Fish-O-Gram Encore Presentation! Scallop Promos! Halibut is Here! Saturday Deliveries!
Dear Repetitious Customers,
What with one thing and another, we have not had the time to craft an entirely new Fish-O-Gram to herald the onset of the 2017 Halibut and Blackcod fisheries. So we are pulling from the archives, changing dates and making do. In current news, last night King 5 news aired a 3 minute love story to the rebirth of the pink scallop fishery. It was a beautiful story and we are deeply grateful to KPR publicity for making it happen, Eric Wilkinson for spinning a sweet story and the heavy editing by King 5 technical staff to make us look moderately intelligent and legitimate. Here is the link:
Traffic to our website has exploded these past hours. We are building a website around linking curious internet surfers to retail outlets and restaurants selling and serving the scallops. If you would like your venue to be featured, please send us logo, links and any photos or additional blurbs you would like shared.
Will success go to their heads?
Encore presentation.....Our 2016 Halibut-Centric Fish-O-Gram with a few key dates changed
Dear Halibut-Hungry Customers,
Your long, winter nightmare is almost over! No more trimming freezer-burnt Pacific Ocean Perch filets for fish-fry, no more slogging through mountains of hormone-laced factory farm pork! No more trying to torture basketball sized beets and celery root into something resembling an entree! The Fish Train is Here!!! Saturday, Halibut as well as IFQ Alaska Black Cod. April 1, Washington Coast Black Cod. April 15, fresh Oregon Troll Kings!! Away we go!!!!.
We are now in the final countdown to the March 11 Halibut Opener. Every fishery, including Alaska, Canada and West Coast open simultaneously. Here at Jones Ranch, all eyes are on the Tribal-only, inside waters Halibut. This is one of our favorite openings. The weather looks to be reasonable for the weekend and all systems are go. Every fishery is managed differently. In Canada and Alaska, individual fishermen may decide when to fish between the opening and closing dates. On the Washington Coast, most commercial halibutis caught during 8-10 hr targeted openings spread out through the season, and as bycatch in other fisheries. Our tribal cohorts set their own opening schedule within the general opening and their quota, which this year stands at 414,786#, including ceremonial and subsistence fish. Tribal openers are set jointly between all involved treaty tribes, which include the Lummi, Swinomish, Nooksack, Tulalip, Suquamish, Port Gamble S'Klallam, Jamestown S'Klallam, Elwha S'Klallam, Makah, Quillayute, and Quinalt, with each tribe being geographically limited to a historic "usual and accustomed area" The Coastal tribes are seasoned longline fishers, with well-outfitted boasts and access to the most abundant halibut banks, so if good weather prevails on the ocean, these tribes have the capacity to thump most of the quota in a couple of days. In general, the tribes try and schedule halibut early to take advantage of high pricing, and to stay out of the way of the Spot Prawn fishery and the ongoing, episodic spring and summer crab fisheries.
It's big time out on the coast
The first opening is traditionally an unrestricted opener, meaning fishers may land any volume of fish. Subsequent openings may include poundage limits per boat, usually 500#. Setting openings takes on the form of high diplomatic art, with individual tribes trying to tailor the openings schedule to advantage their fleets and screw the other guys. Halibut season is the only time of year the inside tribes set aside their own differences to join fire on the coastal tribes. This year the inside tribes are praying for weather rough enough to keep some of the outside tribes in port, but calm enough to allow inside fishing, and so keep coastal landings down and hold some quota on the table for future openers. In the event this looks likely, the Makah will either force a postponement of the fishery or demand a poundage restriction to hold inside catches down. Further complicating things, an untimely death, or the death of a highly placed tribal member, of any individual tribe, can postpone the fishery until the funeral and reasonable mourning period is over. Lummi funerals last up to five days. During an extended string of deaths the business of the tribe grinds almost completely to a halt. This could yet happen, but an informal survey of Lummi Elders indicates that everyone is holding strong right now.
Inside halibut are for hugging.
Our Wish is for Inside Fish.
