June 26, 2013

Soup to Nuts: 'Freshest fish' closer than you might think

A couple of Portland businesses – Salt and Sea and Eat Local Fish – have adapted the CSA concept for the waterfront, selling just-off-the-boat seafood directly to you.

By Meredith Goad mgoad@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

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Allyson Jordan on Holyoke Wharf in Portland with the F/V Jamie & Ashley, one of two fishing boats her family owns. The other is the F/V Theresa & Allyson.

John Ewing/Staff Photographer

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A delivery from Salt and Sea will contain “whatever’s freshest off the boats,” says owner Justine Simon.

Courtesy photo by Michael Ferry and Kelsey Kobik/Salt and Sea

Additional Photos Below

Jordan fished with her father, David Jordan, for many years, even after she had begun to build her own life in Boston.

"If he needed an extra guy, he'd call me in Boston and say 'I need you home,"' she recalled. "It was great. I loved it, and I wanted to run a boat."

But as long as her father was alive, he didn't want her to make fishing a career because of the risks that come with a life on the water. So Jordan sold TV advertising instead. "My office was on top of Nieman Marcus," she said. "I was all clean, all the time. It was so fun."

Jordan took over running the fishing business 14 years ago, right after her father died. She's become an active voice in the debate over fishing regulations.

Jordan started Eat Local Fish about three years ago, and has let the business grow slowly, mostly by word of mouth, because of the time it takes to focus on her other duties -- including doing all of the maintenance on the boats herself. She didn't actually start selling fish until January 2012. She now has 178 people on her mailing list.

Her busiest time of year for direct sales is December to May, but she sells fish year round. This summer, she plans to focus mostly on flounder (American plaice or dab) and some of the lesser--known, underused fish that have been the focus of the Gulf of Maine Research Institute's "Out of the Blue" campaign: Atlantic pollock, redfish and hake.

"This is from our backyard," Jordan said, "and this is a clean, quality protein that we're harvesting responsibly."


Jordan's customers sign up for her newsletters, which let them know when fish is available. This week, for example, the F/V Theresa & Allyson came in on Monday morning with Georges Bank haddock and cod, redfish and pollock for grilling, and hake and flounder. That fish was available for delivery on Tuesday.

The fish is made grill- or stovetop-ready at a fish-cutting house in Portland, where it is cut into either filets or steaks. You can also buy it whole.

Customers who are interested in buying, say, the pollock for $6 a pound either call Jordan directly, email her, or order on the website with Paypal. She confirms each order and arranges for either delivery or pick-up. You can also have orders shipped.

You don't have to be home to get home delivery -- but you do have to leave an ice chest at your door filled with enough ice to keep the fish fresh until you get home. Jordan has delivered fish as far away as Dayton, Buxton and Bethel.

Jordan also delivers to local businesses so that several people can place orders as a group and get their fish delivered to the same spot. "People bring their coolers in," she said, "or put it in their office fridge."

The F/V Jamie & Ashley was due in port today or Thursday. Jordan said things will slow down bit in July, when she has some maintenance to do (and when hot dogs and lobsters rule Fourth of July festivities), but she expects to be doing four landings a month again in August.

Jordan has recipes on her website and is always offering her customers advice on how to prepare the fish she sells them. Recently, for example, she marinated some redfish in citrus, cilantro, red onion and pepper, then threw it on the grill.

"You don't even have to flip it," she said. "You leave it skin side down, and it's amazing."

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Additional Photos

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A day’s catch bound for Eat Local Fish customers is off-loaded on the Portland waterfront.

Courtesy of Allyson Jordan/Eat Local Fish

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Eat Local Fish operations manager Allyson Jordan plans to focus her efforts this summer touting some lesser-known species, such as redfish.

Courtesy of Allyson Jordan/Eat Local Fish


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