Everyone who stays in a condo on Maui eventually wants to try making their own fish. And when they look for fresh fish in, say, a fish market, they realize that we don’t have one on Maui. It make sense that we should be able to buy good fresh fish at reasonable prices somewhere on the island, but the reality is we can’t.
Except sometimes, when we can.
The retailers on this island – whether they’re grocery chains or independent shops – tend to make the standard mark-ups on fresh fish: 2-3 times what they paid for it.
Most Maui fishermen sell directly to restaurants and don’t have much if any left over for retail (if someone local tells you they will share their fish with you, take them up on it!). The few “fish retailers” are usually – not always – selling fish that comes from elsewhere (salmon, for example, does not swim off the shores of Maui).
The supermarkets, notably Star Market, tend to have decent fish, but it’s usually been frozen already, and is not the fresh fish you’re probably dreaming of when you’re planning your pan sear.
So where do we buy fish? Anywhere we see it’s fresh caught and it doesn’t cost us an arm and a leg. Most days, that’s Costco.
We just had a lovely opakapaka (pink snapper, indigenous to Hawaii) last night that was so tender and flaky it melted in our mouths. I seasoned it, dredged it in flour, pan-seared it for just a few minutes on each side to sear the crust, and made a brown butter sauce with lemon to ladle over it. One big piece of opakapaka cut down to four fillets: $14 at Costco with a $2 rebate at the register. Now that’s what I’m talking about!
Make Costco your first stop when fish-mongering, and you likely will find something fresh and wild for prices you can’t beat.