Why you don't get frozen-at-sea sea bass...

Alistair Blair | 03.10.2023

On Mon, 25 Sept 2023 at 23:26, a valued long-time (10 years+) customer  wrote:

Dear Alistair,

I hope this finds you well!

I have been meaning to ask you this - a special request, or challenge:

I was wondering whether you could find a reliable source for sashimi grade wild sea bream or sashimi grade wild sea bass, preferably gutted and frozen directly on the boat to obtain the utmost freshness, and sent right away to me to avoid the long lags where the quality degrades with time sitting in the packaging [note from Alistair… this dear customer is one of about five who insist they can taste the difference between fish frozen 3 days ago and fish frozen 4 months ago… a distinction beyond the capability of my taste buds]

I have tried to find this for the UK for a while now - it is a challenge here because somehow the standards for freshness of the fish and quality are lower than mine apparently - as you know from my previous queries. What is generally sold as “sashimi grade” here is no longer fresh enough for me by the time it reaches my fridge or freezer. [Alistair… “sashimi grade” has no technical or official meaning – it is just the fishmonger’s assessment]

Please let me know if you think you can locate such a product, and I would gladly confirm a recurring order of a pre-fixed weight which could be adapted to what is available on the day.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Many thanks in advance!

Best regards,



Hi Patricia

I'm sorry but this just isn't going to happen. I wish I could say otherwise, but let me explain instead...

"Freeze on board vessels" do not go fishing for sea bass or sea bream. These large and costly vessels need to catch huge volumes and there just are not that many wild sea bass or sea bream in the sea for them to be an economic prospect. Cod, haddock, herring, squid, hake... yes. Sea bass etc... no.

Wild sea bream is a VANISHINGLY RARE species (but farmed is ten a penny). It has always been. I have only set eyes on it once in 30 years (and if I had tried a bit harder, it would not have made much difference).

Wild sea bass is much more common (and thanks to fishing restrictions should stay so). UK landings have historically been by small south coast fishing vessels which will have been at sea for between one and five days.

This is the wild sea bass we buy. The larger fish most suitable for sashimi are eye-wateringly expensive (as you can see from our site).

This fish is say...

day 1 - caught

day 3 - landed

day 4 - we buy it (online) at the early morning auction. It is despatched to us.

day 5 - delivered to us, filleted, frozen.

The best we could do for you would be to contact you on day 6 and say - we have this in stock - would you like some?

Let me know.

All the best




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