WEEKEND EDITION

Fresh Fish! Where and When to Get the Best Catch in NYC

| March 1, 2012 4:00 AM

A fishmonger hocks his products in Manhattan's Chinatown. While many seafood markets line the neighborhood's streets, the Bayard Market and Mulberry Market are two of the largest and most popular. AP/Bebeto Matthews.

Whether you’re fasting with fish on Fridays during Lent or just love some good tail, use this guide to know where and when to buy the choicest pieces.

When to buy

In the mad, mad rush to be eco-friendly, it’s important to consider where your fish came from and when particular species are in season. Check the label or grill your fishmonger for region of origin and method of catch, as some are more sustainable than others.

Common seasonal fish in New York City include:

  • January-April: sea bass, striper, mackerel
  • May-September: albacore, sockeye, chinook, coho and pink salmon, pollock, haddock, sole, whiting
  • October-December: pollock, sole, mackerel
  • Year Round: lingcod, flounder, halibut

The Monterey Bay Aquarium has an awesome app that allows you to see what’s in season based on your GPS coordinates. It ranks fish from the “best choices” to the “avoid” categories.

Terms to know

Wild caught fish are usually captured in a large net that’s dragged through deep water, which can snag other species not ready for harvesting. Industrial wild fishing techniques have contributed to unhealthy conditions in two-thirds of the world’s fish populations, according to scientists at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Farm raised fish are grown in special hatcheries in tanks or special containments set up in rivers or the sea. Many scientists, activists and fishermen argue that farm raising techniques have harmful effects on the ecosystem, including the destruction of coastal habitats and depletion of fish populations.

Line caught fish are captured individually, reducing the amount of out-of-season of undersized fish that are killed. Though more expensive, this is usually the most eco-friendly method of catch.

Where to buy

Before you buy, make sure standard food safety conditions are apparent. Fish should be displayed on beds of fresh ice, belly or skin side down. A strong fishy smell is no red herring, it’s a good reason to suspect your potential dinner may be going bad. Though some species’ eyes turn cloudy in their final throes on the docks, most should be clear and protruding slightly. For more information, visit Fish Watch.

 

New Fulton Fish Market

800 Food Center Dr., Hunt’s Point, Bronx, NY

New Fulton Fish Market in the Bronx delivers fresh fish from 1a.m. to 7a.m. Photo courtesy of Flickr/Michael T.

These guys really take the ol’ early bird and worm idea seriously. New Fulton is open from 1 a.m. to 7 a.m.,  Monday through Friday. The only place you’ll get fresher fish is straight off the line. Formerly located at the now-closed South Street Fish Market in Manhattan, this warehouse in the Bronx houses the majority of fish trafficked into the city.

 

 

Sea Breeze Fish Market

541 9th Ave., Hell’s Kitchen, New York, NY

Sea Breeze Fish Market delivers fresh fish and crustaceans for affordable prices. Photo courtesy of Seabreeze Fish Markets.

This local chain’s Hell’s Kitchen location serves fresh fish and crustaceans aplenty at reasonable prices. Open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., and Saturday from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

 

 

 

 

 

Wild Edibles

Grand Central Market, 43rd St. and Lexington Ave., New York, NY

What began with a van and a few tubs of ice back in 1992 has blossomed into one of the cornerstone’s of Grand Central’s food offerings. Wild Edibles offers super fresh, sustainability-minded fish of all stripes, but these eco-conscious cuts come at premium prices.

Chinatown, Manhattan

The fish markets of Chinatown, replete with crustaceans. Photo courtesy of Flickr/Deborah Bifulco.

See your meal in its original form: scales, guts and all, before you buy it in many of these shops. Some of the neighborhood’s most popular fishmongeries include the Bayard Meat Market at 57 Bayard St. and Mulberry Meat Market at 89 Mulberry St.

 

 

 

Union Square Farmers’ Market and Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket

The Union Square Farmer's Market offers more than just fresh produce. Seafood is also available for sale. Photo courtesy of Flickr/Brian, NYC

 

Outdoor markets aren’t just for produce, fresh flowers and artisan bars of soap. Many have booths well-stocked with sea creatures atop beds of ice. Union Square is open Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Grand Army Plaza operates Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the northwest corner of Prospect Park in Brooklyn.

 

 

 

Acme Smoked Fish

30 Gem St., Greenpoint, Brooklyn, NY

Mackerels on ice await a buyer. Mackerel is best purchased January through April. Flickr/James F Clay

Be ready to make a splash at Sunday brunch with the in-laws thanks to Fish Fridays at Acme Smoked Fish distributors. With wholesale prices available every Friday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., you’re sure to bring in a good catch.

 

 

 

 

Ocean Fish Market

203 7th Ave., Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY

Ocean Fish Market in Park Slope, Brooklyn can be pricey. Luckily, they've got inexpensive sushi to make up for it. Photo by Corinne Durand.

 

Park Slope’s market has a wide variety of fish and lobster, but as you might expect from the upscale neighborhood, these fish can be a bit pricey. However, their made-to-go sushi is dirt cheap! Ocean is open Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

 

 

Metropolitan Fish Market

635 Metropolitan Ave., Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY

Metropolitan Fish Market in Williamsburg is not your every day fish market, but the quality of fish makes up for the unconventional decor. Photo courtesy of Flickr/

Williamsburg’s only seafood market is housed in a building resembling a tackle shop, but the strong odors wafting from the door indicate the staff has already taken care of the fishing for you. The place is operated by neighborhood old-timers and the prices are affordable. Open Tuesday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

 

 

  • Hazel Feldman

    Good fish information. One more retail shop I like is Lobster Place located at Chelsea Market (NYC).

  • carminecovino@yahoo.com

    where do these markets get there fresh fish at wholesale prices ?

  • http://www.longlinefishing.biz/en/index.php sea bass tackle

    With that said, it’s better to decrease your offering slightly in size
    rather than increase it as too big of a fly and your catch rate falls
    off rapidly. I break out the really big flies once a trophy bass has
    been spotted! For these reasons I agree that a six weight or even a
    five will do for most of your Bass fishing and I’ve even fished for bass
    with my threes and fours. I do go to a bigger rod weight when using
    bigger flies as these are a pain with a light rod.

  • Pat

    I would like to see these markets start using Local Ocean’s fish

    • 3RDi

      agreed, but not too local (have you smelled the hudson?) You’d have to go fairly north on the hudson or as far east on long Island as possible. Montauk is probably the best but it’s not necessary to go that far, most fisheries near the most north/south in suffolk is definitely worth the trek.

  • bob

    “but the strong odors wafting from the door indicate the staff has already taken care of the fishing for you.”

    If you can smell the fish its most likely not fresh. I now have writer trust issues.

    • kells

      It’s true — that place smells

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