8 Amazing Facts About Your Favourite Seafood

Whether it’s a plateful of fish and chips or a delicious serving of salmon fillet cooked to perfection, seafood is one of the most commonly eaten foods around the world. Seafood is not just a food of choice for many, but in areas where agriculture is scarce, seafood is essential to survival for millions of people.
In spite of many ardent seafood lovers out there who swear by it, there are many facts that people don’t know about seafood. Presenting some interesting facts about seafood that are sure to amaze you.

  1. US Department of Health recommends eating at least two servings or 16 ounces (approximately 455 grams) of seafood a week

    Most Indians eat less than one serving of seafood per week. We not only need more; we should want more of this wonder food. Go get it!


  2. Sardines are power packed proteins

    The protein content in 100 grams of sardine fish gives you more protein than eating a steak of same weight! Now isn’t that wonderful.


  3. Crab meat has high amounts of vitamin B12

    Crab meat is your perfect dose of Vitamin B12 fights anemia and keeps the blood cells healthy. If you want to skip on taking additional supplements, crab meat is the way to go.


  4. Ahi Tuna can weigh up to 300 pounds

    The largest Ahi (more commonly known as Yellow Fin Tuna) has measured in at around 175 kilograms and there are some that swear to have caught larger fish!. Now that’s a whole lot of yummy.


  5. Milk and fish can give you a great flavor

    One of the lesser known ways to thaw fish is by using milk. Place frozen fish in milk and let it thaw in it. As a result, you will find your fish richer in color and taste.


  6. Soda and oysters can solve a lot of problems

    If you often find it troublesome to get oysters out of the shell, then you’ve got to try this little trick. Take some club soda and let the oysters soak in it for a few minutes. A little known secret that works every time.


  7. Fish can help fight high blood pressure

    Fishes are known to counter your sodium intake. When you consume a lot of sodium, it increases the risk for elevated blood pressure. Fish, on the other hand, actually helps you reduce some of the negative impact that your body is going through after consuming high amounts of sodium due to its high levels of potassium.


  8. Seafood > Beef+Pork+Chicken

    How so, you ask? Seafood contains 84 percent more protein than ground beef, 55 percent more protein than pork, and 14 percent more protein than chicken. Want to hear something better? Seafood has 12 times less fat than ground beef, eight times less fat than pork and three times less fat than chicken.

We’ll keep bringing you more such facts. In the meanwhile, cook some delicious seafood and surprise people with these fun facts over a dinner conversation!

Image Credit: Cover
Image Credit: Chilli Soy Salmon with Wokfried Noodles
Image Credit: Sardines
Image Credit: Crab Meat
Image Credit: Tuna
Image Credit: Milk and Fish
Image Credit: Oysters
Image Credit: Blood-Pressure Cuffs
Image Credit: Seafood
Image Credit: Chicken

Questions & Answers – Part 2

We left off last week with these 2 questions to be answered for ourselves before really diving into this business ‘all in’.

  1. Do we really see ourselves doing this 5-8 years from now?
  2. Why are we really doing this?

The second question was the one that really needed to be answered. Sure we loved seafood and wanted much better quality and we wanted variety. This “settling” for inferior quality and lack of options had to stop. We believed that there were more people out there who didn’t realise that they were ‘making do’ and we wanted to stop them from having to settle for their seafood. Why should they considering we are a nation with a 7517 Kms coastline and a multitude of rivers. The variety and quality were both out there, we just needed to bridge the gap.

Our confidence of seeing this through came from our experience of running a restaurant and the learning from that actually applied directly to our concepts of quality and variety. Dishes we were introducing with seafood that you wouldn’t usually find locally were being lapped up! Customers were actually asking about different types of seafood and the whole “surmai, pomfret, bangda and basa” dependency was relegated to the back burner. Sure, there was a large number that still wanted the tried and tested but there was a fairly large number that wanted to try the new stuff.

With this confidence came the motivation and though we still had to dig deep, we just knew that this is what we wanted to do. We were now completely committed and that answered the first question as a natural extension.

We now needed to prioritize the 5 areas though each was as important as the other.

Seafood Processing Factories
Supply chain was essential. If you don’t have the product you cant sell it. Quality of product was our mantra and we decided very early that we will only sell high quality products. We traveled all over India for a little over 2 years, finding certified export houses who might be willing to supply us. Our quantities at the time were really small and most just laughed at us. They could not believe what we wanted to do. Still, we stuck at it and we did finally get a few of them to agree to supply and we were off.
Refrigerated Truck

Now we needed to tie up the first leg of the cold chain – inter state transport. Quantities were too small for the big cold chain players but we got lucky somewhat and our suppliers got their transport partners to ferry our shipments for us from Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and West Bengal to Pune.

