Week 5: Learning Experiences All Around

Every week I am blown away by how great our citizen scientists are! They have continuously shown enthusiasm for the project and learning about their seafood, ecosystems, and fisheries. Additionally they have been educating markets about the project and their frequent asking for local species has inspired some markets to start trying to carry new local species! 

Mary Tanzer from New Hampshire

couldn't wait to take a bite before taking the photo!

couldn't wait to take a bite before taking the photo!

"I have never cooked halibut, in fact have never eaten it before. I bought a nice thick steak. I read about it and had thought about grilling it but didn't want to chance it sticking to the grill so I baked it. Just a little bit of panko mixed with chopped chives and parsley on the fish and then a nice pat of butter atop that to melt it. Everything is better with butter! How wonderful this fish is - - - nice and meaty like swordfish but mild tasting and so pretty to look at. Next time.....the grill!!"

Paul Anderson from Maine

Kelp-crusted Acadian Red Fish

Kelp-crusted Acadian Red Fish

"Armed with very little experience filleting fish, and no proper knife for the job, I did what most of us do. I took to the internet. There a Youtube video showed how to fillet an Ocean Perch, which is notoriously bony, and eliminate most of the bones. In addition to the rib cage and the fin bones, there are two other rows of small bones in the belly. I managed to get two small boneless fillets out of the fish and baked them, skin side down. I created a dry mix of Apple-smoked kelp flakes and panko, salt and pepper, and dusted the tops of the fillets after a drizzle of olive oil. I baked them at 350 for about 15 minutes and then hit it with the broiler for a few minutes. Served with julienne carrots, roasted cauliflower and a garden salad. A very nice meal."

Debbie Proffitt from Rhode Island

"Another learning week for me... I never would have thought growing up near the ocean and eating seafood my whole life that there was so little I knew and so many varieties and options for eating seafood, many I've never tried. My fish this week were swordfish, blue crab, conch or spot. I was pretty confident I would find fresh. local swordfish at most places I would purchase seafood, and I did. But in my research I found that at one time the stocks were low and that it might be one of the fish with the highest lead count. I purchased the swordfish and grilled it because none of my other fish were available. Blue crab - I never knew it could be caught in this area, typically found between the Gulf of Mexico and Cape Cod. But I did learn that although it is traditionally caught off of Maryland and Virginia, it is now being found farther and farther north due to warming waters. It is the most valuable shellfish in the mid Atlantic region. No one was selling it. Conch - another seafood item I never knew was in this area and at one point in time was a very lucrative catch for fisherman, popular in the Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket area caught with pots. No one was selling it. Spot - aptly name for the spot on it. I was told at one market that they had never heard of it. A small short lived fish found from Coastal Mass to Texas. It rarely reaches over a pound. No one was selling it. So again this week I learned A LOT and it's really been enjoyable to research the different species, it's too bad I can't find them to try them!"

Debbie Mathieu from Rhode Island

My best ever Poached Cod Italiano!

My best ever Poached Cod Italiano!

"North American salt and fish corp in Pawtucket is a nice find ... I will certainly return there and be very happy to buy there ... very clean ... organized...polite older workers...looks like they take pride...and they seem to have good variety at end of week so they say. Felt it important to buy at S&S to support local options ... states from USA not sure which state-cod could be Boston...but all else was out of country - china,etc. After reviewing book: FISH Recipes from the Sea I decided to make up a dish using some general info from book and my well stocked kitchen. Italian Poached Cod! Very mellow - garlic, Italian spices/herbs, lemon, cilantro, red pepper flakes poached in a little broth. Great over penne pasta...brought some into work the next day to show off! Big take away for me ... I need clean appearing and good smelling environment in order to feel comfortable eating fish! I would think many newby "fish" eaters would feel the same...if the goal is to convince folks to buy and eat more fish, must be local and presented well!"

Andrea McCarthy From Connecticut

Grey sole fillets on cous cous and peas

Grey sole fillets on cous cous and peas

"This week I was tasked with finding swordfish, wild mussels, sea urchin, and grey sole. I was out of town for almost the whole week, so I was conducting my whole endeavor on Sunday. Two of the stores I contacted had swordfish, but one location could only verify that the fish was caught on the East coast, but not specifically in the Northeast. The other location said it was landed in North Carolina so both of those were a no go. When I asked about wild mussels both stores said they only had farmed raised. And one fish market informed me why I would be better off getting farmed raised because mussels live on the sea floor and get full of sand and aren’t great to harvest. The fishmonger told me how farm-raised mussels are much better. They are cultured on a rope so they are suspended in the water column and do not pick up all the sand. One market had frozen sea urchin row, but it was suggested that it needed a day to thaw properly and as stated before I was searching for, buying, and preparing this week’s fish all on the same day. I didn’t have the time to wait, so unfortunately I skipped this. The fish market did have grey sole, so I happily bought some fresh fillets. The fillets were sautéed in butter. They were delicate and soft. Even though I liked this fish, the price isn’t justifiable to me."

Jennifer L McCaffrey From Rhode Island

"I love squid and I was craving it when I saw my fish list so I was going to choose that from my list no matter what. I didn't have time to check Champlin's and I knew they had cleaned frozen squid from RI and packaged at Town Dock at Belmont Market. I cut the tubes into rings and pan fried them with some Asian Teriyaki Sauce, red onion, broccoli, and red pepper and topped it with black and white sesame seeds. It was Delicious. In fact I need to remind myself that it's an excellent freezer staple for fast meals and something I can get year round. I was pressed for time last night so I needed something simple but I want to get more and stuff and grill the tubes!!!!"

Ellen Grant from Maine

"When I asked the fishmonger if he had steamers, he said did I want mud steamers or sand steamers. I didn't know there were two different types. I have always eaten mud steamers and it turns out, that is all they had. I love steamers but that comes from having dug them myself, summers growing up. These didn't taste quite so sweet... BTW, when I asked for winter founder they said they didn't have it, but when I asked for blackback founder they said they did have it. The naming game is interesting!"

Jayne Martin from Connecticut

 Burnt/Charred Bluefish

 Burnt/Charred Bluefish

"I am now clearly seeing a pattern of sales associates not really knowing exactly where their seafood is coming from .Most just read the label and tell me "wild caught product of USA" and assume that is all the info needed to make a purchase. Even the so-called high end grocer failed to have much info available. My grilling experience with the Bluefish left me disappointed. I felt I could handle it but alas I failed horribly. Not to worry - I will live to grill another fish!"
Parmesan Encrusted Striped Bass

Parmesan Encrusted Striped Bass

Carolyn St. Jean Gogan from Rhode Island

"Striped bass an easy fish to cook . It does not have a strong taste so you can really spice it up the way you want. I used a Parmesan Encrusted Striped Bass recipe and it was delicious. I would buy it again but next time I would like to buy a whole fish and go through all the work of scaling, gutting, etc."

 

Chris Dodge from Connecticut

"Soft shell clams were stocked in the market when I went, but the whiting was not something that was there. I was really hoping to get my hands on one of the three species I was assigned during week 5 that I had never tried before, so I decided against the clams unless I couldn't get anything else. The buyer for the store has whiting regularly available to them in Boston when they go up to purchase for the week, but they typically don't stock any because there is no demand for it. However, they were happy to use me as a reason to buy some and make some available to see if it sells (same as the butterfish the week prior). The fillets are small, and still have fin attached which I would definitely remove before preparation next time, as I ended up eating some. Otherwise the fish was tasty."
Grilled halibut w/sesame cucumber salad and corn on the cob

Grilled halibut w/sesame cucumber salad and corn on the cob

Deborah Mager from Connecticut

"Tautog was number one on my list to find and purchase for this week along with mussels as my second choice. How could I strike out with Tautog? It is so prevalent in the waters where I live (along with mussels). But when I called Uberti's in Stratford the only species that was New England landed was the halibut. Of course I purchased it there because I know after 5 weeks of this project that Robert Uberti has the freshest and best fish, although I wanted to give this project my best effort so I went to two other stores to see what I could find. I was very impressed with Whole Foods in Milford. All the species they sell have markers noting where the species came from, and then there were a couple of different types of whole fish that looked very good but were not on my list. Once again, the mussels I found were from P.E.I. both from Whole Foods and Shoprite. I marinated the halibut in a Ziploc bag with olive oil, honey, lemon juice, soy sauce, crushed garlic and black pepper. Although the marinade flavors were bold they did not overpower the fish and complimented the fish very well. If you don't eat fish you don't know what you're missing!"

Craig Gogan From Rhode Island

Black Sea Bass on the Grill

Black Sea Bass on the Grill

"We went to our go-to fish market in Narragansett and they had 5 whole black sea bass stock. It was only $4.99/lb and we ended up purchasing 2 lbs. We washed the scales off / cut slits down the sides and stuffed it with sesame oil, garlic, ginger, and black pepper. We cooked it whole on the grill and picked out the small bones as we went. It was fairly easy but could see how some people would maybe want to filet the fish instead of cooking it whole. Will most certainly buy again."

Kirstien Davidson from New Hampshire

Final product fresh off the grill!

Final product fresh off the grill!

