1900 V Street, Sacramento, CA 95818. (916) 442-8237.
M-F 8-5pm, Sat & Sun 9am-3pm. Accepts plastic.
When my friend, Cate, decided to throw a sushi party two years ago for her birthday I accompanied her to Sunh Fish on Broadway to pick up a few seafood items. I had heard about Sunh Fish before but had never stopped in there. The seafood we got there was great and I kept meaning to get back over there again, but life got busy and I never did. Flash forward to this year, I read about Sunh Fish moving to 19th and V Street into the old Verge Gallery. It was now within walking distance from my cottage! But did I ever get there? Nope...not until this week and I could kick myself that I haven't visited sooner.
Earlier this week, a chef acquaintance of mine had posted a tantalizing photo of some plump Tiger shrimp and creamy looking stone ground grits on his Facebook and noted that the shrimp were from Sunh Fish. Mr. S. and I had just been lamenting recently that there was such a limited selection of places to buy good seafood at in Sac; so when I saw that post, I decided to shoot the chef an email and ask if Sunh Fish sold whole fish retail and whether the fishmongers there would gut and scale the fish for you. I got an enthusiastic, "Yes!" back. So on my way home from running errands Thursday afternoon, I popped in there. Sunh Fish has a nice (free) parking lot, so you can swoop in and out easily. As I entered the building, I immediately noticed that the "store" area was one big room- warehouse big! There was an office to the left and then a large display case housing sushi-grade sashimi and salmon. Also in the case were fresh diver scallops, mussels, about four different kinds of prawns and an assortment of other delectable seafood. Walking up, I was immediately greeted with a friendly smile and an offer of assistance. I knew I wanted a whole fish to grill but I wasn't really sure what kind, so I asked the gentleman behind the counter for some recommendations. He suggested the Branzino (aka loup de mer, a European sea bass that has firm meat, not too many bones and is sustainable). I bought two, which came out to roughly two pounds. While I was waiting for him to scale and gut my purchase, I chatted with an elderly Japanese lady (a fellow customer) who had nothing but rave reviews for the store and suggested next time I try out a few of the oysters. I also wandered over, perused the cold case on the adjacent wall and noted that they carried several different kinds of tobiko and other sushi odds and ends. As I was checking out, the gentleman that had been assisting me was kind enough to answer my numerous questions about grilling fish whole and offered a few helpful cooking tips.
So if you're thinking of cooking up some seafood, I would highly recommend paying Sunh Fish a visit- excellent, quality seafood and phenomenal service. Plus they're open 7 days a week.
Here's some quick instructions and tips on how to cook whole Branzino. The prep, cooking and clean up turned out to be quite simple. Although we had a bit of an issue with the fish sticking a bit to the grill, it tasted fantastic - light, flaky and fresh. We'll definitely be opting to cook fish whole more often...maybe next time we'll try the salt crust method.
2 one pound whole Branzinos, gutted and scaled
extra virgin olive oil
2 lemons, thinly sliced
1 bunch of fresh thyme
3 garlic cloves, minced
sea salt and fresh ground pepper
1. Preheat your grill (medium-high heat) or if using charcoal, start your fire. Word to the wise- make sure your grate is extremely clean and be sure to rub it down with LOTS of oil (or use an oiled fish basket). We thought we had used enough oil on the grill but the fish skin still stuck. Boo! Next time we'll have to use more.
2. Rinse the fish under cold water (inside and out- be careful of the dorsal fin, it's spiny and sharp) and pat dry. Cut vertical slits into the side of the fish, about 1 inch apart. Turn fish over and repeat.
3. Rub the fish inside and out with olive oil.
4.Season the inside of the Branzino with salt and pepper. Then gently massage the outside of the fish with salt.
5. Place lemon slices and thyme sprigs in the cavity of the fish.
6. Cut two pieces of kitchen twine for each fish. Tie them around the thickest part of the fish to secure the inside ingredients from falling out.
7. Place the fish horizontally on the grill over direct medium-high heat.
8. Rule of thumb: grill the fish about 8-10 minutes/a side per 1-inch of thickness.
9. Place a spatula under the fish (or use two spatulas- one on top, one underneath) and flip the fish over.
On the grill...skin stuck a little
10. To check for doneness: insert a metal skewer or a small knife into the thickest part of the fish's flesh, if it's done it should have some give and slide in easily. The skin should look crispy and the flesh will be moist and flaky.
11. Remove from grill, allow to rest for 4-5 minutes. Serve warm with lemon.