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."