Home cooks who are seafood fans are faced with the daunting task of discerning just how fresh the fish at their local fishmonger or supermarket is. The solution to that problem is ShopFreshSeafood.com, which takes the guesswork out of fish buying through overnight shipping of freshly caught seafood to customers within one day of harvest.
We visited owner Megan Grippa at the New Fulton Fish Market in the Bronx where ShopFreshSeafood.com is based. Here’s what she had to say.
“With more than fifty years of experience in the seafood business under my family’s belt, my goal in creating ShopFreshSeafood.com was to give consumers access to the freshest fish with a few clicks or phone call,” said Megan Grippa, owner of ShopFreshSeafood.com. “Going online with a business that offers consumers top quality fresh fish with the convenience of next day home delivery was a natural. We are serving the entire US with next day shipping and have found that busy New Yorkers in particular are using us for delivery to their weekend homes and as thank you gifts for hosts when they are guests. We have even had requests for a fish of the month gift package for newlyweds. There’s no beating the flavor, texture, aroma and appearance of freshly caught fish.”
With three varieties of salmon, plus tilapia, bass, lobster, and crab among other offerings, ShopFreshSeafood.com sources directly from its family-operated Universal Seafood at the New Fulton Fish Market in the Bronx, thus avoiding costly middlemen. Universal Seafood is one of the biggest salmon importers on the East Coast.
Grippa’s favorite way to prepare seafood is with multiple family members. “In my large Italian family, there can never be too many cooks in the kitchen,” explained Grippa. “Cooking together is a great way to bond, share a passion for food and its preparation, share family stories and enjoy one of the most basic human pleasures – the savory of good food cooked with love together with family.” Grippa, her father Anthony and Uncle Joe Sr. The Grippa family has roots in Calabria and Sicily, Italy and came to America in the early 1900s.
We spoke with Megan to learn about ShopFreshSeafood and the ins and outs of buying fresh fish and proper handling:
RWAF: You are a 4th generation fish business owner in a male-dominated industry. What’s that like, considering you were formerly a fashionista in the shoe-buying department at Macy’s and you’re now a fishionista?
MG: I loved working for Macy’s – I was proud to be a part of that team and its rich history in NYC. And now I’m proud to be a part of my family’s rich history. Americans spend so much of our lives at work – and I now am blessed to work with my family, learn more about seafood than I ever imagined and continue the legacy my family started, but with a new twist in eCommerce. What could be better than that?
RWAF: What’s a typical day like for you? What time do you wake up and go to sleep?
MG: Lol – It’s a long day. The market is open from midnight to 8 am. I’m up at 3 checking emails and orders from my phone and I call in what fish I need, this way when I get to the market I know what I have to start with. What came in. what might be in tomorrow. We try very hard to get all orders out with 24 hours. But a lot depends on what is in the Market. We picked species for the website that we have on a very regular basis but sometimes there are still issues you cannot control, weather for instance. Most of the morning is spent packing boxes and fish. Then I head up to the office to do all the paperwork. At noon it’s time to head back home and from there I handle customer service phone calls and emails. Until it’s time to call it a day, which in the summer is around 9:30. In the winter it’s easier to go to bed earlier.
RWAF: ShopFreshSeafood.com offers multiple types of salmon. What are the differences between them and what’s your favorite?
MG: All salmon has omega 3 fatty acids – that is a great reason alone to eat it besides it tastes so good! Omega fatty acids help maintain healthy heart function. Also maintains healthy brain activity. Fresh salmon that is simply prepared is simply unbeatable in terms of flavor, texture and versatility.
RWAF: What’s the biggest myth about seafood?
MG: Seafood is difficult to prepare is the biggest myth. It is so easy to prepare seafood, especially if you have a good, fresh piece of fish. We have lots of easy recipes on our site, www.ShopFreshSeafood.com, but remember, less is more with fish. Let the natural flavors shine through by using simple preparations like grilling with a sprinkling of salt and pepper and squeeze of fresh lemon. Minced herbs and a drizzle of oil are ideal for some fish and other fish welcome an assertive salsa on the side. Our website has several inspirational recipes and tips to check out.
RWAF: What makes fish smell “fishy?”
MG: Bacteria is the culprit. Every food smells with age. Bacteria gets in and decays protein. What about old milk – yuck! Have you ever smelled old chicken? That’s 10x worse than fish. Fresh fish has very little aroma before and after it’s cooked. The scent is distinctive but good quality, fresh fish does not have an offensive aroma.
RWAF: Is the smell of old fish a primary reason people don’t want to try or prepare seafood at home or in restaurants?
MG: I think a good answer to that question is that people should eat at restaurants that smell good when you walk in. Even a seafood restaurant should not have an overpowering seafood smell. At home, people who aren’t buying fresh seafood will experience a strong aroma when handling or after cooking the fish. I wouldn’t eat at a restaurant that had smelly anything. Buying fresh seafood ensures your home will not smell fishy when you prepare the fish promptly after it’s purchased.
