Sydney Fish Market
Pyrmont NSW 2009
+61 2 9552 3333
A visit to Sydney’s famous fish market is a must for those who consider themselves foodies. With tonnes of fresh seafood coming into the market every morning (except for Christmas Day, that is), you can be sure that your sashimi-grade tuna fillet is literally half a step from having a pulse.
I didn’t know this prior to writing this entry, but apparently Sydney Fish Market is the largest of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere in terms of variety and only second to Tokyo’s fish market. In addition to providing an amazing experience for everyday customers, SFM also hold wholesale auctions, conduct classes and promote everything from sustainability and increasing fish consumption for health benefits.
While it would have been great to go on a tour, Marty and I only had time to wander around late one Saturday afternoon and sample some goodies. After attempting to walk to the market from Surry Hills before eventually getting lost and getting a cabbie to drive the rest of the way there (essentially, something like 200m – fail!), we were greeted by the sights and sounds of fresh fish, water, sunshine and lots and lots of people.
I swear, if this place was in Melbourne, I would have probably bought everything I saw. Crystal Bay prawns, coral trout, Balmain bugs and flatheads – I would have bought them all. Everything was so fresh and so amazing.
I would have also carried this chunk of kingfish home on the bus, too.
Before I started getting more delirious, Marty wisely suggested we grab something to eat. Not knowing where to go, we ended up going to the first place we set foot in: Christie’s Seafood Excellence, a kiosk just by the main entrance. Given the reasonable crowd lining up for oysters there, we figured that we couldn’t go wrong.
And so we started with half a dozen Pacific oysters from Port Stephens in NSW, which we got small change for from a $10 note. Now, I’ve had freshly shucked oysters many, many times but never have I tasted ones that tasted THIS good. Like, wow. Now, I usually try not to sound too much like a food wanker when I describe food but in all seriousness, there was something strangely sensual stirring– erotic even – when I ate those juicy, succulent molluscs. I’m not sure whether it’s the intoxicating sea smell or the velvet-like texture of the oyster but these totally did it for me. I can now see why people regard them as an aphrodisiac and at this point in time, I’ll stop getting all Fifty Shades of Grey on you.
Meanwhile, Marty, like most chumps, used to chose Kilpatricks over fresh but after eating these, he was a convert. According to him, eating the oysters was akin to ‘licking a mermaid’, which has got to be the strangest thing that’s come out of his mouth (and trust me, I’ve heard my fair share of WTF Marty sound bites). Thankfully, his ‘eating these brought back fond memories of swimming in the ocean as a kid’ line sounded decidedly more normal.
There was a massive crowd at the stall across the path from Christie’s (unfortunately its name escapes me). If I wasn’t so impatient, I probably would have ordered some baked lobsters or some mud crab with egg noodles, which was what a lot of customers there were getting. Instead, I decided to go back to Christie’s for their seafood pack ($22.90 for plate big enough to feed two people). In hindsight, it was a bad choice because the food on the plate wasn’t terribly good although Marty did make a fair point in saying that he would have been happy with the same seafood pack if he ordered it at a shopping centre food court. It was only bad in our minds because everything else we had was so fantastic and fresh so naturally, a plate of battered and deep fried scallops, prawns, fish, calamari rings along with boring oysters (Mornay and Kilpatrick) and soggy chips paled significantly in comparison. Oh, we were also given baby octopus pieces that were cooked in some sweet teriyaki-like sauce. They were yuck.
At this point, Marty decided to go get some more oysters (another six of those beautiful Pacific ones, please!).
He also got me a box of sea urchin roe ($12.50).
‘WHAT THE F*CK?! WHY DID YOU BUY ME THIS?’ I screamed in alarm. Marty’s the type of guy who likes to stir people so I initially thought he was playing a mean joke on me. However, turns out he only bought it out of love because he knows that I’m into trying all sorts of weird and wonderful things. In that case, what a sweet gesture!
Now, I’ve never had sea urchin roe on its own. I’ve only had it a few times and they’ve been served with other ingredients and in very small doses too, so eating huge chunks of it – raw and uncovered – was going to be interesting. They may look disgusting but they’re not actually that bad. They may be very briny, but their natural sweetness shines through. That said, I won’t be rushing to buy sea urchin roe in its natural form in a hurry – I’d rather spend $12.50 on oysters.
Finally, we shared a box of sashimi. To say that they were amazing would be an understatement. They were ridiculously fresh and full of flavour and so, so delicious. Even Marty, who normally likes a bit of soy and wasabi on his sashimi, ate his with hardly any condiments. Man, we were impressed. Seriously, where else in Australia can one get this much tuna, kingfish and salmon sashimi for less than $10?!
Marty and I love Sydney for its fine dining and for its boutiques but in all seriousness, we had the most fun at its fish market. It was a beautiful and simple afternoon where we got to enjoy each other’s company and eat cheap and fresh seafood from plastic boxes and plates. Now, what can be more pleasurable than that?