Wednesday, June 22, 2011

I Like Fish. Fish are Fun.

Some people might like frozen fish sticks, but I don't.  I like actual fish.

The title of this post is out of respect to my High School Friends.  If you don't get it, that's cool.  It's still true whether you get the joke or not.

You wouldn't know it from reading this blog so far, but I'm actually not a big red meat eater.   I truly believed I did not like red meat until about two years ago.  My husband loves steak, and for his birthday or our anniversary or Christmas or some present, I took him to Mr. B's Steak House, a very fancy steak house in our area.  I, as I always did when we went to a steak house, got the salmon.  But, he asked if I wanted to try a bite of his steak and I did.  And - imagine my surprise - it was delicious.  Much better than the salmon which they probably only kept on the menu for losers like me.  Turns out it wasn't that I didn't like steak, it was just that I didn't like crappy steak and I had never met anyone who knew how to cook a steak.  Cooking a perfect steak is still actually a really big challenge for me.  I have this fear of over cooking it - which I learned is what made it inedible to me - and because of that it's always a little to rare.

I actually seriously considered being a vegetarian in High School.  Not really for moral reasons, or health reasons, but because I just didn't like meat.  Also, I'm pretty sure I had a kick-ass eating disorder going on, and I was just looking for another way to control what I could and could not eat.  But that's another story for another time.

The thing that kept me from becoming a vegetarian was seafood.  And maybe chicken wings.  But mostly seafood.

Before I started my locavore challenge, Jeff and I probably ate red meat or pork once per week.  We had chicken twice a week, seafood twice a week, vegetarian once a week, and we ate out once a week.  We still eat a lot of chicken, but not as much because I don't have the time or the energy to prepare a whole chicken all the time.  And pieces are very hard to come by.  Even harder to find are boneless, skinless chicken breasts, which used to be a weekly staple.  And when I can find them, I don't dare stock up because they're so expensive.

So chicken is down to once a week.  And seafood is off the table almost all together, because there is so very little, and what there is takes so much work.  Yes, my Adventure in Fish was awesome.  So awesome, in fact, that it is still one of the top read posts on this blog.  It was exciting to learn how to scale, butcher, and fillet a fish, and even more exciting when, about half way through, I actually started to get good at it!  But, if you've noticed, I haven't done it again.  Not because it wasn't awesome, and not because I am scared to clean a fish, but because it takes SO LONG.  And for so little food.  And cooking vegetarian meals hasn't been working out well because it's been winter (even though yesterday was the first day of summer... it certainly doesn't feel like summer here) in Wisconsin - which means no vegetation.  That's starting to change and I'm excited, but it's still slow going.

So, I'm left with red meat.  And it's hard not to be excited about it, because there are so many interesting types and cuts at the farmer's market.  I like trying new things, and I like learning to cook new things.

But I also like fish.

So, today, instead of supporting local agriculture, we are supporting local businesses.  Specifically, the Saint Paul Fish Company at The Milwaukee Public Market.  I love these people.  Seriously.  This is probably one of my favorite businesses to go visit.  And not just because they give me fish in exchange for money.  Almost all of the employees know my name.  Even though I haven't been back regularly since March, they almost all still know what I want.  The day I had soft shell crabs, I was just in the Public Market for bread and wine, and my boyfriend the fishmonger (that's what I call him.  My husband is okay with it) came up to me and said, ever so quietly, "we have soft shell crabs."  They only have those once a year, and yet he knew I wanted them!

When I had jaw surgery last winter, my first meal of solid food was their lobster roll.  It was the thing I most needed after 8 weeks of no solid food.  When Jeff and I were in Boston, we went to a restaurant that Anthony Bourdain claimed had "the best lobster roll in the history of ever."  It was good.  It wasn't as good as the St. Paul Fish Market's, though. 

Today, even though they were busy, the owner took the time to shuck a dozen oysters for me, because she knows I'm nervous to do it myself.  To recap: these people are wonderful, their seafood is always fresh, and their $12.95 lobster dinner is probably the best deal in town.

Anywho, this is what I made supporting a local business.  Not my most local recipe ever, but still delicious.  It could have used about 2 tbsp of capers!

Clams and Shrimp in White Wine
  • 1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 lb clams
  • 3 tbsp butter, divided (L)
  • 4 cloves garlic (L)
  • 3 small green onions, thinly sliced (L)
  • 6 - 8 stalks asparagus, chopped into bite size pieces (L)
  • 2 small turnips, sliced thinly (L)
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
Melt  1 tbsp butter in a hot pan.  Add garlic and onions, and for about 2 minutes.  Add shrimp and asparagus and saute until the shrimp just start to turn pink on the outside, but still very translucent on the inside (don't cook them through, because they're going to continue cooking), seasoning with salt and pepper.  Add wine, remaining butter, turnips, and clams.  Cover tightly and cook over medium low heat, shaking the pan occasionally, until most of the clams have opened - about 6-8 minutes.   Discard any clams that don't open.  Add lemon juice, taste, and season with salt and pepper if necessary.  Serve with crusty bread to sop up the juices.

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