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.
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
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
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!
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.
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!
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.
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
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.
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
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!)
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.
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..
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.
re: Melanie Wong
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.
Week 4, October 23 - Blackgill Rockfish filets
I was excited when blackgill rockfish was announced as the seafood of the week, as whole ones are delicious steamed. But then the word came in that the fish turned out to be supersized and everyone would be getting fillets as all were too large to portion out as whole fish.
I chose the bag of fish with four smaller fillets rather than three larger ones, weighing almost two pounds. That's enough for four servings. These were skin-off and had some small bones still in them.
With a little more time before dinner this week, I made a Sinaloan-style marinade of mayonnaise, minced fresh San Marzano tomato, minced garlic and onion, ancho chile powder, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, and black pepper. After the filets marinated for an hour, I grilled them to make Pescado Zarandeado. Mom and I had them with verduras en escabeche ("hot carrots" and pickled onions) and Mexican rice for dinner. The next day I used the saved marinade for the one remaining filet, the biggest piece, cooked it the same way and made fish tacos with avocado and salsa fresca.
Retail value ~ $16
Blackgill Rockfish + BN Ranch Turkeys + T-Shirt Special
Week 5, October 30, Pacific Sand Dabs
When I signed up, I paid for the minimum duration, four weeks, as a trial period. Happy so far, I re-upped for week 5 and beyond. My first week I missed out on sablefish, as my site received sand dabs instead. Not unhappy about that as we love sand dabs. But this week was a split delivery too, and we lost the toss, getting dabs again and not white seabass. Nine fish again, but larger this time with one huge one, four large, four mediums, and no small ones. I gave four of them to a friend. Total weight was over three pounds.
I was more proficient this go-round in gutting and beheading the whole dabs. Practice makes perfect. Sand dabs are my favorite fish for steaming, so first night prep was clear-steaming again. The next day, I pan-fried the sand dabs and accompanied with a chile-lime "aioli" (lime juice, crushed garlic, sriracha sauce and commercial mayonnaise). My mother let me know that she prefers her dabs steamed. I retorted that I fried them because they weren't as fresh as the first day. Then she said that they were still fresher than we'd usually get at the market, and I had to agree. Guess we'll only steam the next time they come around.
Oh, and while I did cut off the heads, mostly to make it easier for the fish to fit in pan, I experimented with dusting and frying them. Even thought I cooked them to a deep brown, the bones don't get crispy enough to crunch and eat. Next time I'll freeze the fish heads until I accumulate enough to make stock.
Pacific Sanddabs or White Seabass, Depending on Your Site
Retail value ~ $10
Week 6, November 6, Previously Frozen Pacific Albacore
Another two-species drop week, and for the second time, I lost the sablefish lottery. My pick-up site received previously frozen Pacific Albacore. In most cases, I would have been unhappy with frozen fish, but in the case of albacore and other tunas, this ensured that it was safe to eat raw or less than fully cooked. Two boneless loin-shaped pieces weighed a total of 1.5 pounds. These were quite deeply colored, close to the shade of aji tuna and not the paleness I associate with albacore.
The first night I let one of the pieces warm up to room temperature, then seared the outside and sliced into medallions to make shiro maguro tataki. Even with a very sharp knife, the loin did not cut cleanly across as the piece had not been butchered along the grain and was somewhat cock-eyed. But tastes the same and was quite buttery in texture nonetheless. I made a dipping sauce of scallions, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, mirin, red pepper flakes, rice wine vinegar, and light soy sauce.
This summer during the local albacore run, a couple of my friends put up two whole albacores' worth of canned tuna conserva. I missed out on the fun, and was happy to have a chance to make some for myself (refrigerated, not processed). I used this recipe from the LA Times,
After letting it age a week in the fridge, I let it warm to room temperature, and served it with warm boiled potatoes, end of season tomatoes, and Castelvetrano olives. Not a bad result, but I'd say that the Times instructions to cook for about 15 minutes results in overdone. I've since seen other recipes that cook for 9 to 10 minutes, and that's what I'd do next time I have extra tuna on hand.
Sablefish or Albacore, Depending on Your Site
Retail value ~ $18
Week 7, November 13 - Opah (Sunfish)
This week only fillets were available, as sunfish are too enormous to distribute as whole fish. Also, they were packaged in opaque waxed butcher paper, making it impossible for me to know what I was getting. I just went by heft, picking the heaviest package and one that felt like it had two pieces in inside. Turns out the two slabs weighed a total of one pound and seemed to be from two very different parts of the fish. The larger piece was lean and a deep orange-red color, cut nearly square. The smaller one was a paler pink in hue with fatty marbling and a curved edge that might be from the belly or close to the collar.
That night I clear steamed the large, lean piece with the usual aromatics to get a sense of the native flavor of this fish. Not much there, and I needed to add quite a bit of salt at the table. Very firm and meaty in texture, not unlike swordfish, I needed a steak knife to cut it. The flavor was pretty bland, blanker than even tilapia.
