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where to buy fresh / live seafood?

I am looking for a market/place to buy some really fresh seafood. If it offers live seafood, that's even better but no necessary. The only place I know to get live seafood is those market at Chinatown. There is also Legal seafood market in Chestnut Hill but it can't beat the live seafood at Chinatown, not to mention the price at Legal is pretty high. There is also fresh seafood at H-mart in Burlington but it's too far from Brookline, where I live. Besides, it still can't beat the live seafood at Chinatown, in term of freshness. Is there some where else which I can buy fresh seafood? Thanks.

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  1. You might want to explore a Cape Ann fish share. You pick up your fish the same day it is caught. Very often the fish is still in rigor when you get it home.


    2 Replies
    1. re: smtucker

      Seconded -- a fish share is definitely the best option for those looking for fresh stuff. Doesn't get any fresher unless you catch it and eat it on your own boat. Trust the professionals.

      1. re: smtucker

        I completely agree - it is a great resource for the Boston area

      2. Not live but the freshest seafood around is at New Deal in my experience. East Cambridge if that's not too far afield for you.

        1. Cyndi the Fishlady is at the Brookline farmer's market on Thursdays. Once the market ends, she'll be selling out of When Pigs Fly bakery Tuesday afternoons.

          1. Hi chow_how, you might want to try Super 88 in Allston. It's not as nice as H-Mart, and be prepared for the entryway to smell like a Dumpster, but they have fresh seafood, including live stuff. It sounds like it might be a lot closer to you than other options, and easier to plan around than a fish share (delightful as those are).

            1. I'd suggest you try Happy Family in CTown. It' down a few steps and few steps from Best Little Restaurant. I find th quality to be better than CMart.

              Key West shrimp in addition to Asian; Lvie Maine uni in season..live scallops, oysters, several vrieties of clams; as well a finfish.. fsrmed striped bass and more.

              Outside CTown, Im a fan of New Deal on a close coin toss with Courthouse; few blocks apart in E cambridge. Both are excellent. ND probably has a larger amount of wht people would call "sushi grade" CH has great fish and can cook it for you at their next door reestauranat.

              1 Reply
              1. re: 9lives

                9lives, I just put a note to go to Happy Family on my bathroom mirror. Thanks for the reminder. I wanted to try it the last time you mentioned it and it slipped out of my memory banks. Now I'm going to make a special trip.


              2. Wulf's is in Brookline, on Harvard. Not as good as New Deal, but still acceptable. Cash only.

                1. A little follow-up. I tried Cindy the fishlady at Brookline farmer's market today and it was really good. I had haddock and she said it was caught today. I think I will try that "happy family" at China town some time soon. New deal is in Cambridge, a little far from my place but with more convenient hours. I may try it soon, too. A fish share is not convenient for my schedule. Besides, I will have to learn how to get rid of parasites in fish. That's what it indicates on their website. I need to think about my cutting skills and how well my eye sight is. thanks.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: chow_how

                    i love cindy's fish and New Deal (both are entirely reliable) - if you are looking for firstrate small amount for sashimi, sakanaya on Linden street between Brookline and Brighton is excellent. I will occasionally use Super 88 but I do not trust their fish or their sourcing so I would be very careful.

                    1. re: chow_how

                      Parasitic worms in certain fish are more common than most people think..I've seen them in cod, haddock, swordfish. ..to name a few. I know some wholesalers use a UV light to see them; but they are dealng with thousands of fish.They are very visible under the UV.

                      For the home cook like us, dealing with a few fish, a UV light is not necessary. The worms are not microscopic, but fairly visible to the naked eye..think 1-2 mm. I use a pair of small tweezers or very small, sterile needle nose plyers...very much like removing the pin bones on a salmon fillet. Grab the worm/bone firmly and remove slowly so as not to break or tear it.

                      Carl at New Deal is great and will likely not sell you a fillet with worms; but when you get into buying a whole fish; no one can tell.

                      Hope this is helpful

                      Enjoy your fish!

                      1. re: 9lives

                        When line fishing for mackerel in Nova Scotia this past summer, 1 in 10 were swarming with anisakis worm that you immediately notice when gutting the fish. With heavily anisakis infected fish, I'm never going to take any chances, so infected fish were fed to the gulls. Freezing and cooking will kill the worms, but sometimes allergic reactions can result even after worms have been killed.

                        That said, I regularly buy whole fish from Chinatown (Happy Family or C-Mart) and sashimi grade fish from Sakanaya. I have never had issues with either.

                        1. re: rlee21

                          Mackeral is another fish that often has worms.

