Something Fishy, Part Deux

So, about two months ago I ran my mouth about a fish market article I read in New York Magazine, and how fish from grocery stores will never compare to fish from actual fish markets. I balked at that, and so I promised a fish taste off, not unlike the Pepsi Challenge of years ago. Well, I finally did it and this is what I found.

Full Meal.jpg

It started with a purchase of approximately a half pound of salmon (farmed, not wild... $11.99 per pound) from Citarella Fish Market at West 75th Street. Then, another purchase of a half pound of salmon (also farmed... $8.99 per pound) from Fairway Grocery Store at West 74th Street. I normally do about 98% of my shopping at Fairway, so I am rather biased towards that store... but for this challenge, I put preferences aside and let the fish do the talking.

Right away, the Citarella fillet was the standout... from packaging alone. Very nicely wrapped (kinda like a burrito) in white paper with the Citarella logo on it. The Fairway filet was haphazardly wrapped in yellow paper in a much less appealing way.

Wrapped Fish II.jpg

The fillets themselves looked pretty similar, though my husband thought Citarella looked better. The annoying part about the Citarella one is that when I cut the skin off, a good portion of the length of the fillet was also removed because that end of the fillet was really thin.

side by side fillets.jpg

Anyway, both were marinated about 15 minutes with fresh orange juice, orange peel and soy sauce. Then, they were grilled in a grill pan and served with cous cous and steamed broccoli.

Fish grilling.jpg

My husband was the blind taster and he thought fish A (Fairway) was "sticky on the teeth, a little flaky, creamy, not too fishy and quite smooth once it moves beyond the teeth." He thought fish B (Citarella, fish market) was "not as flaky, seemed more moist, had a milder flavor, a little easier to eat and he could taste the marinade more"--which he liked. Overall impression: He thought A tasted fishier than B, and he preferred B because "it tasted better and didn't stick to his teeth."

I had to agree that the fish market fish (Citarella) was tastier than the grocery store fish (Fairway). Though, the grocery store fish really wasn't that bad, and I would buy it again.

Verdict: Fish market edges grocery store out and takes top honors... but grocery store finishes a close second.

Final fillet faceoff.jpg

Final note: Fairway is more like a market than a chain grocery store, so it's probably a bit unfair to put it in the grocery store category. A more appropriate standoff would probably be between Citarella and say, Food Emporium or A&P... but, since I read that NY mag article, I sure don't want to buy their fish.

mark, Sep 27 2005 5:37PM

kudos on a taste-test well done. although i might question your husband's qualifications as a taster ("sticks to teeth"?)

so now you know the results, will this switch your fish purchasing habits? or will you stay with the same fish for every day duty and upgrade to fish market for company?

paul, Sep 28 2005 8:46AM

i'm shocked that there is that big a difference that you can actually taste the difference. my girlfriends family eat all types of fish, they are from Galicia which is on the coast of Spain. i've eaten a ton of fish in my life and i've never tasted the difference other than the fish is over cooked. myabe i have to pay more attention.

Seafood i like to eat: Sardines, Tuna, Salmon, Sting-Ray, Anchovies, Octopus, Monk Fish, Red Snapper, Cod, Clams, Oysters, Mussells, Squid, Shrimp, Lobster, Crab, Halibut, Mahi Mahi, Grouper and Scallops. Thats all I can name off the top of my head.

Sandie, Sep 29 2005 12:36PM

Mmmm. Makes me hungry -- I'll have to try your marinade. One helpful tip? I always wash the fish well and leave the skin on while grilling. Once warm, the skin peels off very easily.

Chris, Sep 29 2005 9:56PM

You forgot to dip it in the batter

dawg, Sep 30 2005 10:14PM

We're online at home.

so rad