Thursday, March 15, 2018

Fish-O-Gram! Fresh Corvina! Halibut 10 Day Countdown! Divers Got Talent, Illustrated!

Dear March 14th Customers,
This is a week of reflection and anticipation as we prepare ourselves for the oncoming flurry and excitement of halibut season.  Eastern Fishes have been granted a fishing-free reprieve as the Eastern seaboard is slammed by storm after storm.  Local fishes are drying up a bit as everyone pulls back to prepare for halibut.  A bright spot is beautiful Corvina, available whole or filleted.  We do have some lovely whole Petrale from Oregon, as well as Rock, Truecod and Dover.  Also, new this week is Poke grade tuna, suitable for, Poke, we guess.  Pink Scallops roll onward, with excellent abundance and quality.  Hold On! Halibut Is Almost Here.  

Just 10 short days.....

In honor of the Anticipation we have Hold On, by Sam and Dave for the JFF Song of the Week. v=Fowldx4hRtI
Our $5 bill is now Stapled to the Bathroom Ceiling.
Fish-O-Gram Hits Seattle.
Yesterday, your Fish-O-Gram correspondent and Mikuni's Kevin Mock were lucky enough to be the first paying customer at the new, super-sized Babirusa yesterday in the formerly Ghetto-Fabulous Kushibar Space (now all cleaned up).  We had drinks and spuds before heading off to an oyster tasting at the White Swan.  Congratulations Charles and Rene, what an achievement! we couldn't be more pleased for you and your crew.  Incidentally, the consensus favorite oyster of last night's White Swan oyster tasting was the Church Pt. from Rivera Shellfish.  The Church Points were full without being overwhelming, with a wonderful finished, polished, texture, a slightly astringent foretaste with a little bit of underripe persimmon.  But the real thing was the finish. A long, lingering, complex but elusive lineup of flavors.  The best comment was that the Church Pts taste like Nostalgia.....

Congratulations Noay and crew!

JFF Product Highlights, 3.14.18.
Corvina, Mexico
Refresh Troll White King, AK
Fresh Whole Petrale, OR
Giant Pacific Octopus, AK
Pink Scallops, Salish Sea
Pacific Oysters, All Shapes and Sizes, Salish Sea.  
Fresh Albacore, Fiji
Time Strapped Chefs Turn Back!!!  Onward to Regular-Form Fish-O-Gram!!!

Like it is Like It Was.

Halibut Dreaming.  
Springtime is in the air...A chef's thoughts turn to a magical flatfish.  These past weeks we have seen increasing availability of Black Cod, true cod and other western delights.  But these are just crumbs, and from a piscine/sales vantage point we are still chugging through deep-winter.  All this changes in 10 short days.  March 24 marks the first day of halibut season coast-wide.  The center of gravity of the halibut fishery, of course is Alaska, with over 17 million pounds of halibut landed.  Canada too is a mighty player in the halibut game, with a 2018 quota of better than 6 million pounds. 
Our Home Seas Grow Mighty Flatfish
Last in line is a tiny Oregon/Washington fishery, with a quota of barely more than a million pounds.  A subset within that subset are the hundred or so thousand pounds of that million caught in the island studded waters of the Salish Sea.  These fish are our March Madness. our glory, and it is our privilege to be the vehicle by which this extraordinary sub-population of fish are transported to a lucky sub-population of chefs. 
Home is Where the Water Flows.

It's the Water...
Salish Sea waters are some of the best flushed, most lively marine waters in the world.  However, the basin also boasts a myriad of small sweet bays where the swirling Pacific currents slow down, warm up, and yield an explosion of marine life, from phytoplankton all the way up.  This unique state of affairs means that everything from the Salish Sea just tastes a little better.  As for the Salish Sea Halibut, they have a sweetness, density and depth of flavor unmatched by any other halibut.  Cut-Out yields on the Salish fish are substantially higher than from Alaska or Washington Coast fishes, shelf-life is superior and the eating experience is unparalleled.  Also, the inside fish enjoy a much higher percentage of the larger 20/40 and 40/60 fish sizes than these other areas. 
A few years back we did a systematic investigation of the stomach contents of these halibut.  We found them stuffed with Spot Prawns and soft Dungeness Crab, explaining definitively why these fish taste so good.
A Flatfish Like No Other.

It's the love...
Commercial harvest from Inside Waters is limited to specific Treaty tribes, namely the three S'Klallam tribes plus the Suquamish, Tulalip, Swinomish, Nooksack and Lummi tribes.  For a handful of soul-stirring days each spring the mosquito fleets of the tribal fishery convert crab boats to longliners to chase halibut.  Most of these folk are year-round fishers and for many of them Halibut is the annual highpoint.  Every fish is individually handled, gutted and iced on board, landed on shore and brought to you as a gift and a blessing.
One of our favorite Crews.

Seeking Good Homes for Extraordinary Fish.
Over the years the vast bulk of these fish have gone into commodities fish outlets--in many cases pawned off as Alaskan fish to a misinformed public.  Starting a few years back, we, and a handful of other small-time fish brokers have steered more and of these fish to appropriate and appreciative markets.  This new order has led to some interesting rumbles on and off the water, but the general trend toward more specific marketing of this fish is very positive.  This year JFF, Lummi Island Wild and Mikuni Wild Harvest have ceased competing, declared a Millennium, and have joined forces to purchase, represent and showcase these peerless fish. 
All Together Now.

Salish Sea Halibut and You.  
Subject to the ever-surprising variables of weather, tribal politics and, of course, the uncertainties of any wild fishery, we expect the first fish in Seattle Sunday Morning the 25th.  Depending on subsequent openings, we are expecting to be flush with local halibut from March 25th through early May. Reserve yours today!  Accept No Substitutes!  

We are Counting on You.
Weekly Pink Scallop Feature.  Lovely, Fluted and Seasonally Appropriate.

Courtesy of Mona Johnson.

Craft Corner. 
Past Fish-O-Grams have generally painted commercial harvest divers, on whom we rely, as a shiftless, substance-loving and heavy users of the criminal justice system.  This is unfair.  Part of this reflected reputation is a relic of the old days in the industry, part of it is intended to be good-humored banter and part of it is, well, true, depending on the makeup of individual divers.  Like every corner of the seafood business, diving does have it's share of desperate characters of varying stripes.  Plus, for those born with dubious impulse control, long-term exposure to compressed air does no good at all.

Outlaws No More.
Mostly, however, commercial harvest divers are dedicated professionals engaged in an extraordinarily taxing profession.  Our scallops divers are wonderful folk, and we salute them.  Joe Littlefield, our top-producing diver, is not just a Dedicated Father, Mighty Hustler and  Superman of the Undersea, he has a whole secret life off the water. 
Tools of the Trade.
Armed with a glue gun, soldering iron, and strips of paper mache, Joe spends his sleepless nights crafting amazing functional artworks.  With his permission, we are delighted to share them with you.  

Until Next Time, We Are Your Corvina Selling, Poke Chopping, Restaurant Opening, Oyster Shucking, Sam and Dave Jamming, Halibut Holding-On, Mikuni/Lummi Wild Partnering, Scallop Extolling, Art Appreciating, JFF Crew.  
Call or Write, We Promise to Write Back!