"For week 5, my list was Acadian Redfish (aka Ocean Perch), Soft Shell Clams (aka Steamers), Weakfish (aka Squeteague) & Tuna (any locally landed species).  We actually got redfish during week 2 of our NH Community Seafood share and my husband cooked it perfectly, so I was hoping to find that.   I decided to try my luck again at Seaport Fish in Rye, NH, and they ended up having redfish, steamers & tuna!  I went for the redfish, which was only $7.99/lb.  Only getting a half pound plus a nice head of broccoli my total was less than $5.00 this week!  Much better than the $10+/lb. for lobster.   The first time we had redfish, my husband wrapped up the fillets in tin foil with some butter, so that was my plan this time as well, but I wanted to take it a step further to cook more in the same amount of time.  I stopped at a local farm on the way home to pick-up some red potatoes and a beautiful cucumber.   I started by cutting up the potatoes and putting them on the bottom of the packet, then mixed up some butter and put the fish fillets over the potatoes.   Finally I wrapped it up into a nice little pocket and stuck it on the grill.  I cooked the packet on the grill for about 20ish minutes (checked it out after 10, but the fish was still a little slimy).  Unfortunately, the potatoes should have cooked longer, so most of our potatoes were uncooked and I forgot to season the fish before I cooked it, so our meals were not as good as when hubby cooked them...  I did have leftover fish the next day, so we had fish tacos for dinner!  (One was chicken, but the fish was definitely the better one)"

Julia Mennone from Rhode Island

"Was delighted to see wild maine mussels on sale at daves! I get their weekly ads emailed and the $2.50 for 2lbs of mussels was part of a 2 day special so it was a no brainer. I probably would have gotten them even if they weren't on my list for the week! We've never made them before but it was pretty easy. They were already de-bearded and cleaned. We let them soak in salt water to get more of the sand out and steamed them with shallots, garlic and white wine. This is my favorite preparation. Grilled up some bread and went to town! 2lbs was perfect for 2 people. Didn't add any butter or cream to the mix, so the broth was really clear but we used 3 shallots and a ton of garlic so there was great flavor. Hate when restaurants over salt fish and this was much better than any mussels I've had dining out.. way cheaper too! We will certainly be adding this to our dinner routine. :)"

Rachel Fecteau from Maine

"I was at my local supermarket when I received my fish list so I headed to the seafood counter. My list was red hake, striped bass, squid, tilefish. The only fish I found was frozen squid but it was from Spain. The next day after work, I headed to my old stand by, Harbor Fish Market. They had not heard of Red hake, the Striped Bass was farmed from California, the squid was previously frozen but the fishmonger could not find where it was from, he doubted it was from New England and they sometimes have tile fish but not today. I thought it was going to be my first strike out! I was planning on visiting a new market in my area the next day. When I was leaving work that day, the fishmonger from Harbor Fish came out of the store to tell me they just received fresh squid from Rhode Island! Yeah! I bought the squid and took it home. The last time I had dealt with fresh, whole squid was 30 years ago in an attic apartment in Boston. The results of me trying to clean and prepare the fish almost cost me my security deposit. The counters and cabinets got covered in squid ink. I was nervous to prepare the squid this time, but the magic of Google gave me step by step instructions. Easy peasy. I threw some of the squid in a spaghetti sauce. It added a sweet, delicate seafood flavor. Nice change from a meat based sauce. The remaining squid a dusted with flour, garlic powder, and curry powder. I pan fried the squid. It was so good! I used the leftovers on a roll for lunch the next day. Easy and delicious. I really want to explore some other markets in the area. It is difficult because I walk past Harbor Fish Market every day and they have been so accommodating in educating me with the assignments whether they have the fish or not. I am really lucky to have such a great market in my area."

Michelle Nelson From Connecticut

Grilled swordfish with pineapple salsa and asian slaw.

Grilled swordfish with pineapple salsa and asian slaw.

"I like the thickness of the swordfish it could stand up to grilling directly on the grates. It didnt fall apart when trying to remove from the grill. I served it withe freshly made salsa that included grilled pineapple. The crunch of the fresh veg was a good contrast to the flakey fish and the hint of sweetness paired nicely."

Maggie Heinichen from Massachussetts

"I'd had smoked bluefish before and loved it. But I only saw fillets at the market. I made Vietnamese Caramel Bluefish (https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1017451-fast-vietnamese-caramel-bluefish) which was excellent. The recipe was excellent! I really enjoy strong asian flavors, so this recipe hit the spot. It was really easy to tell when the fish was cooked. I'm still pretty much and ametuer when it comes to cooking seafood. The fillet was thin enough and the color change was obvious enough to make it really clear when the fish had cooked through. I will definitely try to cook this fish again. However, I have a fair amount of friends who catch bluefish recreationally. They like giving away fillets, so it's more likely that I will get bluefish from friends rather than buy it from the store while it is in season."

Clay Groves from New Hampshire

"This was totally fun, we rubbed herbs all over the fillets and cooked them with a little lemon. Super easy and summary."

Christina Rodriguez from Rhode Island

Grilled scallops with basil and terragon.

Grilled scallops with basil and terragon.

"We LOVE scallops and bought from Bomster Scallops this week. They were listed at $20/lbs. frozen vs $21/lbs. fresh from The Local Catch. We noticed no difference in taste or texture between frozen and fresh, provided that frozen was properly thawed and then patted dry before cooking. We grilled them with olive oil, salt, pepper, basil and tarragon."

Meggan Dwyer from Maine

Steamed haddock with kale, bagna cauda and fried garlic.

Steamed haddock with kale, bagna cauda and fried garlic.

"This market almost always has haddock as they use it for their fish and chips. The other items were not available. We almost never see wrinkles in this area as they tend to be a to a downeast taste. I am not a huge fan of haddock usually but this was fresh and tasted great with a bagna cauda sauce and kale."

Michelle Pechie from Rhode Island

"I ventured farther from home and am very pleased I did. The fishmongers at both Daily Catch, in Smithfield, and Anchor Seafood, in Warwick, were not only aware of many locally caught species, but told me I could call with my fish list. They would then ask their suppliers if they had any in their daily catch, and have it sent with the order. Both gentlemen were highly knowledgeable and extremely accommodating. I feel like I may have hit the jackpot!! I bought some frozen picked Jonah crab from Maine at Daily Catch which I added to my stuffie mix. The quahogs were from Anchor at a great price and not a bit of sand!! I apparently missed out on the fresh crabs by 15 minutes, so sad. Whole Foods said they stock local catch, but didn't have my species. A pretty good week overall."

 

 

Week 4

During Week Four our citizen scientists made over 130 different market visits! While not everyone was able to find their fish about 68 percent of participants found at least one of their assigned species and cooked up some delicious meals! Many participants used this week as a good opportunity to try new species such as periwinkles, butterfish, and Jonah crabs for the first time! 

Lisa Jarosik from Connecticut

"When I went to the market, there were two kinds of swordfish. One was from Vietnam, which I could not choose, and the other from New England waters. The Vietnamese swordfish was smaller and cost less. I was told it came already cut and frozen. The more expensive swordfish is brought in as one large loin and then cut into pieces which looked so much more appetizing. It was definitely worth the extra money. I would buy it again and enjoy it on a nice summer evening outside."
Grilled Rosemary Swordfish - Spectacular!

Grilled Rosemary Swordfish - Spectacular!

Craig Gogan from Rhode Island

Pollock and ocean quahog chowder

Pollock and ocean quahog chowder

"We have seen local pollock week after week, glad it was on our list for week 4. We decided to make a chowder with ocean quahogs and the pollock with a side of fried clams (we used steamers). Everything was very easy to cook and made a nice hearty meal with plenty of extra. The price was low $7.99/lb and it could easily be used in a variety of recipes calling for white fish. We will definitely buy pollock again."

 

Rachel Hutchinson from Massachusetts

"This was the first week that I had a repeat fish on my fish list, I had previously located Dab, and had been unable to locate Dogfish last week as it was not yet in season. Again I made an assumption this week when I went to the market, I knew that Dogfish was not yet being landed, and thought that maybe I would be able to once again locate Dab. I had not seen Pollock yet in the market, and although I know surf clams are being landed locally I had not seen them in the market yet.
I had a incredible busy week this week and wasn't able to swing into my usually fish markets during the week so I started my search on Sunday afternoon. My first stop was Cape Fish and Lobster in Hyannis, a fully stocked fish market featuring many locally caught products. Unfortunately, they had nothing I was looking for, while explaining my search and that finding nothing was a success as well I got talking to the fishmongers. "No dogfish was not coming in yet, but would be soon, they did have gallon buckets of surf clam in the back for restaurants to make chowder, and they do have Dab that comes through the store, but usually goes right out to restaurants." He ran back to see if there was any Dab left, most had been shipped out, and what was left he didn't think was good enough to sell me. On to store number 2.
My second stop was Ring Brothers in Dennis, they have a counter run by Chatham Fish and Lobster with-in the store. No dogfish- No Surf Clam- No Dab, but YES Pollock labeled Locally Caught. Asking about it the fish monger thought it was landed in Chatham. Again we got to talking "whats the project? oh how cool? what are you supposed to do?". I have been shocked to always find fishmongers who have been interested and want to talk about the product, that makes me happy. As we got talking he mentioned that he doesn't understand why people still come in looking to by Cod for things like tacos when there is delicious locally caught Pollock available. Tacos---- well that is what got stuck in my mind. At this point it was Sunday evening and I wanted to make something quick and easy for dinner, tacos sounded like a great idea. I easily cut the Pollock into nice taco sized pieces, dreaded them in a cornmeal and fried them in a little bit of oil. Fried up added to a taco with a little homemade Salsa Verde and lettuce was a perfect easy dinner. The fish was meaty, flaky and delicious. I wouldn't hesitate to purchase this fish again and am excited to try cooking in a different way if provided the opportunity."

Mary Tanzer from New Hampshire

"I have never had Jonah crab before. I had to buy a two pound bag and decided to try a few different things. I had some claws steamed with chive butter on the side, made some very yummy crab cakes with the bits of meat I picked off the remaining claws. And I cooked up the shells and cartilage to make a crab stock to use in the future. I was proud to make the most of my crab claws!"

 

 

 

 

Christine Devito from Maine

Steamed Mussels With Lemon, Garlic and White Wine

Steamed Mussels With Lemon, Garlic and White Wine

Carolynn St. Jean Gogan from Rhode Island

"My husband and I have had monkfish before so we knew that it really doesn't have a strong taste. So we cooked it using butter, lemon juice , white wine, capers, minced garlic and cherry tomatoes with a sprinkling of fresh parsley. Anything in that mixture will taste great and it did make a fine dinner. We did find on the internet that you should remove the fine layer of skin on the fillet and that took some effort. Just invest in a good fillet knife."

