For National Seafood Month in October, the folks over at Our Wicked Fish held a weekly home seafood contest on their Instagram account. Although I post a lot of recipes here, I’m no chef, and my recipes are really just examples of what you can do with the fish I try. So imagine my surprise when I won the first week in the North of Boston category! The prize was a gift card to one of several local seafood shops and restaurants, so I chose a seafood dealer that I’ve wanted to try for a while: Boston’s own Red’s Best.
About Red’s Best
I first learned about Red’s Best about ten years ago at the Boston Public Market, where they have a really nice looking seafood counter and take-out service. Later I found out that some fishermen and clammers I know have sold to Red’s Best. Unfortunately the pandemic has made me wary of traveling to Boston just to buy a few fillets or some fried dogfish bites for lunch (They serve these at their food counter and I am intrigued). Thankfully I won that giftcard, so I decided to learn a little more about Red’s Best.
According to their website, Red’s Best was founded in 2008. The founder of Red’s Best, Jared Auerbach was a fisherman before starting the Company, which emphasizes a closer connection between consumer and fisherman.
Red’s Best partners New England’s commercial fisherman with technology that allows for full traceability of the catch – from deck to dinner plate, with fewer stops along the way. Through the use of QR codes, consumers can trace back their purchase and see who caught it, where they caught, how the caught it (type of gear used) and the port of origin.
Importantly, the consumer not only knows more about their seafood, but the men and women who risk their lives to bring it in are no longer anonymous. Fishing communities, including my own, struggle to maintain economic viability, let alone their cultural identity. Red’s Best is helping consumers get the best local seafood and helping local fishermen at the same time. It made me feel good to buy fish from a responsible organization and I recommend reading more on their website.
Ordering Seafood From Red’s Best
Red’s Best has a pretty easy to navigate website and shopping is broken down by shipped or local pickup. The local pickup options give you the widest selection of their fresh, frozen and live seafood. They also have a special section just for their prime cuts of “sushi grade” saku blocks. Instead of driving to the Boston Fish Pier, I chose to try out their free shipping and opted for a “Pick 5” box.
I chose 2lbs of black sea bass, plus a pound each of skate cheeks, fluke and hake. I’ve never had our local black sea bass…and I didn’t even know skates had cheeks! Neither did most of my fishermen friends and family, we only ate the wings so I’m really interested in trying them. It all came to about $85, which was an amazing deal for me after applying the gift card. But even without the card it was a good deal for five pounds of high quality, locally caught, frozen seafood shipped to my door.
The Pick 5 Box
My box arrived on time…at my neighbors house. Thanks again FedEX! Fortunately Red’s Best knows how to really pack fish. My box would have still been in pristine condition if I had to search the neighborhood.
My insulated box was nice and frosty and my solid, vacuum sealed packages of fish were in perfect shape. I examined the individual packages of fish and each were labeled with a QR code and lots of information for the consumer. Red’s Best really takes traceability seriously – in a moment I learned what the product is, who caught it, where they caught it, and what gear did they use. Incredible, it’s like the old days when you walked down the wharf and took it off the boat yourself.
Red’s Best frozen products are so well sealed and frozen that at this time I can’t tell you much about the fish itself. That will have to wait until I can thaw something out and prepare it. Of course there is also the conundrum of what should I try first? I’ve always wanted to try black sea bass, and now I’m curious how it compares to the barramundi I’ve tried. Then again, I really want to see what those skate cheeks are all about. Either way it’s going to be new and fun.
If you have any suggestions on how to prepare the skate cheeks, feel free to share in the comments!