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Jun 22, 2010 10:18 AM

Can I insist on the exact weight of meat and fish? Should I?

A poster on my local board is furious that a fishmonger didn't make his salmon fillet exactly .5 lb as requested and didn't say "it's a little over, is that ok?" This got me wondering - how exact should the weight at the meat or fish counter be? How much over/under is acceptable? Is it ok to insist the butcher or fishmonger trim your purchase down to exact weight even if that means more waste trimmings for them?

In the case on the local board, the poster asked for .5 lb of salmon at $13/lb. The fillet initially weighed in at .85 and the fishmonger trimmed it down, and wrapped it up. The poster later discovered that it was over .5 lb by $2, which by my calculations means it could have been .6 lb or thereabouts. To me, this seems close enough and I wouldn't expect the fishmonger to waste .1 lb of fish to make my piece exactly .5 lb, but maybe others would? Should they tell you it's still a bit over? Is it ok to tell them "no, it's not ok that it's a little over" and insist they trim the piece of fish further?

Does it matter how expensive the item is? Either because the customer shouldn't have to pay for more than she asked for or because the store shouldn't have to waste expensive items?

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  1. I think it's being overly anal-retentive to ask them to trim another 10th of a lb. from a piece of salmon. What - is that maybe a bite or two of salmon? And how did the poster "later discover" it was over a 10th of a lb? Did she not look at the price when the fishmonger gave it to her?

    If I ask for a half lb. of rare roast beef and they give me three-quarters? No, I don't want that much. But if it's .60? Yeah, that's fine. If I ask for a lb. of jumbo shrimp and it weighs 1.15 lbs? What's that - maybe an extra shrimp? I'm OK with that. As for seafood in the fish case, I usually point to the filet I want and take it all - unless my eyes were bigger than my stomach and it weighs a LOT more than I had assumed.

    I can only assume that the OP in the other thread is on some diet that has specific weights of food to be used. In that case, I'd eat less of whatever else was being served to countermand the 2 extra bites of fish.

    ETA: I read the beginning of the thread and saw the OP saw the weight differential was not down to the half lb., but they chose to not say anything. Tough tooties, then. IMO.

    1. Therefore prepare thee to cut off the flesh.
      Shed thou no blood, nor cut thou less nor more
      But just a pound of flesh: if thou cut'st more
      Or less than a just pound, be it but so much
      As makes it light or heavy in the substance,
      Or the division of the twentieth part
      Of one poor scruple, nay, if the scale do turn
      But in the estimation of a hair,
      Thou diest and all thy goods are confiscate.
      -Merchant of Venice

      Immediately this came to mind when I read this title.

      4 Replies
            1. re: maria lorraine

              Quintuple awesome. (once to add to the others and once to acknowledge the fact that viperflush's creative response lasted three and a half years - wouldn't happen today)

      1. It does not matter how expensive. It matters what my friends, family and I am going to eat.

        I ask for four slices of Mortadella, 6 slices of Proscuitto, ground pork that will fit into my hand (which is smaller than the butcher's hand), 8 jumbo shrimp.

        I will point at that already cut steak, which looks wonderfully marbled or a piece of fish which looks very fresh and ask the weight, knowing I can take it home and cut it into two or three portions. I have knives and a freezer at home.

        5 Replies
        1. re: Cathy

          I agree about the specifics when possible. I also ask for slices and exact number or shrimp or scallops.

          1. re: melpy

            Until this thread I didn't even know I *could* ask for a piece of fish or meat to be cut down! I always just pick out the steaks or fillets I want and ask for those.

            What do they do with the small pieces of meat leftover???

            1. re: bluemoon4515

              I generally don't ask for actual cuts of meat trimmed down. I get one large and cut to size myself. At the meat counter it's usually for ground meats. I know I can grind my own in the food processor but I have a hard time getting the fat residue out of the bowl when I clean it. Perhaps very small pieces get ground?

              1. re: bluemoon4515

                Sometimes the butcher will weigh the piece of meat, cut off whatever it is that you don't want and then charge you for the original weight. Or they might charge you for the trimmed weight.
                Trimmings generally go into either ground beef, off to the renderer, or into the trash which is why the original posting is so egregious. She's expecting the fish monger to take a loss on food just so she can save money. It's typical entitlement thinking. More for me, less for you.

                1. re: Big Eater

                  If somebody wants exact weight with seafood they need to look at frozen portion cut pieces. Want fresh, take what the monger has and be glad he is there to provide fresh.

          2. I always tell the fish or deli guy "a half pound, or a little more", or "a half pound, or a little less". That usually solves the problem of trimming, as s/he knows exactly which I'd prefer if s/he can't hit it on the nose.

            1 Reply
            1. jfood is sorta in the try to get it close category. One time he asked for a 6 oz salmon filet (one person sized) and the fishmonger (a new guy) placed close to 2# on the scale and asked if that was close enough. The he cut it in half, "close enough?" getting closer, then half again and asked if that was OK. Good to go at .60.

              Thjen jfood realized that the fishmonger did not know how to convert oz to decimals on the scale. He wondered over to the customer service counter and mentioned that he should tape a list of ounces to decimals on the scale at the fish station. Not very pleasantly he told jfood that it was his job to know. Okeedokee, no good deed goes unpunished.

              Next time jfood asked for "0.40 on th scale please." Over / under the fishmonger could handle.

              3 Replies
              1. re: jfood

                I find this a common problem at the grocery store.

                1. re: jfood

                  I guess that's why I always ask in fractions of a pound (we're easy because "just under a pound or so" is just right in our case. Or I would ask for half a pound or a pound and a half of something. I think expecting our poor guy to handle ounces is just too much :)

                  1. re: jfood

                    I've had the conversion problem before too, and for fractions of a pound, which I think is simpler yet then converting ounces to decimals (e.g., I say something like 2/3 of a pound and he cuts something vastly different). I try to remember to just say a little less than .7 or whatever now.