Aubrey Church from Massachusetts

"Haddock, Spot and Blue Crab. I was unable to find spot and blue crab anywhere near by, and had already picked Haddock for week 2. As a result, I chose #Cod for week 4. Atlantic Cod is one of the most important commercial fish species in North America’s eastern coast. In recent years, cod has become a poster child for commercial overfishing. Scientists, government officials, fishermen, fishery managers, and consumers all have an important task of focusing on strategies for the long-term sustainability of this species. In U.S. waters, cod is most commonly found on Georges Bank and in the western Gulf of Maine. While Cod is still found on many New England menus and at local seafood markets, cod is only a small part of the story. There is a plethora of seafood available in New England, and consumers should be willing and daring to branch out from the norm. I encourage you to substitute Cod for other species such as haddock, flounder, pollock, halibut, sole or any other thick white fish. Fun fact: Historically, cod was so abundant off New England that early explorers like Bartholomew Gosnold, an English explorer in 1602, named Cape Cod for the fish. Tonight’s dinner was roasted cod with basil and tomatoes on garlic toasts, with a side of zucchini. Follow along for next week’s #fishtale #sacredcod #incodwetrust #eatingwiththeecosystem #eatfish #knowyourfish #supportlocalfishermen #eatlocal"

Deborah Majer from Connecticut

"Periwinkles are very easy to prepare and have so much more flavor than canned snails for escargot. I had never tried periwinkles before so I made them escargot style in mushroom caps. Although they were very good preparing them this way did not do them justice. Next time I will stir fry them in a spicy sauce and serve them in the shell as an appetizer. They are great to just sit and pick them out like we do with blue crabs."

Daryl Popper from Massachusetts

"I traveled to Nantucket at the tail end of a lively holiday weekend with high hopes of discovering my assigned species. I visited 167 Raw fish market on the island after sampling their tasty shucked oysters at the Cisco Brewery popup. I learned that it was actually the first day in weeks with no haddock. Next round Nantucket! Back to the big city, I strolled to the Dewey Square Farmer's Market in downtown Boston to visit the dynamic team at Red's Best. Haddock was readily available and packaged seamlessly to maintain freshness. I love fish tacos and prepared these delicate filets with a coconut, herb crust served with seasonal greens from Kimball Farm and served on organic heirloom corn tortillas from Hadley, Massachusetts."

David Ford from Rhode Island

The Local Catch in Point Judith, RI is my go to seafood retail outlet. I usually buy fish from them every week, whether it is on my list for the week or not. This week the sea scallops I bought were advertised as "Block Island Sound" scallops. I have had them many times before and they are the highest quality scallops I have found. I steamed the scallops and followed a recipe that was in the Wall Street Journal on June 1st: "Scallops With Avocado Puree". Heavenly!

Christina Rodriguez from Rhode Island

"We have been feeding fish to our friends weekly since this started and it's getting ridiculous. They just love that we're doing this and sharing new recipes with them, but I swear to God they should be kicking in for this!"

Chris Dodge from Connecticut

"Whole butterfish were quite the interesting experience, and I really enjoyed my first attempt at cooking and eating whole fish and doing it with a brand new species for me. I expected these to a be a lot fishier and honestly gross, but I was pleasantly surprised. Check out my blog: http://talesofamarinescientist.blogspot.com/2017/06/eat-like-fish-week-4-one-fish-two-fish.html"

Rindy Sicard from Rhode Island

"I've eaten haddock in restaurants, but never made it at home. I liked the meatiness and mild flavor of this fish very much, and will buy again. Although I used an easy cooking method, I didn't want to complicate the flavor with a sauce."

 

 

Andrea McCarthy from Connecticut

"This week my fish list included whiting, haddock, spiny dogfish, and white hake. I was only able to find haddock from New Bedford, MA. Haddock inhabit deep, cool waters and are demersal fish meaning the fish live and feed on or near the bottom of a body of water. Haddock is a white fish that is used as an alternative to Atlantic cod when the cod stocks have declined. The fillets were sautéed and garnished with fresh dill. The flakes were large, firm but soft. It tasted superb."

Debbie Proffitt from Rhode Island

"I was very happy to have a rainy Monday holiday and my fish list this week! It gave me time to research the four species, to shop for them and prepare my selection. Tasks that are a little harder during a crazy work week. Week 4 for me included Tautog (aka Blackfish), Sea Scallop (not Bay Scallop), Haddock and Summer Flounder. I could not find Tautog but I did find the other three species and in the end chose Haddock because I had a recipe I wanted to try. But my research taught me that Tautog is an excellent tasting bottom feeding fish, May through June are the best months to find this fish. Massachusetts and RI seem to be the only region in New England where it is not overfished. It is easy to catch and slow growing so it is highly susceptible to overfishing and is slow to rebuild. Sea Scallop's are one of my favorites and I eat them all the time so I didn't choose them. I learned that they are one of the most valuable fisheries in the US. Although recent high landings and an unknown biomass in the Northern Gulf of Maine are causing some concerns about management. Haddock may have some sustainability issues and definitely seemed to in the UK, which was impacting fish and chips availability. Summer Flounder is the most sought after commercial and recreational fish, not overfished but experiencing some overfishing and has declined. Being a Citizen Scientist on this project is really giving me a chance to learn about many different fish species known and unknown and their sustainability, which is very important to me."

Week 3

On their third week of eating like a fish our participants are becoming more confident asking questions at markets, using whole fish, and cooking up some delicious meals! 

Jean Dao from Massachussetts

Sea scallops landed in Provincetown by Jorge Dias, seared in a pan with butter, garlic, and a sprig of lemon thyme from our indoor "garden"

Sea scallops landed in Provincetown by Jorge Dias, seared in a pan with butter, garlic, and a sprig of lemon thyme from our indoor "garden"

"When my partner and I received our fish list for the week, we were ECSTATIC! Spiny Dogfish, soft shelled clams, sea scallops, and... lobster. For a long time, we had -- well, I had -- ranted about wanting to throw a lobster party, and what better time than Memorial Day weekend? Right away, however, my partner Peter reminded me that there was no way in heck he would be purchasing all that lobster at retail value; Red's Best was offering their whole, live lobsters at $17/lb and he could get it for $11/lb through their wholesale market, which he has access to through the restaurant where he works. Since that wouldn't be playing by the rules of the study, we decided to also purchase something else off our list at retail price. The lobsters came into the restaurant on Friday morning, waving their little feelers and generally looking quite adorably cross, as lobsters do. Some of them my partner prepped to be sold as a special in the restaurant -- dry fried with ginger, scallion, and Szechuan peppercorns -- and some we steamed whole. Peter managed to convince me that it would be easier to break down all the cooked lobster at the restaurant where all the tables are stainless steel and there was ample space for the mess we would make. Thinking back now about how much shell shrapnel and liquid sprayed everywhere -- this was definitely the right call. Clearly, I had never broken down ONE lobster before, let alone a dozen plus. At home, we browned a pound of butter, toasted up some potato rolls, and had ourselves a pre-party feast. The lobster was so sweet, juicy, and just a touch briney. And because of all the time I spent extruding meat out of all the legs with a rolling pin, it tasted so much better than any lobster roll I've ever had. This much I'll say -- I will never complain about the price of a lobster roll ever again! The next morning, we made our way down to the Boston Public Market for a "legitimate" purchase for Week 3. I had my heart set on Spiny Dogfish because we'd never had it before, but Red's Best didn't have it, and we unfortunately didn't have the time to go hunting around -- party was at 1 and it was already 10:30! They did have some huge, beautiful sea scallops and steamers, so we grabbed ourselves some of each. The steamers we tossed in a pot with some beer, Szechuan peppercorn, ginger, garlic, onion, and dill. They opened beautifully, tasted so sweet, and... were totally and completely full of sand. We forgot to purge them! Lessons learned for next time, to be sure. The scallops, since they had been cleaned already, we simply browned in a pan with butter, garlic, lemon thyme, and a spritz of lemon juice just before serving. So incredibly sweet and easy to eat -- I wish we had bought more, but at $28 a pound it was too much to be spending on top of all the lobster. Maybe next week..." This sounds like a party we want to be invited to!

David Ford from Rhode Island

whole black sea bass steamed over soy ginger scallion

whole black sea bass steamed over soy ginger scallion

"This week my choices were makerel, scup, grey sole and black sea bass. I struck out on all four at my two go to seafood markets - Andrade's in Bristol, RI and Tony's in Seekonk, MA. Both stores claimed they never carried makerel or scup since there was little market demand. Both said it was too early for local black sea bass. Tony's did have sole, which they originally told me was yellowtail sole (not labeled as such). They said they never carried grey sole. Later I did some google research and confirmed that Tony's was selling yellowfin sole, which is a Pacific Northwest fish. As I discovered, sole and flounder are closely related and can often be confused with each other. Another thing I learned is NEVER go to a popular fish market late Friday afternoon. All the good Catholics standing in a long line have little patience with me asking lots of questions about where the fish was landed and what type of fish it was. I did find whole black sea bass at Whole Foods on North Main in Providence. They scaled and gutted it for me. The quality was top shelf, but we all know we pay top price at Whole Foods. I steamed the fish in the oven on an oven rack set over a baking dish. The fish was too big for my steaming basket. I used a base of soy, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, fish oil, ginger, garlic, jalapeno, scallion. Heavenly. I need to eat like this more often!"

Christine Devito from Maine shared with us her battle with an Acadian Redfish:

Grilled, Savory Acadian Red Fish; scary looking, but the taste is nothing to be afraid of!

Grilled, Savory Acadian Red Fish; scary looking, but the taste is nothing to be afraid of!

