Salmon Season is BACK

After a monthlong hiatus, salmon season is back! The fishing has been great this week and I am happy to report that the fish are beautiful. Tony Rivas, of fish plant legend, actually serenaded the whole fish shares that went out this week. “You are so beautiful, to meeeeeeeeee!” I really need to record him doing this, as it is a regular occurrence and it makes me laugh every time. Like an idiot.  

Your salmon will come to you with the pin bones in, the skin on, and the scales off.Make sure to keep it nice and cold. The best way to do that is to put it on ice in the coldest part of your refrigerator.

Salmon links:

Seared Wild Salmon with Grilled Bread Salad and Parsley Anchovy Aioli

Seared Salmon with Shallot and Green Onion Relish

Salmon freezing and pin bone removal instructions

North Coast Salmon Fishery Information

Recipe ideas from Siren subscribers

Add your ideas over in the recipe forum. This week I pan-seared my fillets and topped them with herb butter. It was perfect and I will be doing it again with my next round of fillets. Mmmmmmmm

 

Squid Links

Well, more category tags than links. There have been some slight changes to the Siren website. I added a recipe forum where you can all share your ideas and creations. I have also added category tags to all of the posts. So, I have tagged this post with all of the categories that apply to the other squid posts. If you want a summary of all things squid, click on the “Squid” category. If you want to see squid recipes, click on the “squid recipes” category and you will see them all. If you want source information, click on “Know your source.” Care instructions? Got it!

I hope that these changes make life a little bit easier for all of us!

Crayfish!

 

This week we have crayfish from the Sacramento River. These lively little critters are caught with traps on the delta during the hot summer months, and they are caught in the rice fields during the fall. I avoided sourcing from the rice fields due to pollution concerns. Rice farming usually includes the use of some pretty nasty pesticides.

Your crayfish will arrive ALIVE. Very much so. We once had a 200 pound box of live crayfish delivered to our plant. No one secured the top of the box and the next day the little guys had wandered into every corner of our 10000 square foot facility. You might want to avoid this in your refrigerator.

You will get your share in a plastic bag with holes in it. I recommend putting this bag in a large bowl of ice in your refrigerator, covered with a wet towel. Crayfish need air and moisture to stay alive, much like our little oyster friends. Helpful eating instructions can be found here.

DO NOT eat crayfish that are dead prior to cooking. Crayfish that are alive will have curved tails, if they are dead the tail will straighten. Even after cooking, DO NOT eat crayfish with straight tails. A straight tail after cooking means the crayfish was dead before it was cooked. Dead crayfish go bad quickly and will make you sick.

Fresh Picked Dungeness Crabmeat

This week we have fresh picked Dungeness crabmeat. The local crab season is winding down, and this will definitely be the last of the crab from Siren until November. SALMON SEASON STARTS NEXT WEEK! The meat is picked by hand and will come packaged in a 10 oz. or 20 oz. tray. It is always a good idea to pick through the meat to remove any shell fragments that might have made it into the final pack.

The trays are perfect for freezing, and the meat will keep for up to 6 months in the freezer. The best way to store the tray of crabmeat without freezing is in the coldest part of your refrigerator. Storing them on ice in the refrigerator is even better. The meat should stay fresh for three to four days.

My favorite way to use fresh crabmeat is to toss a couple of handfuls into scrambled eggs. YES. It is especially great if you take that crabby scrambled egg mixture and put it on a croissant.

Crab Links

Crab Season Information

Spaghettini with Dungeness Crabmeat and Jalapeños

Squid. I really mean it this time.

We have squid. I saw them and then I touched them and then I ate some of them. They are real, I promise. You will get squid that have been gutted. They will not have ink sacks and the quills have been removed. There will still be skin to peel off if you would like. You should definitely check the tentacles for any beak remnants and rinse out the tubes to make sure that they are truly free from all guts. Peeling the skin is an easy task, it just rubs off. This becomes even easier if you choose to remove the little wings from the tubes as well. The wings pull right off. I dumped my tubes and tentacles into a big colander and rinsed out the tubes as I was peeling the skins and removing the fins. The whole process took me about five minutes to get through a pound. There is a very excellent squid breakdown guide here. You get to skip the first couple of steps. The squid origin story can be found here.

 

Squid in Spicy Tomato Sauce

2 Tbsp olive oil

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1/2 cup chopped onion

2 tsp red pepper flakes

1/3 cup red wine

1 32 oz. can crushed tomatoes (San Marzano!)

1 tsp Salt and 1/2 tsp black pepper

1 lb fresh squid, tentacles with tubes sliced into 1/2 inch rings

1 lb spaghetti

1/4 cup chopped parsley

1. Heat oil over medium heat in a large pot. Sauté onions until translucent. Add garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook for one minute, stirring constantly to keep the garlic from burning. Add the red wine, crushed tomatoes, salt and black pepper. Stir to combine.

2. Add squid to the tomato sauce. Reduce the heat to low and allow to simmer uncovered for 30-40 minutes. DO NOT BOIL. Let the squid cook slowly at a low temperature until it is tender. Add salt and pepper to taste.

3. Cook spaghetti two minutes less than the time suggested on the package.

4. Drain the spaghetti and add it to the tomato sauce. Stir to combine the pasta with the sauce and squid. Cook together for 2-5 minutes.

5. Dish the pasta into serving bowls and top with parsley, olive oil, and black pepper.

Enjoy!

