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Where to Buy Fresh Seafood – Gulfport, Treasure Island & St Petersburg

When Freshness Really Counts

As any chef or good cook will tell you, one of the keys to cooking success is to start with the freshest ingredients.

And I think there’s nowhere where that’s more important than fresh seafood..

We’ve all taken that stroll through a supermarket reeking of questionable seafood products and bleach, only to find our appetite and enthusiasm taking a dip. Or nosedive.  No pun intended.

Well worry not, we’ve got you covered! Read on for how to buy fresh fish and where to buy it in the Gulfport, Treasure Island, St Pete Beach and St Petersburg area.

“Listen, are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?”

Mary Oliver

How to Buy Fresh Fish

Step 1: Go to a local and reputable seafood shop.  See the next section “Where to Buy” below.

Step 2: Ask what the freshest fish is or what the catch of the day is.

Step 3: If you decided to buy anything other than what they tell you is freshest or the catch of the day, make sure what you’re buying isn’t “previously frozen”.

Step 4: Make sure the flesh is firm and shiny.  It should provide resistance when touched. Don’t go poking it with your uncovered finger, however. I saw one source that said the fish should look as if it might jump up and swim away. If only, the fish is thinking. If only…

Step 5: Sniff it. Yes it’s ok.  Fish isn’t supposed to smell fishy. It should smell fresh.

Step 6: If the poor creature still has its head intact, check the eyes.  They should be clear, not cloudy.  (You know, so he can see better…)

Step 7: Gills if present should be bright pink and wet. No slimeyness.  Ever.

Step 8: For fillets or steaks, make sure the meat doesn’t separate from itself.  If it does it isn’t fresh.

Step 9: If the fish still has its skin, make sure the skin is not discolored.  No brown or yellow edges. Mostly this means even, consistent coloring.

Line ’em up

Where to Buy #1 – Key West Shrimp Company

We get it.  You’re not in Key West.  And no, I don’t know why. But I do know that the entire business is a family affair, with their own boats and own stores.  One shop is located in St Pete Beach and the other in Madeira Beach.

“Most of our fish was swimming less than 24 hours ago.” Says it right on the website. You’d have to fish for it yourself to get it any fresher.  Like them on Facebook to find out what their specials and fresh catches are.

Read about their dedication to sustainability here.  And check out products available in their online store here.  (Fish Spread fans will find some things to love here!)  You can even ship some home if you’d like.

10 am to 6 pm every day.  St Pete Beach location is 7217 Gulf Blvd Ste 13 (727) 873-3913.  Madeira Beach location is 215 150th Ave. (727) 592-1885

Perfect Salmon

Where to Buy #2 – Mid-Peninsula Seafood

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Both a restaurant and a full-service fish market.   Looking for something special? Call them! They just may be able to deliver.

Not sure which fish to buy? Visit their Fish School for tips on cooking and information on origin.

Mid Peninsula Seafood’s restaurant is one of my faves. Soups, sandwiches, dinners and big orders to feed a gang.  Fish Spread is available and something you don’t see just anywhere – hushpuppies! They call them Cornpuppies!

Find the full menu of prepared foods here.

Follow them on Facebook.

They’re gone fishing on Sundays.  Just keep that in mind.  Open Monday – Saturday 11 am – 9 pm.  400 49th St S, St Petersburg, FL 33707

Insider Tip: The Seafood Watch App

Download the app for your phone.  Sustainability at your fingertips!

Where to Buy #3 – Gulf Coast Seafood

Gulfport has two outstanding places to buy seafood.  “Fresh From the Boat“.

Gulf Coast Seafood began by providing products to stores, resorts and restaurants over a large part of Florida.  In response to repeated requests over the years, they are now selling to the public with their own retail shop!

Fresh fish in display cases.  Frozen products are vacuum packed). Head on over and catch tonight’s dinner.

Follow them on Facebook.

4921 9th Ave S, Gulfport (727) 321-1068   Open from 10 am – 6 pm Monday through Friday. 10 am to 4 pm Saturday

Chances are they have what you fancy

Where to Buy #4 – Don’s Dock & Wild Seafood Market

Don’s Dock has a wonderful fish market in addition to provide bait, ice and other gear you need to go fishing.