"This week's fish selection, preparation and cooking proved to be a bit of a personal test to me; I found out what I was made of so to speak. The fish I chose to buy was Acadian Red Fish (aka Ocean Perch), whole, cleaned and gutted (all of which the folks at Harbor Fish market offered to do for me, and it was helpful and much appreciated by/ for myself as a consumer to not have to ask for these services amidst a very loud and crowded market).
At the start of the week I was originally excited about my fish list this week because it also included Swordfish, something I happen to be very familiar with and enjoy on account of its meaty, juicy, smooth and flakey-ness. I had gone to two other grocery stores before the fish market because of this familiarity and it was something I regularly see when grocery shopping. However, to my dismay, while they carried Swordfish, they did not have Swordfish that was landed in New England (they also did not carry the other fish from my fish list at all). I learned from the man behind the counter at Whole Foods that Swordfish only comes through local waters in the autumn. He further admitted that this is why much of their fish is not local because, in his words "it's impossible" otherwise to meet the wants and needs of shoppers. I made it a point to follow up and ask if people asked for more local species regularly, do you think a store like Whole Foods would carry them over other fish? He looked up and bobbed his head back a fourth, weighing the question and ultimately gave me an uncertain maybe. I took this bit of information with me (seems to be a big part of what this whole experiment is about) in my basket and moved on.
I ended up going to Harbor Fish Market who have yet to let me down as far as finding at least one of my fish species. I looked over all the fish and found Sword Fish but when asked where it was landed, they said the Carolina's, so no good. Then I found the Acadian Redfish. Not the prettiest fish in the sea with it's big, beady eyes looking up at me, and redish skin. From the look of it, one might think it was caught in some red sea and parts of that sea stuck to it even after trying to rinse it off. I struggled to pick some up based on these impressions. I thought to myself how I wouldn't buy this if it wasn't for the science project. I even automatically tilted backwards as I put the fish in my bag. Even now as I think about it my face frowns, much like the big lipped, frowny face of this fish. As I mentioned before, the folks at Harbor cleaned and gutted the fish, offered to chop the head, but I thought for presentation purposes I'd have them leave it. After working with this fish however, next time I would forget about the presentation and not only allow, but insist they chop off its head.
I looked up via the internet a few different recipes for grilling ( we were having a cook out with some friends) and decided to marinate the fish before wrapping it in tin foil and grilling it. It was a very easy fish to cook! I usually like to keep it simple with fish, because I know the flavor of it and enjoy that, this was new, and admittedly scary, so I decided flavoring it up with olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, lemon juice, and creole spice wouldn't be such a bad idea.
I mentioned earlier finding out what I was made of...well, while working with this fish my imagination got the better of me. I said out loud how I wouldn't be buying this fish again because of how the look of it gave me an icky feeling. When I placed it in the bag to marinate for a few hours, the tiny spikes (very tiny, barely discernible while raw) on the face and sharp, hardness near the gils pricked my hands through the bag. I jumped and dropped the bag as if the fish had somehow been alive this whole time and was just waiting to get me! I then doubled over laughing at myself and how ridiculous I was being. It's embarrassing really, but yes I was afraid of a dead fish.
I pricked myself a few more times but as I mentioned before the cooking of this fish was very easy and anyone who has cooked and grilled meat of any kind would be more than capable of cooking this fish. The fish tasted great ( a bit bony, but smooth, juicy, moderately meaty and soft)! All the mental battles I fought to make it were worth it. I shared it with friends and everyone liked it! I told them my silly story of preparation and they asked if I would buy it again now that I had eaten it and liked it. I hesitated and wasn't quite sure, but ultimately I think I would buy it again because of the taste, my new knowledge of it and found confidence, and I learned while seeking a recipe for it that it is abundant and highly sustainable here in Maine, which always motivates both my current consumer habits and the evolution of those habits. A friend of mine who joined us for the cookout brought and grilled Blue Fish; unwittingly our Memorial Day weekend cuisine included Red and Blue Fish, how fitting."

Andrea McCarthy from Connecticut

Fresh whole porgy to fillets to delicious meal with salad greens and radishes from local farmer's market.

Fresh whole porgy to fillets to delicious meal with salad greens and radishes from local farmer's market.

"My task this week was to find summer flounder, periwinkles, skate, or scup. The species I found was scup. It is also known as porgy. The name porgy comes from a Native American word for fertilizer. This was a common use for the fish because it was abundant and provided the soil with nutrients. Porgies are a smaller fish with a lot of bones, so they are usually sold whole. I filleted my fish and then pan-fried the fillets in a cast iron skillet. The meat was tender and flakey with a mild flavor. I paired my fish with salad greens and radishes from my local farmers market. My meal was easy to prepare, delicious, and scup is a very reasonably priced fish."

Kirstien Davidson from New Hampshire

"This week I decided to try some more spots since my first two weeks had been successful at Sanders. Luckily, my wonderful husband is still home for this week and could do some research for me! My fish list for the week was Razor Clams, Tautog (Blackfish), Herring, and Summer Flounder (Fluke). Previously, I have had fairly good luck with the fish at my supermarket of preference: Hannaford in Northwood, NH, mainly getting nice filets of haddock for my mother's chowder recipe. For this week, I had my husband start at Hannaford, but he struck out there. The next stop was Market Basket in Lee, NH. Again he had no luck. So now it was my turn! Again, I decided to try a new market, so after a Google search, I found Seaport Fish in Rye, which is just down the road from Portsmouth. I was hopeful I could find at least the Flounder, but talking with the fish monger there, he explained when they get flounder in, it's usually a mixture different varieties of flounder. The only way they could guarantee that I would have Summer Flounder would be to have the boat set it aside specifically for me. I left again, disappointed, but I do have a new source to check out each week! I decided before throwing in the towel for the week, I'd check Sanders once more. I lucked out again this week! They had Tautog freshly caught from Rhode Island, so even though it wasn't local to New Hampshire, it is in New England waters and still ok for the project. This was my first experience with this fish. I hadn't even heard of it before this week! So for cooking, I went to the best resource for finding fish markets or recipes: Google! There weren't many options, but I found THIS ONE and it ended up pretty well. The only thing I think would be different would be cooking the fish later, as it was cold by the time I finished with the sauce, but all in all, it was pretty good! We combined it this week with a butternut squash risotto and asparagus. The risotto was a big success and we've figured out the plane noises do work to get toddlers to realize they actually wanted to eat, but not quite enough to finish all of it."

Rindy Sicard from Rhode Island

"Traveling thru Bristol, Rhode Island this morning, I thought I would visit a local fish market since I was in the area. Andrade's Catch had some fish available but none locally caught. The peekytoe crabs/sand crabs were local and on my list ,so that was my choice. The taste if summer. It will be a crab boil tonight."

Aaron Whitman from Maine

Black sea bass with a little scup that was hitching a ride in the bass mouth  

Black sea bass with a little scup that was hitching a ride in the bass mouth

 

"I walked into harbor fish today hoping that black sea bass was there because I've heard that it is a really good fish to eat and I've only had it once. That one time didn't turn out that well, it was boiled with no seasoning (I wasn't the one preparing it) and I wanted to give it a fair shot. They only had whole fish that still needed to be cleaned out. I was fine with cleaning it and purchased one. I went to pick up my kids from daycare and decided to showcase the whole fish to all the kids! They were all very interested especially when they saw a whole small scup in the sea bass mouth! I baked it seasoning the fish and body cavity with thyme, salt and lemon pepper with a bit of olive oil and white wine. 425 degrees for 30 mins (15 in aluminum foil and 15 without cover) and it was cooked perfect. The skin peeled off easy and the meat came off the bones with ease."

Christina Rodriguez from Rhode Island

Grilled sea scallops with brown sugar and bourbon glaze.

Grilled sea scallops with brown sugar and bourbon glaze.

"I grilled the scallops in a brown sugar and bourbon glaze. The sugar helps caramelize the edges and the bourbon adds a nuanced smokiness and hint of oak. They would've been great wrapped in bacon, or seared in a cast iron skillet."

Samantha Baasch from Massachusetts

"This recipe is a spin on a marinade that I enjoyed tremendously as a child growing up in Southeast New England. Made in-house of a local market the recipe nor the ingredients were ever disclosed. It was called a “Zippy Shrimp Marinade”. Since this market has since closed I have done my best to mimic the marinade as I remember it to keep it alive. This week I decided to purchase Swordfish after visiting 2 markets and only finding this species. The fish was caught locally off of George’s Bank and a perfect match for this marinade. This recipes make plenty of marinade for 2-3 swordfish steaks. Typically I would marinate the steaks for 2-3 hours but since it was a weeknight 1 hour had to do! Still turning out just as delicious as I remember.
Sam's Mega Zippy Swordfish Marinade

Sam's Mega Zippy Swordfish Marinade

½ cup Soy Sauce
½ cup White Wine
1 ½ Tbsp. Chili Oil
3 good dashes Worcestershire sauce
½ of a lemon Juiced
1 small onion minced
5 gloves garlic- minced
Handful of Fresh herbs – chopped
Black Pepper to taste
Enjoy!"
 
 

Deborah Majer from Connecticut

Black Sea Bass with Shrimp in a Lemon Scampi Sauce

Black Sea Bass with Shrimp in a Lemon Scampi Sauce

"I have eaten Sea Bass out in restaurants before but have never cooked it at home before or even thought about purchasing it to cook at home. I definitely will be having Black Sea Bass more often since I will be cooking it at home. I was surprised to find that this species is very common in my area. Robert Uberti is very knowledgeable and helpful. He even gave us a discount on the purchase of the fish! It has only been 3 weeks and it is a pleasure to talk with Robert and learn about different species from him. A really nice guy!"

