Buying seafood online might not sound like the most intuitive way to get fresh fish on the table, but unless you live near a great seafood market, it's probably your best bet for a big selection of fresh catch. I absolutely love fish, especially this time of year, but I don't have a single reliable option in my neighborhood and the local grocery store seafood sections leave much to be desired. Most of that fish has already been frozen and dethawed before making its way to the display case. Not so with the right online seafood market which either ships fish to you fresh or flash freezes it at peak freshness so you can dethaw it the second you're ready to cook.
Since fish and seafood are healthy additions to any diet but not always easy to come by -- especially if you live far from fished waters -- stocking up with one of these tasty online fish delivery services and seafood vendors is the perfect workaround. Online food vendors, grocery delivery and meal kits have become understandably popular during this past year and the new habits the pandemic has forced us into, but even the most practiced online shopper may hesitate when it comes to ordering seafood online. While you can't get curbside pickup for Maine lobster or holler at a fisherman for a local delivery of their latest catch, there are some extremely dependable online seafood markets and delivery services that deliver fresh fish no matter where you are.
If you're worried that ordering online means you wouldn't be getting a fresh product, we urge you to take another look at online seafood and fish delivery. These services offer the fresh seafood you crave, from crab cakes to shellfish for your favorite grilled shrimp recipe to clams for salty New England clam chowder. You'll be able to order a bounty of salmon, halibut, crab, shrimp, swordfish, lobster and more -- even if you don't live anywhere near the sea.
It's not just me that's hooked on this healthy trend, either. The seafood delivery industry is experiencing a boom and there are new seafood-by-mail vendors popping up all the time. Ordering from these companies means access to some of the most sought-after seafood including wild sockeye salmon, jumbo shrimp, gulf shrimp, swordfish steak, bluefin tuna, oysters, Maine lobster, crab cakes and king crab legs. You'll also get harder-to-find species of fish like monkfish and grouper. Most are flash-frozen, carefully packaged with dry ice and delivered to your door as a one-time order or in a recurring subscription. Freshness and transparency are key when buying seafood and many companies are finding innovative ways to ensure both while supporting sustainable seafood fishing practices. Many provide detailed records for exactly where the seafood came from, when it was caught, how far it traveled and more.
With the exception of a few species like lobster, most seafood you order online ships and arrives frozen or, in some cases, partially thawed. If that gives you pause, remember that much of the "fresh" seafood you're buying at a grocery store has already been frozen and defrosted before being laid out on the ice or wrapped in plastic. It's also important to know that frozen fish is just as good for you -- when handled properly -- as fresh fish is.
Purveyors usually freeze when the seafood is at peak freshness, too. That means, in many cases and depending on how far it had to travel, flash-frozen seafood is just as fresh and sometimes fresher than fish that wasn't frozen. In essence, you're getting some of the best offerings and highest quality fish available, especially if you don't live near a coast. Try not to think of fresh and frozen as mutually exclusive. If you live near the sea or other fished waters, there's probably nothing better than going out and buying a few fresh filets from a local seafood market or trusted fishmonger, but for the millions without this luxury, these are a few of the best online seafood delivery companies and subscription services to order from in 2021. If you're landlocked and want to enjoy the freshest seafood possible, it's definitely worth taking a look at this list, which we update periodically.
About Fulton Fish Market: The name might sound familiar and that's because it's a physical fish market in New York City -- the second largest in the world only behind Tokyo's famously huge fish market. Fulton now offers online sales, in addition to selling wholesale off the docks to some of the largest purveyors and restaurant groups in the world. That means that through Fulton Fish Market you'll have access to one of the largest selections of fresh fish and seafood anywhere.
You can get almost any variety of fish from wild and farmed salmon to fresh swordfish, halibut, trout and a few harder-to-find species. Fulton also has a wide selection of shellfish including Atlantic and Pacific oysters, lobsters, scallops, crab meat, soft shell crabs, mussels and clams. That's not all: You can add tasty H. Forman & Son smoked salmon or tins of paddlefish caviar to your order.
How it works: At Fulton Fish Market you order fish by the piece, box or a curated bundle. Different species like fresh tuna, wild snapper and cod are available in different counts and you'll generally save more per pound if you order in bundles. A 10-pack of eight-ounce salmon filets, for instance, can be had for around $72 or a halibut and salmon stock-up bundle goes for $100.
