Week 2: Local Scallops

This week proved my second as a citizen scientist researcher and first as a strikeout. I was reminded that no data is still data! It’s not a failure that I couldn’t find my assigned species (Grey Sole, Red Hake, Butterfish and Sea Urchin) but rather an odd reminder that so much of our local seafood is unavailable in our local market.

I tried my usual market in Wickford, they had Flounder and advised that’s similar to Grey Sole. The Coastal Grower’s Market, nearby on Saturday mornings at Casey Farm had both Matunuck Oyster Bar and The Local Catch with stands set up. I had just missed the Boston Harbor caught Hake from Local Catch, she said a woman had scooped up the 2 lbs she brought for a Saturday stew, yummy. I signed up for their emails and was told I can always preorder, looks like they also have a CSF which I’ve been considering. I’m learning so much!

 

Monday was Eating with the Ecosystem’s final “School of Fish” workshop of the 2016/2017 school year (will start up again in the fall). I loved going to this in April when we discovered Sea Robin. This month’s demo dinner was led by recent James Beard nominated chef Benjamin Sukle of Providence restaurants Birch and Oberlin. He has a great relationship with fisherman Mike, who brought us fresh scallops from Block Island Sound. Mike mentioned he shucked 8-10,000 scallops “just YESTERDAY.” Incredible.

We started with raw scallops, quartered and tossed with a bit of mayo, sesame oil and finished with radishes both raw and smoked. This was the star. It’s on the menu at Oberlin. Chef Ben said Oberlin is his sister restaurant, serving up seafood and pasta i.e. what he likes to eat (ME TOO BEN! will be planning a trip there soon)

Finally we were treated to scallops seared in butter and a bit of asparagus juice. Asparagus is in it’s prime right now, probably for the next week or so. The section sliced asparagus were served over the perfectly cooked Scallops. ACTUAL HEAVEN

Stay tuned for Week 3, I’m out shopping for:

Advertisements

Week 1: Black Sea Bass

unnamed
My assigned list for week 1:
I’ve had Striped Bass before (friend’s dad caught us some) and Herring I associate with pickled herring, which I’m not a super fan of. Was hoping to find Surf Clam but happy with any!
The way this works is each week, I’m assigned 4 species to “fish for” at my local markets (supermarket, fish market, farmer’s market, etc). These are each species local to New England and we’re looking for symmetry in the market to ecosystem.
We first went to Dave’s Market in Wickford (which we prefer, though the one in Quonset is equally close to our house). I’ve always had a good experience at the fish counter at Dave’s, once there were 8 types of salmon and I was educated about each one before landing on Norwegian Salmon. This trip we saw that Black Sea Bass was on sale, yay! We were excited but the woman behind the fish counter told us that they were sold out. She advised that there might be more on the truck tomorrow but it’s been selling out since it’s in season.
Dave’s didn’t have any other species from my list so we went down to Gardner’s Wharf Seafood, a fish market right on the harbor in Wickford. We were surprised that they didn’t have ANY of the fish from the list! On a whim, we tried the other Dave’s location (Quonset) and got their last whole fish of Black Seabass. This was our first experience preparing a whole fish (which is where my husband, Dr. Garlix comes in…..)
(from the chef, after watching a youtube video)
It was interesting to try butchering a whole fish with no experience. It gives you a better idea of what happens in between sea and table. If I were to use a whole fish again, I would try to find a purpose for the remnants. 
We enjoyed the Black Sea Bass but did feel there was a lot of waste being a whole fish. It was priced at $6.99/lb and the piece we got was just under 1.5lbs. After scraping the scales and carefully removing the bones, he grilled the fish. We each got a decent piece but would maybe use the head in some broth or other ways in the future. The fish was firm with a mild taste and we paired with some roasted sweet potatoes and grilled zucchini we had leftover.
Week 2: We’re out searching for the following (though I predict Butterfish will be the winner), stay tuned!

Getting started…

Growing up in a pescatarian / Italian household meant we ate fish for dinner most nights, not meatballs. Our favorites were salmon, tuna, cod, swordfish.. rarely something local. I recently learned that the US imports nearly 90% of the seafood American’s consume, while we’re exporting 80% of what is local to us! I live in the ocean state, with almost 400 miles of gorgeous coastline and I’m super pumped to discover more of the fresh seafood that’s native to my backyard.

This blog will serve as a diary for my research study. Each week I’m assigned 4 seafood species to shop for locally. Then, I’m tasked to purchase, prepare and eat at least one of them (assuming I can find these local species in the local market). The goal of the study is to see if our markets match our ecosystem.

Here’s some more information about the study:

http://eatingwiththeecosystem.org/ecosystem-market-symmetry/

Stay tuned and thanks for following along.

Cheers! Judy Garlix