Carolyn St. Jean Gogan from Rhode Island

Clear RI Clam Chowder and Quahog Stuffies

Clear RI Clam Chowder and Quahog Stuffies

"I love using quahogs to make real RI clear clam chowder. You can buy the canned clam broth but you really must steam your own quahogs to get that real rich clam broth. It takes more effort but always worth the time. And when making chowder don't add your chopped clams / quahogs until the chowder is just about done because over cooking makes them tough. I also used my quahogs to makes Stuffies. I make the filling for the stuffies a day before because all those wonderful ingredients need time to marry. So good!"
 

 

 

 

Week 2 of Eating Like a Fish

We just wrapped up our second week and everyday I am blown away by the dedication from our participants. They are not only completing their assignments but showing so much enthusiasm and really stepping outside of their comfort zone by trying new species, cooking with whole fish, and asking tough questions in the marketplace. While it certainly hasn't been easy to find many or their assigned species we have heard positive feedback from some participants that because of the interest they have shown in purchasing local species some markets are promising to start carrying more local fish! 

Here are a few highlights from this week:

Charleen Thorburn from New Hampshire

"Initially, I had a little trouble but the folks at Sanders are just great. They were supposed to get some Hake in, but that didn't end up happening but the lovely gentleman remembered when I called for the hake that "you were also looking for tautog, weren't you?" and they had some coming in that day (Friday) that would be cut on Saturday. I came in on Saturday afternoon, just before going to my friend's cookout, and was presented with 2 beautiful 1-lb fillets. A little more than I was hoping to spend, but they were gorgeous and would be a hit at the cookout. I made a little foil packet, with butter, salt, pepper and lemon and threw the tented packet on the grill for a little less than 10 minutes and put the fish over a bed of similarly cooked fiddleheads. WHAT A HIT! People wanted to know WHAT I'd done (next to nothing) to this fish, why it's so good and omg fiddleheads (that I actually bought AT Sanders). Easy to cook, good flavor and texture and a few people actually had heard of Tautog (I previously had not)."
Flounder Picatta

Flounder Picatta

Samantha Baasch from Massachusetts

"This week by fish list had me searching for Herring, Dab, Winter Flounder and Butterfish. Seeing how I have never seen most of these fish in the two markets closest to my house I decided to hit Tony's Seafood in Seekonk for their large selection. I ended up purchasing the Winter Flounder- 1 lb. at 10.99 with Flounder Picatta in mind! The fillets were small but firm. I dipped them in beaten egg whites and panko then dropped them In a hot pan for a light fry. Making the picatta sauce on the side, consisting of butter, white wine and chicken broth. After reducing to half and adding the delicious briny capers it was time to plate! I laid the Flounder over a bed of arugula topped with the sauce, sliced lemon and parsley. Everything was wonderful the fish stayed together so nicely and with its delicate flavor paired so well with lemon and wine picatta sauce. Overall this was a lovely fish to work with. Not difficult to find, reasonably priced and most importantly delicious!"
Scup ( beginning to end)

Scup ( beginning to end)

Carolyn St. Jean Gogan from Rhode Island

"It had been some time since I last gutted and scaled a fish. You must take it outside to scale otherwise it will be messy inside your kitchen. Also, make sure that you have a sharp knife to slice through the fish to gut it. I chose to use a Caribbean pan fried fish recipe for the Scup. The recipe was easy to follow and the fish came out perfect. It was very delicate in texture and very sweet. You must be careful of the many small bones. So we ate it with our hands . Not really a company meal, unless you're camping or having a cookout. It was very inexpensive and served with a nice salad makes a fine meal. I would buy it again."

 

Chris Coccaro from Connecticut

"My girlfriend and I are both partaking in this program so I get to hear about 8 fish each week rather than the usual 4. One thing that has certainly come out so far is that our local markets (as I cannot speak for all of them) are very particular of which fish they sell on how well they can move them and how easy they are to handle. For instance, my girlfriend has had a John Dory twice already and in speaking with the fish markets they all said the same thing, "the fish is tough to work with. It has large spines, very thin, and only gives a very small fillet. 90% of the fish is thrown away." Hearing things like that makes it easy to see why markets wouldn't want to sell something like that, it isn't very practical from their standpoint. A few of the other species we have had, (razor clams, ocean perch, tautog, to name a few) the shop owner indicated he could get at the fish market if we wanted them, however we would need to buy a large order of it to make it worth it. He would have to buy the fish in 50-lb lots, or razor clams by the half bushel, and based on his knowledge of the local tastes he would sell a few pounds and have to discard the rest. From his description it appears that there isn't the local demand for many of these species. Finally the last thing that has jumped out at me is that there is difference between the common name and the market name of these fish. For instance, they only know Tautog as "black fish" and many have never heard of a cunner, sculpin, ocean perch, or smooth dogfish. Looking forward to coming week I'll have to do my research on the more common market names for my species."
Mediteranian-style baked cod with roasted squash and wild rice

Mediteranian-style baked cod with roasted squash and wild rice

Paul Anderson from Maine

"I've used this recipe on other white fish. The hardest part is making sure you have parchment paper. Lay the fillet on a large piece of parchment. Sprinkle work black olives, halved cherry tomatoes, capers and shallots. Salt and pepper and olive oil. Close parchment and bake for 40 minutes at 350 degrees. I served it with roasted butternut squash cubes and wild rice."
 

Jennifer McCaffrey from Rhode Island

"This week I tried butterfish. It tasted good but so many small bones made the fish difficult to eat. My husband was laughing and me picking through the meat saying that's what you get when you eat bait!"
 
 
 
 

Andrea McCarthy from Connecticut

Bluefish with blackening seasoning (left), Blackened bluefish (right)

Bluefish with blackening seasoning (left), Blackened bluefish (right)

"For this week my seafood choices were white hake, Jonah crab, razor clams, or bluefish. The only type that a store carried was bluefish from Rhode Island. Bluefish are voracious predators. They employ a feeding behavior call the “bluefish blitz” where large schools of big fish attack bait fish near the surface, churning the water like a washing machine. One resource described bluefish as an “animated chopping machine”. They are aggressive feeders making them easy to catch. They also put up a good fight for anglers. But they seem less desirable as a meal. Just as for all extremely active predators, their meat will spoil quickly due to their powerful digestive enzymes that are activated by the bait they ate. They need to be cooked soon after being caught. They also have darker meat and a blood line along the dorsal fin that gives them a strong flavor. But they are very nutritious to eat full of Omega-3 fatty acids and a good source of selenium, magnesium, and other minerals. All my research had me very wary of how bluefish would taste. So we chose to blacken the fillets in cast iron using a homemade blackening seasoning with paprika. The fish was very good with no strong overwhelming fish taste or super oily texture. I think it is a testament to the local fish market. I would eat bluefish again."
Grilled Dab; So Soft You Can Eat It With A Spoon!

Grilled Dab; So Soft You Can Eat It With A Spoon!

Christine Devito from Maine

"This week finding my fish was a little more difficult but was happily surprised with my success in the end. Allow me to explain... of the species I was tasked with buying, John Dory was one of them, and also the fish I bought, cooked and enjoyed last week. I went to Harbor Fish Market and found that they had it again immediately. The price remained the same as the previous week ($8.99/lb) , but before buying it I wanted to see if I could find a different fish from my list. Unfortunately they did not have any of the other ones, so I decided I'd check another two markets and if I didn't find them, then I'd come back to get the John Dory. The week went on and I checked two other fish markets, and one explained how they carried John Dory usually, they just didn't have any when I was there, and the other insisted all they had left was hake and cod. Neither of these markets had any of the other fish I was looking for. I returned to Harbor Fish Market to pick up some John Dory and I got to talking to one of the women behind the counter about the other fish I was looking for (I didn't see them out/displayed anywhere). I am so glad I talked to her because as it turns on they had two of the other species I was looking for, Dab (American Plaice,), which she informed me is also called lemon sole, and was labeled as such behind the glass under the counter, and Tautog (black fish). The Tautog was available as a whole fish, but she said they could clean it and cut it up any way I liked. I was deciding on which of the new species to try when they sold out of the Tautog, so my decision was more or less made for me; this week would be Dab. It was such a surprise to me when I returned to that first market and found three out of my four fish were there. I learned it is always worth talking to the folks behind the counter about fish you want and you are either not familiar with, or fish you want and don't see displayed because apparently they may also just have another name, and/or are kept in a different, less visible area. Additionally, they may just have sold out, or are coming in later that week. Although I had never cooked this type of fish before it looked like your standard fillets of fish, which made it less intimidating and easy to cook with confidence. I decided to stick the pieces of Dab on a greased baking pan, with some butter, juice of a lemon and parsley, and throw the pan on the grill (medium heat for about 15 minutes). It smelled so good! They came out great and I enjoyed it. The taste of the fish itself is extremely mild, so next time I think I would add more herbs and spices before cooking it. I couldn't believe how soft and smooth it was and how it almost seemed to melt in your mouth. While I enjoyed the Dab, I think it would work best in a chowder, or in a pasta dish. The incredible softness after it was cooked left behind gooey pieces on my plate, which would have been soaked up nicely in something like a chowder, or any pasta dish ( perhaps certain vegetables too), where it would stick to/coat the pasta as a sort of additional sauce, plus still have the bigger pieces of fish to enjoy too. Pasta with Dab Balls! Well, that doesn't sound exactly as appealing as pasta with meatballs, but you get the idea. Overall, I am happy I found it, try it and know it better!"

Michelle Pechie from Rhode Island

"I went to a couple of regular supermarket to get a feel for their selection of local fish. As with last week, they had little to none that could be verified as locally caught. I then went to an Asian seafood market because I had heard they tend to have a selection of local fish. The fishmonger told me they do get locally caught species, but you take what you can get when you can get it. I found the mackerel here. He also asked if I was using it as bait! When I told him it was my dinner, he graciously offered to clean it for me!!"

