Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Chicago Seafood Update



Chicago Seafood Update                     May 31, 2011





The Copper River Sockeye Salmon have reached epic catch levels, but with the holiday weekend we won’t be resupplied until mid-week. Prices then should be quite reasonable for fillet and whole fish.

Weather has put a damper on most other fisheries across the United States and Canada so selection has been limited. Stock items should be readily available, but special catches are scarce.

That being said we will have something new here in the form of Golden Tilefish, from Florida. Tilefish are found right at the continental shelf and are a deepwater predator with a voracious diet of small fish as well as crab, lobster and even squid. The filets will be large being cut from 5-10 lb fish should average 3-5 lbs each. Tilefish is similar to snapper and grouper and the beautiful skin is perfect to serve crispy.


Soft shelled crabs, dressed. This is the way to buy them! Why bother with all the hassle of live.  We will have all sizes of Handy, fresh dressed crabs. Go ahead give ‘em a try.

We still hope to see Wreckfish and Cobia by Thursday next week.



Fresh Shrimp:

Fresh shrimp are a treat many only get to experience close to the shore. Well over 90% of all shrimp are frozen and processed in some way. You owe it to yourself and your customers to try our delicious “Blue Foot” fresh cleaned 51/50 ct shrimp. Personally I like to eat these sweet creatures raw, but I guess you could cook it too.


Wild Pacific:

Rough weather between Anchorage and Seattle has delayed our Halibut this week. We will have new fish arriving but limited from other sources. Wild salmon is available in both king and sockeye varieties.

Scientist have predicted that 2011 may be a record year for the west coast wild salmon season, and so far it looks like they might be right. They are not saying the same thing about Halibut as it is decidedly very poor.


Wild Atlantic:

Northern ground fish catches are stable if not stellar. Very little change in this category.


Wild Southern:

Fishermen are complaining about a bad year in the gulf – a recent article just highlighted some troubles with Octopus and the now closed stoned crab fishery. And another group of traders face additional charges of mislabeled fish (just for the record pangasius is not grouper). Remember if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.


Salmon Farmed:

Prices are down on farmed Canadian salmon this week, and there is hope that wild salmon prices may tend to drive these down even more as the season gets under way. Chilean Fillet is also available, and prices remain unchanged.


If you experienced any problems sourcing Scottish or Norwegian salmon you might think to give our premium Jail Island line of salmon a go. Sourced from the Bay of Fundy in Maritime Atlantic Canada these fish are superior. 

Jail Island fillet is a good buy with pricing just slightly higher than others.


Sword and Tuna:

More in over the weekend: the moon cycle favors strong landings next week.



Snow Crab is readily available in all sizes with pricing stable. If you have been waiting to buy now might be the time.


Lake Fish:

Fresh whitefish prices are down on smaller sizes. Catching has been a bit erratic, with oversupply late in the weeks.






"The best fishermen I know try not to make the same mistakes over and over again;

 Instead they strive to make new and interesting mistakes and to remember what they learned from them."

~ John Gierach

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Bill Fish - Marlin and Sword



This weeks fresh catch. (Istiophoridae) From pristine Pacific waters we have nice cuts of Marlin Loin. This wild fish is a rare treat. Similar in cut and form to swordfish loin, Marlin is a bit more delicate in taste and tenderness. Thin cuts are ideal for cooking a la plancha or in a similar style. Thicker steaks can stand up to the grill and even work well with bold seasonings like blackening or spicy tomato sauces.  Marlin is wonderful if slightly undercooked, but will hold up to longer cooking. Priced just below swordfish it is a great alternative and frankly is very successfully featured seafood special that delivers high margins and lower food cost.


Sword, very nice mid Atlantic Domestic fish. We just have a few cases of fresh and firm Swordfish.








Harbingers of Spring



Fried Soft-Shell Crabs with Ramps

This recipe appears in:

The Young Man & the Sea: Recipes & Crispy Fish Tales from Esca

by David Pasternack and Ed Levine, Artisan, 2007.


Serves 4


I'm very particular whom I buy my soft-shell crabs from, and you should be, too. I get mine from Tommy Crab. When you buy soft-shell crabs they shouldn't be moving around. Their backs should feel soft, like a baby's bottom. I like soft-shells fried, as they are here, or grilled. When I've sautéed them, too often they've come out oily.


8 medium or 10 small young ramps

1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 cups Wondra

1 cup cornstarch

1 cup whole milk

8 small to medium soft-shell crabs,

cleaned by your fishmonger

1 lemon, thinly sliced

Sherry Vinaigrette (see below)


Clean the ramps by cutting off the root ends, and cutting away the top leaves, leaving just a bit of green. Rinse under cool running water and then dry. Cut them into 1/4-inch pieces.

Heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a straight-sided sauté pan over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Add the garlic and ramps and sauté until the ramps are tender, 3 to 5 minutes (the cooking time will increase as ramp season progresses and they grow firmer). Use a slotted spoon to transfer the ramps to a bowl, and season with salt and pepper; keep warm. Discard the garlic and the oil.

In a wide shallow bowl, combine the flour with the cornstarch and season with

1 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Whisk to combine. Place the milk in another shallow bowl.

Wipe the sauté pan clean with a paper towel. Add the 1/2 cup oil and heat over a medium-high flame until very hot.

Dip the crabs into the milk, and then dredge lightly in the flour mixture. Shake off the excess flour, and then repeat: soak in the milk, dredge in the flour, shake. Repeat with the lemon slices. Place the crabs in the sauté pan, top side down, along with the lemon slices—they should sizzle. Cook the crabs until they are golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer the cooked crabs to a paper-towel-lined plate to cool, and season immediately with a sprinkling of salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Set out four serving plates. Drizzle the vinaigrette around each plate and place two crabs, some ramps, and a few lemon slices on each. Serve immediately.


Sherry Vinaigrette


Makes 3/4 cup

3 tablespoons sherry-wine vinegar

1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice

2 1/4 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil




Crab Fat - Information



During these colder Spring days the Blue Crabs of the bay still have much of their reserved fat left over from Winter. This fat is yellow colored and is to be expected and often desired. It can be left in the crabs and they can be prepared as normal, or it can be removed to be used as a delicious component of another dish or sauce.  


Crab Butter: This is the white-yellow fat inside the back of the shell of a large crab. It is considered a delicacy and is often added to dressings and sauces served with crab.




Mussel Handling Procedures












  • Keep mussels buried in ice at all times in false bottom boxes or drip pans.


  • Keep mussels refrigerated at all times in false bottom boxes or drip pans.


  • Upon arrival, the mussels should be cold, wet, and nearly closed tight. If you notice the shell is gaping open, this is normal.


  • Try running cold water over the mussel and you will see the mussel close- sometimes immediately, sometimes over a period

of a few minutes. If it remains wide open, the mussel has died or is dying and you should avoid consumption.


  • Temperature is always an important factor, however it is even more critical during this time. When mussels are ready to reproduce,

increases in temperature or rough handling will cause them to release spawn.


  • If you do find that the mussels have spawned, take the bags out of the boxes and immediately rinse them off with FRESH, ICE

COLD WATER. Rinse and drain the bottom of the boxes before returning the mussels to the box. Ice the mussels down

with fresh ice and keep them as close to 35 degrees F as possible.

Critical control points are:


  1. Loading docks. Move product directly into coolers,


  1. Hot kitchens. Keep mussels iced and in the cooler until the time of preparation.


  1. Do not transport without ice or on non-refrigerated trucks.


Please take the time to pass this information and handling instruction on to your customers.


Information provided courtesy of American Mussel Harvestors, North Kingston, RI





Saturday, May 7, 2011

Sugar Toads, What? : Blowfish Tails Check

So Friday morning I am on the phone with one of the good old boy fish sellers in Maryland, and after hearing about how the Maryland DNC might be the ones "poaching" all those rock fish (wild striped bass) in ghost driftnets he finally gives me his catch list, and he just says it 'sugar toads'. So I had to look at the calendar and make sure it wasn't April 1st, because I hate to admit it but I have no idea what this is. He says "..you know theses little puffer tails". The lights go on in my head: BLOWFISH TAILS.....send me 50 lbs to sell and a couple for testing. I have to say these are one of this Fishmonger's favorite appetizing seafood specialties, and no they are not poisonous that is a different fish. I cannot wait until these jewels arrive Monday. I did a little research and it looks like they are a 'micro-trend' according to a recent article in Grubstreet declares this, who knew. So if you get the chance try some at the next chance you get. Oh yeah you can call it "Sea squab" too if you like. Here is a link to a slick site with a simple recipe, and nice photos. http://bennydoro.com/chef/recipes/pan-fried-blow-fish-tails/


With apologies to all, the Fishmonger is back. The Blogger version at least. I have been busy relocating to my new home Chicago, and taking on big challenges. I will make a new effort to start posting again and hope to be able to provide valuable information and insight into the seafood world. Thanks and see you soon.