You can call 727-391-3223 for the Catch of the Day, see where your sustainably-caught seafood is coming from “Track Your Fish” and more.

Sauce and seasonings available too.  Online seafood market coming soon.

Check out the photo gallery for sample wares.  Those babies look ready to go home with you.

Don’s Dock Wild Seafood Market is located at 215 Boardwalk Place E, Madeira Beach, Fl. (727) 391-3223

Insider Tip: Sustainable Seafood?

View the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Consumer Guide here.

Recipe Suggestion: Perfect Salmon

Note: This cooking technique can be used on other varieties of fish too.  Just use your seasoning of choice!

Ingredients

  • Salmon filets, not steaks
  • Olive Oil
  • Soy Sauce
  • Maple Syrup

Spray or rub a small amount of olive oil on the bottom or skin-side of the fish.  Massage soy sauce into the top of the fish.  Place the fish skin side down on a small metal tray.  (Sizzle platters are perfect for this.) Pour a modest amount (approximately 1 T) of maple syrup over the top of the fish and spread it around.

Place the salmon in a COLD oven.   Now turn the oven on to 400 degrees and set a timer for 25 minutes. Your fish will be moist and flaky and the soy sauce maple syrup on top provides a slight crunch.

Enjoy!

Perfect every time

Disposing of Fish Parts – How to be a Good Neighbor!

No matter how fresh that fish is when you get it, eventually it won’t be.  If you have leftovers (or leftover “parts”), please don’t just toss them (bagged or not) in the trash can and let them marinate until trash day. Please help keep the trash cans clean and smelling the best they can by refrigerating your excess in a plastic bag and tossing out the morning of trash pickup.

Insider Tip:

Visit Allrecipes.com

For an amazing assortment of delicious seafood recipes

What’s the Fuss About Smoked Fish Spread?

Smoked Fish Spread

I love fish spread.  And I want you to love it, too.

Now that my motives are clear, I hope you’ll read on for “Splashy Ventures’ guide to Fish Spread” – my extensively researched (and taste-tested) manifesto for fully enjoying this Florida favorite.

Below you’ll find a dash of history, a restaurant and retail “hit list” for the best places to get fish spread and recipes for making your own.  (If you’ve crafted a winner, there’s even a list of contests to show off your masterpiece – or sample everyone else’s.)

Let’s dive in!

Where & When Did Fish Spread Start?

The popular history of smoke fish spread starts with Ted Peters.  While it’s unclear whether Ted Peters was the first local to turn smoked fish into a spread/dip, he’s certainly one of its earliest (and most important) aficionados.

Ted was a bit of a visionary.  After WWII. he took the fish-smoking process from out of sight in the backwoods and backyard to “out in front,” where he bet the smoking process would catch both the eyes and noses of passersby.  He was right – and smoked fish fast became a thing.

Ted’s original fish smoking location opened in the late 1940’s.  By 1951, the current Ted Peter’s Famous Smoked Fish restaurant was up and running, and neither smoked fish nor Ted Peters ever looked back.

The Peters family business really was a true family affair.  “Mom” created the German potato salad recipe and baked pies.  Ellen Peters created the fish spread recipe.  And five generations later, and the same family is synonymous with fish spread.  It’s an endeavor that is near and dear to all involved – and you can definitely taste their dedication.

Visit their website for a more complete history, media mentions (like Diners Drive-ins and Dives!) and short videos on the fish smoking process.

ted peters smoked fish

The Smoked Fish Spread of Today

Today, smoked fish spread (or dip) can be found on many a Florida restaurant menu, and is made from fish types ranging from mullet to amberjack to mahi-mahi to kingfish. Generally, the oilier the fish, the better. This is because the oil in the fish helps it withstand the lengthy smoking process without drying out.

Fish spread often features celery, scallions and mayonnaise and is always accompanied by crackers (Saltines, Club, or both). Favorite toppings—if any—include jalapeños, bell pepper, capers, or relish.

One of the many pleasures of fish spread is sampling your way through the many different versions our restaurants have on offer. Most commonly, fish spread is served as an appetizer—the perfect introduction to authentic Floridian dining.

Toppings—if any—include jalapeños, bell pepper, capers, or relish. One of the many pleasures of fish spread is sampling your way through the many different versions our restaurants have on offer.