Kim Gainey from Massachusetts

"I am a fan of mussels and prefer wild local to the small farm raised ones such as PEI's . The Catham wild mussels I got at Cape a fish and Lobster were the plumpest ones i've ever seen! I don't know if it's the time of year or what they are feeding on but WOW! If you are a fan I urge you to go pick some up. They are sweet, briny with just a touch of mineral tang. I prepared them in the was Black Fish restaurant does. With toasted fennel, sausage, onion in a ️️milk broth ( like a chowder) . Yum !"

Kate Aubin from Rhode Island

"Growing up, I didn't eat much lobster. Because it is often expensive, lobster was seen as a treat in my family, only eaten in restaurants during summer months. I was excited/apprehensive to see lobster on my list this week. I really wanted to try to cook it on my own but as someone who is predominately vegetarian (with the exception of seafood, which I don't typically cook at home (other than for this project)), I was nervous about having to deal with a live animal. Everything ended up going off without a hitch, but it took me longer than it probably should have because I was so nervous. At first I was just going to mix the lobster meat with some pasta and a white wine sauce, but then my husband suggested a lobster roll. I had my first lobster roll 3 years ago on a trip to Maine and I absolutely loved it. Since then I've been chasing my first lobster roll "high". I found a recipe for lobster rolls online at Bon Appetite's website and was quite happy with the results."

Aubrey Church from Massachusetts

"For week 2 of #eatlikeafish my four species to search for were: squid, mahi-mahi, white hake and #haddock. Squid and mahi-mahi were out because I picked squid last week, and mahi-mahi is not local to New England waters during this time of year. I was unable to find white hake, so haddock it is! Haddock, is a type of groundfish species that is found primarily from Maine to New Jersey. Haddock are a member of the Cod family, but can be distinguished by a black “thumbprint” found on the side of their body and they have a black lateral line. Two of the haddock stocks found in US waters are from Georges Bank and Gulf of Maine. Commercial fishing for haddock occurs year round in the US, with bottom otter trawl fishing producing the majority of haddock landings. Longline, and gillnet fisheries land the remainder of the haddock catch landings. Fishermen follow a number of measures to reduce impacts on habitat and bycatch. In some areas, fishermen use a “Ruhle trawl” to reduce catch of overfished groundfish, while allowing them to target more abundant stocks such as haddock. Ruhle trawls have a large 8 foot mesh in the forward end of the net, which allows cod and other fish to escape. Adult haddock are benthic feeders, with a diverse diet that includes bivalve mollusks, amphipods, crabs, shrimps, sea stars, sea urchins, sand dollars, and occasional fish eggs. Juvenile haddock are often eaten by elasmobranchs (spiny dogfish, skates) and many groundfish species (cod, Pollock, cusk, white hake, red hake, silver hake, halibut and sea raven). Haddock has a slightly sweet taste, and a firm but tender texture. Haddock is a great source of low-fat protein, magnesium and selenium. I made baked haddock fillets with horseradish-chive potato mash with a side of green beans. Yum! Recipe was found from “Fresh Fish: A fearless guide to grilling, shucking, searing, poaching, and roasting seafood” by Jennifer Trainer Thompson. I substituted some Cape Cod Potato Chips for breadcrumbs, because after all I’m on #capecod and that’s #capeliving ?? Follow along for next week’s #fishtale #eatfish #eatlocal #bestwhenfresh #eatingwiththeecosystem #knowyourfisherman #piertoplate #localseafood"
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Jeff Rodensky from Connecticut

"I struck out at 4 local spots...so I traveled to Bridgeport hoping to up my odds on the shoreline. Again, nothing. So I called around (I had free time up until this week). I used to live in Middletown and remembered CityFish always seemed to have a wide selection. Turns out they had it...so I drove 50 minutes to get it. After striking out last week I was determined to find at least one of my fish this week =) I normally hate fish tacos...but I always order them because I feel like I should like them. I love tacos...I love fish. So I discovered the secret this week...MAKE IT MYSELF =)...oh, and leave out the cilantro!!! Being on a low carb diet these days, I got creative making the tortilla. I used what I like to call "fread" (faux bread). Others call it cloud bread. Essentially eggs, cream of tarter, cream cheese and in this case, garlic salt. Then I made a delicious avocado/jalapeno crema which I mixed with a dry coleslaw mix. ...and A LOT of lime. Tip...eat it all that night, no matter how much lime juice you use the next morning it will look ummmm....well, let's just go with unappetizing. Marinated the Haddock in olive oil (a mistake when broiling..so I shifted to baking when I realized the mistake) lime zest, red pepper flakes and cumin. I'm making this again!"

David Ford from Rhode Island

David shared his recipe for Yellowtail flounder curry with salad turnips and spring onions

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 lbs yellowtail flounder
  • 1 bunch salad turnips
  • 1 bunch spring onions
  • 1 onion
  • 8 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsps sesame oil
  • 1/2 container low sodium vegetable (or chicken) broth
  • 1 tbsp Madras curry powder
  • 1/4 cup (or more) coconut flour
  • 1/4 cup (or more) coconut oil
  • 2 tbsps Hungarian paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper

Directions:

  1. Chop onion and saute in olive oil and sesame oil at medium heat until onion begins to brown.
  2. Mince garlic and slice jalapenos, then add to above and saute for a few minutes.
  3. Add vegetable broth and curry powder. Bring to a low simmer. Add enough coconut flour to thicken slightly.
  4. Thinly slice green onion bulbs and add to curry mix and saute for a few minutes.
  5. Separate turnip bulbs from greens and quarter. Chop turnip greens. Add both to curry mix and saute a few minutes.
  6.  Slice spring onion greens into 1 inch pieces and add to curry mixture.
  7.  Add salt and pepper. Reduce heat to very low simmer.
  8. Brush flounder pieces with olive oil and dust with coconut flower and paprika.
  9. Heat cast iron skillet over very high heat until smoking. Add coconut oil to just coat. A heat resistant brush can do the trick to spread the oil.
  10. Sear flounder filets a minute each side or until slightly charred. Use two spatulas to flip to avoid breaking filets. May need to add more coconut oil between frying each piece.
  11.  Bring curry mizture to a bubbling simmer, add flounder and mix to coat.
  12.  Serve!

Daryl Popper from Massachusetts

"I had a memorable time searching for my assigned fish this week. I went on an adventure to Cape Ann with my mom in celebration of Mother's Day and we had a blast cruising through Gloucester in search of whiting, weakfish, striped bass or swordfish. We met locals along the way that pointed us in the direction of Turner's Seafood just outside the town center. We met with the team at Turner's and discovered that their swordfish was fresh from off the coast of Cape Cod. The team was excited to learn about our project and to see what future fish assignments came my way. They encouraged me to return so they could share more local information about the boat and the fishermen that work hard to provide native fish to their markets."

Deborah Majer from Connecticut

"Here it is Week 2 and once again I was not surprised that I would not find Pollock or Mackerel. I am surprised that the mussels I found at the fish market came from P.E.I. and not from around where I live. Last week's fish and this week's clams that I bought from the fish market both came from Stonington, CT waters. I have been purchasing my clams previously from Costco Wholesale and since they are warm water clams I could never eat them raw but always made them into clams casino. I was able to enjoy the clams this week raw because they came from the fish market. Yummy! My husband and I enjoyed a dozen clams raw with lemon and cocktail sauce, and the other dozen we made into clams casino. The clams had so much more flavor than the ones at Costco. I will be purchasing my clams from the fish market from now on."

Aaron Witman from Maine

"Haddock is so easy to prepare and tell when it is fully cooked. It is the perfect beginners fish but can also be used by professional chefs. It is a typical fish and chips in NE and appeals to most people since it doesn't have an over powering fishy taste. I prepared mine by putting some lemon juice, black pepper and butter with the fish wrapped in tin foil and put on the grill. It came out super flakey. I paired the fish with jasmine rice and asparagus cooked with bacon and garlic. The dinner was well liked by the whole family, even my two young kids (4 and 1)!"

Brian Haggerty from Rhode Island

"It was my first time buying fish from a farmers market. It gave me a chance to discuss local fishes with local distributors and he was quite knowledgeable on the topic. I look forward to building a relationship with him and his cohorts as well as to further my fish intellect."
 
 
 

For more information about the project and to follow along on some of our participants personal blogs check out our Eat Like a Fish page and #eatlikeafish. check back next week to see what our participants have been up to!

Eat Like a Fish Citizen Science Project Week 1!

The Eat Like a Fish Citizen Science Research Project officially started last week! We sent over 90 citizen scientists, from all over New England, to search for local species in the New England marketplace. Each participant was randomly assigned four local species to search for and if they found one or more of their species they were asked to pick one and take it home to cook with.

We have amazing participants who together made almost 200 market visits this week! About 60 percent of our participants found at least one of their assigned species. While some participants were disappointed that they didn't find their species, their efforts are super important and will provide us with information to help get more local species available in the marketplace in the future! 

Here are a few highlights from the week:

 

Scallop Tacos!

Scallop Tacos!

Samantha Baasch from Massachusetts:

"This week I choose sea scallops from my fish list. They were very easy to find and were caught locally in New Bedford, MA. After a quick rinse I slid them into a hot oiled pan with just some salt and pepper. With my husband and daughter eagerly awaiting dinner I assembled the Scallop tacos. Soft tortilla followed by a smear of an avocado sauce I made with some mashed avocado, lemon juice, dash of vinegar and salt and pepper. Add the scallops with some thin sliced cabbage and red onion. Yum!"

 

 


Squid over black bean pasta with jalapenos, parsley and garlic

Squid over black bean pasta with jalapenos, parsley and garlic

David Ford from Rhode Island shared his recipe for local squid over black bean pasta with jalapenos, parsley and garlic:

Ingredients:

  • 1.25 lbs squid, cleaned and cut into rings
  • 8 cloves garlic, diced
  • 3 red jalapenos, thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar (low sodium)
  • 2 tbsps sesame oil
  • 1 box Explore Cuisine black bean spaghetti
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp cracked peppercorns

Preparation:

  1. Saute garlic in olive olive.
  2. Add jalapenos, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar and saute 2 minutes.
  3. Add squid and saute until rings just begin to curl. NOT ANY LONGER. Sample rings for doneness. Turn off heat.
  4. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to box directions.
  5. Add pasta, parsley, salt, pepper to pan and toss to coat well
  6. Serve!

