How to get the best PNW seafood shipped straight to your door.
Yes, the Pacific Northwest is the seafood paradise that you imagine it to be. Working on my forthcoming cookbook, Pacific Northwest Seafood (Countryman Press, 2020), I’ve become increasingly aware of how we, as locals, take for granted the plump spot prawns, briny Hood Canal oysters, delicate pink scallops, and vibrant orange salmon. Stores brim with halibut and black cod, oysters sing their salty siren song year-round, and sustainable fish is the assumption, not the exception, at most restaurants and stores.
But distance shouldn’t deter committed fish fiends: a lot of what we eat here is frozen and would stay so straight to South Carolina. Flash-freezing on board keeps most fish tasting better than hurrying it into port. As long as it’s kept cold and properly preserved, halibut arriving in Harrisburg should be no less haggard than when it was pulled up in Homer.
So, as accessible as the extraordinary is here in Seattle, with a little planning and the power of the internet, seafood aficionados around the country can share the same bounty of the blue. Many of the Northwest’s favorite fisherfolk, farmers market vendors, and specialty shops offer shipping around the country designed to bring superlative seafood to you in the same condition we buy it right here in Seattle.
The long tradition of the Lummi Tribe’s reefnet fishing, combined with the dogged commitment to quality and sustainability of two longtime local fisherman, brings the best of the seafood from this Canada-adjacent island (home of the venerated Willows Inn restaurant) to the world, including the fatty salmon finishing their run on the lengthy Frasier River.
This fifth-generation family-owned shellfish farm produces some of the best shellfish in the country, including crisp coldwater kumamoto and shigoku oysters. Their online shop sells oysters along with the PNW classic steamers, mussels and Manila clams. It also offers one of the few opportunities to get the giant phallic clam called geoduck (gooey-duck) delivered to your doorstep.
“This is the company I use to send seafood to my friends and relatives,” says Alaska-based multimedia food journalist Jessica Stugelmayer. Their “Dock-to-Doorstep” flash-frozen fish come in one-time or subscription boxes and bring the best of wild, sustainable Alaskan seafood—including spot prawns, salmon, black cod, king crab, and more—directly to you.
Plenty of boats ply the Copper River each spring in search of the coveted fatty salmon, and while I don’t recommend the tail-end catch that Costco buys, most of the small-boat companies take excellent care of their fish. Sena, which sells at local Seattle farmers markets (and whose white king salmon and black cod are currently in my freezer), also ship around the country. The family-owned company draws on the Wheelers’ long history as fisherpeople and background in food science to make sure the best fish make it from Alaska to your table.
To get a true taste of what you miss out on away from the Pacific Northwest, check out this online specialty shop. While, sadly, they no longer have a retail outlet in Seattle, they still ship the best seafood—pink scallops, spot prawns, and Dungeness crab—from their store to the rest of the country. Order sizes start high—live scallops at five pounds—but it means the costs break down to reasonable amounts per pound, so just make sure you get a few friends on board.
Full disclosure: I’m in this shop at least twice a week as I work on my book, and they give me a wholesale discount because I buy so much from them. That said, this store at Fisherman’s Terminal (as in, where all the PNW fishing boats are based) keeps standards high and will talk you through what’s fresh and best (yes, pick up the phone: this is an old school shop, they are not, as the saying goes, “extremely online”). Then they’ll custom fillet and vacuum pack the seafood before overnighting it to your door.