Two days later, I prepared the smaller, fattier piece by smearing with mayonnaise, sprinkling each side liberally with salt, coating with ground macadamia nuts and pan frying in coconut oil. This was accompanied by making a condiment paste of Picholine olives, scallions, basil, and marash pepper moistened with a little extra virgin olive oil. The softer texture might not appeal to everyone, but it played well with the crunchy coating and the flavor of the fattier cut was much richer. More salt in the prep helped too.
I would not have been interested in buying Opah again based on the first lean piece. But the second example made me a believer.
Retail value ~ $15
Opah opah opah!
Week 8, November 20, Oysters
With the opening of the commercial Dungeness season, I'd expected crab, but no. Oysters from Marin's Tomales Bay, 22 of them billed as Miyagis though I'm not so sure about that. Only three had anywhere close to the deep cups and serrated rim around the shell that distinguish miyagis. These were in fact gnarly looking oysters, some elongated and thinnish, others with concave shells that were pretty hard to open. A restaurateur would not display these in a raw bar.
This week would also marked my first experience shucking oysters. Yes, I've been to the farms and have eaten thousands of oysters on the half-shell, yet have always found someone to do the deed for me. First I watched a couple instructional videos, then read written directions.
Armed with my late father's oyster knife, an old-fashioned style called a Chesapeake Stabber, I managed to free six oysters and sucked them down with a squeeze of lemon. Very briny and sweet with a celery leaf aftertaste, though they were a bit soft. The rest spent the night in the refrigerator under a damp towel.
The next day I baked the remaining 16 oysters at 400 degrees for 10 minutes to help ease them open. Even with this assist, the ones with twisted shells were quite difficult to open. One of the oysters was rotten. The remaining 15 made less than 1/3 cup of oyster meat. I felt glad that I had not planned to use them for a Thanksgiving oyster stuffing.
I stir-fried julienned red onion, serrano chile, and celery with some shaved ginger and garlic, tossed in the oysters with a spoonful of garlic-black bean sauce for a quick cook, and served with steamed rice.
The rough shells scratched up my left hand and it was not easy to finish prep for the week's T-day feast.
Marin Miyagi Oysters
Retail value ~ $17
Week 9, November 27, Chilipepper Rockfish
Hurrah! Finally another whole fish! When I first signed up for Local Catch, I envisioned that I'd be getting whole fish more often than filets and would soon have a freezer full of fish heads and racks of bones. The reality is much different. I've noticed that at my drop point, where about two dozen subscribers pick-up, I'm the only one who has selected the whole fish option.
My fish weighed in at 3.25 pounds. So slippery that I could barely grasp it to remove the scales, and the clear and bright eyes, attested to its freshness. I cut it into three pieces: head (for the freezer and a future fish head curry), middle section and tail section.
Rockfish on the bone are some of the best fish for steaming though the Chilipepper variety is somewhat blander than other types. For the first piece, I seasoned with the Hunan salt-cured organic serrano chiles I'd put up this fall. The second dinner, I used a miso, ginger and garlic paste to rub the fish and then steamed it.
Retail value ~ $22
December 4 – No catch to share due to weather
Week 10, December 11 – Dungeness Crab
Simple this week, cooked Dungeness crab. The CSF doesn’t have the ability to deal with live seafood so that catch was cooked and cleaned. One share was 1.5 crabs, divided into halves with the legs and body portions, and weighed in at 1.4 pounds.
Being a stickler for buying the liveliest crabs and steaming them myself, I was not thrilled at pre-cooked. But they didn’t do a bad job, the legs were only slightly overdone to my taste. And this made for two easy meals of just sitting down with a plate of chilled unadorned crab to pick during the busy holiday season.
Crabs were in short supply that week so prices were at a premium.
Retail value ~ $25
Week 11, December 18, Market Squid tenderized tubes
Falling too far behind and need to get caught up . . . this delivery was the last of the Year 2012. The weekly newsletter brought the news that the CSF had grown to 370+ members and was now the largest one on the West Coast. I'm thrilled that this many Monterey Bay citizens are supporting local fishermen and sustainable seafood.
When I first enrolled, Local Catch asked me if there were any species that I hadn't had before but was excited to try. I replied that there were very few local species I'd not tried, naming Monkeyface "eel" and grass shrimp specifically. I also sent in a list of local fish that I'd like to have: goose barnacles, surf smelt, spot prawns, swordfish, lingcod, crayfish, mussels, Sacramento blackfish, spiny lobster, grunion, anchovies, sierra mackerel, sea urchin, rock crabs, petrale, rex sole. In 2012, LC did bring us spiny lobster and swordfish, and last week, we had petrale.