Christine Devito from Maine:

Shiny on the Outside and Tasty on the Inside: John Dory

Shiny on the Outside and Tasty on the Inside: John Dory

"This past week I bought, cooked and ate John Dory, a fish that I had never heard of or tried before, and it was delicious! I was surprised to see it so prominently displayed at the fish market, as I thought it would be more difficult to find after not being able to find it at my local Whole Foods (they usually have what I am looking for and provide me with the relief as a consumer that all the fish they carry and sell are sustainably sourced). I rinsed the large pieces of the fish and cut them into portions sufficient to satisfy each person I was serving. The meat of the fish was Then but easy to slice through, however the skin was pretty tough and took a little extra elbow grease to get through. After cutting, I dipped each of the pieces of fish in egg and bread crumbs and fried em' up. A few friends of mine, who are also eating with the ecosystem, and I decided to all get together for a fish feast, where we all cooked our own fish, in our own way and shared a wonderful meal together. It was a lot of fun! The man at the fish counter at Whole Foods said that John Dory was similar to flounder and after eating it, I do agree with his description. I actually liked it more than flounder in account of its firm, and smooth texture and juicy, meaty taste. Not overly fishy and not at all bland. I think it has a more universal appeal in terms of the experience of flavor for the average fish eater. Overall, a positive buying, cooking and dining experience."

Andrea McCarthy from Connecticut:

Fresh whole weakfish (left), steamed weakfish with lemon and garlic (right)

Fresh whole weakfish (left), steamed weakfish with lemon and garlic (right)

"This week my four species to look for were weakfish, sea urchin, haddock, and sculpin. The only one that any of the stores I contacted had was weakfish. It was also a species I had never eaten. The weakfish gets its name from its tender jaw that is easily torn by fishing hooks. But this fish is known as other names. A more marketable name used is sea trout, and the Narragansett Indians call this fish squeteague. Weakfish is a member of the drum family, and like other drum, it makes a grunting noise by vibrating its swim bladder, but this only applies to males. It seems since the 1800’s that weakfish populations seem to come and go every 20-30 years. Recent accounts of anglers seem to indicate that the numbers might be increasing. I bought the weakfish whole and with the head, but had it cleaned and gutted. The recipe I used came from The Shelter Island 36 cookbook (http://www.theshelterisland36.com/). The book has a collection of New England recipes and is illustrated beautifully. I steamed the whole fish in aluminum foil with aromatics such as lemon and garlic inside and on top of the fish. It was very good. The meat was moist and had a light delicate texture. It was paired with cous cous and green beans. My partner has saved the head for a later meal, and he fried the bones to eat."

Cleaning Whelk

Cleaning Whelk

Craig Gogan from Rhode Island:

"We ended up finding conch at our 4th seafood market, Champlins in Narragansett. They were available both in and out of the shell. We choose to go ahead with the shell to get the whole experience. We bought 4 total, which was a little under 2 lbs and cost a total of $8.50. The meal we found right away online was for a Caribbean style rice dish so we went ahead with that since we had most of the other ingredients already. The 1.75 lbs was actually way too much and our meals were huge since we were not expecting so much meat in there. Price was right. It wasn't very hard to cook, and I feel you could do a lot with it. Taste is really good but it was definitely chewy so I could see how people may be put off by it. Next time we may need to try a better technique than steaming."
 
 

Jayne Martin from Connecticut:
"I was pleasantly surprised by the taste of Ocean Perch (Acadian Redfish) - That's the first thing I learned (2 names for the same fish). Asking the fish counter about where their fish comes from was an adventure in itself. The man at Big Y was actually a fish buyer in New York working part time evenings at the store. Who would have guessed, if I had not started explaining to him about this citizen scientist project, I would never have know that such a knowledgeable person would be helping me first hand. Looking forward to next week!"

 

For more information about the project and to follow along on some of our participants personal blogs check out our Eat Like a Fish page and #eatlikeafish. check back next week to see what our participants have been up to!

Ghosts of fisheries past

Alewives. Eels. Smelts. Frostfish. These fish don't show up in the flesh much anymore. But for longtime Rhode Island fishermen, their ghosts still haunt the coast. 

During a recent project to understand how changing environments affect fisheries, I kept hearing about these bygone fisheries. Like the frostfish. They used to show up every fall, a few old timers told me. Schools of them arrived on the south coast and the edges of the bay, always just after the first frost. It was a whole-ecosystem event; monkfish used to swim right up into the Sakonnet harbor chasing the frostfish. Fishermen chased them too, illuminated by lantern light, gathering them as they jumped out of the water and landed on the sand.

A frostfish, it turns out, is a whiting or silver hake (Merluccius bilinearis). But it is only called a frostfish when it comes in close to shore after the frost. Since whiting do not come in close to shore anymore, frostfish no longer exist. There are plenty of whiting; they just stay farther offshore -- so they are whiting, not frostfish. The monkfish don't come in to shore either. And the fishermen no longer bundle up on nippy November nights to snag a few baskets of the annual visitors. 

Why things change in the marine ecosystem is a question that is full of mystery. Some changes are linked to development and pollution in the nearshore habitat. Temperature no doubt plays a role. Predator-prey cycles and concentrated fishing pressure on localized population units can sometimes be involved. For anadromous fish, dams are a significant factor. But one thing is clear: ecosystems are the locus of human traditions, and when ecosystems change, the people who once participated in those traditions can be haunted by their memory forever.

Records of these ghosts can also be found in the archives of local newspapers:

Frostfish

(from "A Frostfish Harvest on the South Shore," Providence Journal, December 28, 1913)

"Along the shore of the old South County, where the billows of the Atlantic break and moan upon the broad sandy beach, there are few pastimes more popular or more profitable than that of gathering the palatable frostfish. On almost every calm night from early October until well into December the shore is visited by scores of persons who gather the frostfish, oftentimes by the cartload...

"According to adepts in sea lore the frostfish, a slender, scaleless denizen of the deep, said to be a first cousin to the cod, makes periodical visits to the vicinity of Narragansett bay. It appears regularly each fall to some extent, but once in every three or four years it is said to be more abundant than at other times. Some of those who make a practice of catching the fish assert that they are more abundant in presidential years. No logical reason is given as to just why these finny denizens of the deep should appear in such large numbers in this corner of the globe at the time the freeholders are intent upon selecting a Chief Executive...

"According to the old fishermen of Pirate's Paradise in the lee of Point Judith's rugged headlands the frostfish leaves his submarine retreat to haunt the inlets along the New England coast as soon as the air becomes tinged with the first suggestion of cold weather. It runs into the coves and bays, where it hovers around piers and docks, making nightly forages for food among the small bait fish along the shore. 

"Years ago, before the pollution of the Providence River became a problem, spearing the fish was a favorite diversion of residents of this city.... Even as late as a decade ago a considerable number of those who worked in factories and shops in the city made nightly pilgrimages to the east and west shores of the bay, and under favorable conditions they seldom failed in capturing half a dozen or more in a single evening.

"But it is only on the broad, sandy beaches, such as that along the coast of the South County, that the fish manifests its extraordinary habit of coming ashore and literally jumping into the hands of fishermen... [I]ts peculiar habit is taken advantage of by the farmers and fishermen. Every night when the weather is clear and cold and there is a low surf the south shore is patrolled by scores of persons carrying lanterns. They walk close to the edge of the dying breakers and seize the fish as they come floundering out of the surf. The fish are gathered in baskets, loaded into express wagons, and the catch for two or three persons very frequently amounts to several hundred pounds of fish in a single night."


River herring

(from "When the Herrings Run," Providence Journal May 13, 1917)

"With the coming of the first warm weather in May, Taunton becomes the mecca for numerous tourists from divers sections of southern New England who journey to the Massachusetts city for the purpose of watching the herring run. Scores of miles are traversed by members of this curious throng who gather along the sides of the sluiceway to watch the finny denizens of the deep sea scrambling and rumbling through the swift flowing waters on their way to the spawning ponds upstream...

"But with the residents of towns along the shores of the Taunton River the migration of the herrings from the salt sea to the inland fresh water ponds is of more than mere spectacular interest. To a very limited number the run of herring means a season of fishing de luxe, with a substantial addition to the annual income, and to a considerably greater number it means a supply of delectable fish at very moderate prices.

"Although it is pretty generally agreed among the old fishermen of Yankeedom that 'herring fishing is petering out,' the privilege is still zealously guarded and is looked upon as a financial asset by the towns bordering upon the shores of the Taunton river and these bailiwicks find little difficulty in selling the right to take the herrings each year for considerably more than the fishermen say it is worth.

"The right to take the herrings from the Taunton river is vested in the towns along its banks, but for the purpose of conserving the greatest good for the greatest number of townsfolk the practice of selling the privilege at public auction was adopted long ago. Under the law, Raynham, Somerset, Berkley, Assonet, and Fall River each has the right to sell two privileges of fish while the city of Taunton has three privileges to dispose of.

"These privileges are sold to the highest bidder on or before Nov. 15. Years ago when the herrings, or alewives, were more plentiful than they have been of late years the privilege of taking them from the stream was eagerly sought. The Taunton river herring had a wide reputation of being the most delectable species of its kind and hence was readily sold in Fall River, Boston and Providence: big hauls of fish were the rule, several thousand being taken at one sweep of the net, and the competition in the bidding for the privileges was keen."


