Not being a seafood lover I did not expect much from Sydney Fish Market. However knowing this is the place where Aussies do their Christmas food shopping was a reason good enough for me to go and check it out.
Sydney Fish Market was established in 1945 and privatised in 1994. It is easily accessible by public transport. We travelled to Central station and then caught a tram (that is directly in front of the station exit) to well… Fish Market station. The journey from Central to Fish Market takes about 20 mins.
Sydney Fish Market combines a working fishing port, wholesale fish, fresh seafood retail market, a delicatessen, a sushi bar, a fruit and veg market, beverage outlet, a seafood cooking school, indoor and outdoor seating area. It is the worlds third largest fish market. Monday to Friday early in the morning fishermen sell their nights catch to seafood retailers.
Come early and learn from trade adepts
It is always a good idea to come here as early as you can to beat the crowds and the heat. We arrived early and our first stop was De-Costi seafoods. We were truly overwhelmed by the variety of produce , its freshness and lovely staff working there. I must say most of the fish and seafood was unfamiliar to me and it was only lucky I met Maria there who talked me through the wide array of fish molluscs and crustaceans available at De Costi Seafood. She loves seafood and that shines through her. I am not adventurous when it comes to seafood and usually I’m very happy with just fish and chips. But being here at Sydney Fish Market I thought fish and chips would be an insult to the place.
Maria suggested I should try one of her favourites: Balmain Bugs! Its flesh is apparently super soft and almost sweet, already cooked and ready to eat. I was not too keen on trying a creature with the word “bug” in its name. Marie said that if there is only one thing to try I should really try Alaskan King Crab. Surprisingly this one came to Sydney Fish Market all the way from Russia. As interestingly only crabs legs were being sold I asked Maria why was that? She said that the crabs body is relatively small and doesn’t have much flesh so it is simpler and easier for transport. I was seriously considering giving this delicacy a go…. Perhaps it is not long before Alaskan King Crabs will be just a distant memory. Its industry was at its peak in 1980 producing 90,000,000 kg to drop to only 11,000,000 kg in 1983.
Make lunch a special affair
There are 20 vendors mostly offering fresh seafood either ready to take home or cooked and ready to serve if you fancy lunch at the Sydney Fish Market. The lunch there is an affair on its own terms. Here you can see whole families sharing huge seafood platters, impressive sized crabs that just wait to be consumed, trays of oysters, shrimps, mussels, sea cucumber (not for vegetarians this one!) and exotic looking sea urchins amongst many other seafood delicacies. We ordered ours much smaller and way less exotic tray. It consisted of grilled lobster tail, shrimps, salmon + chips (fish + chips in disguise) and very adventurous for my standards red abalone.
Red abalone turned out to be a sea snail which I was not aware of when I ate it. It was rubbery and almost hard in texture and did not overwhelm me. I was even less impressed when back home I checked how the live creature looked like! Nevertheless I can now say I ate a sea snail.
If you enjoyed came back for more
For true seafood lovers and chefs at heart there is one big surprise at the Sydney Fish Market and that is the famous Sydney Seafood School. Sydney Seafood School is Australia’s leading cooking school. The school runs workshops during the week and also at weekends and its program is available a few months in advance which helps in deciding on which class to go to.
At the beginning of November 2016, the state government announced that the iconic Sydney Fish Market will be replaced by a new $250m development next door. Will it be bigger and better? To answer that question we have to wait until 2020 when the new market is expected to open.
All of us really enjoyed the visit. Our 9 year old daughter said it was good but that we stayed there too long! Well we did, because it was worth it and I’m pretty certain we will be back. Next time for a behind the scene tour of the Sydney Fish Market and perhaps even trying the Alaskan King Crab legs Maria was so fond of...
Level of enjoyment 4 out 5
Cost involved: entry free, food moderately expensive
Time required: 1 - 3 hours
Hot tip: Take proper footwear , it is wet and slippery at times