The catch of sablefish from the boat planned for Week 11 came in short. This made me start to ponder what the implications for getting the variety of seafood species I had hoped for might be when the membership base becomes this big and there's not enough to go around. While I'm sure that uniformity in deliveries across the entire base is a far simpler task, I hope that Local Catch will consider split species, that is delivering smaller catches of two or more different kinds of fish to bring us more diversity of flavor.
Instead of sablefish, we got market squid, caught from local waters, processed into tenderized tubes, frozen and defrosted. While the newsletter said each member would get about 2 pounds, mine weighed in at 1 pound 6 ounces (including the bag). E coli infections spread via bladed beef had just been in the news again, and I have to say that the resemblance of the puncture wounds in the squid to that processed beef was particularly unappetizing.
The tubes were split, so my plans for stuffing them would not work. Instead on the first day, I sliced them into lengthwise strips like noodles, then added them at the end to a stir-fry of green beans, ginger, garlic, and Hunan pickled chiles. The remainder on the second day were griddled briefly just until the liquid started to seep and the edges curled. Then they were tossed into spinach farfalle pasta with Picholine olives, fried garlic, capers, lemon zest and juice, butter and EVOO.
In both preps, the squid was merely filler as even cooked underdone, they were quite flavorless. They lacked the sweetness of fresh squid and had considerably less flavor than whole local squid frozen in blocks which can be a good product to use off-season. Too much liquid leached out from the stab wounds and the flesh was too dry, even when undercooked. Strong seasonings were in order to make them taste like anything.
Market value ~ $20
Market squid and the year in review
Week 12, January 9, 2013, Rockfish Fillets (Bocaccio)
The good news was local rockfish this week and a type I was not familiar with called Bocaccio. The bad news, skinless fillets again, with the two pieces shown weighing in at 1 pound, 2 ounces total, including the wrapping.
Sorry to keep harping about this, but I expected to get more whole fish when I signed up for this CSF. If the fish are too big for one share, then how about whacking it in half and distributing it to two members? I want the head, bones, and skin. I believe in cooking with whole animals and I know how to deal with the whole shebang and not waste it.
I made a lunch and dinner of the bocaccio. Dinner was dusted and pan-fried served with a pepian sauce. The pepian was toasted pumpkin seeds, rehydrated Ancho chiles, garlic, salted serrano chiles, garlic, onion, Baja California extra virgin olive oil, cilantro, lime juice, and some of the chile soaking water blended to a smooth sauce in the blender.
The next day, the fillet was marinated Sinaloan-style for pescado zarandeado, then pan-fried in coconut oil and served in tacos.
The Bocaccio had a bit softer texture and fuller sweeter flavor than either the black gill or chilipepper rockfish we've had through Local Catch before.
Retail value ~ $14
Week 13, January 15, Pacific Herring
Whole fish this time, sort of. Ten beheaded and gutted silvery little Pacific herring from San Francisco Bay weighing in at 1 lb 2 oz. The CSF said that a couple bags of the prized roe would be available at each delivery site. But even arriving before 4pm, I missed out on snagging that bounty.
For the first day, when the fish were at their freshest, I did a very simple prep. Just dusted with sea salt, grilled, and served with a paste of finely minced fresh ginger and Meyer lemon zest and a squeeze of the juice.
Then with a crazy week, I forgot that I still had five on hand until four days later. They passed the sniff test, but stronger seasonings were still called for. I made Nishin no uma-ni by reducing mirin, sake and soy sauce to a syrup. While that was cooking down, I fileted the herring. Then to the syrup added dashi, fresh ginger and sugar. After bringing that to a vigorous boil, dropped in the herring filets, turned off the heat and allowed to steep in the hot liquid. Served this with grated ginger and scallions with steamed rice.
My mother was none too fond of this week's catch. She said that the fishermen should take this bait and catch her something bigger.
Retail value: $10
It's Herring Season
Week 14, January 22, Dungeness Crab
The equivalent of two Dungeness Crabs, cooked, cleaned and halved (without the carapace), weighed in at 2 pounds, 2 ounces. While I prefer to cook my own live crabs, the pre-cooked crab delivery is the easiest meal possible.
For the first night, I shelled and picked over one of the crabs to make Crab Louie. The dressing combined mayonnaise, crema, catsup, sriracha sauce, worcestershire, horseradish, lemon juice, and salt. Most importantly, *NO PICKLE RELISH*! Stirred into the crab meat and served over a bed of chopped romaine with hard-cooked eggs, scallions and cherry tomatoes.
The next day, I made a marinade of Meyer lemon juice & zest, chopped Italian parsley, crushed garlic, chile flakes, Greek oregano, salt, and extra virgin olive oil. I gave the remaining crab a good cracking with the butt of a Chinese cleaver, then let it steep in the marinade overnight. Another easy meal.