Eels

(from "Spearing Eels," Providence Journal, March 3, 1946)

"If you feel the need for fresh air and exercise, get yourself an 18-foot eel spear, an axe and burlap bag and sally forth upon the ice clotting the coves of Narragansett Bay. Chop a hole about two feet in diameter and insert your spear, the end with the fan of hooks pointed down. Poke energetically into the mud on the bottom and you may find an eel dreaming in his bed about the fun he will have next Summer catching mummies. If you are spry and pull back your spear you may catch the eel. A brisk north wind with the temperature flirting with the zero mark will add to your spryness.

"In Greenwich Cove, where the gaffers visit the fishing shacks in Scallop Town and recall the days when a man could walk safely out on the ice as far as the Sally Rock bell buoy and 'git his fill of eeling' any day January or February, a handful of eel spearmen are at work this Winter. They are finding the best 'eeling' through the ice along the Potowomut shore across the cove from the Town of East Greenwich.

"Among them are John E. Dawley, who strokes his graying mustache and says he's 'getting pretty close to 70,' and the four Maddalena brothers. The Maddalenas - Arthur, Rinaldo, Armino, and Vito - are shell fishermen in the Summer, eel spearmen in Winter. Dawley, who came to East Greenwich in 1904, will take an eel when he can regardless of the time of year.

"The 'eeling' this year is pretty thin, say the Maddalenas, recalling the day several years ago when Rinaldo pulled 98 of the snake-like fish out of one hole in the upper end of the cove, but there are plenty for home consumption. And home consumption is just what an eel is best suited for, the Greenwich Cove spearmen insist. Skinned and chopped in sections, pan-fried, cooked in the oven or in deep fat, an eel furnishes a delicious repast."


Smelts

(from "Pawcatuck Smelts," Providence Journal, April 13, 1947)

"Synonymous with the coming of Spring in the Pawcatuck River is smelt fishing and almost as synonymous with smelt fishing in Westerly is the name of Walter W. Brayman. As soon as the back of Winter is broken and the snow disappears from the South County Hills, the smelts leave the depths of the Atlantic and swim into the brackish tidal rivers such as the Pawcatuck to spawn...

"Smelts travel up the river only at certain times of the day and to catch them a fisherman must cast his nets out just as the tide is changing. He can try 'slack water,' and he has a second chance at the first of 'flood water.' ...

"Favorite fishing ground for the Braymans are the docks at the rear of the lumber and coal yards off Main Street. With two men ashore to handle one end of the 300-foot net and two others in a skiff, the seine is hauled down-river for about 300 feet and when brought ashore the fishermen deftly pick up the silvery smelts from hundreds of 'tom cod' or 'frost fish,' as they are called locally, that also get caught in the net.

"Disposing of the catch is no problem. The fish markets will take all Brayman and his helpers can bring in. Prices now are as high as they have ever been, he says. At retail, smelts were bringing in about 60 cents a pound at the start of the season. It has been nearly 10 years, however, since catches were of sufficient size to ship out to the New York market."

Cooking With the Pros: Preparing Monkfish with Chef Max Peterson

As always, our goal is to introduce folks to the variety of seafood available in our local waters. More often than not, abundant--and underutilized--species are not well known or eaten. As a whole, a very small portion of the food web is eaten, which results in an imbalance in the ecostystem. That's where our School of Fish comes in.

Take scup, skate and monkfish, for example. We've shown roomfuls of guests how to prepare each of these species, with delicious results. The goal with our School of Fish is to show folks just how delicious these underutilized species are in class, with the hope that they'll take what they've learned and incorporate it into their homes.

Monkfish: Our Fish of Choice for the Third School of Fish

We had the pleasure of having Chef Max Peterson of Hemenway's in Providence teach our third class. His underutilized fish of choice was monkfish. Monkfish is also referred to as Poor Man's Lobster because it is similar in texture to lobster. It is however much leaner. 

Monkfish can be intimidating to work with given the size of the fish and its appearance. 

Monkfish is the catch of the day for School of Fish

Monkfish is the catch of the day for School of Fish

Although only the tail of the monkfish is edible, it is available either whole or fileted. In the marine environment, monkfish perch themselves on the sea floor, where they hunt for prey. They are a type of angler fish, and have the ability to lure their prey in with three modified spines called filaments. 

Monkfish filaments

Monkfish filaments

Chef Peterson took guests through the process of prepping the monkfish, including removing the large head, the skin, the thin membrane covering the tail filets, and the spine. Prepared simply by sauteing filet segments in oil, after seasoning the filet with only salt, Chef Peterson gently basted the monkfish every few minutes with the oil in the pan, and added white wine, butter, and fresh herbs (chervil, parsley, and chives) at the last minute.

Simply put, the guests had the chance to eat expertly prepared monkfish, and savored every bite.

Learn. Eat. Repeat. Our Second School of Fish at Hope & Main

After our first School of Fish at Hope & Main, a roomful of guests walked away with the knowledge of how to prepare and eat scup. They came as interested individuals, hungry to get to know the variety of fish available from our waters and how to prepare it. With the assistance of area chefs, they have succeeded, and hopefully brought this new found knowledge home to their friends and families.  

At our second School of Fish on March 21, two new chefs instructed a new room of guests on how to prepare another local fish: skate. There are seven species of this mild, white fish commercially fished in the Northwest Atlantic fishery. Although skate is eaten around the world, it's less popular here and often used for bait in other area fisheries. 

Chef Joe Simone and Sous Chef Antonio Aguiar of Simone's in Warren prepared a little skate for the guests. As it turns out, only the wings of skate are filleted and eaten. Another interesting fact about skate is that they're like sharks in that they don't have any bones. In fact, they're made of cartilage.

Sous Chef Antonio Aquiar and Chef Joe Simone

Sous Chef Antonio Aquiar and Chef Joe Simone

Skate: Our Fish of Choice for the Second School of Fish

The little skate Chef Joe prepared could have been perceived as an intimidating task, but he made quick and easy work of the fillets. Being the creative and talented chef he is, he prepared the skate fillets two ways: skate piccata lightly breaded in flour, sauteed and finished with butter, fresh sage and capers, and skate over gnocchi in a rich cream sauce. On the side was a gigantic salad of arugula, shaved fennel and generous shavings of Parmigiano Reggiano.

Little skate to be filleted 

Little skate to be filleted 

Our hungry guests

Our hungry guests

Success can be determined in many ways. For us, seeing area chefs take the time to learn how to prepare underutilized seafood for curious onlookers, and then highly considering using it in their own restaurant is an accomplishment. Sometimes it takes one person, one chef or one room of interested individuals to get the ball rolling. Now we can count two rooms of individuals, four chefs total and another class coming up in our repertoire of educated folks. If a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step, then one can imagine that a journey of introducing the Ocean State to underutilized fish begins with one class, our School of Fish.

Stay tuned for our next class on April 25, and get tickets here.

Learn How to Prepare Area Seafood at our School of Fish at Hope & Main

I bet the last piece of seafood you bought or ate from the supermarket was either raised on a farm or fished somewhere other than Narragansett Bay. Of course it was; there are very few places to buy local fish, plus, very few folks even know what to do with them. We bet you've heard names like scup, tautog, flounder, skate and bluefish, to name a few. Imagine if you knew how delicious they were and how to prepare them at home.

Our School of Fish series at Hope & Main is aiming to accomplish that. Eating with the Ecosystem has made it our mission to increase Rhode Islander's awareness of the diversity of species available for consumption in our environment. Now we're going one step further--we're teaching you how to cook these species with the help of area chefs. We're here to help you take the fear out of fish so that you can confidently make them at home. 

You, Too, Can Cook a Whole Fish

The fish of choice for the first series was scup--commonly known as porgy. Scup is a small, tender white fish that is a great candidate for cooking whole. Under the guidance of Chef Jonathan Cambra and Chef Max Peterson, a room full of guests learned how to cook a whole scup.

Chef Max Peterson and Jonathan Cambra

Chef Max Peterson and Jonathan Cambra

Whole Scup to be pan-seared and finished in the oven

Whole Scup to be pan-seared and finished in the oven

Taking the Fear out of Fish

The chefs took guests step by step through trimming the fins and scales, gutting, cleaning, marinating, pan-searing and then finishing the scup in the oven. To top it off, seasonal vegetables were served alongside the tender, flaky and delicious fish. That night the choices were oven roasted potatoes, onions and peppers. They even paired the meal with a crisp and tart vinho verde white wine. 

Throughout the night the chefs took turns answering questions from the guests: Is it fine to keep the scales on? Why can't I buy this at my local market? Is it okay to keep the scup fillet on the bone? Diners kept the discussion going beyond scup preparation and into the seated meal. Fishermen and their spouses attended; fisheries observers put in their two cents about the fishing industry; and interested individuals all partook in the lively conversation centered around a fish that is rarely eaten at home by the majority of Rhode Islanders. And that was the point. 

Eating with the Ecosystem can now count on another roomful of individuals to diversify their diet with this lesser known fish species. Hopefully, they'll share their experience with others, and get them on board to incorporate scup into their diet. If they do, it'll be a delicious success.

Stay tuned for the next classes on March 21 and April 25.

How to feed the community, support local fishermen, lower our carbon footprint, and connect with our local ecosystems -- all in one meal

How to feed the community, support local fishermen, lower our carbon footprint, and connect with our local ecosystems -- all in one meal

My idea, which certainly I did not invent, is that to enact this model of a localized food chain, people like us have to be the ones to begin. We have to walk the walk, so to speak. Big restaurants on the Cape need cod on the menu... so... that's out of my realm of influence at the moment. But locals, who learn how to cook and prepare other kinds of species, almost always are pleasantly surprised! Skate wing has gained some popularity, and that is a local abundant fish! Monkfish as well! These fish have made it to the menu!

A Trip to Galilee

A Trip to Galilee

One of the biggest frustrations for the captain I spoke to is not that regulations exist, as the Boston Globe might have you believe. It’s that his catches, day-to-day, do not match up with the quotas that he adheres to. For example, though he currently catches a lot of monkfish, he discards much of it to stay under the limit. In other words, he’s mad about wasting a resource.