Seafood available between Maine Shrimp and Soft Shell Crab seasons?
Wondering if there is anything that the oceans have to offer we should be trying this time of year?
Guessing hard shell lobsters might be an option, but prices seem to be a bit on the high side most likely because of fuel prices?
Maine shrimp season was wonderful but somewhat short this year due to state regulations...
What delights should we be looking out for?
If you are talking about local seafood, this is a difficult time of year because of high demand (Lent) and certain fishery closures. Sea scallops, local clams and oysters (enjoy whatever is available before read tide season), and lobsters are all good bets. There is plenty of fish imported from other fisheries -- dealers like Courthouse, New Deal, Fresh Pond, Concord Prime should be able to direct you to something interesting. Also there are some ethnic seasonal items, such as dried fishes (other than cod) in Central American markets -- check out Amigo's Market or La Internacional in Somerville.
I was very tempted by the salt cod at Salumaria in the North End yesterday. It looked like it was great quality which is exactly what I would expect of them. I haven't cooked with it in years and would love to know if anyone here has a favorite place to buy salt cod in the area.
I believe the guillotine/cleaver-like device mounted to the Courthouse counter is for bisecting boards of bacalau, which has got to count for something. I'd go there or New Deal, if either are convenient.
OP, check out the fatty porgies from Virginia at New Deal or black bass. I think black bass may be my favorite NE fish. But really, the best approach is to walk into New Deal, Courthouse, or a similar real fishmonger and ask them. Don't be afraid to specify a price limit if necessary--one step towards the halibut could pay for a dry-aged steak.
Hard shell lobsters are $8/lb from Market Basket, I think. Still not too bad, considering the additional meat you get.
BostonZest by and large most of the salt cod sold in stores which sell to Portuguese and Italian customers in Boston is good quality (Asian stores often work too). Some have a wider selection than others, so what is important is to know what you need -- you need something different for "bacalao al pil pil" than brandade de moure or salt cod to put on pizza. I would think that between Salumaria, Mercato del Mare, and maybe J Pace (they used to sell it before the dig) you could find what you need in the North End w/o going to East Cambridge and Cmart is another option.
For most purposes buying boneless/skinless salt cod is easiest and you have much less waste. If you need a thick piece of salt cod for a recipe, very few stores will cut from that end of a piece -- its probalby in your interest to buy the whole piece. The best value is McKinnon's when they have salt cod on sale which is a medium size piece of boneless/skinless (last year they did put in on sale during lent) -- note they cut it in 3 to fit on the tray. Courthouse sometimes sells the trimmings in 2lb bags at a good discount (excellent price for good cod). Seabra in Somerville had the largest selection I have seen -- boneless/skinless, bits, multiple grades of skin on -- but I haven't been back recently. For learning recipes which don't use large pieces, consider using salted alaskan pollock -- Johnnie's Foodmaster, some Stop and Shops, and Market Basket sell it and at MB its sometimes $3.99. I don't bother with the bagged Goya/Goncalves or small wooden boxes of salt cod, I can get larger pieces from Johnnie's Foodmaster Somerville/Medford or Stop & Shop (Medford/Stoneham) if in a bind...
Although Salt Cod stores very well, keep a few things in mind. If you store it in plastic at room temp it will sweat and may develop mold. In the refridgerator its going to absorb moisture and possibly flavors from other things. So buy the salt cod from somewhere which has a lot of turnover, make sure you wrap it well in your fridge, and maybe even freeze if you are going to keep it for longer or want to store cooked or pre-soaked salt cod for easy fillings later. Also you don't need to desalt the cold for days or weeks, just use enough water and change it three times (preferably in the refridgerator) overnight. If you need salt cod quickly for a recipe you can bring it to a boil, again changing the water (usually I bring to a light boil, change the water, repeat, repeat), for about 30 minutes but then you will be working with cooked cod.
itaunas, Thank you for all this information. The deep knowledge and generosity of many chowhounds never ceases to amaze me. You reminded me of things I had forgotten and added to my salt cod background. (And, I worked my way though college selling fish!)
The product at Salumaria looked wonderful but deep in the back of the mind of every fussy cook is the thought that there just might be a better version out there that they haven't found yet.
have you had razor clams? not season-related, but full moon-harvesting related availability.( see recent thread via search).