The success of crudo is utterly dependent on the quality of the seafood used, so buy only the freshest sashimi-quality fish from your fish market. Because of the unpredictable nature of the catch, you should always call first, or even order ahead. If you do special order, or buy your fish at one of the downtown fish markets open to the public, you may have to buy the whole fish. If so, ask the fishmonger to clean, fillet and skin it, which most will do without charge. And either ask to have your fish packed in ice or bring a cooler.
For those concerned about sustainability and/or mercury levels of fish, there are helpful websites: the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch ( www.mbayaq.org) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Assn.'s new Fishwatch ( www.nmfs.noaa.gov/fishwatch).
International Marine Products downtown, where many chefs get their fish, is no longer open to the public.
Here are some good sources of crudo-quality fish:
Los Angeles Fish Co., 420 Stanford Ave., Los Angeles. (213) 629-1213.
Mitsuwa, five stores in Los Angeles and Orange counties; www.mitsuwa.com.
Marukai, five stores in Los Angeles and Orange counties; www.marukai.com.
Nijiya Market, five stores in Los Angeles County; www.nijiya.com.
Granada Market, 1820 Sawtelle Blvd., West Los Angeles; (310) 479-0931.
Quality Seafood, 130 S. International Boardwalk, Redondo Beach; (310) 374-2382.
Fish King, 722 N. Glendale Ave., Glendale; (818) 244-2161.
Santa Monica Seafood, 1205 Colorado Ave., Santa Monica; (310) 393-5244; and 154 E. 17th St., Costa Mesa; (949) 574-0274; www.smseafood.com.
Bristol Farms stores
Whole Foods stores
-- Amy Scattergood