If you enjoy fish and have gotten past the fear of preparing it, you may still be stuck in a fillet or steak world. I know, it’s safe and reliable. But, in a fin to fork world, how about branching out a little and trying some other parts of the fish—like, well, the collar?
And, hey, while we’re at it, let’s talk other types of seafood. Got your heart set on clams or mussels? Well, how about trying some geoduck (pronounced gooey-duck)? It’s certainly out there.
That’s the beauty of Catalina Offshore Products. Tommy Gomes and company bring in not just the usual stuff (although the usual stuff—sea bass, swordfish, shrimp, and yellowtail—are damned good). They bring in the seafood you need to ask about. That you might not know how to cook—or know if you’d even enjoy. No problem. On Fridays, chef Chris Logan comes in to do demos and give you a chance to ask prep questions and sample. On Saturdays, the "Man with the Pan," Ken Gardon does the same.
I went in last week and Tommy loaded me down with some collars and I got a geoduck primer. Now, you get it, too.
This yellowtail comes from the along the West Coast, from Baja up to just south of San Francisco. It’s a perfect sushi fish—sweet and a little fatty. You can get a fillet and grill it, bake it, or broil it. But how about the collar? There’s no reason you can’t do the same. At $5 apiece, it’s very affordable and, more to the point, the flesh is ridiculously rich. Logan suggests marinating it in a combination of rice vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, cilantro, and Serrano chili a day before cooking. Then grill, broil, or bake it.
Wild King Salmon Collars
When Tommy pulled these out of the case I had a moment that took me back to my childhood. I grew up munching on "lox wings," the thick piece of the smoked salmon attached to the fins and, I realize now, collars, that the deli guys would just give away to kids. No one does that anymore, but oh, the sight of those collars took me back. Salmon collars at Catalina Offshore Products are $2.50 apiece. Marinate them in a mix of lemon, olive oil, parsley, and dill, then steam, put them on the grill, or bake.
Typically we think of geoduck as a Pacific Northwest delicacy. But Tommy’s are hand harvested in Baja and, he admits, have less fat content and are a little less sweet. But, man, are they interesting. You have to be careful when cooking with them since they can get tough quickly. You can prepare them raw, sliced thin like carpaccio or added to ceviche. Or slice them, toss in cornstarch, and quickly pan fry them, then dip in Chinese red chile garlic sauce. Or, make chowder or cioppino, and, like with clams, add them at the end to just briefly cook. But before you do anything, they need prepping—as in boiling in a deep pot to loosen the skin, shocking them in ice water, cutting them out of the shell and then peeling the skin. Tommy has a video demo that shows how it works. $12 to $14 a pound