fish and oysters in fish markets or on menus. Seven types of West Coast oysters but no Chincoteagues. Few places serve shad/shad roe in season or even rockfish.
                              The stuff in seafood markets has more frequent flier miles than I do.

                              1. re: MakingSense

                                Oh, but wait! Don't give up yet. Black Salt on MacArthur Blvd here in DC has local oysters in season - I can't name them, as they are more my husband's taste than mine, but we have been several times and they have been fresh. And tasty! Their fish market in the front of the restaurant has been highly recommended by friends as well, though I find I can screw up most any fish pretty well on my own, so I haven't taken advantage of it.

                                1. re: iheartdcfood

                                  Southern Maryland Seafood at Eastern Market has the best selection of local seafood in the city. Chincoteagues, whole rockfish and filets, whole flounders, croakers, bass, sea trout, perch, shad and roe, several types of crabmeat, pretty much anything from the Chesapeake or Potomac.
                                  Their cousin at Market Lunch has the best crabcake sandwich in town and even the old-style local fish breakfast.
                                  It's just hard to find any of that local seafood in most local restaurants, especially upscale places.

                                  Even So. Md. Seafood sells branzino, tuna, swordfish, mahi mahi, grouper and a couple kinds of salmon. What people want isn't necessarily local.

                                2. re: MakingSense

                                  Half of our MD-style crab cakes contain crab from the Carolinas and other locations.

                                  1. re: AlyKen

                                    Probably because the MD/VA State line runs down the middle of the Chesapeake Bay which most people seem to forget or ignore. Virginia's annual crab harvest equals that of Maryland and the MD/VA total is exceeded by that of NC where the Bay empties into the Atlantic.
                                    The NC coast warm up more quickly than the Chesapeake so they get more crabs earlier and they're usually bigger.

                                    1. re: MakingSense

                                      The fishing industry in the Chesapeake estuary is a tiny frction of what it was 30-40 years ago. It's all but done. The oyster beds are virtually gone and much of the bay is now dead. All kinds of weird algae blooms, listeria and other previously unknown biohazards abound. Jacques Cousteau's final bit of advice was for folks to develop a taste for meat and fowl. Looks like he was right.

                                      1. re: flavrmeistr

                                        Really awful.
                                        On the mid-1950s, the Bay yielded between 1 and 2 million bushels of oysters a year. In 2004, it was down to 24,000 bushels.
                                        Last year's MD crab harvest was the second lowest on record with 21.8 million pounds, slightly down from the year before and only slightly ahead of the all-time low in 2000.

                                        Haven't had algae blooms, but the droughts and other odd things have played havoc. Development and agricultural runoff have been the biggest killers in the Bay Watershed - everybody wants to move there and eat local food.

                                        Most of the watermen are getting out of the business because it's not even worth their while to take the boats out any more.

                                    2. re: AlyKen

                                      That statistic is probably more like 90% of your crab cakes are made with imported pasteurized crab. It's not even blue crab and that includes Phillips.

                                      1. re: Docsknotinn

                                        I believe you mean *especially* Phillips. It's still possible to find guys with a truck on the side of the road selling their crabs here in the Baltimore area, but they're a lot less numerous than they used to be.

                                        1. re: JonParker

                                          I'm not sure what you mean by especially. I'd venture a guess that well over 90% of all restaurants serving crab cakes are no longer using blue crab. Live crabs or steamers will almost certainly be a US product.

                                          1. re: Docsknotinn

                                            Jon Parker is right - depending on WHERE you're eating crabcakes.
                                            Phillips imports that weird crabmeat from Asia.
                                            If you're eating crab in areas of the East and Gulf Coast where blue crabs are native, your chances of getting the real thing are pretty darned high, unless you're eating downscale and the place is buying frozen pre-formed crab patties - icky anyway.

                                            If you're eating "crab cakes" in Michigan, Nebraska, Arizona, or wherever, you're taking your chances with non-local seafood.

                                            1. re: Docsknotinn

                                              You can taste the difference. Phillip's has this huge business to supply crab meat for, and it's cheaper and easier for them to use the imported stuff. But a lot of crab houses around here, while they may not be able to get Chesapeake crabs, can still get good ones from Texas, Louisiana and North Carolina.

                                              Recently a local writer did an article on crabcakes where he went to several popular local places and checked to see what they were using. http://www.citypaper.com/news/story.a...

                                              One interesting and disgusting quote from the article:
                                              "In addition, sometime this year, local seafood behemoth Phillips is set to roll out a brand-new proprietary grade of meat that consists of large lumps that are assembled from smaller lumps using some sort of naturally derived crab glue. This is not a joke."

                                              1. re: JonParker

                                                ugghhhhh All I know is I could sure go for a bunch of steamers. When I was much younger I worked at a place called JB's fish camp in New smyrna FL for a while. All fresh crabs. The pay check was a bonus but all the free crabs and beer for the cooks was the real pay off!

                                                1. re: JonParker

                                                  That is one of the most awful things I've heard in years!! Never touch Phillips crabmeat but now I have extra reason to avoid it. Crab glue...Ick!!

                                                  Bet that FAKE LUMP stuff will be everywhere this year though since the States of MD and VA are going to severely limit the female crab catch because the population is so far down. The females are the ones that the picking houses use for crabmeat for sale to seafood restaurants and markets.
                                                  Buyers beware!!! Thanks for the heads up!!!

                                                  1. re: MakingSense

                                                    If you want MD crabs, your best bet is to find a guy with a truck. The domestic crabs from elsewhere are still pretty good, and places like Faidley's, Mr. Bills, etc use them exclusively.