For a more detailed dive into the smoked fish experience, check out this awesome post from Authentic Florida and Visit Sarasota.

If I’ve kept your attention this long, your next question is bound to be:

Where Can I Eat Smoked Fish Spread?

The fish spread at all the restaurants below is worth sampling! We’ve grouped the restaurants by town so you’ll have a handy list when you’re out and about.

Quite a few of these spots are in our 3 Day Dining Guide to Gulfport, so check out that post too.

Gulfport

O’Maddy’s
Sal’s Fresh Smoked Fish Spread

Neptune Grill
Smoked Fish Spread

Backfin Blue
Fish Spread

St Pete Beach /
Pass-A-Grille

Sea Critters Cafe
Smoked Fish Dip (good to know: parking is limited)

Rick’s Reef Restaurant & Patio Bar
Smoked Fish Spread

Bongo Beach Bar & Grille
Smoked Fish Dip

Jimmy B’s Beach Bar at the Beachcomber Resort
Smoked Fish Spread

St Petersburg /
South Pasadena

Mid Peninsula Seafood
Homemade Fish Spread

Treasure Island

Middle Grounds Grill
Smoked Fish Spread

Where Can I Buy Smoked Fish Spread?​

Once you’ve tried fish spread in a restaurant, you’re likely to want to have some on hand at home for lunch or late-night snacks.

Of course, you can always order fish spread to-go from the above restaurants. But sometimes you want to really load up. If that’s the case, try these suppliers:

Offshore Seafood Co

Fish spread is important enough to this family-owned business that it has dedicated a webpage to it. Created in 2012, the Offshore Seafood take on the spread is wild caught mahi-mahi smoked over real hickory wood logs, blended with top-of-the-line ingredients and sold to local restaurants, distributors, and directly to consumers.

And not to worry – if you get hooked, they can ship to you overnight!

Mid Peninsula Seafood

The fish is smoked on the premises and there are three varieties to choose from! Amberjack plain, Amberjack with jalapeno and Salmon.

Publix

If you’re hitting the local supermarket, pick up Smilin’ Bob’s Original Smoked Fish Dip or Smilin’ Bob’s All-Natural Smoked Fish Dip (both from the Key West Smoked Fish Co.) A family owned business with fish spread made right in the Keys. Read their story here and find out why Bob is smilin’.

Gulf Coast Seafood

It used to be that this well-respected business sold only to restaurants, stores, and resorts—not directly to consumers. But luckily, there’s now a storefront at 4921 9th Ave S in Gulfport where you can stock up. As Gulf Coast Seafood likes to say, you can’t get any closer to fresh unless you pull it out of the water yourself!

Ted Peters

Buy smoked fish spread by the half pint, pint or quart from the guy who made it famous. (Good to know: the business is cash only.)

How to Make Your Own Fish Spread

The logical next step in your “fish spread evolution” is to make it at home. For that, you’ll need some fresh smoked fish (see Ted Peters, Gulf Coast Seafood or Mid Peninsula Seafood above) and a great recipe.

Here are some of our at-home favorites. We’ve tasted them all, and we stand by ‘em!

Smoked Mullet Dip from Authentic Florida and Caroline Chambliss

Smoked Fish Dip from Allrecipes

Smoked Fish Dip from Food Network

Last but not least, here’s a lengthy mouth-watering collection of recipes from Salt Strong. (Warning: don’t view it on an empty stomach!)

Where Can I Compete with My Fish Spread (or Taste Local Recipes)?

And finally, if after all this you love fish spread as much as I do, there’s only one thing left to do. Enter a fish spread contest! Or at least attend one and taste test your way through local favorites.

Old Salt Foundation Fish Spread Contest

It would be well worth 5 minutes of your time to read about the Old Salt Fishing Foundation and learn about the foundation’s mission as well as where the name “Old Salt” comes from. Hint: it is not a reference to salty old fisherman.

The Old Salt Fish Spread Contest will be in its 9th year in November 2018. Registration is $10 per entry and qualifies you for both Judges and Peoples Choice Awards.  Additional rules can be found on the contest website.

I can’t think of a better way to get your fish spread game on. And to those who decide to enter the contest, may the fish spread force be with you.

Happy feasting!