Dec 23

Fresh Fish

After fasting and completing the intestinal cleanse earlier this year, I have been trying to eat more fish. I do enjoy fresh fish but it has become very expensive. Prices for many of the commonly available types of fish range between $8 and $15 per pound or more! I do not begrudge the fisherman a fair market price for his catch. Commercial fishing is a dangerous occupation and the people engaged in such a risk deserve to be compensated for their skills and the dangers they face. I simply recognize the fact that my budget does not allow for fresh seafood as often as I would like.

Here is a short story related to the dangers of commercial fishing. Years ago, I trained Karate with a young man from Oregon. He worked as a deck hand on the boats up to Alaska and the Bering Sea. To make a long story short; The ship he was in rough seas one stormy night and began to take on water. The captain gave the order to abandon ship. The crew quickly donned their emergency survival suits and entered the water. This is never a good thing! My friend and fellow karate-ka, was left to toss in the icy waters for about 18 hours before being spotted and rescued. I am quite sure that the body suit and signal flares would seem like little comfort as one is bobbing about in angry seas. He told me that he never wanted to go out on the water again! I can’t blame him.

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Baked Cod with Scallions and Lemon.

Fresh Baked Cod with Scallions and Lemon

A simple and quick way to cook cod; season the fish with salt and pepper. I also like to add a sprinkling of Mrs. Dash. Lightly oil a baking pan and warm it in a preheated 400 F. (204 Celsius) degree oven. Place the seasoned fish on the oiled pan and place in the hot oven for about 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, remove the pan and sprinkle the fish with some freshly sliced scallions and fresh lemon juice. Return the fish to the oven for another 10 minutes. Garnish with lemon slices and a light dusting of paprika or if you like it a little spicy use cayenne pepper.

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Many more markets offer farm raised fin-fish and it is often much less expensive, but I believe they are a lesser quality than wild caught fish and there are some concerns about environmental impact.

By contrast, when I buy meat (beef is usually the most expensive), I tend to look for sale items that do not exceed $6 per pound. Occasionally, I will purchase a small portion of the more expensive cuts, but that is usually reserved for holidays, visiting guest or other special occasions. I eat a fair amount of pork and chicken, because they are more moderately priced. I also enjoy a nice piece of lamb, but that is another specialty item due to the cost. One consolation to the high cost of fish is that there is little waste.

For the most part, I enjoy the lighter or white meat varieties of fish. Snapper, Halibut, Flounder, or Cod. Cod is one of my favorite ocean fish. It has a delicate flavor and flaky texture. When I buy fish it is at a local fish market, never at the supermarket. Most supermarkets in the U.S. do not handle fresh fish properly. Blue Ocean Fish Market in Stroudsburg is the best fish market I have found locally….and “local” for me is 20 miles away!

When I lived in the Pacific Northwest, I would sometimes go fishing with a friend who owned a boat. We could bring in a few Silver Salmon (about 12 – 15 pounds each) and have a wonderful feast. I would often fillet and portion some for freezing. Then, for a time, a good friend who managed a fish market would give me great deals on fresh, wild salmon in season and abundant. Salmon is very nice but ridiculously costly!Baked salmon seasoned with salt and pepper and some dried herbs.  Served with fresh Brussels sprouts, boiled baby potatoes and butternut squash.

Baked salmon seasoned with salt and pepper and some dried herbs. Served with fresh Brussels sprouts, boiled baby potatoes and butternut squash.

For a large group, one of the nicest ways to enjoy a salmon is to take a full side of freshly caught salmon and season it with salt and pepper, a bit of tarragon and some slices of lemon. Leave the skin on and place the fish on a moderate fire for 15 to 20 minutes. The fish should flake apart easily when cooked. The skin will burn, but that is okay as long as the fire is not flaring up. when fully cooked the meat should easily flake away from the charred skin. The aboriginal people of the region used planks of cedar to cook the salmon. First, they would soak the cedar planks in cold water to help prevent burning of the wood while it is in the fire. Then, lay the salmon side on the plank and season. Place the planked fish in the open fire or BBQ grill or conventional oven. Over time the oils from the fish are absorbed into the wood and this also helps to keep the wood from burning.

A nice piece of line-caught Tuna is also good once in a while, but there is some concern about high levels of mercury in tuna, therefore, consumption should be limited. It too has become extremely expensive.

When I was a lad, I would spend most every weekend fishing on the lake where I grew up. Across the road from my parent’s home lived an old German couple who enjoyed fishing and hunting. They would always take me in their little row-boat. We would usually get up about 4:00 in the morning and slip quietly into the lake as the sun rose. By mid-day, we had caught the limit and spent the early afternoon cleaning and filleting the catch. Sometimes we would even venture down to the lake in the evening as the sun was setting. Dawn and dusk were always the best times to ensure a good catch. Even in the Winter months, I would venture out on the ice and do a little ice-fishing. Fresh lake fish for dinner was always a delight. Among the many varieties of lake fish we would catch were; Perch, large and small-mouthed Bass, Pickerel, and of course, the ultimate in fresh water fish — Trout. Trout was not as abundant as the other pan-fish and that made it all the more of a treat.

Perhaps I will write a future article about fish ponds and small scale fish farming. Stay tuned.

 

 

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