Retail value ~ $22
re: Melanie Wong
In truth, I don't have a problem with pickle relish in other things. My beef is that Louie/Louis dressing is often described as the same as Thousand Island when it is not. Louie dressing does not include the pickle relish of Thousand Island and it's also spicier. Someone needs to speak up for traditional recipes.
re: Melanie Wong
re: Melanie Wong
Gosh, I don't have a recipe. I've been making this dressing since I was a kid. The only changes since then are that I'll add a couple spoons of crema or sour cream if it's on hand, and the chili sauce is now Sriracha because that's what's in the fridge. In addition to the ingredients I listed above, there should also be some minced garlic and/or onion.
I mostly go by the color. Most recipes use too much mayo for my taste. I suggest starting with 1/2 c mayo and 1/4 c ketchup, so a 2:1 ratio, then add a spoonful or more of the other ingredients to taste. If that's not enough mayo, stir some more in if the flavors too intense for you. By starting with a small amount you don't wind up with too huge a batch by the time you've finished doctoring it to your taste. Besides crab, Louis dressing is good with a shrimp salad too the rest of the year.
You're welcome. I had a hard time deciding whether to subscribe, so perhaps having more information will help others make their own decision. Also, we get questions about local seafood and few have much knowledge about what is available in the local waters. Maybe this chronology will give a better idea.
Week 15, January 29, Petrale Sole
Yay, Local Catch supplied Petrale for the first time. For my whole fish option, I received three weighing a total of 3 pounds 4 ounces. These were landed off Fort Bragg. I needed to gut them myself . . . but I'm getting more adept at it.
One of my mother's neighbors had mentioned to me that she cleans and freezes calamari during the season in order to have them year-round. I figured she'd know what to do with a whole fish and gave her one. The other two we had on successive nights prepared simply in the Cantonese clear-steaming way, seasoned with scallion, ginger, soy sauce, and sesame oil.
Retail value ~ $21
Week 16, February 5, Sand Dabs
Very happy to have my beloved sand dabs again, especially as whole fish. Bigger and plumper this go-round with eight of them weighing 3 pounds 9 ounces, more than the previous delivery of nine weighed.
On Days 1 and 2, I did the simplest prep, clear-steaming them with ginger, green onions, soy sauce, and peanut oil. The rest on Day 3 were pan-fried in coconut oil.
Retail value ~ $11
Week 17, February 12, Dungeness Crabs
The equivalent of two Dungeness Crabs, cooked, cleaned and halved. On the small side this week, weighing a total of 1 pound 12 ounces, and two legs were missing.
My sister was in town this week to pick up the delivery and take it home with her.
Retail value ~ $18
Week 18, February 19, Petrale Sole
A plethora of flat fish in recent weeks! And that's not a complaint as I much prefer getting the whole beast and dabs and petrale are among our favorite.
Three big guys, landed off Fort Bragg, and just by hefting felt heavier than the previous delivery of Petrale. I forgot to weigh them this time, as I was in a hurry to hand off two fish to our neighbor. We were headed out of town the next day and could only cook one for ourselves. Clear-steaming, Cantonese style again.
The photos below show the white underside and the sand-colored dabbled upside of the Petrale.
Retail value ~ $20+
Week 19, February 26, Marin Miyagi Oysters and Smoked Sablefish
Three ounces of smoked sablefish and 16 Miyagi oysters from Marin this week.
I'm not a fan of Miyagis, and these didn't advance them in my estimation. Quite emaciated, and two were filled with black grit. Shucked with liquor, the remaining 14 amounted to less than one-half cup. I pan-fried them with ginger and scallions.
The smoked fish was a skinny filet, so not the unctuous, thick slab of smoked black cod that one might enounter at delis in NY. The smoked sablefish turned into tacos garnished with green onions, lettuce, chopped apples, and spicy crema.
Retail value ~ $21
Week 20, March 5, Frozen, Defrosted Pan-ready Sand Dabs
As with a land-bound CSA share, weather and other constraints make some weeks leaner than others. Big swells and low catch rates kept the fishermen on shore this week. Fortunately, Local Catch saved up for a rainy day by freezing some excess from two weeks earlier.
Five, small, pan-ready (cleaned, trimmed) sand dabs weighed in at 1.25 pounds total. The first night I pan-fried three for dinner with a white wine-butter sauce. Not that much flavor to frozen 'dabs.
So the next day I breaded and pan-fried in coconut oil, then scraped the delicate flesh off the bones and rolled up in lettuce wraps with spicy salsa.
Retail value ~ $10
March 12 - No delivery due to lack of product
March 19 - I was out of town and took a bye-week. Glad to have this flexibility.
Week 21, March 26, Rockfish Fillets
Don't get me wrong, I love rockfish, that catchall name for many species often sold as rock cod or red snapper. But not fillets. This week's delivery was three fillets weighing 1 lb 12 oz., plenty for two meals for two people. Using one and half fillets the first day, I pulled 20 bone fragments from the flesh. If I have to do that much work to get a pan-ready fillet, I'd rather do the cutting myself. Also, one smelled less than fresh, since fillets don't keep as well as whole fish.
