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Seafood shopping in Atlanta / Southeast coast


Katie Meadow
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Anyone have good info about what to buy or what to avoid?

 

I'm in Decatur and the DeKalb Farmers Market has a huge fish dept. But having grown up in NY and then lived in CA the recommendations for sustainable species, wild caught species is mind boggling in a new place with a zillion choices. So far we bought Redfish, wild caught, and it was very good. Never had it or cooked it before, but we simply baked it in the oven with Cajun blackening spice mix and lots of butter and it was very good.

 

I eat a lot of wild gulf shrimp in CA, so that I know about that. But what about grouper? Striped bass? Snappers? True cod? Anyone with suggestions as to what's good and might be fresh caught in the Southeast/ Gulf area would be in my debt! 

 

So far we are just waiting for our daughter to give birth to twins two days from now if not sooner, making huge shopping lists so we can prepare food for them all. They have a kitchen that's missing certain essentials, so that doesn't help. Take out options are good. The other night we had some of the best Szechuan food I've eaten in years--way better than what I've found in the East Bay. The two of them are pretty heavy users of local takeout since the pandemic, so that's sort of a treat (we ate well over the last year or so, but we cooked. And cooked some more.) Some of their friends just stopped to bring lunch from a Laotian place they all like! 

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Welcome!

 

The fish section at DFM is indeed impressive. I haven't been there is a while, but I thought that they had point-of-origin labels on most stuff. Maybe my memory is failing, or maybe they quit doing that. Anyway, the southeastern catch includes (these are things I've either seen for sale at coastal fish markets, or caught myself):

 

Scamp

Amberjack

Triggerfish (if you see this, buy it)

Pompano

Grouper

Black grouper

Many different varieties of snapper, the most famous of which are red snapper (found all over) and yellowtail snapper (found mostly down in south Florida and the Keys)

Yellowfin tuna (sometimes marketed as ahi, though it is not)

Flounder

Mahi-mahi (aka dorado)

Striped bass -- this is a problematic name, as the species found in the Gulf is not necessarily the same as you'll find in the Atlantic. Also, it's anadromous, so sometimes it comes from the ocean, and sometimes from a large lake or river. I assume that most of what you'll find commercially is from the Atlantic. But that's the same species as is found on the west coast, so it's not likely to be anything new for you.

Spanish mackerel

 

The first three in that list I've only seen in Gulf waters (though my experience is far from comprehensive). The next four I've seen only in the Gulf or the Atlantic off the southern US coast. They all taste good. Except for the amberjack, mackerel and tuna, they all have fairly mild, white-colored flesh. 

 

Then there are the shellfish.

 

As you've noted, Gulf shrimp are bountiful. You might not see Royal Reds outside the south, though. I don't really get the appeal, but many folks claim they have a special flavor. They do look unique, both raw and cooked.

 

Eastern oysters used to come almost exclusively from Apalachicola, but that fishery was closed in 2020 for five years. There are, however, new sources -- practically the entire length of the Atlantic coast as well as the Gulf coast outside of Apalachicola, both wild and farmed -- for eastern oysters, which are the same species as those that used to come from the Gulf. Flavor does vary according to source. Some are briny, some have melon and/or citrus notes, etc.

 

There's also Florida lobster, which tastes nothing like Atlantic (aka Maine) lobster. If your main complaint about crawfish tails is that they're too small, Florida lobster is for you.

 

I hope that's helpful.

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Dave Scantland
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Eat more chicken skin.

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