I’m from Yorkshire, so I grew up with a fondness for holidaying in Whitby, Bridlington, and Scarborough. Rather than just fish and chips, I used to eat cockles, kippers, haddock, crab, cod, ling, halibut… anything that was just off the boat.
I’ve kept the habit but moved inland, so I usually have to order the fish online. It seemed counterintuitive at first – a very perishable product by post? But it works brilliantly and no, the fish doesn’t go off in transit!
Many of us sadly only buy fish at a supermarket and see the same old species for sale, often imported and not always fresh. If you have a high street fishmonger, do visit them – they often have specials and you can inspect the catch in person.
If you don’t have a local fishmonger or if you’re pressed for time, you can get fresh and frozen fish delivered to you. The UK has many wonderful fishmongers dotted around the coast who take online orders and who will deliver your fish in special temperature-controlled packaging.
Here are 5 of the best online fishmongers in the UK who deliver fresh and frozen fish nationwide for home delivery.
Best for: Very high quality range of premium seafood and fish
The Fish Society is the UK’s leading online fishmonger. They’ve been around for over 25 years so have managed to perfect the art of selling freshly frozen fish directly for home delivery.
They’re known for their quality and probably have the most 5-star reviews of any fishmonger online. Don’t take my word for it, you can see them on their website.
If you like convenience, you’ll notice that they’re quick – you can order by noon and have your fish with you the next day, which is ideal if you’re panic-buying for a dinner party. A situation I find myself in embarrassingly often!
Being a bit of a food snob, I was pleased that the Fish Society has taken the concept of a ‘fillet steak’ – normally referring to meat – and have applied this to fish. Therefore you get the “best” cut of a side of fish if you order it filleted, instead of getting the equivalent of the sad, scraggy end. You can look at their fish ‘fillet steaks’ here.
Finally, the selection is huge. Instead of relying on a catch of the day, because their seafood and fish is fresh-frozen they can keep a wide range. I don’t think there’s anywhere else where you could get ‘regular’ fish like cod or haddock and then start ordering lobsters and even caviar on top!
If you want a one-stop-shop, then the Fish Society would be my first choice.
Best for: All-round seafood focusing on Cornish fish
I’ve used Wing of St Mawes a couple of times; both times they delivered quickly and efficiently and the products were really good. I ordered 1 kilo of jumbo scallops for a party and was pleased with the quality of them.
More detail has been added to their product descriptions so you can be sure which fish and seafood is landed in Cornwall – look for the “Cornish stock” levels for each item.
They have a wide range of fish, shellfish, and seafood along with accompaniments you might need like sauces and seasoninings. They also have fresh fish boxes for those interested in a regular delivery of fresh fish that has been cleaned and portioned. They will also sell wholesale amounts through their trade counter, too.
They ship in large polystyrene cool boxes that work very well – everything was still cold when it arrived and delivery is free over a certain amount. They do have a minimum order threshold though, so if you only want a couple of things you may have to choose a fishmonger who will deliver smaller orders. Overall they are good, reliable online fishmonger with an easy to use site for those unfamiliar with ordering fresh fish online.
Best for: Fresh off the boat seafood
Visitors to Whitby will be familiar with The Whitby Catch fishmonger on Pier Road. They are the closest I’ve found to a true “straight off the boat” experience. For this reason, a bit of flexibility is required. Unlike many other online fishmongers, they can only give you a (good) estimate of market price per 100g along with the availability of the catch – because everything is fresh.
For example, a friend of mine ordered a variety of fish then got a call saying “sorry, the boat didn’t catch much turbot” and was offered a substitute from the catch. Everything they sell is landed, auctioned and then sold via their shop (where they’ll prep it to be delivered). Their online prices are a guideline of market price per 100g and they’ll give you a final invoice price at the end.
This uncertainty isn’t for everyone – if you are desperate for a certain weight of a certain fish at a certain time, then it may be better to buy a fishmonger who also has frozen stock. But if you want fresh, The Whitby Catch are a great choice. They’ll prep fish a certain way or vac pac on request, as if you had walked in their shop yourself.
Delivery is across the UK mainland and Scottish lowlands and will arrive the next working day (not on Sunday or Bank Holidays). It’s free over a certain order threshold, and Saturday delivery costs extra.
Best for: Pre-prepared packs of fish
I spent many happy childhood summers wandering around the Fleetwood docks and Dockside has been there as long as I can remember. They’re a good mixture of a local fresh fishmonger and an importer and wholesaler – so you can get almost any type of seafood in one place.
You can buy whole or fillets of fish as with most fishmongers, but Dockside also keep cooks in mind and have lots of other options. For example, you can opt for their “BBQ pack” with prawn skewers and fish steaks suitable for barbecue cooking – all ready to cook with bones removed. They have a range of smoked, marinated and flavoured fish as well, plus ready-made items like fishcakes.
Their “inspire me” tab is also a great idea – you can choose what to eat depending on if you’re following a healthy diet, having a dinner party or trying out something exotic like red snapper or swordfish.
Dockside’s prices are extremely competitive and good value for money. At the time of writing many of their products, particularly their whole fish, are almost half the price of some other fishmongers. They almost always have interesting items under their “special offers” section too.
Delivery is free over a certain amount and can be sent to the UK mainland only by overnight chilled courier. As is usual with such express services, it’s available weekdays rather than at the weekend.
Best for: Weekly, fortnightly or monthly fish sent directly to you
Fishbox is a Scottish company who will send fresh fish to you within 48 hours of it being landed in Scotland. If you want super fresh fish on a regular basis, then you might want to give them a try.
You can choose between small, medium or large fish boxes and opt to have it delivered weekly, fortnightly or monthly. The fish varieties change depending on what has been caught, but you can select your preferences with them beforehand so you don’t end up getting anything you don’t like.
All the fish is portioned, filleted and vac-packed, so there’s no messing about with cleaning the fish yourself at home (hurrah!). They also include recipe cards in every box in case you can’t decide what to do with a new, exciting fish or if you don’t know how best to cook it.
Because Fishbox are Scottish, you can expect some lovely items like salmon, scallops and langoustines, too.
Bonus: Port of Lancaster Smokehouse
Best for: Huge selection of top-quality smoked fish
I’m starting with the Port of Lancaster, because as Lancaster University alumni, one of the things I miss the most isn’t university life, but not being able to visit their smokehouse at Glasson Dock!
If you’ve heard of the “Kipper Club” run by Kippers by Post, then it’s the Port of Lancaster who is behind it. They got three stars in the Great Taste Awards for their kippers, which are sublime. They come filleted as well if you like, so no messing about with bones.
Besides their famous kippers, they also stock the wonderful Morecambe bay potted shrimps and a huge selection of smoked fish and meat, many with a clutch of Great Taste Awards. Examples of their products are: smoked trout, eel, mackerel, halibut and wild salmon – which is very hard to get hold of these days.
They also have an in-house chef who makes delicious creations such as their beetroot and vodka gravadlax finished with dill.
Unlike many fishmongers, they also have a selection of gift boxes and hampers at various price ranges, from their “under £25” specials to a “Fruits of the sea” luxury hamper complete with Chablis.
I love this place (can you tell?) and if you’re a foodie visiting Lancashire, do drop in to their smokehouse and shop.
If you’re too far away and want to order online, they offer online delivery free over a certain amount and 24 hour delivery at prices lower than most other fishmongers. Whenever I want smoked fish (or many types of meat), these guys are my first choice.