Tag: Fish

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Commenter Hagfish Bagpipe at the William Briggs statistician to the stars blog highlights and excerpts this January 2021 medical paper that didn’t seem to attract the attention it should have at the time: “Background: Between March and April 2020, 84 elderly patients with suspected COVID-19 living in two nursing homes of Yepes, Toledo (Spain) were […]

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Holy Mackerel! It’s Saint Paddy’s Day

 

Atlantic mackerelHow about something different for Saint Patrick’s Day fare? There is plenty of corned beef hash with boiled cabbage and potatoes on offer at public eateries, ready to be washed down with green dyed light beer, or Guinness and Irish whiskey. This is the first holiday with many bars and restaurants fully open to celebrate since last March. This year, I’m trying other Irish fare: mackerel fish patties made with potatoes, served with fresh baked Irish soda bread. Cabbage will come in shredded as a bed for the fish cakes.

Mackerel is traditional Irish fare.

We all have a basic awareness of the deep connection between the Irish and potatoes, see Famine. You should also have a notion that an island nation has a strong sea fishing tradition. Think of Irish or Aran (Island) sweaters, knit originally to keep the fishermen warm on the cold Atlantic waves. You have that image in mind because these simple but elegant home spun sweaters caught the eye of Vogue editors in the late 1950s.

Group Writing: Fish’s the Season

 

To outsiders, Cambodia has two distinct seasons: the wet season and the dry season. But to the Khmer people, there is a third one, rdauv prohok, a prohok season. Prohok is a fermented fish paste. It is the heart and soul of Khmer and Cambodian cuisines, and yes there is a difference between the two cuisines, but that is a topic for another day. Prohok season generally starts in December and ends in February, coinciding with the fishing season (November to March). This year, the first phase of the season began on December 20 and ended on the 29th.

To understand why a fermented fish paste is so important to our food culture, one has to understand Cambodia’s geography and its dependency on fish. I mentioned Boeung Tonlé Sap, also known as the Great Lake, before in one of my posts here. As the largest inland fishery in the world, the lake has been sustaining the Khmer people since the beginning. It is integral to Khmer food culture (we eat 140 pounds of fish per capita annually, compared to the global rate of 64 pounds). Lives in Cambodia essentially revolve around this abundance of fish, with 45% of the population working in fish related employment during this short peak fishing season. People from all over the country travel to the Great Lake, the Mekong, and every waterway to buy or trade rice for fish to make pha’ak (fish fermented with sweet fermented alcoholic black rice), sun-dried salted fish, smoked fish, and of course to make prohok, to ensure that fish products are available throughout the year.

Group Writing: The Face That Launched a Million Memories

 

Oh, I do love me a good seafood restaurant. Perhaps that’s because I’m a native of an island nation, no part of which is more than an hour or so away from the sea, so when Dad was home on leave from Nigeria, fish was always fresh, plentiful, and on the menu. Or perhaps it’s because I spent most of my first decade living just south of the Sahara, in a place where salt-water fish was simply unavailable, and fresh-water fish was largely suspect. Whatever the case, I really started to get my fish fix on in 1967, when I was twelve years old and my family traveled, for the first time, to Canada’s smallest province, the place known to the indigenous population as “Abegweit,” (meaning “cradled in the waves”), which was called by the French settlers, Isle St. Jean, but which has been known to us, since Confederation in 1867, as Prince Edward Island.

We had other goals on that long-ago trip–we visited Expo 67 in Montreal and explored a bit of New Brunswick on the way over, and Maine on the way back. We weren’t terribly well-off, so we camped on our travels, and had rented a small beach cottage in Cavendish (at Shining Waters Lodge) for our stay on the Island, which I think was about ten days. Confining my large (physically speaking) and boisterous parents, my sister, who was six at the time, and myself, in any sort of close quarters was always a dicey proposition, but we did so well that, three years later, we returned to PEI, and then repeated the annual performance for several subsequent years of idyllic and sun-drenched summers. By that time, we’d bought a 19′ trailer, and augmented the family by one (my brother, born in 1968), and added a dog, and on occasion, a friend, so space was still pretty tight, and we were still on a shoestring budget. But we managed, and I’m glad because the memories of those many years are totally worth the price of admission.

Go, Fish!

 

I love to eat fish. I freely admit I’m a bit of a fish snob, in the sense that I’m fussy about fresh fish, and if I can’t have it fresh, I’d just as soon have the stuff that’s flash-frozen on the fishing boats, or I’d rather not have it at all. I’m deeply suspicious of most “fresh” fish in the grocery store and I just won’t buy fish I don’t like the look or smell of (this is most of it). I prefer wild to farm-raised, and if it’s been out of the sea for more than about ten minutes, I’m not sure it’s fit to eat.

It’s easy for me to trace the origin of this prejudice: In my high-school and college years, I spent most summers on Prince Edward Island, stuffed into a 19-foot trailer with the rest of my large and argumentative family and at least one dog, and we caught and ate fresh fish every day. Mackerel, cod, hake, halibut, and the occasional salmon which Lorne Vessey, the one-armed fish peddler would leave for us in a plastic bag with some ice, tied round the doorknob of the trailer for us to find when we returned home at the end of the day. Clams (if I had a nickel for every pound of both steamer and quahog clams I’ve dug in my life, I’d be a millionaire). Lobsters (straight out of the ocean, boiled in seawater, and served hot). Smoked fish. Salt fish (if I had a nickel for every lobster trap I’ve pulled at 4 AM or every pound of fish I’ve salted or smoked … ditto).

Just hand me a narrow-blade carbon-steel knife, a whetstone, and a bucket of fresh fish, and stand back! I have this covered.

School of Life; School of Fish

 

As a boy, one of the great joys in life of which I have fond memories is of going fishing for perch on the Oregon coast with my dad. Though a lot of fun, this is never really an easy endeavor for a young boy. A coastal fishing trip always involved waking up very early on a Saturday morning. In hindsight, it was worth it. At the time, as a boy it was hard to appreciate getting up at 5 a.m. on Saturday for anything other than Saturday morning cartoons.

The reason for such an early wake-up time was because there are really two things you need to successfully fish for perch. The first thing you need is a good supply of sand shrimp. The sand shrimp is a nearly transparent pale or ash grey shrimp that can be found in the shallow areas of the ocean buried within the sand. We’d get up early to catch low tide. Then we could walk out into the sands normally under the waves and pump out the hiding shrimp.

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As the sun traveled westward a single tear dropped slowly down the old man’s face. He stared transfixed. Diamonds seemed to float atop the surface of the lake. He’d fished the lake for nearly thirty years, but he’d always been busy with the trout, unaware of the revelation atop the waters. He tried to add […]

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Lent and nostalgia lured me to McD’s today for a Filet-o-Fish, the fast-food Friday alternative o’ my childhood.  I hadn’t been there in a while and apparently, they’d remodeled in my absence.   A few registers remain up front for people paying in cash but there are now 4 large kiosks out on the main floor […]

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“It’s strange how even the most ardent environmentalists suddenly go silent when confronted with evidence of how birth-control pills harm aquatic ecosystems. Instead of angry calls for the regulation of a pollutant that is causing a ‘silent spring’ of hermaphroditic fish unable to breed, we hear nothing,” said Steven Mosher, president of the Population Research […]

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