                          If I had caught fish that was that badly infested, I wouldn't eat it either...gull food or bait..:)

                    2. Captain Marden's in Westwood or Wellesley. Yankee lobster in the seaport district. Something which will be frowned on here, your local shaws providing you can get to know the people working at the fish counter.

                      1. I wen to "Happy family" at Chinatown today. I didn't buy anything because I am done with seafood this week but I notice all their live clams look healthier than C-mart. All fish looks good, too. Another place to shop. I tried Sakanaya in Allston before but their Sashimi looked awful! The color just wasn't right. It looked like that Sashimi had been there for a few days. I notice they really didn't have many customers. For Sashimi, I recommend that Japanese store in Medford and H-mart in Burlington. There may be some places at Union square? I don't know. But I will try New Deal for fresh squid and octopus. This is a real challenge because fresh squid is hard to find. Hong Kong market in Allston is urr..., I am not sure. They don't look so reliable.
                        About the parasite in fish issue. I didn't know it's like that. How about halibut, flounder, Chilean sea bass, and wild sea bass?

                        Does anyone know if New Deal in Cambridge has a parking lot or if parking around there is easy? Thanks.

                        13 Replies
                        1. re: chow_how

                          Courthouse Seafood generally has fresh squid. Sometimes they have fresh octopus, and always have it in the freezer. Union Square doesn't have a fishmonger, but the fish at the Reliable Market is always top notch. Their sashimi-grade tuna is fabulous. I don't generally buy fish at the Market Basket since Courthouse is so nearby.

                          1. re: chow_how

                            i never have difficulty parking near New Deal during weekdays. I can't speak to weekends. If you go and are interested in meat and eggs, go across the street to Mayflower chicken: excellent organic chickens on Fridays and good chicken all the time, good bones, good frozen ground lamb, and fresh eggs. Also, if you like whole sardines, new deal's arrive on Thursday and are excellent. I have bought both squid and octopus at new deal and they have been excellent. I am sorry to hear about Sakanaya: I shopped there last month and thought the tuna I bought for sushi was very fine.

                            1. re: chow_how

                              As far as parasites in halibut, flounder, striped bass...they can be present when the fish is caught. Halibut or striped bass are large fish and rarely if ever bought by a retail customer. You're going to buy a fillet or steak, that has been dewormed by any fish monger or at the wholesale level. As a retail consumer, you are very unlikely to run across these worms. I've only encountered them less than a handful of times in almost 50 years of buying fish. More when i catch my own. I really don't think it should be something for you to be concerned about.

                              As far as Sakanaya, I've only been once (wish they were easier to get to). Everything was of very high quality. Keep in mind that certain grades of tuna; like the fatty tuna/toro are NOT the bright red that is often treatedwith carbon monoxide to get that bright color...more of a pinkish.


                              I haven't beento the Japanese Mkt in Medford but I've met the owner on the Fish Pier. Everything he buys is pristine.

                              You can't go wrong at New Deal or Courthouse. Parking is easy, but I go by bike..:)

                              1. re: 9lives

                                9lives two different things. Ebisuya is the Japanese Market in Medford Square on Riverside and Captain Boston Fish Market is the Korean Fishmonger on Main Street at Harvard Ave. They both deal in sashimi. I have posted about the benefits and minor idiosyncrasies of Captain Boston.

                                There was a fishmonger near Union Square (Roma/Sousa) which one of the posters maybe referring to, but it has closed. Fernandes is the closest to there on Cambridge Street and is worthwhile too, but has less selection than Courthouse/New Deal (some other excellent Portuguese products). There also is a fishmonger on Broadway in Somerville - Broadway Portuguese & American Market, but its a small counter with a focused selection.

                                Despite having bough fish directly from fishermen in a number of places, including New England, I truly love fish shopping in Boston. In the past week I had a cod head with fat cheeks, clear eyes, and the collar call my name at Market Basket (2 meals for $4). Fresh US squid from Market Basket (which currently has "peixe espada preta" back in stock again). Cockles, sticklebacks (chicharro), atlantic salt cod, and cockles from Courthouse as well as $8.95 for a plate of 2 large pieces of native bluefish. Oysters from New Deal. Still remember the last piece of salmon I bought from Captain Boston and lots of enthusiastic people in all those locations. Boston also the only place I have had someone throw in an extra piece (and sometimes extra out of the fryer) for an enthusiastic customer.

                                1. re: itaunas

                                  Sounds like you've done some great eating..:)

                                  The Medford market I was referring to is Captain Boston and I remember your comments re the shop.

