A native of New Jersey and father of three, Ben Pollinger graduated from Boston University and the Culinary Institute of America. He has worked with world-renowned Chefs such as Alain Ducasse, Christian Delouvrier, Michael Romano, and Chef Floyd Cardoz at Tabla. He has been the Executive Chef at the Michelin started restaurant Oceana since 2006. His debut cookbook, School Of Fish, is out now from sister company Simon & Schuster and available wherever books are sold. Feeling unsure about buying fresh fish here in New York City? My new cookbook, School of Fish, offers great tips on what to look for when buying but here I’m going to also give you my personal insider’s tips on where to find the freshest catch here in the Big Apple.
The only real criterion when buying fish is that it is as fresh as possible. If you go to the market looking for swordfish and the flounder looks better, get the flounder. If it’s super fresh, you may discover that you really like flounder much better than you thought.
Your best line of defense is a quality fish market that does a brisk business. Rapid turnover doesn’t guarantee fresh fish, but it doesn’t hurt. Whether you are shopping at a Japanese seafood market, an upscale fish store, or your local supermarket, develop a relationship with the person behind the counter. Find out what days the store receives deliveries and shop then. Ask for help in choosing, and complain pleasantly if you’re not satisfied.
It’s also a good idea to learn to judge freshness yourself. Look for fish that glistens rather than looks dull. If the fish is whole, the eyes should be clear and plump, not cloudy and sunken. The gills should be bright red, not brown. If it’s filleted, check the bloodline – that line of red flesh on the skin-side of the fillet. It should be bright red, not brown. If you can smell it, it should smell fresh like the sea, not fishy.
New York, NY 10023
1313 3rd Ave.
New York, NY 10021
424 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10011
Years ago, Citarella started out as a seafood market and today it remains one of the best retail vendors in the city. Their seafood buyer personally scours the Fulton Fish Market nightly for the freshest catch. You can be sure you’re receiving top-quality, fresh fish here.
The Lobster Place
75 9th Ave.
New York, NY 10011
A long time supplier of fresh seafood to NYC’s best restaurants, The Lobster Place is also a great place to get the same quality fresh fish at home. With a wide variety of products you can be sure to find what you need here.
There are numerous vendors of fresh fish all throughout NYC’s Chinatown, some so fresh I literally once saw a live fish jump out of a box and flop down Canal Street! Besides being a source for live fish, the seafood markets in Chinatown generally have a huge turnover of product ensuring that you’ll find something fresh.
Blue Moon Fish
E 17th St.
New York, NY 10003
They sell the fish they catch off the Eastern end of Long Island from their boat “Blue Moon” directly to the consumer. Blue Moon Fish is a great source of top-quality local seafood. Their selection varies seasonally, but the fish is always great.
Hell’s Kitchen Retail Markets
There are a number of fresh seafood vendors on Ninth Avenue in the West 30’s and 40’s. Many are long-time neighborhood staples with great fish “seasoned” with old New York flavor.
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