Restaurants by fish markets serve the freshest catch, right? Maybe. So they're the best, right? Not necessarily.
Red Claw Seafood wants to change how you think about fresh fish. Based in Sydney, the company is owned by husband-and-wife team Richard and Thuy Pinson. They started the company as a side project while working desk jobs in Tasmania. "I went to university with guys involved in seafood and spent a lot of time in Sydney buying seafood," comments Richard. "It occurred to me that companies were sending all the really good stuff to China and not very much good stock was going Sydney." So they decided to change how seafood gets sold.
They've since become Australia's go-to supplier for fish that's both fresh and delicious.
Fishing has a long and slightly contentious history in Australia. "My uncle one of the first abalone fisherman," recalls Richard, "North South Wales likes to say that they started abalone industry, but it started first in Tasmania. You can get really good freshwater tuna in Tasmania because the fisherman don’t need to go out far to really deep water."
And that means better fish. "Even for an animal just caught at sea, the process of coming from deep water up to the boat stresses them out," says co-founder Thuy. "We need to get them back to being relaxed, so that the meat isn't tense and you don’t taste the stress hormones." Less stress means it's easier to cook that filet until perfectly tender.
Their insistence on quality has helped Red Claw build relationships with the best restaurants. They supplied noma Sydney. They'll even refuse to supply a restaurant if they don't like their cooking. "It's an awkward rule of thumb, but we don't want to accidentally supply somewhere that we don't like," says Richard.
One of their favorite restaurant relationships is Doyles. This family-owned restaurant has been a fixture in Sydney's harbor since 1885 and has five-generations of seafood-loving Doyles to its name. "The owners actually process [the seafood they sell] themselves," says Thuy. "They buy it from the market floor, fillet it and clean it. The sons even go fishing every day." Head to the main restaurant in Watson's Bay to enjoy fish and chips made from fresh caught fish. It's a meal to convert even the biggest fish skeptics.
Of course, it's hard to stay skeptical when you're surrounded by vivid orange uni, beautifully briny oysters and multi-colored crayfish. Over the past couple of years, Sydney's seafood market has shifted from being a trade hall where fishmongers went to auction off their catch to a retail spot, where seafood-crazed locals go to source dinner.
If you don't know what you're looking for, it can be an overwhelming experience. For a rough idea of it's scale, only Tokyo's Tsujiki fish market and Spain's Mercamadrid feature more varieties than Sydney. You can admire everything from giant oysters and Australian pipis to spiny crabs and yellow fin tuna.
But it's not just the fresh fish section that draws crowds. You can also buy wine, sit down to a nice lunch, or pick up a loaf of bread for dinner. The market is soon to get a new home designed by Danish firm 3XN architects, slated to begin construction in 2018. For the meantime, visitors will need to endure the delightful chaos that is a trip to Sydney's Fish Market. "Our process is to get it back to being relaxed so that the meat isn’t stressed," a good tip for both fish and humans.