Thursday, May 4, 2017

Wild Salmon in your Belly

I should be writing about my garden and here I am writing fish. It happens.

Backstory: The Frenchman and I eat very little fish. I would like to eat more. It's wonderful to cook with and it is healthy. But it is not that easy, even in this Biggest of Apples, to find fish that is ethically sourced and caught. It is simpler to know where meat comes from than it is fish. Fish are the last free roaming wild thing that we are ripping out of the ocean by the ton. And the collateral damage (to use war-speak) or tamely named 'by catch' - the other critters that are swept up or killed in nets - is deleterious (if you care about conservation, and that is a whole other philosophical conversation). Then there are fish farms, of course, but you really, really need to do your homework to figure which ones are not causing more harm than good.

In local bluefish and mackerel season we are on them. Strong fish that are good on barbecues. And we love locally caught trout.

Gabrielle Langholtz, my friend, and former editor at Edible magazine (as well as author of The New Greenmarket Cookbook), introduced me last year to the family-owned Iliamna Fishing Company, based out of Alaska. Once a year out they go in their boats and catch wild sockeye salmon. The fish are cleaned, flash frozen and packaged on board. For eight years that catch has been sold to local customers, using a community supported fishery (CSF) model. They also sell in Oregon markets (Portland, Eugene and Wilamette Valley), and New York City.

Last October I cycled to pick up our first share from the Red Winery in Brooklyn. Yes, the winery is on New York Harbor, no there are not grape vines on site.

The 12lb share of salmon costs $204. I know that is a lot of money. But we received nine sides of gorgeous red sockeye salmon. It works out to $22 a side. Which is less than you would pay  for wild salmon in a store, for considerably higher quality. I still have four sides in the freezer.

I have grilled it, poached it, made gravlax (above)...

...and recently a roast salmon spring dashi with ramps, Japanese knotweed and morels (recipes will be in my the wild foods cookbook, yay!).

It is the best salmon I have ever eaten.

I am writing about it now because I just received the email from Iliamna saying that now is the time to sign up for a 2017 share. You pay half up front, which keeps the fishery's show on the road. On pick up in October you pay the balance.

I am rarely enthused enough to tell people to go out and buy something, but this is one of those times. If you live in those hoods. There are other CSF's out there, now, so do some Googling if you live elsewhere and are interested in learning more about where the fish you eat comes from.

In other news, there is one spot left on my Central Park ramble on May 20th and four left on the Inwood Hill Park foray on May 13th. We will not be fishing, but hunting for edible invasives and learning about delectable native plants. And having a picnic, of course. Because life is too short not to picnic.

Hey (idea strikes)! Maybe I'll make some potted salmon with ramp salt to spread on nettle sourdough!

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