Thursday, December 27, 2007

A BUSY DECEMBER : IN THE FISH BIZ

I finally have a few spare moments to write about the past few weeks. It has been some time since I last wrote anything the public could seem remotely valuable. I had intended to fill these pages with information covering the full spectrum of Holiday related seafood and fish information. The feast of the seven fishes and the like. Instead I spent my time endeavoring to supply the local distributor I work for an ample amount of product for our accounts. The mere fact that the Christmas and the New Years holidays both feel on a Tuesday have made it increasingly difficult to secure the desired products for the holidays. I am always reminded that this biz is actually a logistic and supply paradigm. One of the biggest challenges is convincing the chefs and restaurateurs that the particular product desired is not available due to conditions entirely out of both of our control. When you desire a wild product one has to have a pliable imagination and bountiful creativity. I also spent an afternoon selling a couple of great sustainable seafood choices at the trial run of the New Amsterdam Market. To the disgruntled gentleman who claimed to be a scalloper, and was none too pleased with what sustainable means, I have a suggestion or two....drop me a line. Happy New Year, buy sustainable when you can.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

FRESHWATER GROUPER ASSOCIATION


Friday night my wife and I had the greatest time as we watched Garrison Keillor bring his Prairie Home Companion to The Town Hall, right here in NYC. And the best part was his story piece Guy Noir, and his foray into the New York Seafood Biz. The skit featured Guy Noir as the newly established President of the "Freshwater Grouper Association". This association and Guy are charged with the task of bringing walleye to the tables of New Yorkers. We busted at the seams last night, but today I have a real taste for the fish fry of my childhood...bring me some walleye. Anyway the show was great and it inspired me to start a blog of the same name. Garrison please don't sue me, imitation is the most sincerest form of flattery.

Friday, November 30, 2007

FRIDAY'S FISH PLATE


Sargocentron tiere(Cuvier, 1829); squirrelfish. Collected at Palumbanes Islands, east coast of Luzon, Philippines, 1 June 1909. The specimen on which this painting was based cannot be located. Squirrelfishes are nocturnal reef dwellers, and they hide in caves and crevices during the day. Most species are brilliant red in life, sometimes with patterns of lines or spots. (CLICK HERE FOR WEBSITE SOURCE)

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Fish Illustrations


I have recently started to collect realistic fish prints. Most of these were produced over 100 years ago and are of amazing accuracy, and beauty. Among artist I have in my collection currently are Denton, Edmonson, and Cuvier. I am very interested to acquire something from Kumataro Ito. Until then I will enjoy the illustrations like the one above online.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Sweet Maine Shrimp (Pandalus Borealis)


December first we will be seeing the first of these little beauties. Cold water shrimp have numerous names: bay shrimp, tiny shrimp, baby shrimp, pink shrimp, cooked & peeled, salad shrimp, cold water shrimp. Cold water shrimp are wild-harvested from the northern waters of Greenland, Iceland, Norway, and the U.S. coasts of Alaska, Washington, Oregon, and Maine. They have bright, reddish-pink shells, both raw and cooked. The meat is white with skin tones that range in color from pale pink to a rich, reddish-pink. Cold water shrimp are small in comparison with warm water species; yet take four to five years to reach maturity. Most come to the U.S. market cooked and peeled and range in size from 150 to 500 shrimp per pound. Cold water shrimp have a sweet taste and soft texture. A small quantity of cold water shrimp is available fresh, shell-on, and headless, often from Maine or Oregon. They are available in the local market during the harvest periods.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Top Ten Seafood Sellers

Here are two lists showing seafood consumption. The first is from the N.F.I. (National Fisheries International). The next one is from sales data for New York only. Compiled from various sources. Both are for the last full year.

U.S. CONSUMPTION (N.F.I.)

  1. SHRIMP
  2. CANNED TUNA
  3. SALMON
  4. POLLACK
  5. TILAPIA
  6. CATFISH
  7. CRAB
  8. COD
  9. CLAMS
  10. SCALLOPS
  11. FLATFISH

NEW YORK CITY RESTAURANT SALES

  1. SALMON
  2. FRESH TUNA
  3. FLATFISH
  4. SHRIMP
  5. LOBSTER
  6. COD
  7. BASS
  8. CLAMS, MUSSELS
  9. OYSTERS
  10. SCALLOPS
  11. SNAPPERS / BREAMS

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Thansgiving Seafood Meal


I had heard that the first Thanksgiving meal was very different than the kind we have today, it was heavy on the seafood selection! How great is that? So here is my ultimate reproduction seafood centric Thanksgiving menu suggestions














Lobster Fisherman, James Ormsbee Chapin
Soups

lobster and leek bisque

cod chowder, winter squash and Holland cheese

Appetizers


smoked herring spread, watercress and sourdough biscuit

roasted clams
and oysters, salt pork and sorrel

bay scallop, apple cider vinegar

Main Courses

whole grilled bluefish, cabbage and radish slaw

maple roasted striped bass, dried wild berry compote

chestnut and oyster cornbread dressing





Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving. If you would like to read more on the first festival that we have come to know as Thanksgiving, you can find out more by visiting these websites.

Pilgrim Hall Museum

History.com
Chefs.com




Crabing OK'd


Despite the recent oil spill in the San Francisco Bay area the Department of Fish and Game has said it will allow the dungeness crab season to open in areas not directly affected.


photo courtesy of :
Washington department of Fish and Wildlife

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

FAKE SCALLOPS?


