(Alder-Smoked Sea Scallops)
Okay, I have been wanting to write this post for quite some time. And let me start by telling you where this comes from. I get new folks through my doors several times day who are "Just browsing," or "Just curious to see what you have." And as they are walking out the doors without buying anything or talking with any of the mongers, I always make it point to ask what brought them in today. Almost every single time, it is simple curiosity. And most say they think fish is too complicated to cook, takes too much time, it stinks up the house for a week, or the number one excuse is, it is just too damn expensive. I am going to try to help these folks out and hopefully some of you as well. To the curious ones...
Fish is easy. I wont blow smoke here, it can be made difficult. There are some outstanding recipe's out there that can take hours to prepare, and you will be well rewarded when you are finished. But, the fundamentals of preparing fish is what I am talking about here.
Anyway that you can prepare chicken, you can do the same with fish. Bake, grill, poach, pan fry, deep fry, plank, soup, stew, smoke, braise, roast, and can. There are even some things that you can do with fish that I would never suggest you do with chicken like; raw, rare, pickled, salted, cured, and open-air-dried (recipe coming soon).
Just a few things to remember when cooking fish: 1) Most fish likes to cook hot and fast. 380-400 degrees in your oven or grill. 8-10 minutes per inch of thickness. 2) Most fish takes to simple seasoning. Salt, pepper, and some sort of citrus will take you a long ways. 3) Do NOT portion your fish before you cook it. 4) The fresher the better.
Talk to your fishmonger. If you are scared or just don't want to do it yourself, have them trim, skin, and/or steak it for you. If you are looking for special cut or trim, ask them to do it for you. That is why they are there and they (well, I do anyways) like to show off my skills as a cutter. Furthermore, I want you to come back.
You do NOT have to buy a whole pound of anything. If you want 8oz, make them cut you 8oz. If the customer asks me questions about a particular fish that they have never tried, I will tell them to get something they know they like, and I will cut a small portion of the curious fish and tell them how to prepare it for free. I would much rather a customer have a great experience than to try to sell them something that they may not care for.
Sorry, I got nothing for the stink. Even in my house, almost all my fish is cooked outside. Anything that can be cooked on the grill or gas burner is done outside. Other than that, ummmm, well...........I got nothing. Any suggestions here I would be happy to hear and share them.
Most definitely, some fish can be outrageous in cost. There are more variables for this than I wish to get into here. Shop around. Spend your time on the phone calling around asking what is fresh today and how much it is. You will find a huge difference in price from store to store. And when you find the cheapest price in town, call your favorite fishmonger and ask if he/she will match price. I do it all the time.
With all this said, I am looking for questions from you. Ask them. I am sure that you are not the only one wanting answers to that question that has been nagging at you.
Oh, I almost forgot.... That picture is of Alder Smoked Sea Scallops. These are the most fantastic scallops to experiment with. Try them on top of your salad, or layered on top of your pasta. Fantastic! A must try.