Chefs’ big secret: Where to buy seafood
The well-kept secret among chefs of high-end restaurants in the central business district is that SM Supermarket Makati’s seafood section opens in the early morning with a wide selection of fresh fish, crustaceans and other seafood.
The supermarket’s 16-sqm seafood kiosk has Lapu-Lapu, alumahan and pampano from Iloilo; espada, tulingan and dorado from Quezon and Batangas; talakitok and samaral from Palawan; bisugo, pusit and crabs from Samar; gindara, malasugue and marlin from Zambales; and tanigue and labahita from Bicol.
There are also live suahe (shrimp) and hito (catfish).
Salmon from Norway and cream dory from Vietnam are flown in every day to assure freshness.
Domestic goddesses, culinary students and a chef or two from five-star hotels in the vicinity would gather around the artfully arranged, ice-filled kiosk when it opens at 8:30 a.m. to buy either whole fish or preferred cuts. (SM Makati entrances at East Drive and Palma Drive open early for seafood customers.)
Staff members equipped with safety gear are on hand to clean, slice and debone the fish.
Insiders note that Herbert Sy, vice chair of SM Food Retail and fifth child of retail magnate Henry Sy Sr., is a seafood lover and a frequent visitor of the kiosk.
He is following in the foot steps of his father, fondly called “Tatang” by employees.
“Tatang says you feel a sense of fulfillment when you personally pick your ingredients and cook it yourself, as compared to just buying or eating out,” said Hedda Ramboyong, SM Supermarket assistant store manager.
Ramboyong added that Tatang is often heard saying that freshness “guarantees safety and natural taste… When it’s fresh, the dish always comes out good.”
It’s not surprising that son Herbert’s seafood ingredients for the family’s Sunday gatherings are from the kiosk. The story goes that Herbert even has seafood from the supermarket delivered to one of the nearby restaurants and have the friend who owns the place cook for him.
Food, of course, is a big part of Pinoy culture, especially seafood. The sale of prawn spikes during the holiday season, particularly noche buena, Ramboyong noted.
Christmas tables are also laden with whole steamed Lapu-Lapu and “big fish” like tuna and salmon, she added.
Prawns are also popular Lenten fare along with cream dory, bangus and tilapia. Summer, with its camping events and barbecues, also sees higher sales of fish good for grilling like salmon belly and tanigue.
In the aftermath of Typhoon “Karen,” a well-known businesswoman visited SM’s seafood kiosk and was amazed at the variety of fish that was available.
This is because SM has a systematic ordering system that involves forecasting and logistics to enable its seafood kiosks nationwide to offer an assortment of seafood (and even beef, chicken and pork) daily, Ramboyong said.
SM Supermarket Makati also has a frozen seafood section where prime ingredients of shabu-shabu such as lobster, prawn and mushroom balls; seafood tofu, salmon fishball and fishcakes are available.
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