We are inside rats--both by geography and affinity. For years we have worked with the Finkbonners of Lummi to bring the local halibut to market. We maintain our ties to the Finkbonners, and have now branched out to source fish from the Wilbur Family of Swinomish, Mark Hatch and Co of Tulalip and a whole raft of new friends in the S'Klallam tribes. Inside fish benefit from all the glory of our island-studded home. It is the unique combination of huge water-exchange coupled with our protected little bays that give all marine life in the San Juans unparalleled flavor, quality and authority. The primary food supply for our islands halibut is Spot Prawns. Inside halibut also tend to be larger, fattier and just generally better. We have have never once seen a chalky halibut over the quarter-million of so pounds of inside fish we have handled these past years, while the coastal fish are notorious for chalky fish. Plus, who would we be if we did not hold our hometown fish above all others? Some people boost sports teams, we are Islands Halibut Superfans.
We expect 3-4 openers spread out between Saturday and the beginning of May. As discussed in a previous Fish-O-Gram, these halibuthold up exceptionally well. We expect to have a steady supply of local halibut at least through the end of April. Accept no substitutes!!Halibut bycatch is almost as much fun as the fish itself. We get loads of true-cod, ling cod, yellow eye, the occasional blackcod and tens of thousands of pounds of skate and dogfish.
I'll take the one from Lummi, thanks.
Bait for the Boys.
Your faithful Fish-O-Gram correspondent has had a busy last week shuffling bait around the Puget Sound Basin and nailing down the last details of the fishery. For these few brief weeks treaty fishermen convert their crabskiffs over to long-lining. Typically they work the lines through their crab blocks. Catches are modest, so each fish gets individual, loving treatment, usually beginning with a pistol shot to the head to stun the fish, then immediate gutting and icing onboard. There is a true joy in participating in the warp and woof of the seasonal, eternal patterns of the fishery. Halibut numbers are strong and growing, the individual fish are spectacular, the bycatch is terrific, prices are strong but fair, fishers are happy--this is just generally a lot of fun. We will be buying in Port Angeles, Sequim, Cornet Bay, Lummi, Anacortes and on Lopez. We expect to move 40,000# of 'buts over the course of the fishery. This last week we moved 15000#+ of bait. Favorite baits are Salmon, Octopus, and Argentine Squid, or Illex argentinus.
Scheduling and Pricing.
Fishing commences at 12pm Saturday and extends till 12pm Monday. We will be delivering fish into Seattle Sunday, Monday and Tuesday mornings, and we will be running a special delivery route Sunday. Tuesday's fish will be stockpiled and sold on for at least a week and a half--well handled halibut improves with age, and we look forward to proving it to you. No pricing has been posted yet, but we expect little change from last year when pricing ranged between $10-13#, H&G. Bycatch, namely cod, ling and skate will be available at market prices. Order now! Also, any and all are also welcome to come participate in the madness! Careering down I-5 with $100,000 worth of fish packed on our farm truck! Staying up all night cutting wings off skate-fish! Creeping around rotten dock-ends at 2-AM with twenty thousand dollars cash and a pistol jammed in the back of your jeans. It is almost, but not quite, as glamorous as being a line cook.
This is where the magic happens!
Cali-Hali Yields to the King of Flatfish.
Many of you have enjoyed the solace of Cali-Hali these last, long, dark months. Snuggling up with this super-sized flounder has been a fine balm for a Northwest winter. With local halibut coming at us like a freight train, the Cali-Hali must now yield to the big dog of Pacific bottomfish. As of this week the Cali Hali season is done, and we are no longer bringing them in.
Safe 'till December.
