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New Deal Seafood Really is Superb

StriperGuy Feb 4, 2010 12:59 PM

Hit it yesterday. The sheer variety was astounding. Wish I had had friends coming over because they had whole head-on red snapper that were large and very pretty.

Prices were a little higher then when I was last there on Christmas Eve (sweet shrimp and halibut), but fish IS expensive this time of year cause you have to be a bit crazy to go fishing in the Northern Hemisphere in February. And if it's flown in, well then it's expensive regardless.

I settled on some wild salmon and some sardines. The sardines were full stop the freshest I have ever had anywhere. They were glistening and opalescent like the fresh out of the water mackeral I sometimes catch myself. And they were sweet and delicate with not a hint of the fishiness (which I don't mind in sardines) that these delicate fish sometimes have.

It's worth the trip. It is a destination in it's own right. I'm not the first to say it (9Lives) but if you want fish in Boston, it's hard to beat New Deal.

  1. p
    phatchris Feb 4, 2010 02:19 PM

    I also love New Deal, but recently started going to Mercato del Mare out of convience. And I have to say the quality is on par

    1. s
      Spike Feb 5, 2010 11:34 AM

      Did you see any fresh smelt while you were there?

      1 Reply
      1. re: Spike
        StriperGuy Feb 5, 2010 01:51 PM

        Definitely not, but call, I am sure they would get them for you.

      2. r
        RoyRon Feb 5, 2010 02:13 PM

        I would add that Court House Fish slightly up the street from the New Deal is equally good. We are very lucky to have such a variety of fresh seafood available to us in Boston.

        2 Replies
        1. re: RoyRon
          StriperGuy Feb 5, 2010 04:53 PM

          Court house is excellent, but I give the edge to New Deal.

          1. re: StriperGuy
            yumyum Feb 9, 2010 07:50 AM

            I agree -- I also give the edge to New Deal because Carl Fantasia (the owner) will offer up recipes and tips to go along with the fish.

        2. steinpilz Feb 5, 2010 04:37 PM

          I worked nearby over the last year and stopped at New Deal and Courthouse regularly on Friday, now I'm at Alewife which is less convenient, it was great to pick up whatever looked good/great on the way home!

          Looking forward to Ebusiya's fish selections as I like Japanese style seafood, but New Deal and Courthouse will always be a go-to option.

          1 Reply
          1. re: steinpilz
            teezeetoo Feb 5, 2010 06:17 PM

            New Deal is my favorite though I'll use Court House and Captain marden's as well. I find the variety, particularly of whole fish, best at New Deal. I have tried Sea to Us since it opened in Brookline and was very happy with the big eye tuna we bought. But when it comes to range, New Deal seems to me consistently the best. The added advantage is running across the street for eggs, chicken and rabbit at Mayflower.

          2. passing thru Feb 6, 2010 07:13 AM

            I don't live in Somerville anymore, and I miss New Deal very, very much. The guy there has the best eye for what's available--Courthouse is just fine, but New Deal is The King.

            1. m
              mvi Feb 6, 2010 04:39 PM

              Hi StriperGuy. Walked by those sardines the other day- how do you cook them? I'm a salmon/bass/scallop/bluefish girl mainly but those sardines did look fresh and sweet.
              Love New Deal.

              10 Replies
              1. re: mvi
                StriperGuy Feb 6, 2010 05:23 PM

                Salt and pepper.

                Cast iron smoking hot under broiler.

                Throw in sardines. 1-2 minutes, you are done.

                1. re: StriperGuy
                  mvi Feb 7, 2010 05:54 PM

                  Thanks- I'll try it this week.

                  1. re: mvi
                    bafonso Feb 7, 2010 10:34 PM

                    Both places have good fish. On the other hand, skip sardines before May. Rumor has it that sardines - fresh caught that is - are only really good from May to August... They tend to be mushy and not really good in other months.

                    They're great grilled and accompanied with tomato salad. You grill it and put it on top of a slice of bread. After the third sardine, you eat the bread containing all the good fatty oil from the sardines. Repeat until you are satisfied :-)

                    1. re: bafonso
                      StriperGuy Feb 8, 2010 05:51 AM

                      Mine were really good, and not even slightly mushy.