First day, tacos de pescado zarandeado, already upping the spice quotient to cover up less than pristine freshness. The second meal, I went even stronger poaching the fish in Penang curry sauce with some green beans and julienne of sweet red pepper.
Retail value ~ $17
Week 22, April 2, Petrale Sole and Dungeness Crab
A seafood pair delivered this week: cooked and cleaned Dungeness crab and whole Petrale. The Dungeness amounted to two halves weighing 14 ounces. Four smallish Petrale weighed 2 pounds 12 ounces.
Since we were headed out of town the next day, the crab went to my brother. I clear steamed two of the petrale for dinner that night, and the other two were handed over to my cousin.
Retail value ~ $24
Week 23, April 9, Thornyheads aka Channel Cod
My favorite week of all up to this date. Six small WHOLE channel cod fish weighing a total of 2 pounds 10 ounces. The Cantonese name for this fish is "hung lung" or red dragon. It sells for a very high premium in Hong Kong style seafood restaurants, one of the species kept live in tanks. Typically those are larger than these and served two-ways. The body will be clear-steamed, and the head parts battered and deep-fried for a crunchy contrast.
Whenever I've spotted them at the local fish market (Frank's), I've snapped them up. The flesh is butter soft and delicate with a natural sweetness that rivals sand dabs. The skin's very thin and not rubbery. The spines are quite stiff and sharp, and my hands did get cut up a bit handling them whole.
The newsletter included a recipe from the Cachagua General Store for baking them in parchment with vegetables escabeche that looked interesting. But because this is my favorite local fish for steaming, that's how we enjoyed them on two nights.
Retail value ~ $20
Week 24, April 16, Marin Miyagi Oysters
Eighteen Marin Miyagi oysters in the shell . . . the weeks when oysters arrive have been about my least favorite. A lot of work would be involved getting them out of the shell winding up with substandard grade oysters. Luckily this time, the condition and quality turned out to be much higher. The oysters were quite plump and sweet, and actually provided a meal for one person.
I softened onions in coconut oil. Then I sauteed the shucked oysters with shreds of fresh ginger, julienne of leftover char siu and Hunan pickled chiles. Put the two batches together and served over hot steamed rice.
Retail value ~ $18
Week 25, April 23, Sablefish
My most anticipated delivery to date, the reason being that access to local sablefish aka black cod aka gindara was the driving force behind deciding to subscribe to the CSF. Early in my membership, my number did not come up on the weeks that only a fraction of subscribers received sablefish. I'd been waiting for this day a long time. To make it even better, this was a WHOLE gutted fish delivery, weighing in at 3 pounds, 10 ounces.
I'd never seen a whole sablefish till now, only sections or filets. They're pretty homely. But deliciousness and rich, buttery texture make up for lack of eye appeal.
I scaled the fish and removed the gills. I had pulled out my mother's heaviest cleaver to divide the whole fish. But this proved unnecessary as well, since the bones turned out to be soft. I split it into a head, middle and tail section, cutting through the back bone with kitchen shears.
For the first night, I prepared the 8" long tail portion. First, I gave it a good salting with kosher salt and let it sit a bit. Then I rinsed that off and slathered it with a mixture of shiro (white) miso, mirin and freshly grated ginger. Ten minutes of steaming was all that was needed to cook it, and I served it with steamed rice.
The second day, I filleted the mid-section and left the skin on. Half of this portion I salted heavily and set aside for the next day. The head, bones and fins were boiled with carrot, ginger and leek tops for two hours to make stock, then strained out. I'd soaked short grain rice overnight. After crushing it in my fist to break the grains to release starch and cook down faster, I boiled the rice in the stock for about 1.5 hours until thick and glossy to make jook/congee.
To serve, I lined a large soup bowl with thin slices of the raw sablefish fillets. Then the hot jook was ladled over to poach the fish. A drizzle of light soy sauce, dash of white pepper, and a sprinkle of chopped scallions and this was good to go. This made enough jook for not only this lunch, but breakfasts (sans fish fillets) for the next two days, and my mother was very sad when it was gone.
The third day, I made a paste of sake kasu blended with water and some sugar. After rinsing off the salt and patting the fillet dry, I coated it with the sake kasu paste in the morning and refrigerated until dinner time. I cooked this on the griddle but the flesh was too soft and fell apart. Broiling would be better. Also, a full 24 hours of marinating in the sake kasu would probably taste even better. Still I was pleased with my first attempt at making gindara kasuzuke. And even more so at using every bit of the fish I received except the scales and gills.
In addition, I requested and received a 3.5 pound bag of frozen of channel cod (thornyheads) heads for my stock pot.