                                                    I shudder to think how many people come here in search of a famed Maryland crab cake and end up at Phillip's in the Inner Harbor. Most of them probably leave wondering what all the fuss is about.

                                        2. re: MakingSense

                                          In Baltimore I can find Chincoteagues without any trouble. They're all over the place.

                                        3. re: scubadoo97

                                          For the freshest of the fresh, go down to the docks when the charter or commercial boats come in. The mates will often clean and filet the fish just caught and sell it for no more than the local fish markets charge and that is fresh and tasty.

                                        4. the guy's the idiot - not you. to everything else already mentioned i'll add wellfleet oysters from the small cape cod town of the same name he sounds like the kind of guy who thinks clam strips - the horror! - are "seafood."

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: boppiecat

                                            Of course, I doubt the guy ever visits the chow boards so he'll never know how wrong he was!

                                            1. re: boppiecat

                                              I lived on Cape Cod between 1970 and 1978 and this was true even then (the fleets were already in trouble, but nothing like the past 20 years.) Outside of tourist season when more of it stayed local because tourist prices were high, you had to hunt it down and it wasn't always easy. Most of it headed off-Cape, flash frozen in small convoys of 18 wheelers. Not saying it wasn't available and I'm sure it's even more available now since many will pay a premium for it, but I doubt it's the "middle class norm" in terms of availability or price - that wasn't really true here in NYC even in the functional days of the fish market...

                                              As for scrod, everyone always said it was "young cod" but on the other hand, everyone just sort of knew what it was and didn't really question it - and all of young, mature cod and hake kinda look alike when they're cut up, let alone broiled.

                                              But while making the originally referenced comment in the context of "foodie" related discussion might be kind of silly, getting outraged about some random guy commenting on it seems a bit, er, extreme.

                                            2. That reminds me of a really funny back cover I saw on Mad magazine a few years ago.

                                              Picture 1: A family is standing outside a restaurant called something like Long Island Seafood House. It's a kitschy, waterfront place. There is a sign outside the door that says, "None of our fish or crab come from local waters. All of our seafood comes from the pure waters of New England."

                                              Picture 2: A family approaches a kitschy waterfront place called something like The New England Crab Shack. There is a notice outside that says, "None of our seafood comes from local waters. All of our fish and crabs come from the pure waters of the Long Island Sound."

                                              1. Holy Mackerel! Periwinkles for pickled winkles, mussels(both dragged [drug?] and farm raised), oysters, stripped bass, and....we still get locally caught and dried salt cod. Was halibut mentioned?

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                  I was waiting for someone to say striped bass. One of our buddies on the Boston board is called StriperGuy for a reason.

                                                2. I guess I would of politely said to the "Wisconsinites" that in your experience what this couple said was not true, and named some of the fresh fish caught off the waters of New England.

                                                  1. Am I the only one that thinks it's incredibly odd and over the top to not only eves drop on some one elses conversation but get "outraged" enough about it to post on a forum? lol
                                                    I think most would be rather shocked to discover that the majority of local seafood in many areas gets shipped to cities where it will fetch top dollar while the majority of "local" fish markets and restaurants are selling previously frozen fish.
                                                    I wonder how many from this area realize that the pasteurized blue simming crab that is used in the vast majority of crab cakes and sold in nearly every seafood market is an entirely different sub-species and not really a blue crab at all?

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: Docsknotinn

                                                      "Am I the only one that thinks it's incredibly odd and over the top to not only eves drop on some one elses conversation but get "outraged" enough about it to post on a forum?"

                                                      ROFL...that only took me two seconds! lol

                                                        1. re: baconodka

                                                          I concur on the Wellfleet Oysters...the best! I know it's not "fish", but I live on Nantucket, so I must say: Nantucket Bay Scallops! Also mussels, fluke, sole, flounder, sea bass, bluefish,tuna, the aforementioned striped bass all come from local waters. I worked at Legal Seafoods in the 80s, and they used to say that scrod was baby cod, and schrod was baby haddock. But that sounds like a cute story to tell the conventioneers and tourists.

                                                        2. Scrod - Is generally a Small COD, however, the story goes that many decades ago, Lockobers restaurant in Boston ran out of cod at lunch one busy day. Rather than change the menu the owners and chef started substituting Haddock and Pollock and renamed it SCROD, which became the term for any small white mild fish put on the menu.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: ackstack

                                                            Is tis also the story about why the cod fishery has collapsed and experts say will never come back?

                                                          2. Wellfleet oysters

                                                            Succulent Nantucket Bay scallops(in season)

                                                            Nauset Mussels(So much better than PEI)

                                                            Steamers from Nauset

                                                            Sea Clams off Wellfleet

                                                            Sea scallops in Wellfleet Harbor.

                                                            Little neck clams(outer Cape)

                                                            Yellow-tail flounder from Stellwagon Bank between Gloucester and P-Town

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: PJ Mac BJ

                                                              There is a slightly risqué, rather old joke about scrod. I really don't want to offend anyone so, if you would like to see it, please go to
                                                              and if you want to give it a miss - that's fine!

                                                              I will, by the way, change the definition of scrod to reflect the comments that you really knowledgeable people are contributing!

                                                              When we lived in Boston, goodness, around 20 years ago now, we used to watch the fish being landed and eat it at the Daily Catch. So sad to hear all this about the fisheries - In the UK we have had limits on cod catches for a long time. We are a tiny island surrounded by water and our access to fish is getting worse - but some of that is to do with the fact that the Spanish take a lot of the fish that even our own fisherman catch. It's embarrassing how little fish we eat and, in Cambridge, about, oh, 30 miles from the sea, it's really hard to get any decent fish or shellfish at all. Except Cromer crab. Yum yum.