Sasha Knows Seafood

‘I love being a rare woman in the business.’ – Sasha Skon (Photo: Gina Carey)
Sasha’s fresh catch of the day (Photo: Gina Carey)

With a steady line, often wrapping around the corner of her farmer’s market stall, one has to wonder what magic is happening at Sasha’s SeafoodSasha Skon is a River Towns fishmonger (the only woman locally in the biz), and her topnotch offerings come from decades of experience. She sources her seafood from Blue Ribbon Fish Co., her family’s five-generation business out of the Fulton Fish Market in The Bronx. Along with offering up the freshest catches, sustainability is a priority for Skon, who leans into local and seasonal seafood. We caught up with Sasha to talk fish and find out what’s next for her new enterprise.

What do you find sells out fastest at your booth?
What sells out the fastest changes—it might be scallops one week, striped bass the next. People definitely seem to be in sync though, like everyone will want to grill shrimp one week, and the next week I might be giving it away. The most popular thing I sell is salmon.

If someone wants to start cooking seafood, what do you typically recommend?
This is probably my favorite part of the stand, connecting with neighbors over cooking and eating. Salmon, fluke, and scallops are great gateway seafoods for people. Our salmon is rich in fatty omega-3s, making it feel healthful and almost foolproof against overcooking—it stays luscious. Fluke is a flounder and is delicious dredged and fried which tends to be a crowd-pleaser for all ages. And scallops are a fabulous way to feel fancy with very little work–butter in a hot pan, set dry scallops in and sprinkle with salt, once browned, flip for another minute, done–and they look and feel like a restaurant experience at home.

How about for someone looking to get a little adventurous?
I love encouraging a whole fish. The Black Sea bass we’ve been getting out of Montauk are around 1.5-2 lbs. whole, great for 1-2 people. Seasoning with salt, oil, and herbs and throwing it on the grill is a fun and holistic way to get the most from your fish–it’s also great in a salt crust in the oven. The whole fish experience feels transportive, like to the beaches of the Mediterranean where that’s the status quo. I might suggest experimenting with bluefish, often dubbed “the non-beginner’s fish” due to its strong, oily nature. When it’s really fresh though, it’s excellent, not fishy, and can stand up to some bold marinades, which opens up many flavor profile options. Skate, monkfish, and shad roe are also fun to explore.

What’s your experience been like as a woman in the business?
I love being a rare woman in the business. When I show up to the fish market with either of my kids, everyone perks up–it’s all guys down there, working rough hours, usually 1-9 a.m. in a cold, fishy environment. When we come people seem to enjoy the break from the routine. I don’t get to geek out with many other mongers but I feel like I’m generally met with respect. I am still learning more about the business all the time and am good with being in the student role. Occasionally I get man-splained on something mathematical, and I just have to roll my eyes and keep moving.

What do you hope comes next? 

I owe so much of this passion to my (step)dad David Samuels so we ideate a lot. I’ve started on a few go-to marinades that my family has always relied on for fish to sell at the stand this fall, along with stock and chowder. Delivery options could be a big next step for us. My long-term business goal would be to have a raw bar and cider garden with my brother Martin Bernstein who started Abandoned Hard Cider.

You can find Sasha at Tarrytown’s TaSH farmer’s market on Saturdays (except the fourth weekend of the month) and at popups in the area. For weekly specials, updates, and recipes, visit sashasseafood.com. 

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About the Author: Gina Carey