For seafood lovers, living in landlocked Idaho can be frustrating. Out on the coast there are paradises, utopias in which that holy grail of aquatic cuisine can be found—fresh seafood. Fish, shellfish, and cephalopods right out of the ocean and onto your plate. And for all of Idaho’s charms, these seafood lovers despairingly acknowledge that’s simply not an experience we’re going to have here.
Not so fast. Admittedly, Boise is never going to be a coastal city, but that doesn’t mean that landlubbers in the Treasure Valley need abandon all hope of enjoying a steaming lobster or perfectly-seared tuna fillet. They just have to be a little more creative. And it helps to not only know where to look for fresh fare within the fine dining Boise has to offer, but also to recognize the reality of seafood freshness.
The Myths and Realities of “Fresh”
It’s not just the taste that suffers when seafood isn’t fresh—it can be downright dangerous. So it’s no wonder such a premium is placed on it. That being said, there are some misconceptions about both what “fresh” actually means and the level of freshness of seafood even in coastal seafood restaurants that are serving the halibut they bought that day from the dock-side fish market.
Even if the halibut was bought by the restaurant that day, that doesn’t guarantee that it’s therefore same-day fresh. There are a few practical, and sort of harsh, realities of the fishing and seafood-acquisition dynamics that tend to limit that freshness.
For instance, even the freshest fish that any restaurant or store is going to get is virtually guaranteed to be a day old or more. After the catch dies, the fishermen have to wait for rigor mortis to come and go. That’s at least 12-24 hours before the fish can even be portioned.
And there are a whole series of considerations that can virtually immediately influence the freshness of a catch. Were the fish caught in a gill net or a long line, how were they handled, how were they stored, etc.? Not to mention the fishing boat was possibly out on the water anywhere between 14-60 days. So is the fish bought dockside and served the same day one that was caught 18 hours earlier, or a month earlier and has been on ice in the ship’s hold since? There’s a common belief that if seafood has been frozen it’s not fresh. Of course, anyone would be hard pressed to find any commercial seafood being served that hasn’t been flash-frozen or on ice for days if not weeks.
Not to mention, edible species are localized and obviously not all of them are populating the waters around all coastal cities with seafood restaurants touting the freshness of their fish. So that said, it’s quite possible that the seared ahi being enjoyed by a diner in one of the downtown Boise restaurants is very likely fresher than the seared ahi being enjoyed in New York that was shipped there from Seattle.
Seafood in Boise
The point of all of that is that it’s entirely possible to get seafood in Boise that’s just as fresh as the seafood eaten on the coast. The seafood Boise restaurants serve is sourced in ways other than having it shipped from fish markets.
If you love lobster, look for one of the Boise eateriesthat keeps live lobsters in a tank. Seek out a local restaurant that also sources a variety of seafood, tilapia, sturgeon, trout, catfish, even caviar, from Idaho-run fish farming operations.
So don’t despair, Boise seafood lovers. Mouth-watering seafood can be found here if you know where to look. Bon appétit!
Chandlers has repeatedly, even predictably, been voted the best restaurant in Boise, bar none. As the Treasure Valley’s premier steakhouse, Chandlers offers guests world-class service, the the most incredible steaks, the freshest seafood Boise has to offer, and an ambiance second-to-none. The extensive menu at Chandlers features seafood flown fresh to Boise on a daily basis and handpicked, locally sourced ingredients.