By Kelli Samson
Here you have it: a concise list of some of the very best places in Olympia to buy your seafood, put together by an Olympia resident. I figure this must bring me some kind of street cred when it comes to all things seafood.
However, I need to be up-front. I loathe the bounciness of clams and the strange texture of oysters, but I’m oddly intrigued by the way eating them fills your mouth with the very essence of the sea. Throw down a plate of fat, buttery scallops, or, better yet, a pile of crab cakes, and I am filled with delight.
We are so fortunate to live in a town edged by Puget Sound for many reasons. One of them just happens to be that we’ve got lots of options for purchasing seafood, and most of them are excellent.
Located where Capital Lake kisses Budd Bay, Bayview has spectacular views of the Sound from upstairs and tasty sea critters for sale downstairs. Their seafood counter boasts products from all over the world, though most of their fresh fish and shellfish come from Northern Fish Company, sourcing from places like Oakland Bay in Mason County.
The folks in the meat and seafood department make and sell their own crab cakes using Dungeness Crab, a little green onion, and some Panko bread crumbs.
If you are a budget-conscious seafood shopper, Bayview is a wise choice. They have something on special each week, and many loyal customers swear by their low prices. Additionally, Coho Salmon can be cut into steaks or fillets for free.
Check the calendar for the Bayview School of Cooking. Seafood classes are on the menu this fall.
The Olympia Seafood Company
The Olympia Seafood Company is an icon of Olympia. The seafood shop is right on Percival Landing. The light-blue paint job and gorgeous murals make it stand out. It’s also always bustling with customers, which is a shopper’s first clue that they are surely in for some prime seafood.
The Olympia Seafood Company has a fiercely loyal following. They have weekly specials, and the seafood is of high quality and very locally sourced. Most of their inventory comes from the waters of Oregon, Washington, and Alaska, with the exception of only their tropicals (from Hawaii) and their prawns (from Mexico). Nearly everything they sell is wild or harvested using sustainable methods, which we Olympians heartily support.
The shop’s customer service is also top-notch and worth mentioning. Their employee Ilya shared with me that his favorite thing to take home from work is the black cod (also known as butterfish), which he describes as having “a high fat content. It’s velvety and delicious.” He likes to broil it so that it caramelizes.
Seafood at the Olympia Farmers Market
Sea Blossom Seafood has been a staple of the Olympia Farmers Market since it opened. Their fish is fresh and rarely frozen. The shellfish is, of course, farmed. Some of their fish comes from the test fishery of Bruce Crookshanks. “There’s a thin line between hatchery and farmed fished. We don’t sell farmed fish, but purists don’t like hatchery fish,” explains long-time market vendor Barb Chambers when I ask the difference. They specialize in the smoked salmon of co-owner Ross Paddock, and the scallops are supplied by Chambers’ brother, John Lemar.
Chambers favorite way to enjoy salmon is pan-fried with garlic, ginger, and soy sauce.
Sea Blossom Seafood offers a punch card to customers, which rewards patrons with nine dollars off of a purchase after spending $100 over time.
Rounding-out our round-up is Skookum Point Oysters. Skookum Point is family-owned and operated just down the road at the confluence of Little Skookum and Totten Inlets. The Adams family has enjoyed oysters and clams from the same location for three generations.
While founders Evan and Fran Adams generally run the market stall, I happened by on a day when their son John and his family were taking a shift. Their kids were pitching in, and it is clear that their business is a family affair.
While Skookum Point doesn’t generally run specials, they do have “awesome deals,” promises John. His family’s favorite way to enjoy raw oysters? With a French champagne sauce known as “mignonette.”
If all this talk of seafood is making you hungry, why not pick some up and try out a new recipe? Here’s one of mine, and it goes great over fish tacos, especially. I imagine it could be used in lots of new and inventive ways on just about any type of seafood found here in Olympia.
Zest and juice of two limes
1/2 tsp. mustard
1/2 c. cilantro
1 c. mayonnaise
Pulse all ingredients together in a food processor.