Wednesday, December 11, 2019


Fry day special
Not raised a Catholic, I really didn't understand
what all the fish Friday fuss was about. Nor was
I forced to endure fish sticks served by the baby
sitter. Both of this boomer's parents loved fish.
Hence they didn't need any excuse to dine upon
it at least once a week. Oddly unlike most other
culinary ingredients - my Mother liked it fresh.
So whenever she could catch something good
at the grocer it was served that night. Be it fresh
halibut or salmon steaks, filet of sole, flounder,
clam or cod chowder. All of which I loathed
with a passion. Until later when I realized how
special it all was.
Off the hook
For much of my life I lived close to an ocean
or large body of water. Fortunately I grew to
love all fish food. Living in Manhattan we had
our pick of the sea whenever we craved it.
Seasonal specialities such as soft shell crabs,
oysters, and clams on the half shell. Exotic
fare like sushi, octopus, and calamari. Along
with delicatessen goodies such as white fish,
lox, and pickled herring. While in Chicago we
enjoyed deep fried smelts and perch drowned
in butter a la Phil Smidt's in nearby Hammond.
Both fresh caught from Lake Michigan. And
all delicious, regional, and very special!
Hook, line, and sinker
Here in central Montana our options are more
limited. Some of the best trout in the state can
be hooked nearby. Our favorite local eatery -
The Mint - dishes out quality fish specials on
a nightly basis. Our grocer Albertsons offers
up a limited but decent fresh fish assortment
including lobster, shrimp, and crab. Plus they
have a sushi counter that's actually decent. So
there's no excuse to not take a deep dive on a
regular basis. Frozen varieties tend to be the
"freshest". But should you purchase "fresh"
you must choose wisely. And most important,
you must literally stick your nose in it.
Fresh caught
Ultimately when it comes to fish less is more.
Especially as it relates to cooking time. Little
is worse than a piece of overcooked and hence
dry fish or rubbery shrimp. And nothing will
make it any better if it smells to high heaven.
While anything from the farm is great (fruit,
vegetables, meat, and poultry) it's simply bad
crowd sourcing when it comes to seafood.
Reasons enough to stick with "wild caught."
Cooking a piece of fresh cod, salmon, or
halibut is easy.  Simply rub it with olive oil
and season to taste. Then roast at 425 for 5
to 10 minutes. Trust me, you'll be hooked.