The second leg of the cold chain was rented space in a commercial cold storage in Pune and a few industrial freezers at our office cum distribution center.

Cold Storage

The third leg was the last mile delivery and we decided to not trust any one with this and decided to deliver ourselves. Two-wheelers with insulated bags and freeze packs was our mode of choice and it’s working really well.

So we figured okay we’ve got quality seafood products, good variety which is continually growing and we’ve got and if not the best cold chain setup. 3 out of 5 problem areas are being dealt with.
We now shifted focus to our packaging and distribution. This was crunch time. Should we be a brand among many on the shelves of retailers? Should we be distributors? Should we innovate and do it a little differently? We went with option 3. No retail stores or distributors for us. We are a brand that stands for “choicest seafood”. A brand that provides an ever growing variety of quality products. A brand that thinks about the customers convenience first. A clear value proposition.

Slashing Non-Essential Costs
Packaging took a while to finalize as we questioned the need to add 8-12% of product cost on packaging when the customer would only see it when delivered. Customers want our product, let’s sell them that, not packaging. We went as thrifty as we possibly could without compromising on the quality of the packaging materials. It needed to be food and freezer grade and we’ve made no compromises there. We managed to slash down all non-essential packaging costs. Another problem area dealt with, for now anyway. 

40% margins to a retailer seemed an awful lot to us. I mean we were here to make money too. It is a business after all. Why not market the product ourselves, we’ll warehouse and sell direct to the customers with doorstep delivery, in most cases on the same day. That cannot cost us 40%! And what we do save we can (and do) pass on to the customer. Win win for the customer and us.

Our goals is to bring you the bounty of choicest seafood that’s available in India. Over 70 varieties are commercially harvested in different parts of the country. Fishvish today has got a fair chunk of this variety and the inventory is continually growing.

We have a few pleasant surprises coming your way soon. Stay tuned. As a recently popular TV character famously said “It will be legen…. wait for it…. dary”.

