Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A busy cook’s arsenal

The next time you reach into the meat/fish freezer in aisle 3 for that bin of Alaska gold salmon, take a look around for other piscivorous treats lurking within. Freezer Gal is always on the hunt for fish and seafood that are sustainable and safe to eat. Here are some of her recent amazing discoveries:

Cooked Salad Shrimp, wild-caught from Oregon, low contaminant levels. You'll be pleased to know that bycatch of sea turtles and other endangered species is rare in the cold waters of Oregon, and the shrimp population assessment and management involve limiting the number of fishing vessels to avoid overfishing. Just in time for holiday entertaining, these peeled, steamed tiny shrimp are perfectly cooked and just the right size for canapés and shrimp salad. They are succulent and briny-sweet. (They're great stand-ins for lobster in lobster roll "sliders!") If using in soups, fried rice, gumbo, etc., add the shrimp at the last minute so as not to overcook.

Clams on the Half-Shell from Ben Tre, Vietnam. Hand-harvested using rakes to minimize environmental damage and bycatch. The Ben Tre province clam fishery is operated and managed by a cooperative formed by local fisherpeople. It is the first small-scale, community-based fishery in Southeast Asia to get MSC certification. The frozen clams on the half-shell have been scrubbed, de-sanded and pre-cooked. Great for clams casino or paella. Or shuck for pasta, soups and chowders.

Alaska sole, trawled from the Pacific where sole population is healthy and has considerably less exposure to mercury and PCBs. It has a silky texture and buttery flavor, making it an excellent candidate for the simplest of preparations, like pan frying or broiling. Much like tilapia or trout, the fillets are thin and much leaner than salmon or tuna, so it's best to use them frozen to preserve moisture, or thawed just so you can cut them into portions. You don’t have to remember to defrost; just fire up the stove. And yes, Joe, they bake beautifully. Salt, pepper and brush with olive oil while still frozen, place fillets on well-seasoned pan (or a cookie sheet lined with Silpat), in a very hot oven, 15-20 minutes, add capers and lemon segments.


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