Along with the first chill mornings of Fall, comes the arrival of fresh oysters to Bay Area fish markets. The general rule with oysters is that if the month has a letter R, it’s prime oyster season. If not, the oysters could be spawning, which leads to bland, milky flesh instead of sweet flesh with that distinctive salt water bite. With California’s world-class oyster industry centered just north of San Francisco Bay, in-season oysters don’t have to travel far to your plate.
The numbers show it’s been an especially hot summer across the American West this year. Even the Bay Area has seen its share of higher than normal temperatures. And when the mercury is rising, the thought of cooking and heating up the house even more leaves many searching for options that don’t involve the stove.
Seafood markets from London to the San Francisco Bay Area would be wise to mark June 2nd on their calendars. It just so happens to be Fish and Chip Day. And while some recently coined “holidays” seem downright bizarre (May 29th is Put a Pillow on Your Fridge Day, no joke) Fish and Chip Day is rooted in history, and its appeal is recognized across the globe. The meal of fish and chips dates back to the late 1800s, when trawl fishing became a major part of the industry in the North Sea, off England’s east coast.
We like a celebration here at Daily Fresh Fish in Hayward, CA, and almost always that includes food. For Cinco de Mayo, I was assigned to the barbecue grill—my second home—and was tasked with preparing the main course.
Aside from the spicy rice base, you can be as experimental as you like with your proteins, from sausage and chicken to great, fresh seafood like shrimp, mussels and scallops. I discovered that fresh Dungeness crabmeat mixes extremely well in jambalaya, giving every bite some buttery, creamy goodness.
I’ve traveled a lot, but nothing compares to the cultural experience of staying in a Japanese ryokan. Ryokans are a type of traditional Japanese inn that come with meals and spa treatment included, and have been around since the Edo period. They are also where I first experienced the wonders of a Japanese breakfast: a healthy, filling, and protein-rich feast usually consisting of fish, rice, miso soup, and pickles (or tsukemono, as they are called in Japanese)
Embracing the local cuisine traditions quickly, I prepared a cioppino feast for my Christmas orphan friends, and used halibut in with Dungeness crab, shrimp, clams and mussels. The halibut got lost in the mix, which was a shame because it should be showcased!
I’ve always been “the cook” in the house, going back to when my Mom was working, and my 12-year-old self got dinner ready with a little Hamburger Helper.
Cooking has always been calming and almost second nature for me, and I like to make a meal from scratch at least four nights a week. My partner and I split up the household chores, but preparing food is rarely a chore for me, so I’m the designated “chef” at our place.
Everyone knows that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, so a few years back I decided to invite the guy I was seeing to my apartment for a homecooked meal. I wanted to wow him with my cooking skills, so I decided to make black cod.
Lucky for me, my whole family loves halibut. But they all have different preferences when it comes to the flavors they like with it. My sister’s kids tend to like a little sweetness in their sauce, my mom prefers it fresh and lemony, and my fiance’s parents love the combination of halibut with Asian-inspired flavors. To please everyone, I prepare the fish super simply and then make three different easy, no-cook sauces for everyone to choose from. That way, we each get to choose the flavors that taste best to us.
I like to put in the effort for one more labor intensive meal, then use the leftovers for quick and easy fixes later on that week. By making a nice salmon dinner with boiled potatoes and carrots I set myself up with leftovers, including the carrots and potatoes, to use for salmon cakes.
I’ll never forget the first time I hosted Easter dinner. My mom had a broken wrist that year, so I took it upon myself to make a feast for sixteen of my family members. I went all out. Not only did I make all of my mom’s classic dishes like roast lamb, potato gratin, and lemon-scented asparagus, I also made an appetizer bar in my living room.
You might remember a scene from one of the old, Sean Connery James Bond movies in which Bond is betrayed by a spy who he thought was on his side. The two are eating together, and they both order sole, but Bond asks for a white wine to go with his sole, and the other spy asks for a red wine. Of course, the choice of red wine turns out to be a way for the other spy to keep track of which glass he’s spiked with a knockout drug. Bond reflects on it later, saying, “Red wine with fish. That should’ve told me something.”