                                  I was recently given a nice piece of Yellowfin, that I ate raw and bought some Sierra Mackeral that I brined with salt and had as sashimi. Nice cod fish baked.

                                  We're very fortunate to have so many options.

                                  1. re: itaunas

                                    itaunas, I so love your posts.
                                    which market basket are you talking about? I hope somerville.
                                    if not, do you see significant differences between somerville MB and other locations? which are best for fish?

                                    1. re: Madrid

                                      Madrid I was talking about the Chelsea MB which has a large fish counter and often has fish frames with heads in the open cooler next to it. Most of the time the cod comes with nice extras and sometimes salmon frames too. They are very willing to get whole fish out of the back and the managers are pretty knowledgeable (one secretly raises oysters in East Boston...), but other workers at the counter vary. However, in the past someone put stickers over the eyes of some frames and whole fish (some of which were not very firm feeling) but hopefully they stopped that as I haven't seen it recently. I like their selection, but initially preferred the frozen selection in Somerville which had more Portuguese items. I think that has changed (and they addressed some issues with Goncalves net weights). I suspect that Somerville has the espada preta (particularly important to Madeira, but also somewhat the Acores), but that is more of a specialty item. There fish selection in Somerville is much smaller, mostly filleted fish, and I haven't had luck getting help so it doesn't compare on that count. But I did get a decent piece of fresh pollock for $3.99/lb in Somerville recently, so am not complaining.

                                      1. re: itaunas

                                        thanks, I was almost certain you were talking about Chelsea...not Somerville, but as usual, great to hear your comments.

                                        1. re: Madrid

                                          BTW, I noticed at the Woburn Market Basket that they were carrying Gulf shrimp in a couple of counts including small, uncooked shrimp (51/60 or smaller I think) which is good because non-precooked are hard to get retail. Price similar to Restaurant Depot, but smaller quantity. That said there was a lot more ice in the bag than a simple glaze (which surprised me given they had some issues with net weights on imported seafood recently) so I didn't buy them.

                                2. re: chow_how

                                  Most commercial stuff is flash frozen to kill any parasites....extra protein...mmmm :-)
                                  You'll find them in wild salmon as well IIRC, but for fish around here, it's usually cod/haddock that have this issue. I've caught/eaten flounder/seabass/porgy/striper/bluefish w/o any issues. Tuna also is a pelagic so it doesn't get anything. I froze cod I caught to be sure though ;-)

                                  1. re: Spike

                                    " parasites....extra protein...mmmm :-) "
                                    I would rather eat mother natures pests than any chemical equivalent, but that's just me. I miss the good old corn at the farm stand that actually had worms in it.

                                    1. re: Ora Moose

                                      i am a doctor - hence my chowhound monicker; i think that you would best avoid parasites. I have had experience with people with parasites in the brain; it is not as pretty as you imagine.

                                      i stick with new deal and Sakayana.

                                      1. re: cambridgedoctpr

                                        Right doc, I was by no means suggesting that anyone eat contaminated food, just saying that I fear man made poisons that have become pervasive in our food system as much or more...

                                3. I went to New Deal fish market in Cambridge today. Their fish looks very good, fresh enough. They have salmon roe and flying fish roe, too. But unfortunately, they don't have much squid and don't look that good. That was the reason I went to New Deal today so I didn't buy anything. Overall, a good fish market to shop but can't beat the freshness you can find at Chinatown. I would say it's on the same level as H-mart in Burlington.
                                  Don't go there early. They still tried to put out all the fish. Parking in street was easy but it's possible because I went there early. As I was leaving, I saw all the parking spots were being filled up gradually.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: chow_how

                                    New Deal usually has native squid in the freezer which I bought when I wasn't satisfied with what they had in the case, it was larger and better quality, but frozen. My biggest complaint with squid at New Deal is Carl didn't ask how I wanted it cleaned (instructing his helper to slit the bodies when I wanted rings) so I have watched him like a hawk since, but his father offered to defrost and clean the squid for me if I came back. If you want a slightly larger selection Courthouse carries a wider selection of items and possibly more fish for sale whole, but neither has live tank seafood like some places in Chinatown.

                                  2. As you're in Brookline, you might want to check out Cyndi the Fish Lady. She sells at the Brookline farmers market in season (this Thursday is the last one of the year), and the rest of the year on Tuesdays in the When Pigs Fly bakery in Coolidge Corner.

                                    She has a limited list of items but they're always impressively fresh, way better than Wulf's.

                                    You can get on her weekly e-mail list by writing to her at fishlady19@verizon.net