Monday, February 13, 2012

Conger Monger.

Back in Chapter 9.X.IIVXXX of yesteryear's News from the Yard, I describe the elusive catadromous eel and it's disgusting larval children, otherwise known as elvers... 

Locally Caught Conger Eel: 
That doesn't look so disgusting now, does it?

Like a crazy, suit-wearing bum, off the wagon and preaching apocalypse in the streets, I'm back on the scene spreading the word of eel. The MIGHTY CONGER is a non-gross, underutilized species found in abundance right here in our own waters!

Conger Fillet

From the Top in Order: Unagi, Rice, iPhone4

It is considered NORMAL to eat CONGER in fancy-pants Europe and Argentina! 

Boca Junior Cheerleaders y el Gran Bistec:


Conger is mild and sweet. It pairs nicely with suttle flavors. If you are still stumped, substitute conger in any mackerel recipe for glorious results!

Here is a clue:
 Eels take very well to stewing.
Did I hear somebody say CONGER isn't mainstream enough for the their customers? Rachael Ray broils her own to make homemade unagi. Lets face it,  b 
y the time Ray-Dawgs cooks an under-utilized species on national television, the proverbial ship has sailed.

A ship that stays in the harbor is safe, 
but that isn't what ships are made for.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Fish Farm in a Garbage Can.

Up in the South Bronx lives an ambitious couple of ex-bankers who are farming what they have come to call Bronx Best Blue Tilapia, right in their own garbage cans!

Red, yellow, green: TILAPIA
Garbage cans, Rasta MAN!
Christopher Toole and girlfriend Anya Pozdeeva started said fish farm inside their apartment in Riverdale, NY in 2010 but had to re-locate when neighbors became suspicious about what the hell was going on up there on the 14th floor. Now located near Hunts Point, the couple invites Bronx school children to come and help raise fish and farm mint as well as basil using fish waste. The kids even get to take their bounty home to eat.

Swim little tilapias!

The Bronx Best Blue Tilapia program is raising awareness about eating healthy and knowing where your food comes from in a part of NYC where this mindset is sadly lacking. Hopefully in time this project will become huge and will employ and feed many South Bronx residents in need!!

South Bronx, NYC aka Fish Farm City!

Another fish farm success story is that of Meir Lazar in the suburbs of Baltimore, MD. He is growing up to 100lbs of tilapia per year and all of the herbs and veggies he and his family can eat via hydroponics from the tanks. He wants to show the world that any old fool can pull something like this off.

Meir is a man of the apocalyptic mindset.
Big Ups to Meir the Tilapia Pioneer!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

F/V Dragon Lady - Lobs and Crabs on the High Seas

Point Judith, RI is a town where it still isn't weird to say that your husband, father, son or brother is commercial fisherman. My new buddy Alessandro, or "Sans" (which he calls himself in order to avoid confusing the ladies) is a lobsterman at the fresh age of 20. He hauls traps and cooks on his father's boat the F/V Dragon Lady. In a way Sans seems older than his years... I guess hauling traps and cranking cigarettes in the trenches of Georges Bank can have that affect on a person.

Sans and Nate. Note the T-Shirts in January.
Fishermen don't get cold 'cause they are tough muthafuckas.
Just the other day Captain Scott, owner of the F/V Dragon Lady actually invited me (me?me!) to board his fishing vessel and scope the winter Jonah Crab scene. 

Captain Scott: Lobsterman / Surfer Dude for LIFE.
Note the tan, he was most recently shredding waves in Mex.

GTFB Scoping Le Scene and generally getting in the way.
During the frosty months large commercial lobster boats like the F/V Dragon Lady stay a little closer to shore targeting Jonah Crabs. By a little closer to shore I still mean about 60 miles out there. These guys are tough as nails and cool as hell. Put it this way, if the apocalypse came down upon the earth I would REALLY want to be on their team. 

Nate loading up the totes.

Jonah crabs are not worth as much $ as lobster and they are more precious than lobs. They don't live as long once harvested from the water. Chefs like to use the picked leg and body meat of the Jonah Crab in salads, crab cakes, spring rolls and other crazy inventions.

Fall into their chamber and the Jonah Crabs will slowly eat you alive. No big deal.


Check out her photography blog at:

Friday, January 27, 2012

Play that funky music, WHITING!

Why OH Why, has whiting been sentenced to exist only in the shadows of its prestigious North Atlantic cousin, the cod? Whiting (aka silver hake) is a delicious and inexpensive fish lurking in abundance right here in our local waters, yet nobody seems to give a shit!

Whiting flesh is delicate and light, even more so than the flesh of cod. Unfortunately, sometimes by the time whiting gets to market it has already been bludgeoned and mistreated. This is a major turn off. However, if you manage to fandangle some fresh, well-handled whiting, WATCH OUT! You will immediately get the urge to play that funky music. 

Many fishermen agree that whiting is the best tastin' fish in the sea. Whiting is the fish that fishermen eat when they are out fishin,' if you can wrap your huge brane around that concept. 

"What the hell are you talking about?
Please, just tell me what's for dinner."
My father loves to eat whiting, however he warns that it is to be cooked with extra special care. Whitings are not for the heavy handed. Be light and nimble, dear chef and you too will prosper withwhiting on your menu. Check out some wicked awesome recipes for whiting from the BBC.    

Fear not their petite size.
You use Branzini,
don't you?
There is a whole lot of hullaballoo surrounding COD these days: There is cod, there isn't cod, there might be cod, WAIT! Maybe not... UGH! 

