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Topic: Seafood

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June 13, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Our crayfish are better than yours

University of Washington biologist Julian Olden holds a native Signal crayfish, right, and a smaller, nonnative Red Swamp crayfish, caught in Pine Lake in Sammamish.

University of Washington biologist Julian Olden holds a native Signal crayfish, right, and a smaller, nonnative Red Swamp crayfish, caught in Pine Lake in Sammamish. Photo by Mark Harrison / The Seattle Times

Like a proud papa, we constantly boast about our seafood bounty (oysters, salmon, etc.)  to out-of-towners.

But who here  has ever bragged about our native crayfish? It’s not a legend. They’re out there, lurking under rocks and logs in Lake Washington and other local bodies of water.

They’re bigger and meatier than those found in the waters of Louisiana. And they taste better too, I think. 


Comments | Topics: crawfish, crayfish, Seafood

June 10, 2013 at 2:42 PM

Eat a fish, save the oceans

PPfinalcoverWorld Oceans Day, June 8, was a reminder to reflect on our relationship to wild fish and the dwindling numbers of many species. Can we stop plundering the oceans and still feed a world population rapidly approaching 9 billion?

In a new book, “The Perfect Protein: The Fish Lover’s Guide to Saving the Oceans and Feeding the World,” Oceana CEO Andy Sharpless and co-author Suzannah Evans tackle that big question, outlining the issues and presenting solutions. Sharpless will be in Seattle on Wednesday, June 12, at 7 p.m. at the Elliott Bay Book Company on Capitol Hill for a reading followed by a Q & A session.


The book also addresses the consumer’s dilemma: How can we find and choose responsibly caught seafood? It includes recipes from top chefs, among them Eric Ripert, of New York’s famed seafood restaurant Le Bernardin, and Hajime Sato, the owner of Mashiko, Seattle’s first sustainable sushi bar. Sato will also attend the Elliott Bay Book Company event.


In an interview on KIRO Radio’s “Let’s Eat” that aired June 8, Sato talked about his decision to carry only sustainable seafood at his West Seattle restaurant.


“I’d been teaching on different occasions and in class they began asking where fish come from. I had to study about it.  I found out some were not sustainable. When I started to look into it, I began to feel like a hypocrite.”


Comments | Topics: Andy Sharpless, Asian Restaurants, Hajime Sato

December 13, 2011 at 7:00 PM

Got crab? (Dungeness, that is.) Well, get cracking!

When I was a kid, we ate a lot of crab. Blue crab. I’d hang out with my siblings on the docks at the Jersey shore, catching those puny crustaceans using a simple hook-and-line baited with squished-up Wonder Bread.

We’d slowly reel in our catch, praying the creatures wouldn’t fall back in the drink. Then, we’d toss the crab into a bucket of seawater until they’d meet their maker — our mother — who’d throw in a big hit of Old Bay seasoning and steam them for us.

Today, my siblings eat those crabs by the dozen alongside pitchers of beer at crab joints “down the shore” and at taverns throughout Philadelphia. But now that I’m a hard-core Pacific Northwesterner, there’s only one crab for me: Dungeness.

Nice haul, huh? We caught these beauties Thanksgiving week off Orcas Island. [photo: Nancy Leson]

My boy, now 13, grew up on Puget Sound knowing the joy of dropping a crab ring over the public dock near our home in Edmonds. (In season, of course!) His bait might be a zip-tied chicken leg, a stinky salmon head or whatever “Come and get it!” goodies he can scavenge from our freezer or our fisher pals. Pulling in the prized Dungeness, he brings it home to mama, who boils his catch, cleans it, sautes the parts in Chinese black-bean sauce then pulls out the crab crackers so we can get cracking.

But these days, thanks to Seattle seafood marketeer Jon Rowley, mama’s got a brand-new bag. “Put down those crab crackers!” implores Rowley. Nutcrackers? Not so sweet, he says, insisting the best way to crack fresh crab is by using a slender baton and a clean sturdy brick.


Comments | More in | Topics: Seafood

September 6, 2011 at 7:00 AM

Recipe: Shrimp Stir-Fry with Chickpeas and Greens

While I’m out on assignment, I thought I’d reprise this quick recipe, courtesy of Lynne Rossetto Kasper. I’ve been making Lynne’s fabulous shrimp stir-fry for several years now, tweaking it on occasion by replacing the canned chickpeas with fresh-frozen chickpeas (garbanzo beans) — thawed with hot water then drained. You’ll find the recipe, in…


Comments | More in Recipes | Topics: Seafood

August 15, 2011 at 7:45 AM

Turn your canned tuna? Makes sense to me. Your tips?

While grocery shopping yesterday (and eyeing the fresh smelt) I was chatting up my fishmonger. “Any local albacore?” I asked, having noticed plenty of yellowfin tuna in the freezer case. Next thing you know, we were yakking about canned tuna, and he regaled me with a tale from his youth. The one where a well-known tuna magnate came to dinner and offered up this bit of advice: “Turn your canned tuna.”

Tuna takes a Star(Kist) turn.

The idea, he said, was that tuna packed in water (or oil, for that matter), isn’t completely submerged, and if you keep the stuff around for months on end — if not decades, as my mother-in-law so famously does — it will maintain its moisture far better if you rotate the can.


