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Jun 29, 2012 09:07 PM

Local Catch Monterey Bay - Community Supported Fishery

This week I read about Local Catch Monterey Bay, a community supported fishery (modeled after CSAs), distributing local seafood and connecting customers with fishermen. The article has some good photos too.

I'm wondering if anyone can share their experiences with LCMB. I like that there is a whole fish or filet option. These are the delivery points for Tuesday drop-off.

Ben Lomond
Boulder Creek
Sandabs Seafood & Wine Bar, Scotts Valley
The Food Bin, Westside Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz Mountain Brewery, Westside Santa Cruz
Point Market, Pleasure Point
Cabrillo College, Aptos
MBARI, Moss Landing
Zeph’s One Stop, Salinas
CSUMB, Seaside/Marina
Sweet Elena’s Bakery, Sand City
Monterey Institute of International Studies, Monterey
Pacific Grove Adult School, Pacific Grove
Eco Carmel, Carmel
Lokal Restaurant, Carmel Valley

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  1. I just moved to the area, and this is very exciting. One of the places mentioned is very near where I work. I am going to look into sharing a membership with some co-workers, and will report back if it goes forward. Off topic, I work in Salinas and would love to have an updated Salinas thread!

    7 Replies
    1. re: karenfinan

      I'm thinking about it too because I can walk to the Salinas drop off point from my mom's house. Might ask one of my cousins to share with her.

      Please do post about places you've tried in Salinas, both thumbs up and thumbs down. There aren't many locals who post, but some do check in from time to time, and others will find your reports via search engines and join the conversation.

      1. re: Melanie Wong

        We have been Local Catch members since January, and have thoroughly enjoyed it. It is certainly a commitment, as CSA's typically are. However, the quality of the fish and seafood, the access to uncommon fish such as Sablefish, the opportunity to learn about local seafood and which species' populations are healthy and which are not and why, the value you get for your money, the flexibility to put your membership on hold by simply sending an email, the web store, the recipes, the community, and the top notch customer service, all make it worth while. I know, I sound like a commercial, but we have been truly impressed and are enjoying it so much, and we get to support local fishermen!

        1. re: brettmelone

          Thanks for sharing your positive experience. Part of the attraction for me was indeed the sablefish (aka butterfish aka black cod aka gindara) that I saw discussed on its blog. I love sablefish and pay about $16/lb for Bolinas sourced. Then checking the blog again today, I see that Local Catch smoked some salmon. I hope they'll do the same with any excess sablefish, as that's the stuff of dreams as any Russ & Daughters (NY) fan can tell you.

          What was holding me back was that I didn't have a good sense of the variety of catch. But scanning through the facebook page showed me a lot more: rock fish, sandabs, Calif seabass. I think I paid $18/lb for white seabass from a broker in Atascadero last summer.

          Also I use mostly whole fish, and for species too large to cook whole, I still prefer steaks to filets to cook them on the bone. A small share seems to be enough for 3 dinner servings, from what I can tell from reading the member blog. I'd still be able to patronize my local fish monger for the small sweet fish he carries that are so good for steaming whole.

          Guess this would be going full circle for me. My ancestors who immigrated here from China nearly 200 years ago were fishermen off Monterey Bay. We need to sustain the next generation.

          1. re: Melanie Wong

            Thank you for sharing your family background with us. This fish CSA is a fabulous idea and could help promote more consumption of fish in a sustainable way.

            1. re: Tripeler

              There are a couple that serve the San Francisco area. The cool thing about this one is the focus on local, Monterey Bay seafood.

        2. re: Melanie Wong

          I grew up in salinas! The best mexican food EVER is gutierrez:

          Its a total dive, and mostly mexican customers. They are famous for the carnitas, order by the lb and sides, tortillas to make your own tacos. The seafood mixed cocktail is great but spicy! Stupid cheap and generous portions. My mom has been going there for nearly 40years now, i make a trip when in town

      2. I did get my act in gear to sign up, going on six weeks now. I have photos from each week and thought I'd share them here. I went with the small share, whole fish option.

        Week 1, October 2, Sand dabs

        I picked up my fish on the early side, before 4pm, mostly because I wanted to see the others shares and how my whole fish option would compare to the filet option. My bag o' fish weighed about 3x more than the pan ready fish and I was pleased with my choice. Total weight was almost three pounds. The nine dabs included one large, five medium, and three small ones. I gave four to my cousin. The fish were very slippery and had no scent, a sure sign of freshness. I will admit that I was disappointed that they were not beheaded and gutted, but with soft bones, it was not difficult to dress them myself. And I understand that the whole fish option is usually cleaned but not dabs.

        That night I steamed them the Cantonese way with ginger, scallions, soy sauce, peanut oil, and white pepper. Only takes nine minutes, then dressed with a little bit of sesame oil. For me, this is the best way to show off a pristinely fresh fish.

