Is Sizzlefish Seafood Delivery Worth The Hype?

The quality of your food is always important, the quality of meat is extra important, and the quality of seafood is the most important. That's why, of all the mail-order meats, seafood actually makes the most sense. While shipping a box of the most perishable food to someone's door while they're at work sounds like fast delivery and even faster food poisoning, the latter is absolutely not the case. Thanks to insulated packaging and lightweight dry ice, a shipment can make its way into your freezer much closer to its condition fresh out of the sea than that glistening trout you bought at the grocery store this morning, which has spent a couple of weeks exposed to the elements.

That's why for fresher, healthier products and reduced food waste, after three decades of supplying seafood to high-end and health-focused grocers, Rob Mayo and the rest of Sizzlefish's management team launched its direct-to-consumer mail-order service. Sizzlefish's FAQ page lays out the case for flash-freezing its products to keep them fresh and safe in a way that preserves the integrity of the meat. The faster the freeze, the smaller the ice crystals, and the smaller the crystals, the less damage to the tissue. As the South Carolina Department of Health & Environmental Control explains, most seafood is frozen for a week to kill parasites, with only a few exceptions.

Sizzlefish sent Tasting Table a sampler case to review. Let's take a look and tell you if it's worth your time and dollar.

What does Sizzlefish sell?

Sizzlefish sells a very broad variety of seafood (our package included three kinds of salmon), both fish and shellfish, and both crustaceans and mollusks. It may surprise you to learn, though, that Sizzlefish also ships pasture-raised, 100% grass-fed ground beef and steaks in the form of filet mignon, ribeye, and New York strip (though, oddly, not the unified T-bone). A moment's rumination on the matter makes it clear: It's a natural pipeline for anybody who wants to make a surf and turf dinner.

And that's pretty much the entirety of it. Other than a couple of seasoning packets, it's meat all the way down. The company keeps its focus on the fish and thoughtfully includes some recipe cards with each order to help you incorporate them into lip-smacking meals. You can also find a wealth of recipes on Sizzlefish's website, alongside deep dives into health, nutrition, methodology for preparing, and insights into the larger seafood market.

How much it costs

As you'd expect, prices vary quite a bit, with some rare offerings north of three figures for a pound or a portion (particularly when you're talking crustaceans). But most of the fish is between $10 and $25 for 4-to-8-ounce portions. Shipping is free on orders over $100, which feels inevitable. By the time you've carted three portions of salmon at $75, the $20 shipping cost will convince you to add a fourth. Newbies, take note, your first box is 10% off.

In fact, incentives are everywhere. Sizzlefish also has a reward program to accrue discounts. Points are earned at a value of one per dollar and redeemed at $5 off for every hundred points, evaluating them as a penny in their earnings but a nickel in their spending. Basically, you get $5 off for every hundred bucks you spend, though you can earn them a number of other ways as well, like reviewing products or following the company on social media.

After spending $600 or $1,000, customers level up in the VIP Club to earn 1.25 and 1.5 points per dollar in their purchases. And, finally, referrals score $20 credits for both you and the friend who signs up.

Is Sizzlefish a subscription box or custom order?

It's entirely possible to place a one-off order with no other commitment, which is an attractive feature to people who eat seafood or animal proteins intermittently and just want some handy when they do. There's no luck of the draw here; you'll pick everything you're going to have for dinner. That said, if you'd rather skip the fine-tuning, you can select some thematic assortments and gift packs on Sizzlefish's shop.

Intermittent orders are a wise move on the company's part since, for a lot of people, crab legs or even a few simple non-local fish filets are a once-a-year indulgence. And, yes, Sizzlefish will let you skip a delivery if that stack of fish in the freezer isn't moving fast enough for your comfort.

However, for those who know what they like, a recurring, no-maintenance order will arrive on a monthly schedule. For a flat fee option, you can create a 14-or-28-portion box from Sizzlefish's inventory. As is standard with subscription boxes, you'll get a monthly box of frozen foods from Sizzlefish composed of foods you've picked, from 11 varieties in the Prime Box or 19 in the Prime Plus Box.