Bijal Patel, Fishvish Co-founder

A Matter of Taste


What We Now Know.
So, cooking’s come a long way since humans discovered fire, and with it, has the evolution of our palates. This has progressed to one of those whacky sciences that amaze you with new findings. But it doesn’t stop there. The knowledge is out of labs with people in white coats working in them to the street, where common folk like us want to know if we are supertasters. Matters of the taste buds are serious everyday business.
We’re asking for more flavours, colours, and ingredients at the dining table too.
The quest for variety and taste drives most of our food choices. Since we’re asking for more everywhere, we expect and seek variations of flavour, appearance, colour, ingredients etc. at the dining table too. Our taste buds are more accepting of ‘foreign’ flavours now; some years ago, blue cheese would’ve been considered unpalatable by many, as would have pâté or sushi. Now more restaurants feature these and other “tricky” dishes, which are finding more popularity steadily. Some seekers of adventure are taking the refinement of taste so seriously, they’re willing to give more foods a second chance which, at the first whirl, didn’t light up their palates. 
Wanderlust and Wonderment
Seafood retailers say consumers are getting adventurous and asking for varieties like octopus.
This newfound sense of freedom (from conventional choices) and thrill-seeking reflects in consumer behaviour in the seafood retail space as well. Says Shumu Gupta, one of Fishvish’s co-founders who first started with a restaurant: “We’re sometimes surprised by the levels of consumer awareness these days. People are travelling across the world and are going beyond pomfret and surmai that are traditionally typical “safe” choices. They return home and scout for produce and ingredients to recreate some of the magic of their travels. They want to go beyond cooking seafood “out of shape”—cooking it to the point of no recognition— which is what happens when you cook seafood for too long. They’re asking for octopus, squid, tuna and more; the first time we got emperor fillets, I wasn’t sure what to do with them, but we found consumers interested in those too.”
Travel indeed is the catalyst at play, the mainspring of the adventure wave. Shumu reveals how it converted him: “It was travel that made a fish-eater out of me. On your trips to various destinations, you eat many kinds of food, and appreciate the quality and taste. You would, of course, want to enjoy the experiences again without the effort and spend of a trip.”
For those of us who can’t plan long trips to buzzing cities and picturesque locales, there are more than enough resources to fill us in. A television show which revolves around a cooking competition may explain and depict examples of deconstruction in cookery. A website review of the latest fine dining restaurant to hit the culinary scene may talk about the degustation menu that showcases a selection of the establishment’s offerings. You may come across a blog post that discusses molecular gastronomy.
DIY Then
There are plenty of ideas to plan a DIY seafood degustation menu
Little wonder, then, that connoisseurs of good food have taken to the art of dishing up delicacies themselves, with guidance from the masters and the experts who share videos and recipes that break down complicated instructions into easy-to-achieve milestones. There are even layman accounts of trial and error that’ll inspire the novice to stay the course, and to expect and cross obstacles as they come. So you’ll find a deconstructed fish pie recipe inspired by TV; the dish has both the flakiness of the crust and richness of the creamy salmon and haddock filling. There are degustation menu ideas that make the most of your meal’s theme; so, a seafood-centric menu like this may have everything from oysters and tuna to prawns and snapper. Heck, there are videos featuring Heston Blumenthal cook his Perfect Fish and Chips that can take up almost eight hours to make.
You Want It? We Got It
For those who’d rather devote their efforts to the art and pleasure of fine dining, restaurants are going all out to ensure memorable experiences. We eat out much more now than we did a decade or two ago, as a consequence of the crunch for time and the convenience of having more options around to choose from. Thanks to the support of their patrons who are seeking out of the ordinary experiences increasingly, more dining establishments are daring to experiment with cuisines, themes, locations etc. Prashant Issar has been in the restaurant business “all his life”, as he himself describes it. Last year, he opened a restaurant called Mirchi And Mime in Mumbai that stands out for its menu, but more so for its service; the waitstaff are hearing and speech impaired. About dining trends, he says: “People are more conscious about what they eat now; an increasing number of consumers are turning to fish, since they realize it’s much healthier than red meat, or even chicken, for that matter. They’re trying new varieties everywhere they go, and requesting for specific species, if they’ve tried it somewhere else and have liked it. For our restaurant in Mumbai, we’ve received inquiries about barramundi, black cod, hamour etc, all of which come from different parts of the world. A lot of diners see a variety on the menu that they haven’t sampled before, and are keen to order it, if only out of curiosity.” 
He sees the awareness extend to other stakeholders in the supply chain. “Our local supply guy, who brings us fresh catch from the middle of the sea on his boat, can easily explain the difference in varieties, including the local and global names, characteristics etc. Overall, there is better quality and availability, which in turn builds more confidence that reflect in menus today. People are ready to think beyond basa and betki.”

It’s easy to find a Thai steamed fish around you today.
They are, indeed. They are also more than willing to look away from curries and fries, to dishes that retain the fresh flavour of seafood produce or play along harmoniously with fish varieties in preparations that don’t customarily call for seafood. Prashant’s restaurant’s menu lists dishes like Lobster Nihari and Lobster Makhani, and Masala Fish Tempura. Southeast Asian cuisine is pretty big at the moment, says Shumu; so, it’s very easy to find Thai steamed fish or Malaysian grilled fish in banana leaves around you.
Here Comes the Hotstepper
We’re compiling lists of dishes we want
to eat and places we want to dine at
The search for good food is now a surging movement that has spawned a whole slew of experts, food guides, social media groups and communities. We’re talking about how food should be. We’re putting up pictures of meals we have cooked, and the experience of putting them together. We’re sharing photos and reviews of meals we have eaten. We’re meeting complete strangers around a table, bonding over our mutual love for food. We’re putting together lists of dishes we want to cook and eat, and restaurants we want to dine at, based on recommendations. We’re ticking these off, one tasty meal at a time. 
Bon Appetit!


About the Author
An incorrigible gastronome, Rupika V is on a perpetual quest to find the best food around, and will happily travel far to find it.

Image Credit: Cover
Image Credit: More Flavours
Image Credit: Octopus
Image Credit: DIY
Image Credit: Thai Steamed Fish
Image Credit: Lists

Questions & Answers – Part 1

Over the last few years, any one that’s shown any form of economic interest in us or in our business has had one common question: why are you doing this?

Shumu and I are amateur cooks, well me more than him, he’s actually very good. Our grouse over the years has been the lack of quality seafood in Pune, a pain point we shared with a lot of people. This was made doubly worse with the lack of variety and volatile pricing based on season.