I am often asked about fake scallops by sales people and chefs. Here is a very brief summary of some general definitions.



  • Dry- untreated product that has been removed from the shell, that is all.
  • Wet - processed in a tri-sodium phosphate solution, also called dipped.
  • Frozen - of varied quality see above.
  • Sea - ocean harvested scallops sizes range from under 6 to 40 per lb.
  • Bay - harvest locations vary and determine flavor, northern products are preferred.
  • Scallop product - this is analogous to "Krab" aka surami, and is made from scallop pieces glued together with bovine hemoglobin, yum.
So fake scallops do exist, but it is very unlikely that they will be cut from any species of ray or skate. While it is quite possible to cut out circles from these fish: the texture and fiber direction is very different. And honestly not worth the effort.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Dungeness Crab Fishing Delayed

Due to the effects of the recent fuel spill dungeness crab fishing has been delayed . This is just one of what may be many problems that could arise from the fuel spill in San Francisco Bay. Local fisherman are eager to help in the cleanup.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Ocean Sweets

Here come those sweet as candy scallops from Nantucket, Massachusetts. The first harvests started on November 1st. Every year our chefs start salivating at the mention of these translucent gems. Nantucket bay scallops are harvested by a limited group of skilled fishermen supplementing their income. These treats garner top dollar to these baymen, and even in the peak of season supply can be tight. I must confess that when they first arrive in the warehouse I am quick to gobble down more than I need to determine quality. Some interesting facts a bout Nantucket Bays:
  • Bay scallops only live a year or two, and usually die after spawning the first time.
  • Scallops must be over two and one quarter inches. But may grow to four or more.
  • Only scallops with an annual growth ridge are allowed to be harvested.
  • Rules are enforced by the local Constable or Fish Warden.
  • The catch limit is 5 bushels (provided by the Town) per person per day and no more than 10 bushels per boat if two or more persons occupy the same boat.
  • No commercial harvest is allowed on Sundays, a carryover from times past.
  • Air temperature must reach 28 degrees by 10:00 am. If the Temperature is too cold then a red flag will be flown indicating no scalloping allowed.
  • Predatory bycatch like starfish, periwinkles, and crabs must be taken ashore and left above the high tide mark.
  • Eelgrass is an important asset to the scallop and in years when there is a problem with the grass, like in the 1930’s, then the population of bay scallops will be low.
  • Harvests have varied over the years: 2004/2005 = 15,000 bushels, 2005/2006 = 3,850 bushels, 2006/2007 = 5,500.
  • The start of the season had roughly 140 commercially licensed scallopers.
  • The family scallop season started October 1st with reports of full bushels being brought in.
  • One million seed scallops released early this year to assure future harvests. Plans are already underway to release another million seed next year.

Nantucket is one of the last remaining wild bay scallop fisheries left in New England. So despite some low harvests, we can look forward to this long standing resource to be available for some time to come.

Monday, November 5, 2007

ICELANDIC COD


Every winter a new twist on an old fish arrives, Icelandic cod. The cod that comes from Iceland never ceases to amaze me, despite the fact it is the same species as the cod Gadus morhua we receive from the eastern U.S. seaboard everyday. Cod is shipped in 50lb boxes containing 4 fish each weighing 10-15lbs head off. The state that this fish comes to the United States is just awesome. My supplier in Iceland tells me that it is because of the cold waters that the fish come from. Well to some extent I can believe that that is true, but I think they must be handling the fish in a much better way. And the first clue is the use of gel packs and not ice. Although keeping fish buried in ice will keep it cold and limit deterioration, the ice itself often causes physical damage to the flesh of the fish. The Icelandic cod we receive is packed carefully and in a box that allows any liquid to drain away from the fish. This cod stays in rigor for days. As a final note, the Icelandic cod fishery is highly managed and efforts are being made to promote sustainability because of the huge dependency upon the ocean as it relates to the economy of Iceland. But for now we can only say that insufficient data exists for this fishery.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Siberian Sturgeon


Siberian sturgeon comes to New York via Florida. Arriving Monday, November 5th from Mote Marine Aquarium is an environmentally friendly and sustainable aquaculture product. About 9 years ago the aquarium started a project to raise these prehistoric fish in an effort to find out if it could be a practical solution to the depletion of wild occurring specimens in their native regions. The deciding factor would be to see if the farming of this sturgeon is economically viable on a commercial scale. The fish are grown in the best of ways. All effluent is treated and there is no negative impact on the local environment because Mote uses a closed recirculating tank system. The fish is fed a controlled diet that is free of pigments, antibiotics, and hormones. The feed is also certified melamine-free. All in all this is a great fish on its own. The sturgeon is firm, rich, meaty and full of healthy omega-3 polyunsaturated fats. In addition Mote shares all its data with other Florida aquaculture facilities to promote sustainability.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Rainbow Smelt (osmerus mordax)


The Canadian fishermen have started to haul in huge landings of fresh smelts in droves. These tiny fish are in the family of fish osmeridae. Small anadromus fish, they live in salt water and move into fresh water to spawn, like salmon. They are fairly common in rivers and lakes of North America. During the spring they can be observed in large schools up and down the eastern seaboard as they make there way to the spawning grounds. When you are small 6 inches or less you make a very tasty meal for all sorts of salmon, trout, walleye, striped bass and pike to name a few. They also make a very tasty meal for humans, and that is why you can find sportsmen trying to catch smelts using dip nets or even ice fishing. Smelts are often fried and eaten bones and all, all one needs to do to clean them is to remove the head and guts. They are usually sold this way at your local seafood counter, and if not your fishmonger should be able to clean them for you. Smelts are also known by the other market names spearing, eperlain and whitebait. The smallest of smelts, under 3 inches, can be eaten whole and can often be found sitting in for French fries as a bar snack in Spanish and French bistros.