Previous Fish-O-Grams have discussed the dilemma of skate bycatch in the upcoming halibut fishery. We have always prided ourselves on being able to utilize just about anything from the sea. Also, hard working halibut fishermen rely on bycatch for fuel or bait money. It becomes an important part of their season. Ergo, in order to purchase the superlative local halibut, we find we must also take on thousands and tens of thousands of pounds of skate fish. Both Long-Nosed and Big Skate are plentiful in island waters, and they can be fun, if handled right. They are also huge, stinky, bony and prickly and they ooze ammonia-laden slime in epic volumes. Like all shark-type fishes, they pee through their skin, meaning the slime they ooze is mostly urine. We have long sold small volumes of skate to our restaurants, but in recent years the sheer volume of skate coming in has been causing us real troubles. Last year the Finkbonners alone came up with 20,000# plus of skate fish. We were pleased then, when out of the blue, we received a call from from folk who offered to buy any and all skate we could come up with for export to Korea. We have always known that Koreans love skate, but never why, or how it is prepared.
Waterfront peoples world-wide have eaten skate fresh for millennia. But Skate Culture, and skate preservation, originated in the Southern Korean Province of Jeolla and specifically on Heuksando island in the 14th century. Local lore claims that islanders developed fermented skate, or Hongeo, during a period when Japanese pirates scoured the Korean coastline-- islanders had to repeatedly abandon their homes, run up river for protection and they needed durable foods. Also, Hongeo could legitimately be considered a weapon. Left entirely alone, the ammonia in skate skin ferments the skate flesh. Treated thus, Hongeo lasts indefinitely. As southerners moved to the bright lights of Seoul, they brought their affection for Hongeo with them. The rest is history. Hongeo took Seoul by storm, and is now one of Korea's favorite, featured national dishes. Korea now catches, imports, prepares and consumes literally millions of pounds of Hongeo annually. Skates and rays come from all over, but as with most things marine, Puget Sound produces the best, the slimiest, skate anywhere.
Home of the Hongeo
In a delightfully unexpected turn of events this past week, your FOG correspondent found himself of an evening drinking beer in Kent with a nest of heavily hair-jelled Korean Hipster fish brokers. Loosely scheduled as a forum to discuss skate marketing, the meeting rapidly turned into a plant tour, philosophical conclave, and recipe swap. The plant was full-tilt busy at 8pm marinating Pollack Roe with a bright-red MSG based brine to make beer-drinking snacks. Cases of (Chilean) farmed salmon snuggled sushi papers, rice wine and case upon case of MSG in all of it's glorious forms. Next week this plant will be abuzz creating what may be Korea's greatest gift to fish cookery, Hongeo, or fermented skate. Skate urinate through their skin, meaning that skin-on skate develops a very strong ammonia odor. This ammonia, used wisely, can preserve the whitefish between. Hongeo is eaten when the odor, described as "uncleaned outhouse" and "rotten feces" reaches it's apex. Hongeo ammonia levels can become so high as to cause skin lesions. The texture is described as terrible, chewy and spongy with nuggets of hard cartilage. Aficionados report getting a buzz from eating Hongeo, similar to alcohol, but cleaner and, well, stinkier. It is said to be good for handovers, digestion, low vitality and, of course, is an aphrodisiac, assuming you can grab a shower, a complete change of clothes and swab out your mouth with lye before getting busy.
Skate in this country has traditionally been directed to the lowest-end whitefish uses and faux scallops for the casino buffet crowd. Our hipster chefs love it, but there is no real volume there. Koreans obviously have bigger things in mind for the fish,and we at JFF feel strongly that they should have it. However, knowing that you pride yourselves on being at the forefront of culinary trends, we offer JC's (hipster fish broker) home-cooking Hongeo Recipe.
Take one large Skate. Cut wings off. Wrap in cut grass or hay. Leave at room temperature in a sealed, odor proof room for 1-2 months until the odor and off--gassing, when checked, induces retching and burns the eyes.
Slice thinly, serve with kimchi, sliced radish, lettuce, other condiments or alone, for the uncut experience. Enjoy!
Lurking deep in Kent. Just follow your nose.
This coming Saturday marks the inaugeration of JFF Seattle Saturday deliveries. Please order scallopsFriday for Saturday.
We are, Repetitively, your Halibut Hungry, Scallop Promoting, Skate Fermenting, JFF crew. Call to order! Call to schedule your fish-buying adventure! Call with Fish-O-Gram recipes! Call for spring planting tips! Just Call!