You may not know this, but you can get some of the most awesome fish at...(wait for it)...
I know, I know! Giant Eagle? You've got to be kidding me, right? It's a big 'ole grocery store right here in town, not some specialty fish market. How in the world can they have top-notch fish?
I'll sum it up in one word...Carolyn. Carolyn is the seafood department manager at the Giant Eagle on 7th St (NOT Rt. 40, though I'm sure they've probably got good stuff too). She is one tough cookie, and let me tell you, girlfriend knows her fish. Last week, I got some bootleg halibut for a class that was unbelievable. (I think it was meant to go to the other store) I mean, seriously good. In fact, it was probably the best I've ever had. Fresh, fresh, fresh, and perfect.
Here are a few tips when you're buying fish anywhere:
1. The fish texture should be firm, not loose and separating (does that make sense to you?).
2. The fish should NOT smell like fish -- ever. It should just smell clean and maybe a little bit like the water it came from. Plus, it's ok to ask to sniff the fish. Just do it. It might seem silly, but if you're spending 20 bucks or more a pound, you don't want any surprises when you get home.
3. If it's a whole fish (be not afraid people!), the eyes should be clear, not cloudy, and the gills should be bright red, not ooky.
4. Know your fishmonger!!! This is probably the best tip, because if you know your fishmonger and he or she knows you, they will never steer you wrong. In fact, he or she will most likely go out of their way for you the way Carolyn always does for me. She knows what I like, what I expect, and that I appreciate her efforts. Really, what more could you want?
So, make the trip over to the Giant Eagle on 7th St. and tell Carolyn that I sent you. She has a number of my students stop by and she's never steered them wrong yet.
I think I see a delicious fish dinner in your future!!