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

What a Waste


A vessel fishing for whiting in New Zealand waters has been charged with dumping its entire contents during the night. The charges allege that over 300 tonnes were dumped in September and October. To read full story click here.

Monday, October 29, 2007

A Cook Remembers


Native Seafood was a great experience, it was pure pleasure to have been able to go in everyday and be able to utilize the freshest seafood available. To be have available the most diverse and bountiful on site herb garden I was truly blessed. I miss all my friends, customers and comrades. The years spent there could never be replaced. It has made me the person I am today. Native Seafood was a conduit for a great vibe that was both exhilarating and tiring. Long days spent cooking over that wood burning stove drained the juice right out of you. The front of the house could be maxed out at 150, and things just flowed. The line was small, with barely room for three. I always liked the saute station best. The small pass through window allowing me a glimpse of the dining room, and the wait station. Native Seafood lasted in one form or another over 8 years, and in the restaurant biz that ain't half bad. We only served the best products even when cheaper alternatives existed. Native Seafood was an oasis in a sea of mediocrity. Some appreciated it and those were our core audience of friends and neighbors. We also had a large percentage of tourists and vacationers, and they were the most missed in the end.

PACU AND PINTADO

New species come to the market so rarely. Now is an exciting time as three new products have come to fruition in a short window. The first two will be covered in this post with the third fish to be announced soon.


Today we received some samples of pintado fillet, a relative of the catfish with a beautiful black and white scaleless skin. The skin on this 6 to 8 ounce fillet is the biggest selling point, as one of my co-workers described it as a Pollack painting. This will make for a great plate presentation and the flesh is very mild so it is able to take on the chef's own seasonings. It is also offered as a 1 to 2 ounce skin-off medallion they market as a mignon, this is cut from the belly of the fish, and is available at a lower price point.
The second fish is really interesting, and comes in a totally unexpected form: fish ribs! Cut from large 5 to 6 pound pacu fish (piaractus mesopotaicus ) this yields a "rack" of ribs about 10 joints each that can be grilled or seared just like pork ribs.

Both of these fish come from a company in Brazil that is aquaculturing these two native species in a sustainable, social, and environmentally conscious way.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Lobster Thermador




Here is the recipe for Lobster Thermador as served aboard the last voyage of the Titanic. This one will be easy to enjoy knowing it is not your last meal, and not the last time you will enjoy lobster. The North American Lobster is part of a well managed fishery.





Makes 4 servings.

2 (1 1/2-lb) live lobsters
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
1/4 lb mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons medium-dry Sherry
1 cup heavy cream, scalded
2 large egg yolks

Plunge lobsters headfirst into an 8-quart pot of boiling salted water*. Loosely cover pot and cook lobsters over moderately high heat 9 minutes from time they enter water, then transfer with tongs to sink to cool.

When lobsters are cool enough to handle, twist off claws and crack them, then remove meat. Halve lobsters lengthwise with kitchen shears, beginning from tail end, then remove tail meat, reserving shells. Cut all lobster meat into 1/4-inch pieces. Discard any remaining lobster innards, then rinse and dry shells.

Heat butter in a 2-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat until foam subsides, then cook mushrooms, stirring, until liquid that mushrooms give off is evaporated and they begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Add lobster meat, paprika, salt, and pepper and reduce heat to low. Cook, shaking pan gently, 1 minute. Add 1 tablespoon Sherry and 1/2 cup hot cream and simmer 5 minutes.

Whisk together yolks and remaining tablespoon Sherry in a small bowl. Slowly pour remaining 1/2 cup hot cream into yolks, whisking constantly, and transfer to a small heavy saucepan. Cook custard over very low heat, whisking constantly, until it is slightly thickened and registers 160°F on an instant-read thermometer. Add custard to lobster mixture, stirring gently.

Preheat broiler.

Arrange lobster shells, cut sides up, in a shallow baking pan and spoon lobster with some of sauce into shells. Broil lobsters 6 inches from heat until golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Serve remaining sauce on the side.

* When salting water for cooking, use 1 tablespoon salt for every 4 quarts water.

Originally published May 1941; Gourmet chef Louis P. De Gouy - Epicurious, September 2001

What Fish Can I Eat?


These days this is a question that becomes difficult to answer in a simple way. Unlike the protein choices of land based creatures, almost all of them farm raised; there exists a plethora of choices from the sea. Maybe it is that plethora that has led us to abuse and deplete our ocean resource. It is hard to comprehend that we are in trouble when you stop by the seafood department and see so many choices. I hope that we can keep this open to debate as so much is unknown for now. I am recommending that everyone take a look at one or more of the following sites: Blue Ocean Institute, Marine Stewardship Council, Montery Bay Aquarium, NOAA Fish Information. Many of these groups have a list of good and bad choices. If that information wasn't enough, then of course there is the question of Mercury, and other harmful pollutants. Just be smart here, do not eat the same fish or class of fishes every day for the rest of your life and you will probably be able to have the occasional tuna steak as long as you make sure it was troll, or poll caught.

