The Best Fish Is Also the Most Local. Why Is It So Hard to Find?

On a cold, windy February morning on Shinnecock Bay, on the South Fork of Long Island, N.Y., Ricky Sea Smoke fished for clams from the back of his 24-foot boat. The fisherman, whose real name is Rick Stevens, expertly sorted through haul after haul as they were dumped onto the sorting rack.

Among the usual littlenecks and cherrystones were delicacies that would make chefs swoon: sweet, plump razor clams; vermilion-fleshed blood clams; and dainty limpets (also known as slipper snails) with their inimitable saline, buttery flavor. Depending on the season, fishers like Mr. Stevens can bring in even more treasures, like scallops, squid, blue crabs, striped bass, mackerel and skate.

But almost none of them are available locally.

Recipe: Creamy Fish With Mushrooms and Bacon

You can use any mild, white-fleshed fish you like in this recipe, finished with bacon, tomatoes and mushrooms.Credit…Kerri Brewer for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Spencer Richards.

Instead, at restaurants in nearby East Hampton, you’ll find pasta topped with Manila clams from the West Coast and shrimp cocktail with red shrimp from Argentina. At fish counters across Long Island, imported salmon fillets glisten in greater profusion than local mackerel and black sea bass.

Back to top button