Best cookbook ever!

It’s this one:

Good Fish: Sustainable Seafood Recipes from the Pacific Coast, by Becky Selengut

I got this book as a Christmas gift. The author was (previously, I think) the seafood chef at the well-known local restaurant the Herbfarm, and these recipes are just wonderful, not only because they are tasty, but because they emphasize types of seafood that come from sustainable fisheries, and the book tells you what types to buy (farmed or wild? local or Alaskan?).

Seafood species are local, and I grew up near the Gulf coast. I learned how to cook Gulf coast species (to be honest, mostly by deep frying them), and the Pacific coast species were almost completely foreign to me when I moved to Seattle. When I moved up here, I had never once tasted salmon or halibut. Now I eat those fish all the time, but I still feel a little at a loss when handling and cooking them.

Not only does this book have a ton of great information about salmon and halibut, it covers fish species I haven’t even tried yet, like arctic char and black cod (one thing that amused me–the author names possible substitutions for each fish species, and for black cod she suggests “a stick of butter”). It’s time for me to broaden my horizons. I intend to try cooking them both.

Unfortunately, I picked the wrong time of year to start exploring this book. Most of our fish species are out of season right now (along with virtually all other tasty foods, *grumble*). Summer is when fresh salmon and halibut are available. I’m not sure about black cod and arctic char.

Still, I’m starting with what I can. Dungeness crab is always available, if expensive, so I began by making Dungeness Crab Macaroni & Cheese. (Does that not sound amazingly delicious?) I love the very idea of this recipe–I’ve eaten lobster mac at fancy restaurants before, but it’s silly to eat lobster here on the Pacific coast. We don’t have lobster in Pacific waters; it has to be shipped in from the east coast. Dungeness crab makes a nice local substitute. Also, I like how the super expensive ingredient (the crab is $45/lb this time of year) is paired with ridiculously cheap ingredients (pasta: $1/lb). The recipe requires less than a pound of crab and makes a huge amount of food, so it works out to be more economical than you’d imagine.

Then tonight I made Wild Salmon Chowder with Fire-Roasted Tomatoes. This recipe is a winner in every possible way. It’s quick to make, involves cheap ingredients, tastes great, and is really healthy. It only requires half a pound of salmon, and cheap salmon at that (pink, coho, or chum). I actually couldn’t find cheap salmon at the fish market I went to, so I had to use sockeye (prev. frozen because it’s winter), but it still only cost me $6. I absolutely love this recipe and plan to make it regularly.

Tomorrow I’m trying a scallop recipe. Yum!

I can’t wait until our local fish come into season so I can try everything else.

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