Friday, October 26, 2007

New product Farmed Black Cod


Here is some information provided to me from the distributor of fresh farmed raised Black Cod , sable fish. I generally try to buy wild product of this species because it is considered sustainable. I will be taking a better look at this particular farm to see if we can give them a good sustainability rating.

Fresh Farmed
BLACK COD

(Sablefish, anoploploma fimbria)

Black cod, or Sablefish as it is more commonly referred, gets its name from its black or dark green skin our. The flesh is a beautiful pearly white that results in large velvety flakes. Due to a high Omega-3 fat content, Black Cod has a smooth, rich, buttery taste combined with a smooth and luxurious texture.
Cooked black cod makes an excellent substitute for the endangered Chilean Sea bass. With its similar taste and texture, it can be prepared and served using a myriad of techniques.
Farmed black cod is prized for its raw use in the sashimi market as, unlike its wild caught counterpart, it is parasite free.
Totem Sea Products Ltd. prides itself in being a pioneer in the development of certified organics for Aquaculture in Canada. This independent family farm has been operating since 1977 on BC’s majestic Jervis Inlet on Canada’s west coast. Committed to environmental excellence in marine farming, Totem strives to produce wholesome seafood products adhering to organic operating principals. In this vain only indigenous species are produced using organic feeds, reared at low densities while practicing humane animal husbandry techniques.


Nutritional Facts

Serving Size : 100g/3.5 oz raw – Amount per serving

Calories

195

Fat Calories

137.7

Total Fat

15.3

Saturated Fat

3.2

Cholesterol

49 mg

Sodium

56 mg

Protein

13.4 g

Omega – 3

1.4 g

Fresh Farmed Black Cod is offered in the following form:

Processed Head On

Size 2-3 pound

3-4 pound

4-5 pound

Packaged 50 pound Styrofoam boxes (22.5 kg)
Black Cod produced by Totem Sea Products Ltd. and is marketed exclusively by Calkins & Burke Limited.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Save our Fish

Help pass the Menhaden bill.

Menhaden Rant


Menhaden is the most important fish we do not eat. Shad, bunker, shiner are just a few names, all describing the menhaden (brevoortia patronus).. Menhaden grow to approximately one foot and are very similar in appearance to the freshwater shad, but are not the same fish. Menhaden are extremely oily, which is why they have been commercially netted for so many years for the oil and meal that can be produced from them. Commonly used as bait for almost all species, using them alive, dead, or cut. Menhaden are plankton filter feeders and near the bottom of the food chain, they can only be caught with a net. Sometimes when you see bait rolling on the surface, it is a school of menhaden, with bigger fish sure to be following. And this brings me to an important point. Menhaden are the largest by weight of all commercial catches. The vast majority are processed into feed for fish and livestock, and used in the growing number of food products containing omega 3 oil. Currently a limited number of people benefit financially from this harvest. Of these the Glazer family and Zapatao its subsidiary Omega Protein Corporation. Not to mention strong ties to government agencies, and lobbyists. These are the same guys that have benefited from corporate welfare in the form of The Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Taking of all these fish has to have some kind of effect on the amount of food available to all the larger fish out there. As for the Omega oil market, we need to find some way to ramp up production of algae aquaculture. Wikipedia

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Will the Real Grouper Please Stand Up


If you live in Florida, or have vacationed there you would know that the Grouper Sandwich is the default State meal. From Gainesville to Key West you would have a hard time not finding the ubiquitous selection on the menu of most restaurants. Fried, blackened or grilled millions have been served to locals and unsuspecting tourists alike. The big dirty secret is finally out in the open. The chances that the sandwich you or anyone else ate was local grouper -- slim to none. It turns out that most of these establishments were buying frozen "grouper", and that some was an imported species of grouper. At least that is what they thought they were getting. It was more likely that the frozen fish was either a box of mixed species, with some Asian grouper included, or it could have easily been basa, panga, or some other mild white flesh fish, even..gulp tilapia. So who is to blame? The Restaurant for trying to sell cheap Asian grouper? The supplier for not verifying species? The consumer for being cheap? And those are just questions to ask if you want to assume no malevolence. The truth might be even worse, with allegations of fraud and conspiracy. The problem is that real gulf grouper is scarce and expensive. Some of the good guy restaurants are trying to serve Real Florida Grouper, but the menu cost needs to be substantially higher than their competition. For more information see USA Today.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Types of Shrimp


Although 342 species of shrimp worldwide have commercial value, there are only a few species that are important to the U.S. market. Their species fall into three basic groups: warm water shrimp, freshwater shrimp, cold water shrimp

Shrimp can be either wild-caught or farm-raised. Wild-caught (or "free-range") shrimp naturally exist in bays, estuaries, and oceans. Farm-raised shrimp are grown in a more controlled environment. Shrimp eggs or larvae are either gathered from the natural environment or grown in hatcheries after being taken from female brood stock. The shrimp are then raised to maturity in shallow ponds. Farm-raised shrimp are also known as pond-raised, cultured, aqua cultured, or maricultured.

Warm water shrimp

These are the most popular and plentiful shrimp on the U.S. market. Most warm water shrimp are categorized by the color of their shell (not the meat) when raw: White, brown, pink, and black tiger. Another warm water shrimp, rock shrimp, are so named because of their hard shell. White and black tiger shrimp can be wild-caught or farm-raised.

