The Seafood Market (El Mercado de Mariscos)

Monday, April 25 2005 @ 12:42 AM UTC

Contributed by: Anonymous

There's an excellent seafood market right next to the public pier where you can find great, fresh seafood at fantastic prices. If you like seafood, you're going to love it here. The waters off the coast of Panama on the Pacific side are rich in seafood. The fishermen come in day and sell their catches to wholesalers who buy the entire load. The wholesalers then turn around and resell the fish to retailers who sell it to the general public. The stands in the seafood market are retailers who sell to the general public.

The prices here are always better than you'll find in any supermarket in town. For example, I bought three pounds of "langostinos" at $7.00 per pound. On the way home I stopped at the supermarket and saw the exact same thing (except mine looked fresher) at almost $10 per pound. The market is usually a good deal, from an economic point of view.

And, you can find almost anything (like octopus). The routine catch changes somewhat throughout the year, and there are several times during the year that they put restrictions on the shrimp and other catches to protect the fishery. But, there's always something good and fresh.

And how can you tell if you're getting a fresh fish? First of all, every one of the guys selling fish will lie to you. They just caught it ten minutes ago, it's the freshest thing in the place, you'll love it. Don't believe a word. The eyes should be clear and not have a milky look to them. Push into the side of the fish, and the meat should be firm. And, smell the fish. It should not smell (read - stink) like fish. That "fish" smell is really the bacteria that's taking hold on the fish, and the more it smells the older it is.

There is an excellent resaurant right above the seafood market. You can actually buy whatever you want in the market and take it upstairs to the restauant, where they will prepare it any way you like. This little place is one of the best kept secrets in Panama, and the food and service is excellent, as are the prices.

You can also get some excellent ceviche at the market. Fresh, and at excellent prices.

El Mercado de Mariscos, worth the trip.

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