Retail value ~ $30
Week 26, April 30 - Dungeness Crab
Surprised to have crab so late in the season, but I didn't mind eating local crab once more. The heads, bones and guts from the previous week's sablefish (waste from the majority of catch that is distributed as fillets instead of the whole fish option) were given to the crabber to catch these.
The crabs were average size. Two cleaned crabs (carapace and guts discarded) only weighed a total of two pounds, one ounce.
Mom helped me pick the crab meat. The first night I made Dungeness Crab Caesar combining chopped romaine lettuce, shaved Grana Padano, croutons, and crab meat with caesar dressing.
I saved all the crab shells and made a Vietnamese-esque stock by boiling the shells with tomatoes, charred ginger, leeks, and a leftover pork chop. I strained the broth and added ho fun (rice noodles), ham, and fish sauce to make soup noodles.
Retail value ~ $20
Week 27, May 7 - King Salmon
My salmon season started with this week's delivery of Chinook salmon fillets from Monterey Bay. Two skin-on pieces from the tail end weighed 1.5 pounds in total.
The first night I brined the larger slab briefly, then rinsed, sprinkled with black pepper, and wrapped in foil with lemon slices and scallion tops. This was baked for 15 minutes in the toaster oven and served with dab of sauce of minced scallions, garlic, celery seed, salt, and Aleppo pepper in Greek yogurt.
The flavor of the fish was so incredibly rich, I went even simpler the second night. Placed skin-side down on a buttered, hot skillet, then turned down the heat and covered to pan-roast. Done in about six minutes, removed salmon to a plate. Squirted lemon juice in the pan to deglaze, then poured lemon-butter over the fish. The crunchy salmon skin was great too.
Retail value ~ $30
Week 28, May 22, Pacific Grenadier
I took a bye-week the 14th and missed sablefish. :(
Next delivery was Pacific Grenadier fillets, landed in Moss Landing. This a white fish with texture similar to cod or rockfish.
This was a somewhat skimpy delivery, a number of thin pieces weighing in at 1 pound 2 ounces. The first night I velveted strips of the fish by marinating in egg white, tapioca starch, salt, white pepper, mirin, and light soy sauce for 30 minutes. After stir-frying Shanghai cabbage halves and setting them aside, the fish was cooked in the same pan. The fish and veggies were combined and served with hot rice.
The second night, I pan-fried the fillets. Then the fish were wrapped up in Romaine lettuce leaves, slivered radishes, salsa, a crushed Kettle potato chips. A fish wrap of a different sort.
Retail value ~ $12
Week 29, June 5, King Salmon
The week before there was no delivery due to bad weather on the seas and no catch.
King salmon was delivered in skin-on fillet form. I poked around in the packages to choose the one that felt the widest and heaviest, hoping to get some of the belly portion. These turned out to be a pair very thick cuts, weighing a total of a pound, or about a third less than the last salmon delivery. No belly, the fillets were squared off entirely. I had made a request for salmon steaks or roasts, but that's not possible under current logistics. I hope that someday there are more customers like me who prefer to cook fish on the bone for more flavor and yield.
So this week I had two dinners with a chance to perfect my pan-roasting technique.
Retail value ~ $20
Week 30, June 18, Cleaned Market Squid
I was out of town on June 11, so skipped delivery that week. One of the nice things about this CSF is the flexibility to put deliveries on hold when needed.
Market squid came cleaned, frozen and defrosted. I had to chuckle seeing that the tubes had been peeled of the spotted skin. Most of the time I usually leave it on. Also there were only 11 tentacle pieces and more than three times that in tubes. What happened to the other tentacles? Seems like the good folks at Local Catch are doing their best to shield customers from bones, fish heads, and other potentially "icky" things though totally unnecessary (and an added expense) for me.
I set some of the tubes aside for the next day. The balance I cut into thirds and blanched along with the tentacles in acidulated water, then drained. I tossed the hot cooked squid with halved cherry tomatoes, slivered red onions and celery, rice wine vinegar, peanut oil, salt, and marash pepper to make a calamari salad.
For another meal, the tubes were stuffed with rice, bread crumbs, sauteed green onions and fresh herbs and baked in homemade tomato sauce.
Retail value ~ $12
Week 31, June 25, California Halibut
Two fillets of halibut from local waters landed in Moss Landing, weighing one pound total. I had requested bones and fins (engawa!) too, but no luck.
First night, seasoned the fillet with salt and pepper, smeared with Dijon mustard, and pan-fried in butter. The mustard browns and forms a coating.
Second night, first I made a mango relish with diced ripe mango, chopped scallion, chopped red onion, minced Serrano chile, salt, and rice wine vinegar. This tastes better if there's time to set it aside to steep to meld flavors. After seasoning the halibut fillet, I slathered it with mayonnaise and coated with finely chopped macadamia nuts. Then I pan-roasted the fish in coconut oil and served it smothered with mango relish.