White shrimp are the main type of warm water shrimp consumed in the U.S. and are both wild-caught and farm-raised. For example, in the United States, white shrimp are wild-caught in the Gulf of Mexico and along the southeast Atlantic coast. The aquaculture industry in the U.S. has grown in the last decade.

Mexico has a large white shrimp fishery on the Pacific coast. This shrimp is famous for its sweet taste and firm texture. And, like the U.S., Mexico catches white shrimp in the Gulf of Mexico. Mexico's aquaculture industry is growing rapidly; Ecuador is currently one of the largest producers of farm-raised white shrimp. China and India produce both wild-caught and farm-raised white shrimp. These five countries (U.S., Mexico, Ecuador, China and India) supply the majority of white shrimp consumed in the U.S.

White shrimp have grayish-white shells that turn pink when cooked. (The shells of farm-raised white shrimp are lighter grayish-white and from some origins, the shell is not as thick as wild-caught whites.) The thinner shell is the result of feed composition as well as growth in captivity.

In general, cooked wild or farmed white shrimp have flesh with pink skin tones. Wild-caught white shrimp have a sweet taste and firm, almost "crunchy" meat. Farm-raised whites may have a slightly milder flavor, and depending upon growing conditions, may have a less firm texture. Shrimp in the wild feed on crustaceans and seaweed, which enrich their flavor and strengthen their shells. Plus, the "wild" ones are "free swimmers" which firms up their flesh. Depending upon the pond density, feed and environmental conditions, high quality aquaculture shrimp can be indistinguishable from wild shrimp.

The brown shrimp consumed in the U.S. are primarily harvested in the Gulf of Mexico, along the southeast Atlantic coast, and along the east and west coasts of Mexico. Brown shrimp have light brown or tan shells that turn coral when cooked. Their meat is white with coral skin tones.

The habitat of a shrimp determines its taste: brown shrimp from some areas of the U.S. Gulf coast primarily feed on iodine-rich kelp, which gives them a hearty "iodine-y" flavor; while brown shrimp from areas along the west coast of Mexico do not have the same feeding grounds, and hence, their flavor is milder. This West Coast Mexican brown shrimp is a prized commodity in Japan. Brown shrimp have firm, dense meat.

Pink shrimp are wild-caught in the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean and Central American waters. Their light pink shells have a pearl-like texture and some have a distinguishing pink dot on the head. When cooked, the shells turn a deeper shade of pink and the meat white with pink skin tones. The texture is firm and flavor mild.

Tiger shrimp are fast growing and have become a popular species for aquaculture. Introduced to the U.S. market about 1980, black tigers have grown phenomenally in popularity due to their comparatively lower price. Raised primarily in Asian countries, they are called black tiger shrimp due to their distinctive black-and-gray striped shells when raw. When cooked, the shell of a black tiger turns bright red and the meat white with deep red skin tones. Black tigers have higher moisture content than white, pink, or brown shrimp. As a result, they shrink more when cooked, and the flavor is very mild. Additionally, their texture is considered less dense than their relatives. Some raw tigers are a blue shade with yellow feelers and are referred to as "blue tigers." They are the same species as the black tiger, but their feed does not contain the iron that causes the darker color.

Rock shrimp are a deep-water cousin of the pink, brown, and white shrimp. They are fished year round off Florida's Atlantic coast and in some areas of the Gulf of Mexico. Rock shrimp typically do not grow to a size larger than 21-25 per pound. Most come to the U.S. market raw and peeled and deveined, since their tough, rock-hard shell is most easily removed commercially. Rock shrimp have a sweet taste and a chewy, tender texture. The cooked meat is plump and white with red skin tones.

Freshwater shrimp

Freshwater shrimp are a separate species that may be characterized by bright blue shells or, if they come from Asia, rich yellow with brown striped shells. One of the largest shrimp, they have long claws, can grow over a foot long, and can weigh over a pound. Freshwater shrimp are both wild-caught and farm-raised. When cooked, they have a very mild taste and soft, gray-white flesh and a very soft texture. Whole freshwater shrimp are seen as a specialty item and often sold live for display in restaurant tanks.

Cold water shrimp

Cold water shrimp have numerous names: bay shrimp, tiny shrimp, baby shrimp, pink shrimp, cooked & peeled, salad shrimp, cold water shrimp. Cold water shrimp are wild-harvested from the northern waters of Greenland, Iceland, Norway, and the U.S. coasts of Alaska, Washington, Oregon, and Maine. They have bright, reddish-pink shells, both raw and cooked. The meat is white with skin tones that range in color from pale pink to a rich, reddish-pink. Cold water shrimp are small in comparison with warm water species; yet take four to five years to reach maturity. Most come to the U.S. market cooked and peeled and range in size from 150 to 500 shrimp per pound. Cold water shrimp have a sweet taste and soft texture. A small quantity of cold water shrimp is available fresh, shell-on, and headless, often from Maine or Oregon. They are available in the local market during the harvest periods.

Bush moves to protect striped bass, red drum

Seafood Currents
Oct 22, 2007
SFB Staff — President Bush on Saturday signed an executive order to protect striped bass and red drum from overfishing during a stop at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, Md.

The order encourages states to declare striped bass, known locally as rockfish, and red drum “game fish,” making both species off-limits to commercial fishermen.

After signing the order, Bush fished for striped bass off Tilghman Island for an hour before eating Maryland crab cakes for lunch at Vice President Dick Cheney’s St. Michaels vacation home.