You can also subscribe and Fulton will send a monthly, bimonthly or weekly curated box of fish starting at $65 per month for four six-ounce portions, but ordering a la carte seems to net the best value.
About Rastelli's: Rastelli's began as a small butcher shop in 1976 serving its small New Jersey community. The family-owned butcher made a name selling some of the best meat possible, but more recently Rastelli's entered the seafood game, and its catch is as fresh as any on the list. You can score fish-fan favorites like wild tuna, Faroe Island salmon, shrimp, lobster and Icelandic cod. It may not have as big a selection as some others we reviewed but the beauty of Rastelli's -- beyond supporting a small business and not having to leave the house -- is ordering your seafood, beef, chicken and pork all in one place.
How it works: Seafood from Rastelli's must be ordered in semibulk (eight filets of cod, for instance). You can shop a la carte for fish, shrimp and meats or select from a few curated boxes like the seafood sampler for $109. Shipping is always free when you spend $200, so you can get the month's meat and fish supply in a single order and pay nothing for delivery. Use code CNET20 and get $20 off your first order.
Read more on Chowhound: A guide to different types of salmon
About Riviera Seafood Club: If you're looking for a really special piece of tuna belly, hamachi or yellowtail to sear quickly on the grill or serve sashimi-style, I would direct your attention to this family owned online seafood purveyor based out of Los Angeles. The Ito family procures some of the best high-end sushi-grade fish, along with some more common catches like wild salmon, black cod, prawns and unagi. I had a filet of fresh bluefin tuna delivered and it was an immaculately fresh piece of fish with gorgeous marbling and rich flavor.
How it works: Riviera Seafood Club ships fresh or flash-frozen fish to all 50 states and Washington, D.C., and most of it is sashimi-grade, meaning you can slice and eat -- no cooking necessary. It's also very reasonably priced for the quality with an eight-ounce filet bluefin tuna starting at $24 or a filet of sushi-grade yellowtail for $18. To avoid shipping charges, you'll have to get your cart over a certain dollar amount between $125 and $375 depending on where you live.
About LobsterAnywhere: As the name implies, this company specializes in the tasty crustaceans and ships them live and direct from the cold waters of Maine, the lobster capital of the US. They sell only hard-shelled lobsters, including live Maine lobster which are more expensive than soft-shell but are also considered to be the best -- so you might be able to find cheaper lobsters in your supermarket, but LobsterAnywhere promises the absolute best in quality. Because of market fluctuation LobsterAnywhere's prices also fluctuate but are generally competitive.
How it works: There are other offerings available like shrimp and scallop, but Maine lobster is definitely the main draw here. You can order a whole live lobster (or lobsters) as well as lobster tails (frozen and in the shell) or lobster meat (shelled) by the pound. This is not a subscription, so you order exactly what you want and it ships in roughly two days.
About Thrive Market: This is less a seafood purveyor and more a wide-ranging, membership-based marketplace with pantry staples and grocery items, some of which are harder to find. Though options are limited, it does offer a build-your-own meat and seafood box that you can customize to taste. There's not as much commitment to transparency and traceability here, but as a bonus, you can tack a ton of other great products on to your order and save on shipping.
How it works: Thrive Market requires a membership with $5 monthly dues, which entitles you to fast and free shipping, so this is best if you plan to order seafood regularly but want to pick the seafood yourself. You'll find a selection of seafood bundles on Thrive with everything from scallops to shrimp, wild-caught salmon, yellowfin tuna and Jonah crab claws. Simply build your cart with the seafood you want -- along with anything else from the large marketplace -- and it'll ship to your door.
About KnowSeafood: This direct-to-consumer seafood shop puts transparency and seafood tracing front and center. Every step in the online fish purveyors blockchain is traced and you can see it all when you scan the barcode that adorns each piece of seafood. Scan the code and you'll see when and where your scallops were caught, processed and transported, plus information on how best to defrost and store them. All the seafood is flash frozen for peak freshness and everything I got in my delivery was just that -- fresh. KnowSeafood uses only heavily vetted fisheries around the world.
