“Want me to take one out?” Nicole Stock, general manager of Fisherman’s Finest at the Concord Cooperative Market, asked as she opened the cover of the crab tank.
Stock then stuck a plastic rake into the tank to guide one of two Maine crabs up the side and into her bare hand.
“Yeah, they’re cute,” Stock said as the one-pound crustacean stretched out its claws and legs. Customers of the co-op’s fish market, Stock said, can typically expect to get one half to one third of a pound of meat from each crab.
The crabs and all other seafood products sold at Fisherman’s Finest have been arriving at the shop daily from Boston since its opening in early November. The seafood department was added to the co-op in response to interest expressed by members in expanding the store into the space formerly occupied by a UPS Store. Customers had also shown interest in adding seafood to the store’s offerings to make it more of a one-stop shop.
“It’s very accommodating to the people that want it, and I think also the people who maybe didn’t know they wanted it are very interested,” Stock said of the Fisherman’s Finest market. “We are able to keep whatever our customers need in stock.”
Stock said the shop’s managers are looking at using more local sources and have been in talks with local fishermen.
“We are waiting for the season when they are able to provide us with what we need,” she said.
Nestled in the pile of finely crushed ice in the shop’s case sit containers of the co-op’s own all-natural organic cocktail sauce, which Stock said is a little spicier than most. Also on the ice are filets of arctic char, salmon, haddock, tilapia, sole and catfish and loins of tuna, swordfish and monktail, which Stock called the “poor man’s lobster” — “It has the same texture and flavor … it is a good substitute,” she said.
The real lobsters at Fisherman’s Finest sit in a 300-gallon round tank in the corner. Unlike those at most supermarkets, this tank is accommodating enough for the lobsters to move about, Stock said. A colored ribbon is tied around each lobster before they are moved into the tank from a smaller container of water where they are kept to allow them time to calm down from the trip from Boston. The ribbon signifies the weight of the crustacean — blue for 1¼ pounds, white for 1½ pounds and green for more than 2 pounds.
The lobsters and the crabs can be steamed and put in to-go boxes where they will remain warm for customers, Stock said, and the shop also offers chunks of steamed, de-shelled lobster meat.
“A lot of people like that … it helps when you don’t have to do the dishes at home,” she added.
The shop sells whole and shucked oysters, as well as littleneck and Maine steamer clams, shrimp, calamari and sea scallops.
Sitting atop the crab tank is a book of cooking suggestions, nutrition facts, preparations and taste descriptions for many of the products sold at the shop. Stock said she and her staff have “lots and lots” of recipe cards to dole out to customers upon request.
Customers may also request special orders, both large and small.
“We can pretty much do anything,” Stock said. “Everything in the case is fresh every day, but we do have in our freezer special things that certain customers like, unique items they can buy when they need them — we just try to be really accommodating.”
Different but not entirely unusual requests received at the shop have included octopus and orders of whole fish for presentation.
“Even if customers come in just to look, they will know that there is a place around here where they can get fresh seafood daily,” Stock said.