                      1. re: StriperGuy
                        bafonso Feb 8, 2010 10:02 AM

                        Yes, but they were not fat :-) Sardines' lipid content - juices and omega-3 goodness - are at a peak during september and october. Some people find it too oily during this time, hence the popular wisdom of only good when months don't have an R. May-August :) I love them in september and october. It is also when they're more abundant, hence, more eco-friendly.

                        Nov-Apr they are normally smaller and not as fat and the oil-content is not as good. You can eat them all year round, of course, but once you've had great sardines in august and september, you'll know what I mean :)

                        1. re: bafonso
                          StriperGuy Feb 8, 2010 12:26 PM

                          If you noticed my screen name is Striperguy.

                          They are usually fatter and juicier in the fall when they have been gorging all summer, but, for whatever reason, the sardines I bought at New Deal last week were particularly excellent.

                          My all around favorite fish of the year is when I catch fall mackeral juicy with fat.

                          1. re: StriperGuy
                            bafonso Feb 8, 2010 01:23 PM

                            Hi StriperGuy,

                            I'd be curious to know where those sardines come from. Might be time to get some to satisfy my craving :) Do you also normally grill the mackerel?

                            1. re: bafonso
                              StriperGuy Feb 8, 2010 02:03 PM

                              Charcoal grilling is best, but I cheat and use the cast iron under the broiler method mentioned above when I am feeling lazy.

                              1. re: bafonso
                                cassis Feb 8, 2010 02:07 PM

                                mmm, sardines and mackerel! I wonder if New Deal can cook'em up on the spot like Courthouse, and whether Courthouse has sardines now too!
                                I usually buy mackerel at Reliable or HMart because they have a nice way of preparing them, I just broil them both sides. Another nice way to prepare oily fish is to dust the filets in flour, fry them in olive oil, let them cool in a bath of oil, vinegar, salt, sugar, capers, lemon, bay leaf, peppercorns...I think this is called "salmi" or agrodolce. Too lazy to get up and look it up.

                        2. re: bafonso
                          rlh Feb 8, 2010 08:46 AM

                          The tomatoes could be the real problem before summer.

                  2. Nab May 31, 2010 05:39 PM

                    I don't know why I don't listen to y'all more often. ;)

                    Impeccable selection and variety of seafood, great attention to quality and detail, extensively knowledgeable and enthusiastic staff, and a really fun, neighbourhoody kinda vibe with regulars popping in to exchange tales of uni dives, talk gravlax, and discuss the finer points of fish and family. Every single customer seemed to be an enthusiast, keeping up with Carl and crew's passion.

                    Picked up some beautiful plump local anchovies which later became boquerones en vinagre. Also some hirame which I noshed on in the raw. Ultra-marbled salmon collars went into the freeze, some littlenecks became the basis for a catch-as-catch-can Alentejana-inspired stew. The salmon roe found its way into everything short of my morning coffee. All top notch.

                    A true gem of a place.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Nab
                      StriperGuy May 31, 2010 06:07 PM

                      Num, num, num...

                    2. s
                      scotty27 Dec 24, 2010 04:30 AM

                      New Deal is astonishing. The selection is nonpareil: Toro, hiramasa, hamachi, etc. No wonder they were invited to a dinner at the Japanese consulate. Not sustainable vs-a-vis the blue fin they sell, but...still: Friends from Japan know this place. The prices are worth it if you buy small amounts. The fish thy sell often is high in fat and thick so you can buy much less! Tonight it's The Feast of the Four Nippon Fishes.

                      1. yumyum Dec 24, 2010 09:05 PM

                        Beat the rush somehow and scored Spanish octopus dry scallops and fantastic crab meat. Some of the courses for the feast of almost seven fishes. Carl is so sweet and took care of us even with the phone ringing off the hook and the customers clamoring.

                        17 Replies
                        1. re: yumyum
                          yumyum Dec 24, 2010 09:13 PM

                          By the way new deal is on Facebook if you want to get daily fish porn. And who doesn't?