How it works: You can either create your own custom box of seafood from KnowSeafood's selection of fish, shellfish and prepared foods including salmon and tuna burgers or choose one of the online market's curated seafood boxes and enjoy a variety of healthy fish. The Keto Box, for instance, has 20 servings of seafood -- salmon, black cod, scallops, tuna and rainbow trout -- for just $133.
Use code KS20 for $20 off your first order.
About Sea to Table: Americans really eat just a small handful of types of fish at home, according to Sea to Table's Sean Dimin, and one of his aims is to introduce folks to great catches like Atlantic skate, redfish or Dover sole. Sea to Table's fish all comes from US wild domestic fisheries and is caught, landed and processed in the US. To prove it, each pack of fish has a traceability label so you know exactly what you're getting and where it came from, down to the actual fishing vessel that landed it.
How it works: You can choose from boxes like The New Englander, The Kosher Box and The Discovery Box, which features six full servings of fish from sustainable fisheries, including Maine redfish, scallops and skate, starting at just $38 (plus shipping). Choose either a one-time order or a (slightly cheaper) subscription to be delivered every two, four or eight weeks. Everything ships FedEx ground, fresh-frozen and packed with dry ice in recycled denim packaging.
About Vital Choice: "Vital Choice" may sound more like a vitamin brand than a seafood market, but that could be by design. The online market sells shoals of fresh seafood, shellfish, canned seafood and more eats from under the sea, but also has a massive section dedicated to seafood-derived health products and supplements like omega-3s, fish oils and immune boosters. I would say definitely check out the supplements, but the real star of the show remains the sprawling selection of wild sockeye salmon, halibut, sea bass, crab, shrimp, scallops and much more.
Vital Choice puts an emphasis on wild and sustainable seafood where possible, claiming that it limits most of its offerings to fish and shellfish from fisheries that are either certified sustainable or considered sustainable by experts.
How it works: Vital Choice operates like most other online retailers allowing you to build a cart and place a one-time order of any of its seafood products. You can order a single portion of some fish varieties, but many have a six-portion minimum. Any order over $99 ships for free.
There's also a monthly subscription option called Vital Box with three distinct categories. The Wild Salmon Box features 10-14 servings of salmon for $129 per month. The Wild Fish Box contains 14-16 servings of fish for $169, while the Wild Seafood Box has 18-22 servings of both fish and shellfish for $199 per month.
Vital Box's website could probably use an update and some sections aren't the most intuitive, but there are lots of great options for sustainable seafood and other seafood products, so it's worth a few broken links and extra clicks to get where you're going.
If you want a variety of fun summer seafood to throw on the barbie, I would direct you to the PureFish Summer Grill Box. This package includes 16 servings of grill-friendly seafood including ahi tuna, snapper, wild-caight shrimp, salmon hot dogs and cobia burgers. Each is conveniently packed on an aluminum tray so you can season and bring it right out to the grill without dirtying up more dishes. You can even put the trays directly on the grill if you're trying to avoid a messy grill situation later but most of the fish in this box is firm enough to go right on the grill grates. All the seafood arrives fresh but since it's vacuum-sealed you can pop it into the freezer for when you're ready to roll.
About Wild Alaskan Company: As you might have gathered from the name, this company specializes in fresh wild-caught seafood including wild salmon. It is generally thought to be both healthier and more sustainable than farmed fish, and company founder and Alaska native Arron Kallenberg has set his sights on helping American consumers gain access to good, fresh fish. All the fish is caught either in Alaska or the Pacific Northwest with a commitment to sustainability and transparency. As of August 2020, the company added wild-caught Alaskan Dungeness crab as a member special.
How it works: The company bills itself as a share more than a traditional retailer or marketplace and offers a monthly subscription. You can choose from salmon-only boxes, whitefish boxes or a combo, and the monthly shipments of fish (frozen at "peak freshness") start at $132 per month for 12 six-ounce portions. You can skip months or pause your membership anytime at no extra charge.
About Patagonia Provisions: You might more readily associate this brand with fleece jackets and camping gear, but Patagonia recently got into the culinary arena with its provisions arm. Patagonia offers an array of shelf-stable (until opened) fish, including smoked and cured salmon, mackerel, mussels and more, designed to be taken on boating or camping trips or simply enjoyed at home.
How it works: A pretty straightforward process where you order what you want with items starting at just $7 for some small boxes of mackerel and mussels.
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The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.