But states will be reluctant to give up their right to regulate fishing in their waters, Dennis Abbott, a New Hampshire legislator and member of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, which monitors the striped bass fishery, told the Baltimore Sun.

“If commercial fishing shuts down,” he said, “how would the general public have a chance to have a striped-bass dinner?”

The Canadian Rule


How to cook fish: Here is a really simple and easy rule to follow and your fish will be cooked to perfection every time. This will work for any method of cooking. The only requirement is that the heat source is as very hot. Now the secret; for each inch of thickness cook the fish 1o minutes.
That's it, now go cook some fish.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Sustainable Seafood Blogging

While looking around on the net to see who is blogging about seafood and such I came across this...

leather district gourmet

So check it out Sustainable Seafood Month.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Nantucket Bays are on the way


Start looking for those sweet as candy scallops from the eastern seaboard. The first harvests will start on November 1st. Every year chefs start salivating at the mention of these translucent gems. Hand Harvested with rakes by a limited group of skilled people, these treats garner over $20.00 to wholesalers and distributors. The regulations do not allow harvesting to occur when the mercury falls below 29, and even in the peak of season supply can be tight. All the product is shucked nearby and packed in tins surrounded in ice. I must confess that when they first arrive in the warehouse I am quick to gobble down more than I need to determine quality. Also be on the look out for The Nantucket bays close Long Island relative: The Peconic Bay scallop. Opens a week or two later.

CHEFS NIGHT OUT

Sign up now for a night on us, Stop by 535 3rd ave between 11 and 2am for free drinks and late night snacks. Sample Stone Crab, Nantucket bay scallops, local oysters and Kona kampachi. Local craft brewed beer and Long Island's best wines. Date to be decided.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

A fish in trouble

Information about the American Eel

Sample fish info

--Alfonsino: New Zealand, related to red snapper. White flesh, 3-5# fish, oval- shaped like John Dory.

--Barramundi: habitat: from northern Australia and Queensland; one of the largest and most important commercial fishes; also popular with sportsmen; found in brackish waters, lagoons, and mangrove creeks; returns to saltwater to spawn; season runs year-round, though most active in warmer months; caught with live lures, either cast or trolled; description: white flesh, soft and delicate, mild, low oil; filets are round and thick, and have only a few large bones; preparation: frying, grilling, bbq-ing, steaming;

--Black cod: from North Pacific; 5-7 pounds, head off; “The white meat of the sablefish is fine-textured, oily, and succulent. The flavor is rich and distinctive; the fat content is high. The skin is edible;”

--Blackfish: habitat: Nova Scotia to South Carolina, Pacific Ocean, especially Narragansett Bay (RI); season from April to June, then from October; 40% yield; sold as whole fish, steaks, filets; eats clams, muscles, and crustaceans; description: mottled, off-white flesh; lean and meaty, firm-textured and mild-flavored; as meat does not flake or fall apart easily, is excellent for grilling, baking, and chowders;

--Black Sea Bass: sold in jumbos (2+) and larges (1.25-1.75); local (swims up and down the Atlantic); firm flesh

--Bluenose Bass: from New Zealand; belongs to butterfish family; season is fall and winter; found in rocky areas, caught with long line and trawler; moist, tender, and succulent flesh; pinkish-yellow meat; mild flavor, firm texture, similar to grouper; 37% yield;

--Branzini: from Mediterranean; delicate fish; very similar to Dorades (often interchangeable)

--Butterfish: habitat: Atlantic and Gulf coasts, one Pacific species; small fish, weighing only a few ounces (figure two per person); description: dark, sweet, richly flavored meat; high in fat, tender in texture; excellent pan fish.

--Catfish (see also Wolffish): habitat: farmed, mainly from the South, particularly Mississippi; wild catfish is native to North America, from southern Canada to northern Mexico; some wild is also exported to the states from South America (only about 1% of the market); farmed fish tends to be about one to one and a half pounds; description: medium-to-firm white-fleshed fish; because it is grain-fed and regulated by the FDA, flavor is consistently sweet and mild; flesh is firm and has less flake than other whitefish;

--Char (aka Arctic Char): habitat: icy-cold fresh and salt waters of North America and Europe; also farm-raised, mostly from Northern Canada and Iceland; two to eight pounds; whole or filet; description: white to orange-pink to red flesh; flavor described as a cross between trout and salmon, though closer to trout; high fat content, moderately firm, fine flake;

--Chilean turbot: crap yield; 2-4, 4-6 pounders; very very delicate, white meat

--Clams: cockles (from New Zealand), manillas=pastas, apps, etc; little necks=half shell; cherry stones, topnecks=large, so stuffed and baked; chowder=chowder

--Cod (scrod is simply a small cod; related to haddock and pollack): habitat: North Atlantic, especially New England, though scarce there now; most in U.S. now comes from Alaska; Scotland, Ireland, and Norway are experimenting with farming; taken by trawl; description: uniformly white, bright; mild-tasting, medium to delicate texture, large flakes; should be simply prepared; almost always sold as fillets;

--Coho (aka Silver): habitat: Oregon to Alaska’s Bering Coast; farmed in Chile; wild season runs from July to September; description: orange-red flesh; less oil than King or sockeyes, but still excellent eating

--Corvina: Mexican sea bass; from Baja, California; edible skin, mild flavor, medium texture (similar to sea bass) 6-8# fish head off & gutted.

