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:
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!"
David Ford from Rhode Island shared his recipe for local squid over black bean pasta with jalapenos, parsley and garlic:
- 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
- Saute garlic in olive olive.
- Add jalapenos, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar and saute 2 minutes.
- Add squid and saute until rings just begin to curl. NOT ANY LONGER. Sample rings for doneness. Turn off heat.
- Meanwhile, cook pasta according to box directions.
- Add pasta, parsley, salt, pepper to pan and toss to coat well
Christine Devito from Maine:
"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:
"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."
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!