Tuesday, March 13, 2012

International Boston Seafood Show: Food of Interest

Fish is meant to tempt as well as nourish, and everything that lives in water is seductive.”
--Jean-Paul Aron

One of the joys of attending the 2012 International Boston Seafood Show (IBSS) is the chance to sample a smorgasbord of seafood, to partake of new products and old, of shellfish to sushi. Exhibitors are trying to entice buyers to purchase their products, and offering samples is one way to highlight their culinary delights. They also hope to spark some positive press for their food products and enjoy highlighting those foods which most enticed my palate, those which gave me the most gustatory pleasure. Though I gorged myself on many different items, not all are noteworthy and I can only offer a sampling of those which best appealed to me. So enjoy these mouth watering foods, and please don't salivate on your keyboard.

I have eaten alligator before but, though tasty, it usually tends to be a bit fibrous which makes it a bit chewy. But the piece of alligator above is from Florida, and it was excellent. It was a mild flavored and tender meat, with a slight crunchiness to the outer coating. I devoured a few pieces and could have easily stood there and eaten the entire pan. There are a number of alligator farmers and dealers in Florida, and you can purchase a variety of cuts, from tail to jowls. The meat is sustainable, lean, low in fat, low in cholesterol and versatile. Just be careful not to overcook it and it is recommended you do not fry it.

Two salmon bacons at the seafood show? Yes, that is what I found. First, I tasted Kylee's Alaskan Salmon Bacon. Pictured above is Fred West, whose granddaughter Kylee had celiac and was allergic to growth hormones and steroids in beef and pork. West wanted Kylee to enjoy bacon, so he devised an alternative, salmon bacon. In conjunction with Tustumena Smokehouse, they produce thin strips of salmon and process it like bacon though it is free of hormones, steroids, gluten and other chemicals. "Most people that are buying it are people that also have allergies that can't have nitrates in their system and need to be gluten-free," West said. "It's really been humbling for us, it's just been really humbling to reach out and touch so many people."

In many respects it looks like bacon, and certainly has that smoky bacon aroma. It tastes though more like smoky salmon than actual bacon, and is not as crispy as most bacon. though all of that is not a bad thing. It is a very tasty product, and would make a nice diversion from real bacon, and as an alternative for those who do have strong allergiers

I do love sweet potato and this Crunchy Sweet Potato Alaska Pollock by American Pride Seafoods really hit the spot. Available as frozen sticks or nuggets, I loved the crunchy coating which delivered a prominent sweet potato flavor. The fish inside was flaky and moist, though it was the coating which was the true star of this item.

This is old school smoked salmon. The Santa Barbara Smokehouse, which has been around since 1947, has a brick kiln and hang their Scottish salmon by the collar for a slow smoke. It is very much an artisan process, akin to the wait Scots used to smoke salmon. This is intended to be a high-end product and the salmon itself is silky with a delicate smoky flavor, just a delight in your mouth. They produce a few different flavors of this smoked salmon and it is highly recommended.

Onto more salmon bacon! MacKnight produces a wide range of salmon products, including Salmon Bacon, which they developed about two years ago and claim to be the first to have created it. Using Scottish and Norweigian salmon, they make thin slices that closely resemble real bacon. They seemed more thinly sliced than Kylee's though their aroma was very similar. The MacKnight though had more of a bacon taste and crispness to it, without losing that distinctive salmon flavor. I was quite taken with this bacon and easily could picture this on my breakfast table.

MacKnight also makes Salmon Fillets, which come in a few different styles including Lime & Chili Mignon and Sweet & Smokey Mignon. They are made from 100% salmon and each fillet is 5 ounces. I tried the Green Tea & Ginger Glaze which comes with an aromatic broth. You simply place the fillet atop your own noodles and then pour the broth over the top. I enjoyed the moist fillet, which had a tantalizing Asian flair. I really wanted a glass of Sake at that moment.

Shaw's Southern Belle is a family run business which produces a number of pre-made frozen seafood items, including a number of different crab cakes, salmon burgers and more. I had one of their Maryland Style Crab Cakes which seemed to be full with plenty of crab and much less filler. It was moist, with a crisp exterior coating, and I would serve those to company.

Since 1992, Myron's Fine Looking Sauces have been available, and there are at least 15 different finishing sauces available, and all are made from natural ingredients and are gluten free. I was impressed with the depth of flavor I found in the sauces. My favorite was the Aged Shoyu, an umami bomb that would be an excellent accompaniment to Japanese cuisine. heaven, Others I really loved included Thai Red Chile, Szechuan, and Teriyaki. Though available at Whole Foods and specialty shops, they mostly sell these sauces to food services.

Reminiscent of ceviche, Pickled Willys pickled seafoods were impressive. They currently have four different types including Wild Ling Cod, Wild Sockeye Salmon, Alaskan King Crab Tail, and Halibut (though the halibut was not available for sampling). They are a new company, being around for only a year, but spent about 1.5 years prior to that in development. Bill (Willy) Alwert, after being out fishing for months, would come home and immediately start pickling some of his catch. It was very popular with his family and friends who insisted he make it year round. Willy's niece, Barbara Hughes, then convinced him to go commercial and create a processing plant and the business really took off.

The pickled seafood is made with organic vinegar, cane sugar, and a blend of pickling spices. They use only sustainable, wild Alaskan seafood and the product has a shelf life of about five months. I was very pleased with the end product, the fish still having a firm flesh and the light pickling enhancing the seafood. The salmon was my favorite of the three, though I liked all of them. It could be used to create your own ceviche, or a variety of other intriguing appetizers.

Last year, I raved about the Seafood Arancini and Seafood Pot Pies produced by Maristella's Fine Foods, and this year they have added some healthier options, a line of seafood salads. They have five new, all natural salads, including Spinach Orzo Salad with Wild Roasted Salmon, Creamy Garlic & Dill, Tomato Orzo Salad with Tuna & a Soy Ginger Vinaigrette, Summer Cous Cous Salad with Wild Shrimp and White Balsamic Vinaigrette, Yukon Gold Potato Salad with Wild Mussels & Mustard Vinaigrette, and Red & Gold Quinoa Salad with Scallops, Poblanos and Champagne Vinaigrette. My favorite, pictured above, was the Summer Cous Cous Salad, which was light, flavorful and had a nice texture from the cous cous. The Red & Gold Quinoa Salad was also quite tasty.

Seafood pot pies seem to be gaining in popularity and those made by Maine Fresh join the list of delectable ones. The recipes were created by Chef Sam Hayward, of famed Fore Street in Portland, Maine, so they have a certain cachet for that alone. They use sustainable, wild caught seafood and comes in four varieties, including scallop, lobster, shrimp, and crab.The pies are topped with a whole-wheat pastry crust which I found to be light and flaky, and the fillings were quite tasty, with a nice blend of herbs, spices, and vegetables. The lobster pot pie was probably my favorite but all of them were worthy of attention. They can be found at Whole Foods and Hannafords.

To end this post, here is a series of photos of some of the other foods I found at the seafood show which were good but not my top choices.

Pork gyoza.

Salmon sashimi.

Coconut crab cake.

A mound of lobster meat.

Catfish strips.

Ceviche with pineapple.

Lobster Mac n' Cheese.

Ok, so I didn't really eat this fish head!

1 comment:

Mary West said...

I'm from Alaska and it's real exciting for our little town of Soldotna to have Fred West showcasing his salmon bacon. He is well known and loved by so many people. It was a pleasure to see his picture on your website. He's our brother, and we know the countless hours he has put into his product. Thankyou