Posts Tagged ‘seafood’
It’s my second September living year-round in Maine, and the access to fresh, affordable seafood is one of the things I’m most grateful for after more than a year here. Of course the produce is incredibly bountiful now, though a chill is setting in. I can barely keep up with our C.S.A. and my neglected community garden plot’s bounty. I’m actually a member of three C.S.A.s at the moment–incredibly indulgent I know, though I believe they are saving us money on food costs if you pencil everything out. In addition to the vegetable C.S.A., I just started John Bunker’s incredible bi-weekly “Out on a Limb” heritage apple C.S.A. program. And on and off for almost a year now I’ve had the privilege of being one of the inaugural members of the Salt & Sea Community-Supported Fishery, which does a weekly drop of fresh-from-the-boat fish and shellfish in Brunswick. I’ve had a chance to cook with some of the freshest fillets of pollock, Acadian redfish (my new favorite…especially pan-fried for fish tacos), haddock, dabs and monkfish you can imagine. Every week, owner Justine Simon emails us a suggested recipe for that week’s fish, which can usually be assembled with ingredients you have on hand. It takes all the guesswork out of coming up with dinner and then procuring those items. Effortless, delicious fish dinner!
Unfortunately, Justine says last week’s share caught many members off-guard. I was delighted to get her announcement of whole fish for the first time: “some lovely little whiting (silver hake) tonight from Jerry and crew on the Teresa Mare IV. They caught them close to shore as they were coming in from their trip,” Justine wrote. It’s also GMRI’s fish of the month in their excellent Out of the Blue Campaign.
I’ve had a fascination with whiting ever since living in Baltimore, where filets of the cheap fish are fried and known as the local delicacy, Lake Trout (not from a lake nor a trout). As Justine went on, “Whiting is considered a delicacy in many different types of cuisine, and is more often than not prepared whole.” I’m not sure if you can call young whiting “scrod,” but seems to be similar to young cod, haddock and other whitefish.
The whole fish thankfully came gutted and cleaned. Justine said folks most often remove the head, fins and tail, then dredge the fish in egg and flour and either fry or bake them. But my in-laws had just arrived, so we opted for take-out (something we rarely do) to avoid the mess of frying fish.
So I gladly opted for Justine’s latter suggestion that whiting are perfect for fish stock for those who “don’t want to wrestle with small fish.” I’d never made fish stock before, but this was the perfect alternative, since we weren’t eating the fish right away. Plus, I’ve always been disappointed by the canned version. Doesn’t seem worth paying for doctored water when you have time to make your own. Justine goes on: “I was talking to an Italian woman while the boats were unloading and she gave me a simple recipe that we made last night, and it was delicious:
Fry some onion and garlic in olive oil, cook on low heat until onions are caramelized. Add plenty of water, some salt and the fish. Bring to a boil and let simmer for an hour or so. Strain, so all you are left with is clear stock. Put back in pot, and add more water, finely diced potato and carrot, orzo, parsley, salt and pepper. Yum!”
We simmered potatoes, carrots, celery, fennel, onions and tomatoes from our CSA and/or my garden in the stock, which made for a delicious meal. I just used a mesh ladle strainer to remove the fish bodies, picking off the sweet delicate meat that gave right away from the bone. It would also be perfect for bouillabaisse, cioppino or my grandmother’s Manhattan-style clam chowder.
Surprisingly, Justine reported “overall the whiting didn’t get great reviews from the CSF.” How I often forget my tastes are more exotic and adventurous than my average fellow American. Fortunately, several members rallied to tell Salt & Sea they liked it! So they’ll at least offer it again as a preference that people of which people can opt out. Count me in! I’m ready to continue to get my hands dirty with fresh fish. If only I could have smoked these small fish as a stand-in for whole smoked whitefish at our lovely Yom Kippur break-fast we had with friends this year. I brought the bagels, local Maine lox and cream cheese instead.
For some reason Oregon’s tiny, briny, succulent and sweet bay shrimp appeal to me far more than their toughier, fishier Jumbo-sized cousins. I just can’t get enough of the little guys. Especially when marinated in a clean lemon-olive oil-dijon mustard vinagrette and scallions and served over salad, crisp and fresh. That was our appetizer tonight and it went a lot better than the North African-style black-eyed peas I made for dinner. But why don’t you ever seem to find bay shrimp in the shell? We got them pre-cooked at Richey’s (eat soon after buying and rinse first). I’ve had other memorable shrimp salads here at The Depot in Albany and an Asian slaw-style one at Sam’s Station in Corvallis. But I guess they are rather known as Oregon pink shrimp, and they are sustainable, in fact, perhaps the most sound of your shrimp choices. Looks like the fresh season starts up in April. Can’t wait:)
We’ll just have to push back the start of our diet until we return from San Francisco.
We meant to cook some simple spaghetti at home tonight. But we couldn’t resist stopping at The Depot, a little hole in the wall fish ‘n’ chips place in neighboring Albany. We stopped for an early dinner on the way home from Portland.
Fish ‘n’ chips made with local Pacific Cod is the thing to order there. We had some on a seafood platter, which came with a delicious shrimp salad. I love the taste of those mild Oregon bay shrimp. They were scattered over red cabbage and greens and topped with blue cheese dressing (or that of your choice). The chowder, however, was bland and lacking in seafood.
We had skipped lunch and were hungry. But in addition to the fried seafood, we also began the day with an unhealthy snack. We finally got to the infamous Voodoo Doughnut in Portland, whose confections range from the decadent to the gross-out weird (think Pepto Bismal and Nyquil-glazed doughnuts).
We played it safe, splitting a huge Memphis Mafia banana fritter topped with peanut butter, chocolate chips and nuts. Just like Elvis, I’m a sucker for peanut butter and banana. I need to go on a raw food, all-veg diet!