A chance meeting on work travel germinated the idea. We’d first named it Fish Wish and were going down the whole ‘Genie-in-the-Lamp’ road. We quickly gave that up as it just seemed a little too pompous. Over drinks one evening with friends, the subject of what to eat came up and Shumu says “mutton shutton khatey hain”. And the eureka moment was upon us. We dropped everything and dashed to the computer to see if we could get the domain name. Chicken Shicken, Machhi Vachhi! Fishvish was born.

At first we hadn’t even thought about doing retail and started out supplying just prawns to the HORECA (HOtels, REstaurants and CAterers) sector in Pune. Friends who were restaurateurs and some who came through references were our early and only customers. We were just testing out the market and the business at that stage. Did we really want to do this for our foreseeable future was our most often & strongly debated subject.

Soon our customers started saying we need to provide more products as they cant buy only prawns from us and all other products from other suppliers. Prawns had the best margins and volumes so the other suppliers had started getting grumpy. So we expanded and got the basics in – squid, cuttlefish, surmai, pomfret and the ubiquitous Basa. Vietnamese Basa was beginning to get a bad reputation (unfairly I will add) so we did little hunting and found someone producing Basa in India. And business was doing okay.

Adding Variety

Family and friends started calling for deliveries. “Your guys are out delivering anyway, so whats the problem? Just send the fish man!” We talked about it for a while, Shumu and I. We put a quick website together and offered online ordering, COD and home delivery across Pune. It was real slow.

So we decided to take our time over this and do a little long term research. Product range, delivery schedules, pricing, sizing, quality, fresh or frozen, home delivery or in store pickup, product information, product knowledge, supply chain, cold chain, marketing… the list goes on.

Our immediate learning was people did not like frozen products. It took a while but we finally figured it out. The early players in the market hadn’t paid attention to this area and neither had their distributors or retailers – Cold Chain & Storage. Frozen seafood technology had come a long way and IQF not only retained the quality of the seafood but also increased shelf life – IF –  and only if you maintained ideal cold chain from processing factory to end user.

Fresh or Frozen?

Consumers were getting frozen product that had lost its quality and freshness due to poor handling and storage conditions, in some cases had defrosted and refrozen! That is a strict no-no. This single handedly destroyed the frozen concept for the consumer, the home buyer. Learning 1.

All these market players had gone the distributor router which meant they were all fighting for shelf space in a crowded super market. The way to stand out was in attractive, innovative and bold packaging. Competitive pricing is being seriously tested at this point. Learning 2.

Where’s my product?

All the super markets not only worked on credit but also want huge margins, in some cases almost as high as 40% to 50%! And you’re effectively priced out of the market! Learning 3.

The abject lack of options on offer was troubling to say the least – the fresh seafood market was obviously seasonal but more often than not had maybe 7-10 varieties at any given time. The frozen brands strangely had even less! Learning 4.

We also noticed that unlike Bombay, Pune didnt not have a widespread culture of the “machiwali” coming home and delivering the fish. Learning 5.

5 areas had been identified that needed to be addressed and each was as important as the other. We also needed to answer 2 questions for ourselves :

  1. Do we really see ourselves doing this 5-8 years from now?
  2. Why are we really doing this?
This took a lot of discussion and a fair amount of time. Read all about it next week.
Bijal Patel, Fishvish Co-founder

Image Credit: Fresh or Frozen?
Image Credit: Where’s my product?

Platter Up!

Choices, choices

Whoever came up with calling variety the spice of life would probably have never imagined the cornucopia of varied options we would enjoy in our present day lives. There has definitively never been a better time to be spoilt for choice—enterprise after enterprise is out to bring the best to our homes and other areas of our lives. Choice has never been so wide-ranging and important, or manifold and exciting.

Exciting options everywhere, there has never been a better time to be spoilt for choice.

Especially when it comes to dining. Extensive, well-presented dining menus are great, but buffets have a special place in our hearts. Buffets are popular for the reason that diners can help themselves to a little bit of everything, without worrying about the commitment required to finish a single dish ordered a la carte. A platter is another form of the buffet that assures variety and choice on a practical yet gratifying scale. Think of it as a mini buffet table that comes to you and can be passed around to share with others in the group.