RWAF: What are the biggest mistakes people make when they prepare seafood?
MG: They overcook it and dry it out. Seafood is the original fast food – it doesn’t take long to cook.
RWAF: What is your favorite seafood and how do you prepare it? MG: I like everything we carry. Our Barnegat dry scallops are especially good. We like to bake them oreganata style, with a little lemon squeezed over.
RWAF: Will ShopFreshSeafood offer other types of fish and seafood in the future? If so, when and what kind?
MG: Yes, we are slowly expanding our offerings. I’m working on adding oysters to our offerings next! Check our website regularly for updates and know that we customize orders upon request. We have had customers request our fish of the month club for a bridal gift. We also offer seasonal packages, like our incredible Feast of the Seven Fishes offerings which will be offered during the holiday and are hugely popular. We sell this package in three varieties so people can make as much or little as they like for their entertaining purposes.
RWAF: Do you plan on expanding your business to Canada and other countries?
MG: No, not at this time- The US is a big place.
RWAF: How is your fish packaged to ensure it stays fresh from the time it is packaged to the time it is delivered?
MG: Our shipping containers are made of Styrofoam and put into a corrugated cardboard box. Reusable Cold packs are included and your order is packed in a 38 degree environment to ensure freshness. We used recycled materials when available
RWAF: Once a customer receives their order, what is the expected shelf life of the fresh fish?
MG: Your fresh fish can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week. We recommend putting it in the coldest place, usually the crisper. If you want to save it for longer, you can absolutely store it in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw it in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Do not run the fish under water as that may inadvertently start cooking the fish.
Canadian salmon packed for delivery
Megan Grippa placing fresh Barnegat dry scallops into special packaging to maintain proper temperature before fed ex delivery
Grippa encourages home cooks to enjoy the benefits of preparing fresh caught seafood with the following grilling tips:
- Try Planking: In the grilling world, “planking” uses aromatic planks of wood, typically cedar or oak, to infuse the protein with a smoky perfume reflecting the wood’s nuances. In between the fish and soaked plank can be a combination of oils, salts, spices or herbs. Start with the basics – salt, pepper, and olive oil – or create a different concoction based on fresh garden herbs like basil, chervil, chives, parsley or dill.
- Go Fresh: Fresh caught seafood, whether uncooked and cooked, has a soft, delicate aroma. When fish has a strong “fishy” smell, it’s past its prime. Buying direct from fishermen or ShopFreshSeafood.com eliminates any question about freshness.
- Add Some Zest: What goes better with grilled fish than citrus? Lemons, limes, or oranges pair well with fish and grilled fare. Wash lemons and limes, cut into thin slices and place slices on top and underneath fish during grilling, or simply squeeze the juice on after grilling. The bright citrus flavors will add a pleasant lightness and acidic balance to seafood.
- Eat Dinner on a Stick: Not only are kabobs convenient for eating and clean up, they allow for endless combinations. For an easy summer staple, sandwich shrimp between summer vegetables (peppers, onions, cherry tomato, mushrooms, zucchini, eggplant) or fruit (nectarine, peach, pineapple are good choices) and place on the grill. Scallops and firmer flesh fish like swordfish and salmon work well for kabob threading.
- Fish Tacos: The individual customization of fish taco creation is good for large groups. Grill a few different types of seafood like tilapia and shrimp, put out bowls of toppings (think basil and mint leaves, baby lettuces, pepper strips, guacamole, homemade tartar, tahini etc.) and set out taco shells for a delicious way to please everyone.
“My family’s long legacy in the seafood industry is too important to not use. I wanted to create something different that would allow me to nurture my love for fish and educating people about fish as a nutritious, delicious and easy to prepare protein. Shopfreshseafood.com makes the best fish available to people with a few clicks or a phone call,” explained Grippa. I want people to look at fish as an integral part of their diets and the perfect center of family gatherings, like it always has been in our family.”
ShopFreshSeafood.com is the premier online source for supremely fresh seafood delivered direct to the consumer within hours of being caught. Operating out of the New Fulton Fish Market in the Bronx, ShopFreshSeafood.com contracts with fishermen using sustainable methods to harvest the most delicious, nutritious seasonal offerings from U.S. and Canadian waters. A family-run business for four generations at the Fulton Fish Market, ShopFreshSeafood.com offers varieties of salmon, scallops, crab, shrimp, and branzini along with lobster. The company offers custom orders for special sizes, cut or species. For more information, seasonal charts, how-to preparation guides and recipes, visit www.ShopFreshSeafood.com.
Call 718-842-8850 to reach ShopFreshSeafood and to place an order. First time online orders receive 10% off.