                          1. re: yumyum
                            StriperGuy Dec 25, 2010 04:28 AM

                            Hah, must've missed ya... I was there at 9:15.

                            Shrimps, clams, an eel, and salmon. YUM.

                            1. re: StriperGuy
                              scotty27 Dec 25, 2010 05:47 AM

                              They sell eel? Wow. It's not on display.

                              1. re: scotty27
                                StriperGuy Dec 25, 2010 07:52 AM

                                It was actually right in the window. Which is where they often display special items.

                                1. re: StriperGuy
                                  Brock Lee Robb Dec 25, 2010 07:57 AM

                                  By mid-morning the window was steamed-up, and you couldn't see in. I went for some of those sardines you recommend, but had to settle for smelts. and some Island Creeks. and some octo. Smelts were great on the grill-pan.

                                  1. re: Brock Lee Robb
                                    StriperGuy Dec 25, 2010 09:17 AM

                                    LOVE smelts too. If it's any consolation at 9:10am he had two sardines left. I was eyeing the octo myself. Need to give the old pressure cooker a workout.

                                    1. re: StriperGuy
                                      yumyum Dec 25, 2010 11:19 AM

                                      Whole foods had great sardines and they ended up being the final course. Hot iron pan with a slick of Bacon fat and salt and pepper. Minute on each side and awesome! I used the batali method for octopus and it turned out super tender.

                                      1. re: yumyum
                                        Prav Dec 25, 2010 11:28 AM

                                        Can you eat the entire thing, spine and all? Or does it pull out easily?

                                        Edit: Sorry, I meant the pan grilled sardine.

                                        1. re: Prav
                                          Brock Lee Robb Dec 25, 2010 11:35 AM

                                          Eel backbone and small bones will lift out in one piece if cooked properly and you handle it delicately.

                                          1. re: Prav
                                            yumyum Dec 25, 2010 11:57 AM

                                            Super easy to lift the bony bits out. And the cast iron skillet makes the skin really crispy. Om nom.

                                          2. re: yumyum
                                            StriperGuy Dec 25, 2010 01:21 PM

                                            Hey wait, that's my recipe, thought the bacon fat is a NICE addition ;-)

                                            To Prav, on fresh sardines, unlike the canned ones where the cooking sort of dissolves them, the bones are still pretty spikey.

                                            1. re: StriperGuy
                                              yumyum Dec 25, 2010 03:38 PM

                                              Apparently its my mama's recipe too. The Bacon fat was her idea. The nut don't fall too far from the tree.

                                              1. re: yumyum
                                                StriperGuy Dec 26, 2010 03:39 AM

                                                Mama knows best!

                                      2. re: StriperGuy
                                        scotty27 Dec 25, 2010 08:36 AM

                                        Excellent. Gonna grill them suckers for NY Eve. Anago? Unagi?
                                        Couple of cold ones and grilled eel, oh, yeah.
                                        I have to say that this store is the best in the country, better than Citarella, etc.

                                        1. re: scotty27
                                          StriperGuy Dec 25, 2010 09:20 AM

                                          My father in law has a family tradition of eating roast eel on Christmas Eve. He stuffed each chunk with fresh bay laurel leaves from their tree in Italy, salt and pepper, then baked/broiled the eel. It was AMAZING. Noone else ate it; he and I inhaled the entire 1.5 pound eel.

                                          I agree, better than Citarella.

                                          1. re: StriperGuy
                                            scotty27 Dec 26, 2010 05:48 AM

                                            Cool. I try to emulate the Japanese and just grill 'em. In Japan, at eel houses, we sit on tatami mats and the cooks grab live, wriggling eels out of barrels, nail their heads to a stump, skin them, chop off the heads, and grill them over hot coals. Served with an ice cold draft. It's positively medieval. The eels are treated like heretics.

                                          2. re: scotty27
                                            cambridgedoctpr Dec 26, 2010 06:35 AM

                                            i would drink CS or red bordeaux with eel. Try it; i consider eel what steak dreams that it could be.

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