--Crabmeat: jumbo lump comes from two places: either Venezuela (in which case it’ll have no label) or domestic (from Florida, Alabama, MA, Caribbean); Venezuela is more expensive; pasteurized is from Indonesia, Vietnam, and China; Maine crabmeat=Jonah crabmeat (neither jumbo nor lump); stone crabs come from Florida and Gulf of Mexico; all in one pound packages, except for all-leg, which comes in half-pound packages

--Crayfish: from California or Mississippi

--Escolar: “white tuna;” flesh similar to swordfish; also oilfish; buttery meat; very very high fat content; from mackerel family; swims all up and down Atlantic and Pacific coasts, Gulf-wide; pelagic species (swims in water column, not near shore and not near bottom; almost always a by-catch; oilfish has smooth skin, true escolar has rough skin; with head off, 75% yield; head on, 45%;

--Fluke/Flounder: summer flounder=fluke (comes in large 2-4 and jumbo 4+); winter flounder=flounder; flounder is lighter and sweeter than fluke

--Gray Sole: most delicate of sole family; sweet and delicate

--Grouper (belongs to Sea bass family): habitat: warm waters of Pacific, Atlantic, and Caribbean, from mid-Atlantic and Florida to South America, Central America, and Gulf of Mexico; sold as whole fish and as filets; whole tend to be between five and ten pounds; comes in red and black varieties; red is most commonly seen in market, though black is preferred (better yield and firmer flesh); description: mild but distinct, somewhere between bass and halibut; red is sweeter and milder than black; firm texture, so holds up well to deep frying, grilling, and cutting up for use in chowders; )

--Hawaiian marlin loin (blue marlin): comes in cryovac; need to ask how big each piece is, may be able to cut off a portion to make, say, a 5 lb piece; meaty, similar to swordfish but sweet, nice light texture; full yield! Won’t lose much at all, excellent to sell; large fish, marked size is typically 80 to 300 pounds; season runs from June to October

--Halibut (member of flounder family): habitat: Pacific coast from northern California to Bering Sea, and westward to Russia and Sea of Japan; 90% of the market comes from Gulf of Alaska; fished with long lines; largest flatfish in the world: can be 8 feet long and over 600 pounds; market sizes run from 10 to 200 pounds; scarce in first three months of winter; sold as steaks, though smaller halibut can be sold filleted or whole; description: very mild, sweet-tasting, lean fish with fine, dense meat; very firm texture; dries out quickly; thick, meaty fish holds up well to skewering (as flesh holds together well) and is best poached; not great for baking or broiling; price:

--Hamachi:(Tuna) aka Amberjack. Light gold flesh, has both dark and light meat. found on both US coasts, Japanese hatcheries of this fish is very popular for its sushi grade quality.

--Hake: soft, white flesh, similar to cod; from Long Island up towards Massachusetts

--Hiramasa (Australian Kingfish): firm and moist, sushi quality

--John Dory: habitat: Atlantic Ocean, off the coasts of Europe and Africa; mostly sold and cooked whole, as yield is low; description: firm-textured, white-fleshed; sweet, mild flavor; low fat content

King (aka Chinook): habitat: central California to Alaska’s Yukon River; largest Pacific salmon; average between 15 and 25 pounds; wild are available in spring and summer; description: pleasing red color, rich flavor, firm flesh; high oil content; price ; Coho (aka Silver): habitat: Oregon to Alaska’s Bering Coast; farmed in Chile; wild season runs from July to September; description: orange-red flesh; less oil than King or sockeyes, but still excellent eating; ; also sockeye, pink, and chum; (flavor is a function of fat content: the higher the fat content, the more flavor)

King Klip-à New Zealand, eel-like body and head, sub for Grouper & less expensive. Pink to white, flakey flesh, free of bones, sweet & moist. In the Hake family.

--Lehi: This silver-mouth snapper is similar in looks to the Opakapaka with the exception of the tuna-like mouth. The fillets are pink and the flavor is slightly stronger than their cousins’ the Onaga and the Opakapaka.

--Nantucket Scallops: season runs from October to December; scallops are small and delicate; sweet, briny flavor and delicate texture; expensive

--Cape Bay Scallops: season runs from October to ? , next to Nantucket Bay and very similar; more cost effective.

--Mackerel (common or Atlantic, Spanish, Pacific, king): habitat: caught off California coast and eastern coasts of the States, Europe, and South America; does not freeze well, so must be eaten immediately; description: firm, dark flesh, very fatty and rich, strong, sweet flavor; best cooked with something acidic, such as tomatoes;

--Mahi Mahi (aka Dorado, Dolphinfish): habitat: tropical and subtropical waters, Hawaii, Florida, Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean; description: dark meat turns white when cooked; moderately fatty, strong and pleasantly sweet flavor: comparable to swordfish; preparation: excellent broiled, grilled, and pan seared; bears up under bold flavors and sauces

--Mako Shark: habitat: Northern Atlantic coasts; when bad, smells like ammonia; description: dense, meaty, pink-white flesh, firm texture, moderately strong flavor; very similar to chicken; takes well to marinades and sauces;

--Monkfish: habitat: primarily Northern Atlantic, from Coastal Norway to Mediterranean and Far banks to North Carolina; body is almost all head; has enormous appetite; usually sold as fillets; description: mild, slightly sweet taste; flesh doesn’t flake easily and is firm like lobster meat; price

--Nantucket Scallops: season runs from October to December; scallops are small and delicate; sweet, briny flavor and delicate texture; expensive

--Cape Bay Scallops: season runs from October to ? , next to Nantucket Bay and very similar; more cost effective.