Retail value ~ $17
Week 32, July 2, King Salmon from Fort Bragg
Two thick center cut, skin-on fillets of Chinook salmon weighing a total of 13 ounces.
Dinner the first night was one pan-roasted fillet accompanied by a warm corn and avocado relish. The relish is easy as can be: Singe corn kernels in wok (keep them semi-raw for crunch). Toss w cubes of tomato & avocado, chopped scallion, lime juice, serrano chile & salt.
The second piece of salmon was conserved as rillettes using Thomas Keller's recipe. I substituted mayonnaise for the raw egg yolks.
Retail value ~ $16
I'm a Local Catch member too. My pickup place is West Marine in Watsonville (left off your list). Been a member since the beginning of the year.
The sincere and committed young men running the program are awesome. It is good to feel a connection with the fisher folks who harvest the bounty for us.
We've enjoyed most of the weekly shares. You and I, Melanie, diverge on a few things:
You liked the thornyheads; I dug them into my garden to fertilize the veggies.
You weren't enthusiastic about the smoked sable and oysters. I LOVED the smoked sablefish. Mine was rich and delicious and came the same week as the Miyagi oysters. We could have gobbled up 3 times the sable, and we had a lovely evening with Prosecco and oysters on the half shell.
The smell of the herring was overwhelming to me and I had to get it out of the house (gave to a friend). I was told they were mild and enjoyable when cooked, but I couldn't bear the smell to get there.
I'm not big on squid, so this week will be a challenge. Last time I gave it to friends.
When Alan and Zach had whole fresh salmon earlier this summer, I picked up a sparkling fresh 10 pounder from Alan at Santa Cruz Harbor for a large dinner party I was giving that week. Yum, yum, yum.
Overall, I'm pleased with the program. It's good to have mostly pristine, fresh fish for one or two meals a week. The sand dabs, petrale sole, rockfish, Dungeness crab, sablefish, grenadier, halibut and salmon have been great.
With the flatfish, I tend to make quick and simple pan-cooked fish tacos or pan-fry the fish in panko. I make a killer tartar sauce for the latter.
The crab is delicious but challenging at times because it has to be eaten in a day or two. Since we don't know what we're getting until the night before pick-up, it's tough if we're not going to be home for dinner for a few days.
I lean toward Thai flavors for cooking salmon and halibut, and Chinese ingredients for crab.
And another added feature of Local Catch is its participation in the Sand City Indy Marketplace pop-up dinners like the one coming up this Thursday night 9/5.
Week 33, July 23, King Salmon from Santa Cruz
After putting my subscription on-hold while out of town for a couple weeks, my next delivery was King salmon landed in Santa Cruz. Two skin-on fillets weighed one pound.
Since this was National Hot Dog Day, dinner was a mixed grill. Bacon-wrapped hot dogs and brined/broiled king salmon served with homemade pico de gallo.
Retail value ~ $22
Week 34, July 30, California Halibut
California halibut this week, caught under the Golden Gate Bridge. Three thinnish, irregularly shaped fillets weighed a total of 1 pound, 2 ounces.
Tuesday pick-up day coincides with the Alisal farmers market, so we will have some very fresh local vegetables at hand to compose dinner. Pan-seared corn combined with white zucchini sauteed with red onion, garlic and Aleppo pepper made a base on the plate. The halibut was smeared with mayonnaise, then pan-fried in coconut oil.
Retail value ~ $22
re: Melanie Wong
I topped each halibut fillet with julienned ginger, thin slices of red onion from the garden, a dab of butter, a sprinkle of salt, and a squeeze of lime juice. Wrapped it in parchment and steamed it in the rice cooker.
I'm relying more on the steamer insert in my rice cooker for a convenient and easy-to-clean steaming method for dumplings, fish, and more.
Week 35, August 20, Whole Rockfish
After taking a couple weeks off due to travel, I lucked out to be back on schedule in time to take delivery of the bonanza of whole rock fish. Two in fact, each 15" long and weighing 2.5 pounds apiece (with guts). The fish were so fresh (with the fresh fish sliminess), they'd slide out of my hands. I had to hook a finger through the gills to grab one securely. I gave one to my cousin. I scanned through many sites that show the types of rock fish caught in these waters, but I couldn't be certain enough to ID this one more closely.
I was amused that a link was provided for how to fillet and skin rock fish. For me, the value of a whole fish is to be able to cook it on the bone and skin on for maximum flavor!
The first night, the tail half was clear-steamed with ginger, scallions, light soy sauce, and peanut oil.
The next day, I boiled the head (sans gills), fins and tail bones with sweated fennel fronds, scallions, carrots, bay leaf, peppercorns, and white wine for about an hour to make a fumet. I poached diced fennel, onion and carrots in the strained fumet and set aside. Then I added the mid-section piece of rockfish still on the bone with diced tomatoes, brought it up to boil, then turned off the heat and let it steep for 10 minutes. The cooked veggies were added back and seasonings adjusted for a rockfish-fennel soup. This would have been better with some saffron, but we enjoyed it as is nonetheless. I made use of every bit of this fish but the gills, scales and guts.
