Fresh fish is not only good, it’s good for you—the American Heart Association recommends eating fish at least twice per week. Luckily, Charlottesvillians can choose between several purveyors of all things piscine. For many of us, though, buying fish can be a bit intimidating. What makes for the snappiest snapper or most magnificent mahi-mahi?
We asked Rob Schottenmeier, a seafood manager at Anderson Carriage Food House on Barracks Road, to demystify the experience.—Meredith Barnes
What’s the secret to purchasing fresh fish?
Rob Schottenmeier: Buy from a trusted source. You definitely want to buy from someone who’s been in the business for a long time. We get our fish shipped direct —some businesses carry fish that’s been warehoused. The person working the fish counter should be able to tell you where it came from and about the seasonality of the fish.
What does the appearance of the fish tell a buyer?
RS: The color should be bright with no yellowing. If there’s a “blood line,” or darker stripe in the flesh (mahi-mahi has a blood line), it should be bright red, not brown. Fresh fish shouldn’t have a strong smell, either. If it’s a whole fish, the eyes should be clear and the gills should look red.
What about shellfish?
RS: Clams, oysters and mussels should be closed. When you buy mussels in the bag, you can end up paying for a lot of open mussels. Shellfish should be displayed individually on ice. When you get your seafood home, store it at close to freezing.
Hook, line and sinker
Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day. Teach him how to fish and he’ll eat for the year—that’s how long his $11 license allows him to fish in Albemarle County’s fresh water. (An additional $18 license is required for fishing in trout-stocked waters.)
Fly fishermen looking for a river to run through can choose from the James River, North Fork Moormans River and Rivanna River, and can turn to Albemarle Angler in Barracks Road to source their rods, flies and even guided trips. Those looking to row a canoe out to the middle of a lake have a few more choices with nearby Beaver Creek, Rivanna Reservoir and Walnut Creek all well-stocked with fish and views. Pick up your nightcrawlers and your six-pack at Brown’s (formerly Stoney’s Grocery) on Avon Street.
Get your license by calling (866) 721-6911 or e-mailing email@example.com.—Megan Headley
Three fishy dishes
Now and Zen’s Chef Toshi Sato combines traditional Japanese technique with tasteful ingenuity. Try the Maui Roll, for example. Fresh raw tuna is combined with avocado, mango and your choice of brown or white rice. The exterior of the seaweed-wrapped roll is coated with crushed, roasted peanuts for a fantastic array of texture and flavor.
The sardine meatballs from Alhamraa are salty and robustly flavorful. Made with authentic Moroccan spices and served with a thick tomato sauce, this tapas-style dish is meaty and satisfying. Surprisingly, the anchovies do not overpower, mixing well with the breadcrumbs and herbs to create a balanced and unique selection.
Watch your tandoori salmon as it’s cooked in Himalayan Fusion’s traditional tandoor oven. This time-honored Indian recipe, usually made with chicken, combines a smoky blend of ruddy spices and the oven’s 900 degrees. Salmon pairs well with the seasoning and cooking technique while adding powerful Omega 3’s. Delish.—Christy Baker