--Onaga Hawaiian (aka Ruby Snapper): habitat: bottom feeder off the Hawaiian islands, typically 1-18 pounds, available October to March; description: clear, light pink flesh

Opah(moonfish): from Hawaii; 5 to 10 pounds; purple skin, white polka dots; sold by the rack (one rack=one piece, tail off, head off, skin on, bone in); four types of flesh, with each a different color: behind head and along bones is orange, toward belly is pale to pink, inside breastplate is bright red ruby, cheeks is dark red; strong, large-grained meat, excellent for grilling; 75-80% yield

--Opakapaka: Hawaiian pink snapper; clear light pink flesh; moist. bake, poach, saute.

--Orange Roughy: from coastal salt waters of New Zealand; about 3 pounds; all purpose white fleshed fish similar to black fish and scrod; firm, low in fat, mild flavor, with delicate shellfish flavor; sold as fillet only;

--Pacific Yellowtail: BC and Chile to Southern Cali from Central Baja; dark flesh, similar to tuna; best barbecued or smoked; 50% yield;

--Red Fish: from Massachusetts and Gulf of Mexico; available year round; bottom feeder that eats mollusks and small fish; found in sand, mud, and bottom grass inlets

--Red Drum: aka red fish, channel bass…sweet mild flavor and moist flaky texture. Southeast US and in the Gulf of Mexico.

--Red Rock fish: Alaskan red rock fish; deep water fish, feeds on crustaceans so meaty; firm, low in fat with a mild sweet flavor; pan-roasted or fried

--Rouget (African Rouget, or Red Mullet): salt water oily fish, white flesh and delicate flavor; super delicate flesh; feeds on shellfish; from Mediterranean; won’t fillet

--Royal Dorade: description: firm, meaty whitefish

--Salmon: Atlantic: habitat: farm-raised on both the East and West coasts; 75% of the salmon sold in the U.S. is farmed in Chile; available year-round; description: orange-colored skin; rich, pronounced flavor; oil content is similar to King; price (;

--Scorpionfish: member of rockfish family; armed with very sharp spines on head, neck, and fins; connected to venom glands; mild flavored; Pacific Ocean, Cali

--Sea Trout: East coast from Florida to Massachusetts; queens come from Delaware Bay; about 5-6 pounds; called weakfish because of the weakness of the mouth tissues; lives near shore; belongs to drum family; lean, light flesh with a sweet flavor and a moist, delicate texture; cook with sauces, esp. spicy; 50-60% yield;

--Surinane, Sea Trout: South American, gutted, white-pinkish flesh; thinner then U.S. sea trout; 60% yield 2# fish.

--Sepia/Cuttlefish: Eastern Atlantic from England to South Africa; 1 to 2 pounders; kind of octopus;

--Sturgeon: huge fish; firm textured, meaty, high fat content, mild flavor; rich and fatty; wild from California; mostly cartilage, in present form for over 100 million years

--Suzuki Sea Bass: similar to Barramundi.

--Tazmanian Ocean Trout: from New Zealand; similar to arctic char; a distinctive rosy pink/orange flesh and high omega 6 content which makes them an ideal eating fish. The flavour is more subtle and less salty than Atlantic or farmed salmon, and according to many chefs, much better tasting;”

--Tilefish: from East Coast, local from LI; runs 2 to 4 lbs; bottom fish that feeds on small crustaceans; very mild flavor; similar to monkfish and lobster; yield 45%; affordable, between

--Triggerfish: firm, white fish, moist and sweet; firm white flesh almost sweet in flavor, closer to crab than fish; from Florida

--Wahoo (Ono): long, thin relative of tuna and mackerel; expensive, as travels solo rather than in schools; firm, white, tasty meat; less oily and whiter then tuna and mackerel; large, circular flake

--Walleye Pike: mild freshwater fish native to the northern lakes. Bake, broil or fry.

--Whelks: large snails from Maine

--Whitebait: name for various juvenile fishes; rich, strong flavor, high in fat, soft texture; best deep fried

--Wolfish: aka Ocean Catfish. Atlantic; sweet, firm meat (lobster like qualities)

--Tasmanian Ocean Trout: flavor more subtle and less salty then Atl and farm Salmon. 6-7 # fish.

Some Sustainable Choices

Clams-Hard clams are raised in bottom culture systems, and have very few enviromental concerns. Spawning clams may actually hepl populate wild areas

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

blog action day

My first day of blogging just happened to be blog action day. I hope that in some small way any knowledge I can impart here will help.

Stone Crab


Stone crab is a seasonal treat. The season is now. On Monday fisherman in Florida pulled in the first of the season stone crab claws. The great thing about these treats is that they are sustainable. Only the claws are harvested every year by the Florida Fleet. Fisherman place pots and mark them with buoys. It is against the law to tamper with crab pots. When they bring the traps to the surface they select the largest claw and remove it from the crab. The crab is then returned to the water so that by this time next year it will have fully regenerated a new claw. The claws are quickly iced, or cooked right on board. Season is from October 15th to May 15th. Prices are stable from last year. Retail pricing for medium 6-8/lb should be $18-$25, large 4-6/lb $30-$40 depending how close you are to the Gulf.

First Fish

I spent the morning with two leading researchers from The Blue Ocean Institute. They were speaking on Sustainable Seafood. This is a very complex issue, but one that we can give momentum to. Check back as I highlite some fish that can be labeled sustainable.