Fettuccine with Sardines and Fennel

I spent half of today pacing a freezing cold dock muttering obscenities, mostly to myself. Between extinguishing small fires and shivering, I thought about how I wanted to cook the eight sardines that I had in a cooler in my trunk. I am not sure if it was the cold or the frustration, but by the time I was headed home, I knew that I would make some pasta. I also had an inexplicable need for fennel. Fennel and sardines are buddies, promise. This dish confirms that only good things happen when I give into my food cravings.

Fettuccine with Sardines and Fennel 

2 lbs fresh sardines

salt

6 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp red pepper flakes

3 Tbsp minced shallots

1 large fennel bulb cored and diced

1/4 cup chopped fennel fronds

1 lb fettuccine

2 tsp lemon zest

1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs

1. Clean and coarsely chop sardines. See the videos below for instructions.

2. Bring 6 quarts of well salted water to boil in a large pot.

3. Meanwhile, heat ¼ cup of the olive oil in another large pot over medium heat. Add the red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant. Add shallots and cook until translucent. Add diced fennel bulb and cook, stirring often, until softened. Add the chopped sardines and cook until all of the sardine pieces are completely opaque. Remove from heat.

3. Cook the pasta 2 minutes less than what is called for on the package instructions. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water.

4. Fry the fresh breadcrumbs in olive oil over medium heat until they are crispy and brown.

5. Add the pasta and reserved pasta water to the fennel/sardine mixture and toss to coat over medium heat. Add 3 Tbsp of olive oil, half the fennel fronds, half the lemon zest, and half the breadcrumbs. Toss to combine. Remove from heat and top with the remaining lemon zest, fennel fronds, and breadcrumbs.

Gutting Sardines!

Now, I am by no means an expert in breaking down a fish. I always get the job done and I generally have some fun in the process. See below for my questionable methods.

Method one, for those of us who don’t like ripping heads off of fish.

Method two, for those of us who do.

A bonus video, in which I film dear Emily attempting (and owning) method two.

Whole Cooked Dungeness Crab

Your new little crustacean buddy will come to you fully cooked with all of its guts and crabby bits still inside. Some people like to eat that yucky stuff and call it “butter.” I call it yucky stuff, so you can probably guess where I stand on the issue. I gutted and cracked my crabs on a big plate, using a bowl to collect the innards. I would recommend covering your counter with newspaper to make clean-up easier. Crab goes from smelling great to smelling awful pretty quickly, so you want to thoroughly clean up after you are done eating. You will need a knife, a fork, and a hammer or crab cracker to get to the good stuff.

Start by placing your crab on its back. This is also the best way to store a cooked crab before you eat it. More juice stays inside the body, and therefore the meat, if the crab is stored on its back.

Here comes the fun part! Slice that sucker in half with a big shiny knife. It’s pretty easy to do and shouldn’t take too much force.

It’s about to get real. Pull the big solid piece of shell off the top of each side. There will be some gnarly looking stuff in there and a lot of briny juice. You don’t want to eat anything that comes off inside the big piece of shell.

My strategy is to scrape off anything that isn’t fluffy white crabmeat with a fork.

Then I snap off the mouth appendages.

After the scraping and snapping, you should be left with two pieces that look like this. I prefer cracking the crab with a hammer and then picking out the meat. I try to crack each joint in two places. It makes the meat easier to pull out in large pieces.

 

Sardines at last!

After weeks and weeks of just missing them, we have sardines! They are large and lovely. I ate one for dinner. SO GOOD.

 

The sardines will arrive whole, but DO NOT BE AFRAID. Sardines are a great entry-level whole fish to butcher. I am linking to an article that gives three fantastic options for preparing fresh sardines. In all three cases, the fish can be either gutted or headed and gutted. I asked my friend Tony Rivas to let me film him prepping some sardines. Tony has been managing a fresh fish processing plant for over 30 years. The guy knows his fish. BONUS: A new way to use a box cutter!


 

Sardine Recipes

This week’s recipes are from Edible San Francisco. Bruce Cole, the editor and publisher, helped form, launch, and get the word out about Siren. He has been a considerable support and very generously sent me this great article by Molly Watson. You have THREE options. Cured, cured and marinated, and grilled. I dream of grilled sardines. So salty and delicious!

Enjoy!

Link to Edible San Francisco article

 

 

Pin Bones are IN

Hello hello! Just a quick note on how to avoid the unpleasant experience of choking on a fish bone. Your black cod will arrive in large fillets, scaled, with the skin on and the pin bones in. Please eat the skin. If you don’t, never tell me about it. We won’t be friends anymore. Please don’t eat the pin bones. You can remove them before cooking with some tweezers of pliers, or you can remove them after cooking. If you are making Mike Lee’s recipe, I would advise you to remove the pin bones before cooking.

If you can, store your fish on ice in the coldest part of your refrigerator. You want to keep those pretty fresh fillets ice cold.

Yay for getting started tomorrow!

 

 

Storing your new oyster friends

Your oysters will come to you in a nifty mesh bag.  They will probably be a little dirty, but we will address that later on.  The oysters are alive and you need to keep them that way if you would like to eat them.

The best way to do that is to keep them in your refrigerator covered with a damp paper towel.  They need to breathe, but they hate air.  Don’t put them in an airtight container.  They are little bivalve divas.  Putting them on ice is great, but you want to make sure that melting ice has a place to drain.  Melting fresh water can kill an oyster.  They like temperatures between 35 and 40F, so make sure refrigerator is running cold but NOT near freezing.

When you are ready to eat, give the oysters a quick rinse to remove any sea grit.  You don’t want any sand in your teeth.  If an oyster is open and will not close, DON’T EAT IT.  It’s dead and will make you sick.  If you find an open oyster, tap it gently on the table and wait.  If it is still open it’s dead.  If it closes, shuck away.  mmmmm