Fishmongers don’t just sell you fish- they have knowledge, connections, and skills to help you have an excellent experience and relationship with your seafood! Here is a quick list of what you can - and can’t- ask from your fishmongers.
Totally Ask Them….
…Which Fish Are In Season
Fishmongers know that the availability of local seafood changes with the seasons.
While you can always use OWF to find which fish are in season ( including Instagram!) fishmongers can also provide you with this information. They can tell you when you can expect to see seasonal seafood like striped bass, bluefish, and squid.
…To Fillet or Remove Insides, Scales & Fins
I never buy a whole fish without asking the fishmonger a few questions/favors first.
1. If the fish has scales (such as a porgy) I always ask if the fish has been de-scaled. If the scales are still attached, I ask the fishmonger to remove them. Descaling a fish in a tiny kitchen is a form of decorating that I don’t want to do. Thankfully, fishmongers are happy to do it!
2. I also ask if the insides have been removed. 9/10 times the fish has already been gutted, but the two times I didn’t ask this question is when I brought home some mackerels with full bellies. Was it cool to open up their stomachs and see what they have eaten? Yes! But I would have preferred the fishmonger do that dirty work.
3. Fishmongers are also happy to clip off fins ( a good idea when grilling a fish because they like to burn/flame up) and will fillet the fish in case you don’t have a sharp enough knife at home.
…for a Bag of Ice, Please!
Fishmongers are happy to provide a bag of ice to keep your fish cold as you continue shopping and drive home.
Bringing a small cooler to the fishmarket is a great idea but if you forget the cooler, then they can put your wrapped fish in a bag with some ice. Just ask!
…A Free Sample of a lesser known fish!
Have you always wanted to try hake or redfish or cusk but have refrained from purchasing it? Ask your fishmonger for a free sample!
Fishmongers want customers to enjoy a variety of species and they are happy to help expose you to new and interesting local fish with a 3oz sample.
…A Special Order!
Fishmongers can be your seafood concierge.
Want to make a special seafood dish for a party or event? Don’t wait last minute to go to the market and hope there’s enough fish for your party. Instead, a week ahead of time visit your favorite fishmonger and let them know that you would like to place a special order.
For the most part, fishmongers will not….
Cook your fish for you
Most fishmongers sell fish, not cook it. However, it is exciting to see that many fishmarkets are providing value-added products that are either ready to eat (smoked fish - yum!), or require very little preparation before eating (such as fishcakes ready for a frying pan).
Give you part of a whole fish
Making fish stock and just want fish bones or the head? Great! But keep in mind, fishmongers don’t usually have just fish bones on hand - you got to buy the whole fish.
However, if you let your fishmonger know what you are looking for ahead of time, they may be able to hold onto pieces from a whole fish that they break down in house.
Again, just ask!