Wednesday, March 19, 2014
SENA14: Food Of Interest
One of the great joys of attending Seafood Expo North America is the opportunity to explore the bounty of the Seven Seas, to gorge yourself on a vast variety of seafood samples. The exhibitors provide food samples to lure and entice potential purchasers, to show them the quality and taste of their products. Without sampling the seafood, how would a purchaser know whether he should buy it or not? You'll find cold and hot seafood samples, from oysters to fried catfish, and recipes that are simple to complex. I always encourage people attending the Expo to broaden their palates and taste new foods, different seafoods that they have never tried before. You might find a new favorite.
Overall, much of the seafood is prepared very simply, and in some respects, creativity takes a back seat. However, you still will find a handful of chefs creating some intriguing dishes. The Expo might not be the best venue to cook a more complex dish, especially as many booths possess only rudimentary cooking devices, but it can be done. For example, the Louisiana Seafood pavilion always seems to do a good job of creating some delicious and inventive dishes.
I taste many different items at the show, though certainly not everything that is offered as there is just too much for any single person to taste. In general, I enjoy most of what I eat but only a few items truly merit to be highlighted here. I want to share with my readers those foods which were my favorites, what I consider some of the tastiest, most compelling and interesting of all the samples I enjoyed. If you attended the Seafood Show, and have your own favorite samples, feel free to tell me about them in the comments.
British Columbia pavilion and our Canadian neighbor does an excellent job of offering fresh, sustainable seafood. In British Colombia, they produce over 100 species of seafood, exporting about 80% and the U.S. receives about 57% of those exports. And what is important is that their seafood tastes great, from their salmon to their caviar. As I enjoyed their samples so much last year, it was a no brainer that I would return again this year to see what they were serving. And I wasn't disappointed in the least. Next year, make sure you stop by this pavilion.
Nathan Fong, a food stylist, journalist, and TV personality, who was born in Vancouver, presided at the pavilion, investing his deep passion and creativity into his cooking. Last year, he produced my favorite samples at the Expo and has repeated that honor this year. With lots of energy, he sourced some of the best seafood of B.C., and created at least seven different dishes for attendees to sample and savor.
Nextjen Gluten-Free batter blend, he made a fried fish. This is a batter which you'll never realize is gluten-free as there is no sacrifice of taste. And this list was not even complete.
Jacqueline Church, a writer and private cooking coach.
Ocean Approved, which was founded in 2006, was the first kelp farm in the U.S. and they grow it sustainability in the cold, clean waters of Maine. What a fascinating local story and this is the first time I had learned anything about it.
They see kelp farming as an industry and not just something done by their own company, and in fact, even have a Kelp Farming Manual on their website. They want to share their knowledge and experience with others, a noble sentiment. They start the annual growth process in September by creating seed in their nursery, and then plant it from October to December, finally harvesting it around March.
Upon harvesting, the kelp is cut, blanched and then froze. Interestingly, the kelp's biological composition allows it to freeze and thaw twice a day, with the tides. It is fresh frozen, never dried, and sold in one pound frozen pouches. To serve it, you just have to thaw, drain and serve. Kelp is very healthy for you, being gluten free and low in calories, carbohydrates and fat. It also is an excellent source of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and iron, as well as one of the few foods with the nutrient iodine, which is essential for hormone balance.
Manjun Foods Co., which is currently seeking a distributor. Their Laverland Crunch products are made from laver, which is what the Japanese call nori, the "seaweed" wrap you find on some sushi. They sell a Seaweed Salad Topping, which can easily be sprinkled on any salad, and I found it to have a flavorful crunch, which would enhance the savoriness of any salad. It is not bland in the least, having a nice, spiced taste.
California Sea Urchin Commission supports sustainable caught sea urchin and has established best practices for divers and processors. Diving for sea urchins generally occurs from on the coast from San Diego to Fort Bragg, and there are about 300 divers, engaged in a rather dangerous profession. It used to be that most of the urchin would be sold to Japan, but about 1/3 of the catch now is sold within the U.S. I do love the rich, briny creaminess of sea urchin.
I praised the smoked Salmon from the Santa Barbara Smokehouse, which hangs their Scottish salmon in a brick kiln for a slow smoke. This year, I enjoyed the earthy flavor of their Prime Tenderloin With Black Truffle. This is part of their Cambridge House Private Reserve Traditional Rope Hung Salmon line, and the salmon was meaty and rich, with a light coating of black truffle that enhanced the savoriness of the salmon. It was a decadent addition to an already silky and compelling salmon.
Rumi Japan is a seafood wholesaler and processor, with a large portfolio of different seafood, but their main attraction at the Expo was their Hamachi Nigiri. Rumi Japan uses a special technique, called Ikijime, to prepare their Yellowtail. This is a nerve-removal processing where the head and gut are removed and cut into three pieces. The bones are then removed so only the meat remains and this is supposed to preserve freshness for a very long time. The Hamachi is superb, dense and firm with luxurious fatty flesh. One of the best Hamachi you will taste.
Mussels cookbook coming out next month.
"The fast fish, not the big fish, eats the small fish."