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Nov 19, 2012 10:58 AM

Where do YOU buy fish and seafood?

Ok, so it's just me and the wife this year for Thanksgiving, and we're both volunteering half the day so no crazy Turkey plans. I'm loving reading all the Thanksgiving recipes, but as I came across recipes including oysters, my mind started wandering - Where should I buy oysters?

So, Houston, where do you buy your fish, oysters, clams, mussels, crawfish, or shrimp?

Extra points for whole or live seafood!

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  1. I buy most of it from HEB - a large one. They once special ordered a salmon from Washington for me. Live seafood is available at 99 Ranch (lots of it - pictured). Louisiana Foods is a great place I hear, but I haven't been there. It has a retail center, but primarily services Houston's restaurants.

    7 Replies
    1. re: Lambowner

      Lambowner hit the nail on the head, HEB, Louisiana Foods, 99 Ranch Market, Plus there is Super H Mart just north of 99 Ranch Market on Blalock. There is also Airline Seafood on Richmond inside the loop. I've scored some excellent and average Blue Points there in the past. Louisiana Foods has limited hours, 10-3 Monday thru Friday. Louisiana Foods is my go to oyster place. They sell them in by the pound in containers, delicious Galveston Bay oysters. Airline had Blue Points in the shell that need to be shucked. Avoid HEB oysters, the are pasteurized and should be avoided, a terrible thing to do to an oyster.

      1. re: James Cristinian

        Thanks for all the suggestions!

        I have a confession: We live in walking distance of Airline - I had no idea it was there - BUT I'm going there TODAY!

        I will also confess that we have previously been sketched out by a couple bad experiences at Chinese markets with whole fish back when we lived in St Louis. Now, I know, this isn't St Louis, and a live fish is a live fish, but I haven't been able to bring myself to buy a fish yet at Ranch 99 or other Chinese market. This is despite the fact that my favorite way to eat fish is whole, steamed with sweetened soy, scallions, and ginger... (mmmmm)

        1. re: neointima

          What exactly sketched you out? LOL, love that. Anyway, they do knock them on the head before bagging them, is that what bothered you? I posted that picture on a cooking page I frequent and a few of them were distressed about the crowded state of the tanks. I often buy unlive whole trout at HEB and they are always very fresh with clear eyes and no detectable smell and taste divine. HEB has their own fishing fleet.

          1. re: Lambowner

            Oooh. Nice! Will definitely check out the trout next time at HEB!

            Well.... Since you asked about getting sketched out: There were two incidences. The first, the guy didn't know what he was doing, and ... I guess missed the head when he knocked the fish (a catfish, which 1 has a very primitive nervous system and 2 is dang awesome when braised with hot bean sauce and tofu!). Well, the guy was so nervous, he gutted the thing and threw it in a plastic bag and gave it to me. Throughout the rest of our shopping, the poor thing kept wiggling in the cart - because IT WAS STILL ALIVE. Gutted, but alive. It wiggled in the cart, wiggled in the car, wiggled on my cutting board before I stuck it in the pot. It was really tasty, but both my wife and I were traumatized by that experience!

            The truly sketchy experience didn't involve a live fish - which is why after this I insisted on only buying whole live fish. I bought a pomfret (while still in St Louis), hoping to try a new fish - up to then I had only steamed tilapia, striped bass, and roasted salmon or steelhead trout. Plus, I had dreams of tea-smoking those little delicious things. Well, the gills weren't obviously nice, but the eyes still looked clear, so I felt pretty good about the purchase. Nope. Steamed it, but it had a nasty off flavor, and went straight to the trash.

            Problem was, I had invited my not-yet-wife over for dinner, and thankfully in Chinese style, I had a few other dishes as back up, but that was sorely disappointing - if not downright embarassing!

            I had one other bad experience with a whole mackerel that I tried to roast - and it was just off. That being said, it was one in 10, and the others were fantastic.

            What I realized then was that some Asian markets do have the unsavory practice of freezing, thawing, and... re-freezing their fish. As a result, I'm never sure if the sunken eyes are due to previously thawed or ... previously thawed and frozen and rethawed again! I suppose I could do the sniff test, but in the midst of all the other fish and sometimes fish guts, it's hard to be sure what you're smelling...

            Anyway, I LOVE mackerel, but you can only get it dead, and I have been missing that rich salty tastiness after a quick oven broil. So... I'm looking for advice on a new reputable source. I'm excited about the places you guys mentioned, and will definitely be reporting my experiences!

          2. re: neointima

            Please keep us informed on what you found. Welcome to Houston, and we'd love to hear more from you in the future.

        2. re: Lambowner

          Another vote for Louisiana Foods. Seldom buy seafood from HEB - the ones near me are dumps - and never from 99 Ranch or Super H - too far. Up until about a year ago I was regularly going to the Total Catch Market at Louisiana Foods on Saturday mornings, where they featured by-catch, mostly. The guy who was doing that moved on and I think is now working out of Revival Market in the Heights on Saturday mornings, but I haven't been up there to check it out.

          I also buy from a little seafood market just off Stella Link, just inside 610 S, J and J Seafood, which is also a u-buy, we-fry place but I don't think you'll find anything fresher than Louisiana Foods. Back before the appellation oyster movement got underway here about a year ago, I understood that oysters from Smith's Point, near Anahuac on Trinity Bay, were the best Galveston Bay oysters, and they carried those (Jerry's or Jeri's?).

          I haven't attended any of the oyster tastings that have been held since the appellation movement got underway and don't know where to go to buy them instead of just generic 'Gulf' or 'Galveston' or 'Louisiana' oysters.

          For all the decades I've been in Houston, I've never been to Airline but heard about it a lot.

          1. re: brucesw

            If you ever get to Clear Lake area there is a row of seafood places by the Kemah-Seabrook bridge on the Seabrook side. We go to Rose's.

        3. Not in your area, but for those on the north side...

          I buy from The Woodlands Seafood Market. They have a wide variety and the fish is fresh. If you want something - they'll get it for you. They know what they're talking about and make good recommendations. They're willing to bargain as well. Prices aren't good compared to the grocery stores in the area, but the quality and service is much better.

          1. There is a seafood market that is located at Belleaire and Boone, kitty corner from "Happy Feet" massage. They are Asian, have fresh catch of the day, nervier know what it is until you show up, and is cash only. Hours are determined based on supply. If they are out, they close. They always have very fresh shrimp too.

            1. Being near the island I usually get my seafood from Sampson and Son's on Pier 19.

              1 Reply
              1. re: swamp

                I have to agree on this one, I'd say it's the freshest seafood in the area, most of it right off the boat, with the salmon exception. I also like the place next to it, just don't remember the name. I like Seabrook for shrimp, crawfish, and oysters, but the fish is not as good as Galveston. The island is a great place for a day trip or an overnight, with the bonus of bringing back really fresh fish and shrimp.

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