Groomer Seafood is a wholesale fishmonger on McCullough Avenue in San Antonio (map). They supply fresh fish to many restaurants here in San Antonio and elsewhere in Texas. Lucky for us, they also have a retail counter. We’ve made it a habit to visit Groomer’s every Saturday morning when they open at 9:00.
The entire operation is visible through a bank of windows, in front of which a crowd usually gathers. Just inside the windows lies a selection of fresh, whole fishes. Behind that, a few rows of tables at which fish are being cut to order. Unlike the fish section at most markets, you don’t see any pre-cut steaks or filets. Instead, you place an order with the staff, and you can watch the butchers cut it fresh off the fish for you.
The selection changes week-to-week, based on how the fish are running and market conditions. It’s all super-fresh and seasonal, and it comes from all over the place. We’ve purchased wild Texas Gulf drum and Ecuadorean line-caught mahi mahi. This summer they flew in live Maine lobsters (several times!) for as little as $7 each, and every Friday and Saturday they sell a house-made Texas Gulf ceviche. This week they had a special on Texas Gulf Wild Colossal Shrimp (10-15 count) — $40 for 5 pounds! When your order is ready, they put it on ice and pack it up in a box it for easy and safe transport home.
We usually purchase three or four kinds of fish — just enough to hold fresh in the fridge for our next three or four dinners. We also keep a bag of frozen shrimp from Groomer’s on hand. With access to this kind of quality and variety, our consumption of fish has increased dramatically. Where we once had fish a couple of times a month at most, we now eat it three to five nights a week, making our noms that much healthier!
If you don’t live in San Antonio, look for a similar operation near you! And by the way, if you aren’t already aware of the myriad health benefits associated with eating fish, you owe it to yourself to read up on the subject. What we’ve learned has really surprised us. And don’t be intimidated. Preparing fish is way easier than we expected it to be; the Internet is a great place to get some ideas and find some recipes. Don’t be afraid to talk to the folks behind the counter — they’re the real experts and they usually love talking about their product and answering your questions.