First problem was "no, they sell the sauce at the restaurant" in response to my inquiry. The sell the Dirty Al's fried shrimp breading, the Dirty Al's french fry seasoning, the Dirty Al's fish blackening seasoning, a multitude of Dirty Al's tees...but no sauce. OK - I'll go there next.
It's a nice little market - has beef steaks (reportedly Choice grade), jalapeno sausage, pork ribs and baby back ribs, fajita meat, and seafood...lots of the seasonings and sauces you might need to cook such things as well.
We chatted quite a while - he (the clerk) pointing out the freezer section with shrink-wrapped tuna steaks, flounder, scallops, and a big selection of other items. I was more interested in the market case...shrimp, snapper, flounder...that sort of stuff. He reported that the shrimp was fresh - they had some muy grande shrimp 10-12's and some 16-20's...of which I bought a pound. They looked really good.
I was looking at the Scarlet Snapper and the flounder fillets (snapper was not frozen, but had been frozen he said) and the flounder was still frozen. If my fish is frozen, I prefer to buy it that way and thaw it myself. I'm fine with frozen fish - I just don't want to have had it thawed by the store and then I have to re-freeze it...because most of the time, it goes straight from the store into the freezer at my house. He pointed out the Basa fillets in front - and said they were really good if I liked a mild white fish. I had never heard of this fish...it was frozen...and I asked if it all of these were local fish? Yes, he said, nodding his head vigorously. He said all the fish were frozen because they were just too delicate not to do so. I know that is, indeed, the way things are...most fish is frozen, so I shrugged to myself and thought, "okay". I asked if the Basa was similar to Tilapia- he kind of turned up his nose and said "oh no, much better". I told him, great, I would try it and took two large fillets which weighed in at a pound total.
I picked up some boneless rib eyes as well...reportedly 8 oz. steaks - 3 in the package - $10.95/pound...totalled a little over $13 total...uh, that math don't add up bubba! Oh well, we'll see how they are. Obviously not too thick, 'cause those would be weighing in close to a pound each if so. However, $13+ for 3 steaks is great if they are tasty. (I weighed them at home and they were 1.22 pounds total which could not, of course, be three 8 ounce steaks!) Really, though,for a week-night dinner, a 6 oz. steak is just fine....my issue is with being told it is something that it is not. Bad business.
He asked if I was going far - and I said not too far but I would like ice. I paid - my 3 purchases slightly over $30...nice experience.
I had to run the fish under water (which resulted in partial thawing) to release the ice cubes before I could vacuum pack them. Nice guy, yes, but, someone needs to re-train him.
The good news is that I had to handle each and every piece of the shrimp, and after getting it all packaged up...my hands did not smell like shrimp! That is a sign of really fresh seafood...it smelled like the ocean...not shrimpy at all. I sniffed the fish before packaging and it smelled good too...i.e., it didn't smell fishy at all :-) So, I'm thinking good quality!
Got everything put away and began to wonder about the Basa, since I'd never heard of it, nor seen it in QuikStop where I usually purchase my seafood. So, I went to the Oracle in the Sky...Google...and entered "Basa Fish". The first link was to the lay oracle, Wikipedia. Wiki had interesting stuff to teach me...number one is that the Basa is NOT a local fish...it is a fresh water catfish farmed in Vietnam! Unsubstantiated concerns about toxins have been primarily debunked in the UK...but it made me leery none the less. Further info from WiseGeek and other sites indicate it is growing in use...and the controversy continues to "hang around" due to reports of icky farming conditions. So, since it is mostly farmed in the Mekong Delta area of Vietnam, I checked info on that river...and several sites reported it as one of the least polluted large rivers in the world, primarily fed from mountain snow melt in Tibet. That, however, is changing as the populace of Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam throws trash into the river as it moves towards the Mekong Delta. Pollution is becoming an issue of great concern.
Food sourcing is of interest to me. I don't pretend to know all that much about it, but I do know I'd rather eat local products whenever I can...and I'm not a huge fan of catfish in general, although I grew up eating a good amount of fried catfish as a child. I much prefer trout, snapper, or cod (when I can get cod fresh in the northeast). I'm sure I'll fry up the Basa...and save my steamed and saute fish recipes for the truly local fish - caught by my son or my generous neighbors. I know EXACTLY where that fish comes from and the proof is in the delicious taste of Laguna Madre caught fish!
So, that's my shopping experience...and I'll let you know how the Basa tastes, how the steaks are, and if the shrimp is as good as it looks. I'll hold off on rating this seafood market until I actually taste the goods!
Used the steak for a week-night pan-seared steak on top of the stove. The flavor was good but they were a little dry. I really question whether or not they were indeed Choice Grade. They were "okay" but $10.95/lb was too much for the thin steaks...and they performed like Select Grade. I'll leave it at that. I'll stick to buying my boneless ribeyes at Sam's Club in Brownsville. They are awesome.
Used the shrimp while preparing Amy's Awesome Alfredo Sauce. They were delicious. The fresh smell maintained through the thawing and cleaning process. Two thumbs up for freshness. They were supposedly large - and I found about 4 or 5 "medium" sized shrimp in my 18 shrimp I got for a pound. The size were not consistent. You can see, in this photo of the shrimp I sauted, that a few of them are obviously smaller than the rest. If I'm buying large shrimp...I want large shrimp.
|The shrimp I purchased for $10.50 totalled 18 shrimp - not all large|
UPDATE ON BASA
Here's a link to the post on the Basa preparation - Sesame Catfish