Category Archives: Seafood

A New Farmed Salmon

A new farmed salmon. (Photo courtesy of Verlasso)

When it comes to deciding whether to eat farmed salmon, the choice is not always clear cut.

Sure, farmed salmon in general gets a bad rap — and deservedly so. The Environmental Defense Fund issued a health advisory for farmed salmon because of high levels of PCBs. It takes  about three or four pounds of wild feeder fish to grow one pound of farmed salmon. Waste from open-water pens pollutes surrounding ocean waters. And the farmed fish can sometimes escape, posing potential problems for wild fish populations that can be affected by their parasites or diseases.

U.S. farmed freshwater coho salmon, though, gets a “Best Choice” recommendation from the Monterey Bay Aquarium’sSeafood Watch” guide because it is farmed in inland tanks, lessening the potential spread of disease and pollution. They also require less wild feeder fish to grow.

Some chefs also favor a Scottish salmon, marketed as Loch Duart, which is farmed in the waters off the northwest coast of Sutherland. It’s billed as a sustainable alternative, but it, too, relies on feed made of fish meal and oil.

Now, into the fray comes a new farmed salmon, this one from the waters of Patagonia, Chile.

Known as Verlasso Salmon, this new farmed Atlantic salmon just launched last summer and is starting to show up in markets nationwide. Berkeley Bowl, which started carrying it in February, is the only retailer in the Bay Area selling it so far. You can find it at the seafood counter at both of its Berkeley stores for $14.80 per pound.

What makes this farmed salmon different?

Instead of needing three or four pounds of wild feeder fish to grow one pound of farmed salmon, Verlasso has developed a process to get that down to a one-to-one ratio. How? By supplementing the fish meal  feed with a special kind of yeast that is rich in omega 3s, which salmon typically get from ingesting other fish. In the future, the company hopes to get that ratio down even more, so that the farmed salmon can be raised with little to no fish meal at all, says Scott Nichols, director of  the Delaware-based Verlasso.

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A Cracking Good Crawfish Time at Yankee Pier

Enjoy an old-fashioned crawfish boil at Yankee Pier this week.

Messy, but good.

That’s what a crawfish boil is all about, as you tear into a pile of tiny crustaceans with your fingers to dig out the coveted sweet, almost lobster-like morsel of tail meat.

Tie on a bibb and grab your shellfish crackers to enjoy exactly that through May 5 at all Bay Area Yankee Pier locations (San Jose, Lafayette and Larskpur), which are featuring crawfish boils for $35 per person during dinner service until supplies run out.

You might need one of these bibbs as you dig in with your hands.

My husband and I were invited as guests to experience that irresistible taste of New Orleans this past Sunday, as a Zyedeco band grooved on the sidewalk outside the Santana Row Yankee Pier.

One order of the crawfish boil is pretty sizable, so if you want to nosh on a few other menu items, you might want to share one like we did.

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A Whole Lotta Seafood and a Food Gal Giveaway

The seafood bounty you can win. (Photo courtesy of Anderson Seafoods)

When I think of fresh seafood, I can’t help but think of my late-Mom’s simple but sublime steamed fish.

My Uncle Homer loves to fish. He’s good at it, too, as evidenced by the huge bass he used to gift to my parents from his day-long boating excursions.

I remember the white fillets, so impossibly plump looking, covered in silvery-gray skin, which my Mom always left on to keep the fish moist while it cooked.

She would place the fillets in a Pyrex pie plate atop a steamer. She’d sprinkle on liberal shards of fresh ginger before placing the cover over the pan. Curls of steam would shoot out, as the fish turned from translucent to opaque inside.

When it was done, she’d top the fish with inch-long segments of spring onion. Next, she’d heat up a small saucepan of peanut oil with a splash of soy sauce until it was smoking. Then, ever so slowly, she’d dribble the hot oil all over the fish, giving it a lovely gloss and crisping up the skin ever so slightly.

We’d dig in with our chopsticks, tearing off chunks of the silky fish and spooning the sauce over steamed rice.

That would be dinner. With the fish rightly the star of the meal. And my family thoroughly enjoying each morsel of my uncle’s gift from the sea.

Contest: Southern California-based Anderson Seafoods, which sells premium seafood with a nod toward sustainability, wants you to remember your mom this Mother’s Day with impeccable fresh seafood. Thanks to them, one lucky Food Gal reader will win a “Regatta Gift Package,” a value of $300. Yes, you read that right. The package includes four pounds of wild Mexican shrimp, two cold-water South African rock lobster tails, four pounds of dry-packed scallops, 32 ounces of Norwegian salmon and 32 ounces of Alaskan halibut.

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A Dish When There’s No Time

Scallops with a creamy, spicy sauce.

Roasting often conjures up images of low, slow cooking in the oven for hours on end.

But this particular recipe for roasting is quick, quick, quick.

“Quick-Roasted Scallops with Sriracha and Lime” is for times when you want dinner on the table fast, fast, fast. It’s from “All About Roasting” (W.W. Norton & Company) by award-winning cookbook author Molly Stevens.

The book, of which I received a review copy, is full of recipes sure to keep your oven busy. Large scallops get baked, then quickly broiled with a simple topping of mayo, lime juice, sugar and Sriracha. They remind me of the baked or broiled mayo-topped scallops at Japanese restaurants.

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Blathering about Bouillabaisse Balls

Fish is the main ingredient in these meatballs. But where, oh where, is the sauce?

This is a case of: Do as I say; don’t do as I do.

What I mean by that is if you make this recipe for “Bouillabaisse Balls” found in “The Meatball Shop Cookbook” (Ballantine Books) exactly as printed — as I did — you may find it lacking. Just as I did.

First, it looks nothing like the photo in the book by Daniel Holzman and Michael Chernow, founders of New York City’s The Meatball Shop, of which I received a review copy. The photo in the book shows a frying pan filled to the brim with meatballs bobbing in a thick tomato sauce. Only problem? The meatballs in the recipe are cooked in a rectangular baking dish, not a frying pan. And there’s no sauce anywhere to be found in the recipe. Uh, hello?

OK, fine, I thought. I’ll just try making the recipe as is, thinking the fish balls, seasoned to mimic the famous Provencal seafood stew, will be flavorful enough all on their own.

Not quite.

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