And finally, there's the familiar model of the curated subscription Blue Apron or ButcherBox. The Wild Seafood Favorite box delivers a dozen or so portions of 4-to-6 ounces, and you might luck out with soft-shell crabs, smoked salmon, or lobster tails, all of which are unavailable through Prime and Prime Plus.

Is Sizzlefish sustainable?

Sizzlefish only delivers sustainable seafood and supports the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Environmental responsibility is clearly important to the company, and its blog is brimming with articles explaining the challenges, problems, methods, and solutions in the complicated world of commercial fishing. In a post explaining the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's stringent regulation, Sizzlefish outlines the many, many ecological considerations of acquiring more climate-friendly protein from the sea.

Even the tri-ply branded logo paper in the box is eco-friendly. A small caveat is that you may find the portions' labels don't adhere to the frosted plastic. It's no big deal unless you may be confused by two visually similar cuts, as happened with one of our salmon cutlets losing its sticker. And, of course, there's the matter of that plastic packaging for the fish, but you'd be at a loss to name a better method for shipping seafood right now.

Even using plastic, Sizzlefish still does a good job of eliminating food waste. The distributor connects suppliers directly with the consumers who want that specific product, reducing overproduction, which in this case means overfishing. It also does all of the homework for us, ensuring safe, fair, and sustainable practices that grocery stores may not certify. Sizzlefish also makes the case on its FAQ page for pairing aqua-culturally farmed fish with wild-caught in a sobering look at the realities of consumption. Citing the management team's collective background in wild-caught seafood, it's an authoritative stance.

The best food to order from Sizzlefish

For taste, we fell in love with the sablefish, also known as black cod (though it's not a cod). A healthy, sustainable, deep-sea fish with fatty flavor, it's great, almost like salmon, and definitely as tasty. We'd be remiss if we didn't point out that the salmon here might be the best we've ever had, eliciting sighs of satisfaction at first bite.

The red snapper was as gorgeous to look at as it was to slice into, and you should absolutely toss a couple of portions of this into your custom order. Cook it carefully, though, or it'll curl up on you rather than sear.

Sizzlefish is also one of the best ways to get soft-shell crabs onto your plate, as it arrives cleaned (read: cut) prior to freezing and ready to eat. The batch of shrimp alongside them was not. Shell-on shrimp may be a pro or a con depending on your point of view, as shrimp are a lot easier for even a first-timer to shell and devein correctly than crab, and their trimmings make a darn fine stock. If you're a hands-on cook, that's a free second meal. If you don't mess with stocks, beans, or seasoned sauces, well... see our further thoughts on the shrimp below. Personally, we will call it a great advantage to have soft-shell crab ready to eat without mucking about the gills and eyes. Of the two, we'll take shrimp duty.

Is Sizzlefish worth it?

Ultimately, if Sizzlefish is worth it depends on what you order. We can't recommend the shrimp, which are prevalent in nearly any grocery freezer in America for $8 to $16 per pound compared to the $30 to $48 per pound you'll pay here. On the other hand, you likely can't get your hands on a lot of what Sizzlefish distributes, and if you do, it might not be this fresh, so order wisely, and you'll be a happy consumer.

We'd say Sizzlefish has a baked-in (or fried) advantage over a lot of land-dwelling meat subscription boxes because a lot more people have access to cows than coastline catch. While modern industry makes it possible to get saltwater fish inland as easily as down the street, the demand has to be there. Sizzlefish ensures that it is.

If you eat fish even once a month and don't live someplace where it's direct from the water to the table, our assessment is that, with judicious selection, you'd be wise to order a box, and that the Prime Plus Box is far and away the better of the two. For a nominal bump in price, you get access to seven more varieties of fish, all of them the mouthwatering kind you'd actually ship across the country. (After all, you can get cod or catfish darn near anywhere, but mahi-mahi isn't in a lot of grocery stores.) If you're feeling more exploratory, go with the Wild Seafoods Favorite box.