You know what? 
At this point I'll just have a hot dog.
You may not know it, but YOU have the power to stop this madness. Whiting is not overfished and overfishing is not occuring! Just sayin'... Utilize a species that is not under intense criticism and conflict every five minutes and you will never have to bite your tongue again. 

OWWWCHIES! I keep doin' dat...

Monday, January 23, 2012


Get you barf bags ready because hagfish are super disgusting and gross! Ever wonder why they are so incredibly repulsive? Start with a bonafide raunch-dawg name like hagfish, end with the rancid slime these creatures omit and you will start to get the picture.


These oversized sea worms are jawless, they are a close relatives of the lamprey aka shark sucker. Their mouths contain rake-like teeth which they use to ravage shrimps, mollusks and fish. Hags will even eat dead fish. GROSS! Some commercial fishermen can stand the hags because they feed on coveted money-making groundfish stock.

Hagfish are the most primitive of all vertebrates, both living and extinct. Nasty ass hagfish are true Lovecraftian horrors of the sea.

Watch yo back.
Hag-sters are an important animal for researchers because they haven't evolved in more than 300 million years. Save a spot for the hagfish at your family reunion this year because we are all living ancestors of the hagfish.

Now I know where Great Aunt Maybel gets her good looks from...

The rudimentary eyeballs of the hagfish leave it nearly blind, at least they have highly functional barbel smellers which they use to navigate and stalk their prey.

Hagfish are a by-catch of the New England ground fishery yet nobody around here dares to eat them. I read that in Korea the chef will keep a live hagfish in a tank and bother it with a stick every once in a while to collect the fibrous slime that it produces as a defense mechanism. Their slime is used dishes they way an American chef might use egg white. Hey, I don't make this shit up! Click here to watch a fascinating hagfish slime-ing video.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Scorpaenidae or DIE!!!

Ever try to make bouillabaisse without scorpionfish? It's like trying to go on family vacation in the Bahamas without rum: Absolute goddamned torture. 

Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse...
Somebody get that 
parrot a stiff drink!
Consider your dry spell over 'cause scorpionfishlionfish, and believe it or not SEA ROBIN are all Scorpaenidae! Yup, those gross-looking flying fish that croak like frogs when you catch 'em are not only clogging up nets and hooking themselves across the world, but they are also delicious. Even my grouchy old fisherman father agrees that the firm, tender tail of a weirdo sea robin is well worth eatin.'

Think of the incredible appetizer you could create with the tasty flesh of that creature's tail.
It ain't all easy and breezy when it comes to sourcing Scorpinadae. In the 1990's the invasive lionfish, originally from the Indo-Pacific Ocean was introduced to the North Atlantic "by mistake." Can you imagine the idiot who spearheaded that movement?



Sea robin sushi? YES, PLEASE! Watch this semi-boring video about filleting, preparing and serving lionfish, or just read on for the spoiler... 

- The narrator's favorite lionfish preparation is CEVICHE. Yes I said ceviche, which of course is served raw. 

   - One chicken-head in the video uses the removed spines of the fish as toothpicks for lionfish
     fritters. That really gets me excited!

You can leave the sea robin sourcing to FISH BABE. Cooking that bad boy like a friggen' pro, WELL THAT IS UP TO YOU CHEF! 

The pre-victory dance of a 
soon-to-be legend.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Iki Jime: Delaying Rigor Mortis, One Fish at a Time.

Ever since my buddy Yuji invited me to check out True World fish warehouse in Jerz I have gone hog-wild with the ike jime research. I can't get enough of these flesh preserving, taste enhancing Japanese fish handling techniques. Most American Fishermen already know that when you bleed 'em on board, you make more dough. Fish is a limited natural resource, and the Japanese know how to handle their fish. They like to eat seafood in the freshest condition possible and fishermen who use iki jime techniques to kill their prey receive the most money for each single piece.

"Coring" the brain.
Ike Jime literally means "spinal cord destruction" and it is the practice of a non-stress death and bleeding of fish on board fishing vessels. I have seen charter fishing videos where the fishermen and mates are literally kicking still-alive codfish around on deck. This is disgraceful! I understand that with trawlers and in bad weather, performing an iki jime fish execution might be a challenge. That said, I do believe that for hook fishermen, long liners and trap fishermen iki jime is a viable and progressive way to make more money by implementing free techniques! Here is an interesting short video of two chefs going through the process of iki jime. Ike jime should be preformed at the time of the fish's death.

Iki Jime involves severing the brain of the fish. The best way to do this is puncturing the brain from inside the fish's gill plate. You always want the fish to remain as intact as possible, however, if you want you can through the spinal cord behind the eyes of the fish. Always be careful not to puncture the heart. Once the head stuff is over with, sever the tail of the fish, just like the diagram below. Insert the wire into the spine. Bleed the fish in a bucket of ice slurry, aka ice with sea water. Now you know what to do. Go practice on some cod this winter!

The wire is inserted here:

French Culinary Institute Explains Iki Jime.

Although it may seem gruesome, execution by way of hole-through-brain and wire-through-spinal cord is the most humane method out there. Ike jime is totally in style too. Lucky Peach, the super awesome new food mag by David Chang and Anthony Bourdain just did a good article about ike jimi, which is still in stores.

I could go on about iki jime for days, and I will. For now, check out this ike shime squid killing tool. Be sure to watch the video at the bottom of the page where the squid turns all  shades of brown pre and post mortem.

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