        The next day, I finished the remaining fish dusting them with seasoned tapioca starch and panfrying in peanut oil. Love the crunchy tail and fin bones! A little caper-lemon butter was all they needed.

        Retail value of 3 lbs of whole sand dabs is ~ $9.

        1. Week 2, October 9, California Spiny Lobster

          In Salinas we're fortunate to have a very good fishmonger, Frank's, who offers quite a few local fish as well as whole fish. Yet, I signed up for Local Catch because I was seeking even more diversity. This week was a good example of that and also of how the value of the deliveries will average out over the weeks. The spiny lobsters came from the Santa Barbara area rather than Monterey Bay and were delivered cooked. This was also a lesson in the value of picking up on the early side, as the size per share varied widely. Smaller lobsters were offered whole and larger ones were cut in half. I sacrificed the tomalley by choosing one that was halved, but the ratio of meat to shell was much greater. The half-lobster weighed about a pound.

          Since Mom is allergic to lobster, this one was all mine! I cut the tail meat into medallions and made a luxurious potato salad using the same size discs of red potatoes and a dressing of mayonnaise, capers, scallions, lemon juice, lemon rind, salt, and Aleppo pepper.

          The legs were big enough to be worth trying to get the meat out. Then the shells went into the pot to make stock for risotto.

          Retail value ~ $30

          1. Week 3, October 16, Swordfish filet

            Even though I received the regular email on Monday with the info for this week's catch, it completely slipped my mind to pick up my fish until 6:30p when I started to think about what I wanted for dinner. I'd been excited about swordfish as this week's delivery because I'd wanted to try my hand at making swordfish pibil that I'd read about. But no time for much prep, gotta get dinner on the table. Instead of choosing one of the thicker, chunkier pieces in the cooler, I took a wide, flat steak that would sear easily. I also picked one with more of the nape, the fatty belly meat. This piece weighed close to a pound, enough for three portions.

            I cut the steak into three pieces to make it easier to handle and serve. Smeared with a little bit of mayonnaise to coat (seals in juices and makes a nicely browned crust) then lightly seared in a frying pan and put the lid on briefly to pan roast and cook through to medium. Meanwhile made a tartar sauce with the last mushy dill pickle from last year's batch, scallions, capers, mayonnaise, lemon juice, and s & p. Mom and I dove in with forks and knives to dine on this very firm fish. The third piece I cooked the same day, put away, and served cold over a salad for lunch on Thursday.

            Retail value ~ $20

            Xipias gladius AKA Swordfish + Spiny Lobsters (first-come first-served!)

            1. I am really enjoying reading this thread. I read about this group earlier this year. I wish they would deliver to the LA area.

              5 Replies
              1. re: JudiAU

                Thanks, Judi. A couple years ago I shared two CSAs with a friend, documenting each week with a photograph and had the best of intentions of writing a compare and contrast that never happened, to my great regret. So, I didn't want this one to get away without talking about it here. I'm quite happy so far and felt that by sharing, others might get consider joining up. I should be caught up soon, and I hope that others who are members will add their thought too.

                I've heard that the CSF has had many requests to deliver over the hill to the San Jose area, but so far, no go. In my soon to be six weeks as a member, three of the deliveries were split species, meaning that there was not enough of one kind of seafood to go around and members got different things. I've yet to get any sablefish, as it has gone to other members two of the weeks, and getting access to local sablefish was one of the main reasons I signed up.

                1. re: Melanie Wong

                  Yes, I have the perpetual fantasy of what I call the "San Francisco bus" which is crowded with my favorite vendors from the Bay Area and shows up weekly at the Hollywood Farmer's Market. When Saint Benoit started showing up I kept dreaming that one week they'd have Rancho Gordo beans and the next week they'd have Fatted Calf charcuterie, all tucked into a little corner..

                  1. re: JudiAU

                    Of late there seems to be some cross-pollination going on with Bay Area chefs relocating south though I did see the news yesterday about Jeremy Fox quitting his latest venture. I had Rancho Gordo beans at a place in Kansas City last month, surely your local restaurants serve them. RG's market list has several retail outlets in the LA area . . . the dream's a little closer.

                  2. re: Melanie Wong

                    did you get to try some of the local sablefish when you were in Slo Co recently? Giovanni's and Spencer's often have it in MB. It's very good!

                    1. re: toodie jane

                      No, I did not, as we ended up not cooking much at home. I'd looked at Giovanni's website before heading to the area and had noticed sable for sale. Lucky you!

                      The CSF blog has alerted us that Dungeness crab season will be the primary focus of the local fishermen. I imagine that we'll get a crab or two soon. They'll be cooked as there's no facility for dropping off live seafood. Not crazy about someone else cooking my crab, but gotta go with the flow. Also, there will be a two-week hiatus during the holidays.