Pitter-Platter

The platter is a beautiful example of inclusiveness— diverse elements brought together by a unifying underlying theme. Each component can be served on its own, but still ties up harmoniously with the next on the serving dish. The leitmotif could be a cuisine represented by different dishes, or a primary ingredient cooked different ways, or even individual elements sharing a similar origin. So popular Chinese dishes like Peking duck, sweet and sour pork, spring rolls could be laid out collectively; potatoes and sweet potatoes roasted, mashed, fried and baked may be dished together on a ‘tater platter’; prawns a la plancha, Maryland crab cakes and lobster pollichathu could form a crustacean confederation.

A beautifully laid out platter is like a mini buffet table

Interestingly, if you think of it that way, India has had its own take on the platter for a long, long time. We call this a ‘thali’. Be it a Rajasthani thali that showcases the richness of the cuisine, or a rustic Maharashtrian thali that is a lesson in the compatible blending of spices, our concept of a thali ticks all the boxes that typically describe a platter. A quintessential thali may be viewed by most as a complete meal, with one or more appetizers, at least one protein-centric mains, sides of carbs and salad, and dessert. A thali may be vegetarian, meat- or fish-centric, depending on the local diet which ties in with geography and climate, culture etc.

A thali, just like a platter, has some of everything

Thus, the individual accents that separate one regional cuisine from the next come into play here as well. Take the case of seafood thalis. A Malvani fish thali will be quite distinct from, say, a Bengali one— seafood is the common factor here, but the preparation may greatly vary. Also, the selection of sides and accompaniments characterize each spread; the Malvani thali may pair an Amboli with the fish curry as opposed to the Bengali preference for Gobindo Bhog rice. The seafood thali however, across the country, features glorious local catch that may include sea, river or brackish water fish farmed or caught wild. It mirrors local cuisine that celebrates aquatic bounty and ingredients abundant in or even endemic to the region. So, fish thalis in most coastal areas feature coconut in some form owing to its plenteous availability in those places. Some aspects of the thalis may have seasonal references—so summers may mean the inclusion of green mangoes in the prawn curry, while the rainy season may see the use of dried fish.


The Daily Feast

Akin to a replete thali, a platter is seen as a bounteous treat marked for special occasions. After all, who wants to stuff themselves to the gills with rich repasts every day, right? Mercifully, a platter can be as heavy or as light as you want to make it; it’s the variety of your menu that can make it an everyday celebration. Marinate and grill a couple of seer fish steaks (“surmai”, as it’s locally known) in a masala paste of your choice, throw on some prawns on the grill too, and serve these with cooked squid rings alongside a creamy dip, and a salad. Your co-workers may think you are superhuman to dish up all that after a long day at work, when you describe last night’s dinner, but you know what a breeze it can be with a little planning.

Dishing out a colourful platter can be quick enough to be a daily affair

Having access to good seafood makes a platter an easy affair to put together. A freezer well-stocked with several choices of fish steaks, crabs, lobsters, shrimp etc. will take you from the kitchen to the dining table quickly, all year round. What’s even better is individually frozen portions of seafood, so you can dish up appropriately-sized portions as needed. Unlike meats, seafood doesn’t need long marination or cooking time either, so a platter is the perfect everyday feast. With access to exotic ingredients and recipes getting easier, you can play around with culinary themes for meals. Go ahead and plan that Mediterranean-inspired seafood platter for lunch or an Indian-themed tawa pomfret and halibut, and prawn tikka for dinner.


Change the Conversation

A little planning also comes in handy when it comes to putting together that special platter for your favourite people. Place a platter on your table and see it become the star dish that wins top billing; that one dish that you won’t have to save to slave over when you can catch a breath (and a glass of wine, hopefully), and will still be the highlight of your lunch or dinner. The one that gets served in that big, but not necessarily fancy, plate, around which your dining companions linger. It’s amazing to watch how a well-laid platter can make the conversation change—talk about insipid everyday stuff changes to smiles and excitement. Friends and family gather round to share their favourite bites and fun stories. It may be familiar anecdotes that everybody knows too well, but sharing them, just like sharing a platter, is a new joy each time.
Magic, sometimes, is in the joy of re-experiencing a happy familiar.

About the Author
An incorrigible gastronome, Rupika V is on a perpetual quest to find the best food around, and will happily travel far to find it.

Image Credit: Cover: Vanessa Pike-Russell
Image Credit: Choices, Choices: Aloha
Image Credit: Pitter-Platter: a1ucard
Image Credit: Goan Thali: Food Darbar
Image Credit: The Daily Feast: Daily Gluttony