10 Questions: Jon Alexis

Although his title reads 'vice president,' Alexis also serves as janitor, accounts receivable and pretty much everything else at his family's market.

TJ's Seafood Market has been a haven for fresh fish lovers over the past two decades--not bad in a city otherwise known for fickle shopping behavior. Aside from flying in catches from all over the world, the shop stocks a take-away counter with a menu that changes constantly.

So, Alexis has his hands deep in fins and scales everyday. But , he claims, when it's time to go out, there's no trouble washing off that fishy smell...

1. Should anyone worry about buying fresh seafood in a landlocked city?
No. Through the magic of international airports and ice, we can get anything from around the world. The cool thing about Dallas is that if you're in Seattle, you get fresh west coast fish, in Boston, you get fresh east coast fish, but we can have what is fresh from both coasts by 10 a.m.

2. Ever try to sell those great regional dishes, like lutefisk or rotting shark? I watch Bizarre Foods, too. No, but we do sell different cultural dishes. Around Christmas, Italian families want ingredients for the Feast of the Seven Fishes. We grind fish for Gefilte for Jewish holidays.

3. What's the most popular fish in Dallas?
Sea bass. We can't keep it in our store. People are discovering how easy it is to cook. And it is available from legal catches. We use only MSC [Marine Stewardship Council]-approved catches from the South Georgian fishery.

4. Have tastes changed?
Absolutely. With the influx of Japanese restaurants there's more demand for sushi grade tuna, for example. And people are eating healthier. You're seeing people incorporate seafood into everyday meals--with their pasta, when they grill--instead of just frying it.

5. How long does it take to wash off the fish smell?
Fresh fish doesn't smell. It's funny, fresh salmon, the whole fish, smells like watermelon. That's how you know it's fresh. Now, the fillet won't smell like that, but the whole fresh fish does.

6. Got any fish that tastes like chicken?
No. But we sell frog legs and they taste like chicken.

7. Do you have a favorite seafood restaurant?
When you're in the seafood business, it's hard to order seafood at a restaurant.

8. How about steak?
Personally, I don't eat steak out that much. I do love lamb, though. When you're in the food business, you don't tend to eat sitting down. But I love Royal Thai, Mia's and Tillman's Roadhouse.

9. What do you think about frozen fish sticks?
They are an anachronism.

10. Did you ever want to take Charlie, the Starkist tuna, and slice him up in a casserole?
Maybe I'd sear him with a miso glaze, sprinkle on black sesame seeds and a little soy drizzle.

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Dave Faries
Contact: Dave Faries