Thursday, October 13, 2011

Where to Shop: D.C. Fish Market

This past weekend, while driving down the George Washington Parkway after a day of hiking in the unseasonably warm October weather, my hiking date asked if I wanted to check out the D.C. fish market and pick up some fish to grill for dinner.

I had never heard of the fish market and it seemed like the perfect weather for grilling -- so off we went.

We crossed the river back to the District and headed toward the market, located on the Southwest waterfront. Readers take note: As we parked, my date told me that the best time to visit the fish market is on the weekends because it is virtually impossible to find parking during the week.

As we approached the market, I observed that the first section is not fish at all. Instead it has a variety of food to order. Everything from chili dogs, to crabs, to fish and chips. As we walked along checking out the food, my date asked if I liked raw oysters. I admitted that I had never tried an oyster before. "Want to try one?" he asked. I hesitated but feeling adventurous I decided to go for it. He ordered four oysters while I grabbed us drinks at another counter.

The oysters? A little slimy but not bad. My date, a raw oyster veteran, told me that they tasted very fresh.

After eating oysters and drinking fresh-squeezed strawberry lemonade, we were ready for the main event: the fish. Now, as a girl from New England, I'm embarrassed to say that this was my first ever trip to a fish market. I had no idea what to expect. I sort of envisioned a bunch of random stands like a farmer's market. I was way off. It is way more legit.

The market itself is shaped like a giant U with counters on all three sides. I felt like I was at a carnival. The men behind the counters yell and ask patrons what they want to order, much like carnival workers try to lure children to play their games.   

The Little Mermaid
totally got it wrong
The market has every type of fish one could possibly imagine. My date was a great tour guide and pointed out different fish to me as I oohed and ahhed. He also knew a lot about fish. Did you know that flounder have both eyes on one side of their head?

We made our way around the market's perimeter checking out each and every counter.

mmmm, delicious
Red snapper

We eventually settled on some red snapper. It was my first time trying this type of fish and was afraid it would be too fishy. But, my tour guide assured me that red snapper is mild. And he was right. He fired up my grill later, added some olive oil, pepper, garlic salt and parsley to the fish. We also threw some asparagus on the grill and made a fresh heirloom tomato, avocado, and cucumber salad.  

The result? The fish was mild and delicious. It tasted very fresh and was about half the price of what it would cost at Whole Foods.

My advice if you check out the fish market? Find yourself a cute guy. One who can cook. Bring him with you to pick out the fish and bring him home with you after to grill the fish. And just like that you will have yourself the perfect little Saturday night.

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