Saturday, May 22, 2010

Weekend Cooking...a review of "The Fishes and Dishes Cookbook" [37]

The Fishes and Dishes Cookbook: Seafood Recipes and Salty Stories from Alaska's Commercial Fisherwomen by Kiyo Marsh, Tomi March and Laura Cooper.
(Epicenter Press, ISBN 978-1-935347-07-1)

In recent months, I have neglected my posts about lighthouses and the sea, but now that summer is coming, we will have to grab our slickers and Xtratuf boots and pull up our

There is something so dramatic, so compelling, about the sea and the stories of those who go out to do battle with her, putting their very lives at risk to put food on our tables. Of course, I am an avid fan of the Deadliest Catch and I can never look at King Crab legs the same way again. But if you have ever watched that show, you might be under the impression that fishing in Alaska is a male only occupation. I think I saw one captain whose wife worked on their boat as the cook and another where the daughter of a captain worked as a deckhand. But women seem few and far between. I am not sure how many woman are involved in the fishing industry in Alaska, but this delightful book, Fishes and Dishes, as well at giving us 80 delicious seafood recipes, some beautiful photographs, and charming illustrations by one of the authors, gives the reader about 30 short essays..and a couple of haikus ..that are, as the title say, “Salty Stories from Alaska's Commercial Fisherwomen”.

There are stories about how Captain Tomi Marsh first bought her boat, the F/V Savage in Brooklyn NY, how she hired her sister Kiyo to work for her one summer, a summer that turned into five years as deckhand and cook, crabbing in the Bering Sea, longline fishing for cod and halibut and tendering salmon. There are stories of love found at sea, fighting 30 foot seas in their little 78 foot boat, and how a small black cat, who oddly shared the name of my imaginary Kitty, came to take up residence on the Savage. One thing they all have in common is giving a little perspective on a group of adventurous women working in the male-dominated fishing industry in Alaska, a “rugged environment, filled with the beauty and stunning fury that is Mother Nature...nothing if not invigorating.”

And I did mention the many beautiful photos and drawings, didn't I?

But best of all perhaps are all the wonderful sounding recipes, many with a Pan-Asian flavor.
There are items for breakfast and brunch like Sweet Corn Cakes with Shrimp, Crab Foo Young with Garvy and a Crab, Bacon and Asparagus Frittata. The Jade Dumpling sound delicious and being a great fan of clams, I will have to soon try the Sake Steamed Clams, with sake, ginger and soy. There are salads like Shrimp and Orzo Salad with pesto, Roasted Tomatoes and Snow Peas, soups like Thai Clam Chowder and Catch of the Day Main Courses like Mizo-Glazed Black Cod and Seafood Enchiladas. They even throw in a chapter on Libations like the Ancient Mariner and a Sea Breeze and an essay on how to pair wine and fish.

There is an introductory chapter on basic seafood preparation like how to debone a fish and debeard mussels which many who are a little scared of cooking seafood will find helpful and an explanation of some more unusual ingredients. Most of the seafood used in the recipes...and the authors would certainly suggest we buy Wild Alaskan and substantially fished seafood...are things most of us have access to, with the exception perhaps of a recipe or two for halibut cheeks and geoduck. No, the only place I have ever seen geoduck was on the TV show Dirty Jobs, another favorite.

This is a very nice book that I would recommend not only as a very nice cookbook but also an attractive and entertaining book about fisherwomen in Alaska.
For those who might like to take a little peak at the book before you buy it, there is a nice web site for it that allows you to look at some of the pages. Just click on the little [Peek Inside] under the picture of the book cover.
I will leave you with one recipe from the book. Bacon, cream, mussels, can that be bad?

Linguine with Mussels and Cider, Bacon, and Shallot Cream Sauce

This luscious dish strikes all the right notes for a cool fall evening. Plump mussels, smoky bacon, and spicy apple cider coat pasta for a toothsome dish.
3 slices smoky bacon, chopped
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1/2 cup apple cider, or apple juice
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 pound mussels, debearded
1 pound linguine

Chopped fresh Italian parsley, for garnish
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, and cook the bacon and shallot until the bacon is crisp and the shallot is soft. Add the apple cider to the pan, and deglaze, scraping up the flavorful brown bits. Lower the heat to low, add the cream, and simmer the sauce until reduced by half.
While the sauce is reducing, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil on high heat.
Add the mussels to the simmering cream sauce and cover the skillet, and steam the mussels for about 5 to 10 minutes.
While the mussels are steaming, add the pasta to the pot of boiling water. Decrease the heat to medium-high, and cook the pasta until just done. Drain the pasta but do not rinse.
After the mussels are cooked and open, discard any that have not opened. Remove the mussels to a separate bowl and keep warm.
Add the cooked pasta to the sauce and mix to coat. Place the pasta and sauce in individual bowls, place the steamed mussels on top and garnish with parsley.
Makes 4 servings.

This is my contribution this to this week's Weekend Cooking.
"Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend."
Be sure to check out the other entries this week. As always, hosted by Beth Fish Reads.


  1. Wow, I never realized there are fisherwomen - I guess I never thought about it. Sounds interesting.

  2. Wow, what a fascinating story! Sounds like one to check for a the library!

  3. This book is sure to be a big hit in our house! Will check the library for a preview...

  4. Both my feminist side and my food lover side are happy about the idea of this book. And then there's the travel side of me that loved my time in Alaska. Sounds like one I have to find.

  5. I only do the simplest things with fish. While I do lots of cooking, I have little experience with other types of sea food and they scare me in the kitchen. While this book does sound interesting, I would pour over it and not attempt any of it. Shame on me.

  6. Pretty soon we will all be off fresh fish from this country because of the oil spill. It makes me so very mad.

  7. This sounds similar to a seafood cookbook I have out from the library. I also have little experience with seafood in the kitchen, beyond the typical "easy" fish dishes. Thanks for such a good review of an interesting book!

  8. I don't know why fish scares people so much. it's easy! and fast!

    but then yeast scares me, so I can't talk... ;-)

  9. I was drooling over this one in the book store last week...I may have to break down. The linguine recipe looks like I'll have to make as soon as I get home later this week. Bon gusto!

  10. Yes, I don't buy a lot of cookbooks, but this one is the whole package...good stories, good recipes...and a very attractive book. and it is ABOUT THE SEA!

    which reminds me that Linda Greenlaw and her mother have another cookbook coming out. The first was just I may as well pre-order the second one now.

  11. I was going to mention Linda Greenlaw. I have been on the look-out for their new cookbook.

    Yummy sounding recipe and I like that the book has photos and stories too.

    Sorry I was so late stopping by -- I was out of town last week.

  12. I am not sure when their second cookbook is out, but I am looking forward to it.
    She does have a new book about swordfishing out in June I think...and I will buy that too. I love her non-fiction books.


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