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May 24, 2011 at 7:00 PM

Seattle chef Becky Selengut brings “Good Fish” to your table

Becky Selengut’s new seafood compendium, “Good Fish: Sustainable Seafood Recipes from the Pacific Coast,” reeled me right in. But I’m an easy catch because I know Becky.

And what I know is this: She’s a Seattle chef with an aversion to garlic that rivals Count Dracula’s (she’s allergic); an entertaining instructor whose popular cooking classes regularly sell out; an engaging writer and irreverent blogger; and a staunch sustainable-seafood advocate intent on teaching you how to be “good” by choosing seafood raised and harvested mindfully and ethically.

Becky Selengut, shopping for seafood at Mutual Fish in Rainier Valley. [Seattle Times/Mike Siegel]

Whether you’re a fish fanatic who owns a copper poaching pan and knows your fishmonger by name, or a seafood scaredy cat who hears the soundtrack from “Jaws” at the mere thought of buying — let alone cooking — a live Dungeness crab, “Good Fish” deserves a spot in your kitchen. What’s more, the book’s online component, a series of how-to videos, is a show-and-tell that will have you shucking oysters, deveining shrimp, caramelizing scallops and pulling pin bones from a salmon like a pro.


Comments | More in Cookbooks | Topics: Seafood

August 23, 2010 at 8:40 AM

The Walrus and the Carpenter — would love it here in Ballard

The sun was shining on the sea (and nearby Shilshole Bay) when I made the acquaintance Renee Erickson’s new oyster bar, the Walrus and the Carpenter. The sun was also shining through the patio doors, casting a golden glow on the zinc bar (the province of co-owner Jeremy Price), on smiling patrons supping on seafood (among other prettily arranged small-plates) and on Renee herself, who has plenty of reason to smile these days.

Huitres? Treats.

The Cheshire Cat has nothing on Ms. Erickson, whose latest venture, open two weeks, is named for the poetic oyster-poachers in Lewis Carroll’s “Through the looking Glass” and the kind of wondrous warren I’d want to tumble down a rabbit hole for regularly.


Comments | More in New Restaurants | Topics: Seafood

June 10, 2010 at 10:09 PM

I’m wild about Northwest salmon. And you?

I like my Northwest salmon raw and cooked, kippered and cured, dressed to thrill or simply grilled. I adore its roe, its bony “collar” and its edible skin when properly crisped. I’ll never say no to my favored finfish tucked into fresh pasta or layered over a fresh bagel. And with summer’s salmon season upon us, I thought I’d swim through town for a tasting tour (as seen in today’s Ticket section) and offer finds along the way. But I wasn’t always a Northwest salmon-lover. As you likely know by now, I grew up on the Atlantic seaboard, among people who ate their salmon one of two ways, each requiring a fresh bagel and a thick schmear.

A schmaltzy piece of kippered salmon with some nice “belly” lox: my idea of breakfast.

But one day I kissed those folks goodbye and moved west, briefly to California, and later north to Alaska, where I learned there are two ways to fillet a salmon: the right way, and the wrong way. The latter is illustrated below by yours truly and friend, poised on the bank of the Kenai River circa 1986.

A fishing expedition in the “Land of the Midnight Sun.” It’s 4 a.m. on the Kenai after a long night waiting tables in Anchorage, and what can I tell you? We forgot the damn cutting board and the salmon were jumping faster than we could catch them.


Comments | More in | Topics: Nancy's Restaurant Roundups, Seafood

October 29, 2009 at 1:38 PM

We celebrate Northwest oysters, Louisiana’s get raw deal

Yesterday’s e-mail inbox included a note from a guy who grew up in Louisiana, lived in Seattle for 16 years and is now back in New Orleans, where yesterday’s front-page news in the Times-Picayune included this headliner: “Louisiana blasts new FDA rule requiring oysters to be sterilized to prevent rare bacterial illness.” The story said, in part:

The rule will essentially eliminate raw oysters — at least as Louisianans know them — from restaurant menus for seven months of the year. Even oysters that will eventually be cooked during those months would have to go through the same cleansing process before being added to any dish, a move some say would undermine the culinary integrity of some of New Orleans’ most famous delicacies.”

The reason behind this politically and emotionally charged move, defined by one oyster industry representative as “a nuclear bomb,” is to reduce the rare but potentially fatal bacterial illness Vibrio vulnificus, contracted by eating raw Gulf Coast oysters.

Louisiana oysters and a cold Abita, which I knocked back in New Orleans early this month.

Meanwhile, here in Seattle and throughout the Northwest, restaurants are celebrating the joys of slurping raw oysters. Special events include tonight’s oyster fete at Cafe Campagne, oyster promotions at Anchovies & Olives and Flying Fish (which just inaugurated its annual weekday oyster happy hour from 4-6 p.m.) and the upcoming Oyster New Year’s at Elliott’s Oyster House (where you can down umpteen rounds of briny bivalves November 7).

All of which might lead you to ask of that FDA ban, “Will Northwest oysters be affected?” and more importantly, “Are our oysters safe?” The short answers: perhaps and yes, according to Robin Downey, executive director of the Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers Association.

While we occasionally see an increase in oyster-related illness locally due to the naturally occuring bacterium Vibrio parahaemolyticus, “We do not have the Vibrio vulnificus virus found in warm Gulf waters,” said Downey, who represents 140 Western shellfish companies that produce 94 million pounds of live oysters a year, an $84 million business.


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