Retail value ~ $25
Week 36, August 27, Sablefish Fillets
Even though I'd prefer a whole fish, I'm happy to take sable fish in any form. Two large fillets this week, weighing 1 pound 2 ounces. Not butchered well, they were rife with small bones and one piece even had a section of the fin still attached.
I used Nobu's recipe for black cod with miso. I skip the heating step for the marinade finding that everything dissolves just fine without it. Also, I cook it under the broiler instead of grilling.
This was my chance to try a little experiment. One fillet had 24 hours in the marinade and wasn't quite as well-seasoned as I'd like. The other was cooked after three days in marinade and was more satisfying. Next time I'll try marinating for two days and see how that turns out.
Week 37, September 3, Cleaned Market Squid
Cleaned, frozen and defrosted market squid - 1.25 pounds with a count of 26 bodies and six tentacles. Where'd the rest of the tentacles go? This time the body tubes were sliced open so couldn't be used for stuffing.
I cut them into thin strips and lightly blanched them. I'd macerated chopped heirloom tomatoes with salt, minced garlic and EVOO. Half the squid was combined with the raw tomato mixture, chiffonade of basil, chevre, and hot linguine for dinner the first night.
The rest of the cooked squid was set aside for a couple days later. I made a dipping sauce of light soy sauce, wasabi and sesame oil and served the squid as a cold appetizer.
Retail value ~ $12
Week 38, 39 & 40, September 10 & 24, October 1, Albacore
September signaled the start of Indian summer's albacore run. The first week I ended up asking a friend to pick up my share as I was too harried getting ready for a flight the next day. Then a week off, and my first taste of the season's albacore turned out to be 9/24.
The albacore caught in Bodega Bay appeared quite rosy and dark-hued with some blood lines and gristle that needed trimming off. Total weight of two fillets: 1 lb 5 oz. and made for a couple of hearty un-Nicoise salads. Seared albacore cut into thick slices, new potatoes, wax beans, heirloom tomatoes, capers, egg, all dressed with mustard-shallot vinaigrette.
October's catch was landed in Santa Cruz and turned out to be equally dark. I cut some the first day for sashimi. The rest I seared off to hold a couple days longer. Then I wound up a hero when I volunteered to bring a seared piece of albacore loin for a friend's impromptu pantry dinner party. The shiro maguro tataki was accompanied with two sauces: 1) soy, black vinegar and minced scallions and chile; 2) lemon juice, capers, garlic, mustard and EVOO.
Week 41, October 8, Whole Sable Fish
No one was happier than I to learn that this week's delivery would be sable, and in whole fish form. Two small ones (including guts and scales) weighed in at 4 lbs 3 oz.
The smaller of the two was just right for dinner that night. Steamed whole, slashed in the thick spots, then seasoned with salt, scallions, ginger, white pepper, light soy sauce, and peanut oil.
The larger fish I divided into two. The tail end was pan-fried in coconut oil, then the cooked flesh was served on top of sliced avocado, oranges and toasted pepitas.
I cut fillets off the larger end and marinated those Nobu-style in miso, mirin and sugar to broil.
Retail value ~ $34
Week 44, October 29, Whole Sable Fish
The weekly email announced lingcod or rockfish fillets, depending on delivery site. Then a second had a most welcome surprise --- whole fish customers would get sable fish! As I'd mentioned before, access to sable fish was one of the big reasons I'd decided to subscribe.
And this week's was particularly bountiful -- two fish, one small and one medium, weighing a total of 5 pounds, 3 ounces (before gutting). I gave the small one to my cousin to experiment with. She'd never seen a sable fish before. They're homely but delectable.
Retail value ~ $42
I appreciate your notebook of fishes and dishes. As for me, I can barely remember last week, let alone months before.
Last week my friend got oysters (part of the new system; she's "Full Bounty" and I'm "Classic") and I got Dungeness crab. We swapped half of each and each made cioppino. I added some extra lingcod I'd frozen.
Week 45, November 5, Whole Sand Dabs
Hmm, not sure what it is about sand dabs, but again I have photos but no notation of the weight. Whenever I pick up a sand dab delivery, I take note of how many the "fillet option" customers receive of headless, pan-dressed fish. Usually I get at least 50% more individual fish, but this week the count was the same. Doesn't seem right to get the same amount and still need to cut off the heads, fins and gut them myself.
The fish had a much stronger smell this week and did not seem as pristinely fresh as usual. I gave half to my cousin in order to use them up faster. I pan-fried the whole fish in coconut oil, then zipped off the cooked flesh and made tacos with pico de gallo.