The silver pomfret has a long way to go until it catches up to salmon or tuna in popularity, but it’s probably the best tasting fish you’ve never heard of. I think it’s safe to say that in time its popularity will grow, because it’s a buttery, flaky fish that’s easy to make. Right now, though, it’s most popular in Indian and Asian cooking, particularly in curries. Its mild, sweet flesh just seems to have an affinity for curry spices, and I especially love it in coconut-based green curries like the one I’ll describe to you here.
Are you an adventurous eater? I typically didn’t think of myself as one, but that changed the summer I traveled through the Greek islands of Mykonos and Paros and ate octopus for the first time. I’ll be honest, I only ate it to be polite, but from my first bite, I was hooked.
Growing up Catholic, I knew what Fridays during the Lent season delivered: flavorless fish sticks.
We didn’t know much about seafood, and what we were getting was hardly quality stuff. (A Filet-O-Fish from McDonald’s was getting classy.)
Now that I’m older and a bit wiser—about seafood at least—I can let you know that there’s nothing to fear for the next six Fridays. Delicious, fresh, sustainable fish and seafood is accessible and easy to receive and prepare.
As a big movie buff, one of my favorite nights of the year is the Oscars. In fact, I usually spend a decent part of January and February catching up with all of the year’s best prestige films and picking out my favorites, so I can really enjoy the Academy Awards (isn’t it frustrating when you feel like you’ve seen hardly any of the nominated movies?). This year, it’s my turn to host an Oscar party, and I’m taking my love of the cinema a bit further--I’m creating a dinner menu of seafood dishes that thematically match the nominees.
As an adult I find myself struggling when it comes to packing healthy and filling weekly lunches. I find myself dealing with the “salad every day” dilemma of needing healthy food but not feeling inspired to find other options. It’s just so easy to throw everything in a Tupperware container, bring some bottled salad dressing and have done with it. My “Super Mom” had a lot of time saving, easy quick meal ideas, though. One of her go-to “use whatever is in the pantry” recipes was puttanesca, and I’ve used that as inspiration this winter to make a protein-rich swordfish version.
There’s something very satisfying about eating with your hands--it really helps you (or at least me) let loose and have fun. One time my friends and I decided to have a no-silverware-required crab feast and it has remained one of my favorite dinner party ideas. We covered the dining room table with newspaper, made some aioli for dipping and dove in.
One of my favorite winter traditions is getting out of the city with friends. We usually get together three or four couples, rent a cabin, and enjoy the simple things: company, wilderness, gorgeous snowy winter landscapes, and clean cold air. We also like to enjoy good dinners together, too--and we’re all huge fans of seafood.
I’ve always thought there’s something fundamentally human about sitting around a fire with friends or family and sharing a communal meal. I think that’s why campfire cookouts are so enduringly popular. While I love campfires, even where I live in the temperate Bay Area, outdoor campfires aren’t always practical or convenient.
My favorite Valentine’s Day dinner memory isn’t of the fanciest restaurant that I’ve ever been to, or the flashiest gesture done for me. The Valentine’s Day that stands out the most for me was a actually a night at home. My boyfriend, who is now my fiance, made a romantic dinner of linguine alfredo for the two of us. He even tried his hand at individual molten chocolate cakes for dessert! I should note that he’s never been much of a chef, but he stuck to simple recipes and used fresh ingredients, and you know what? He wowed me. It wasn’t just the dinner that was great--it was the effort he put into it.
With Super Bowl Sunday approaching quickly, my goal is to spend as much time out of the kitchen as possible, as with this gathering, everyone is focused around the TV. I have no strong feelings about either team going for the Vince Lombardi trophy in Houston, Texas, on February 5, but I do want to pay tribute to the regions represented with some tasty treats.
What stands out to me about that day, looking back, is that I don’t really remember who was even playing in the Big Game that year, but I do remember the food I brought to the party. At least for me, Big Game parties are more about the food and commercials than the actual teams playing. And since every year a different city hosts the big game, lately I’ve been drawn to the challenge of finding inspiration in the Big Game’s location.
I get it. Cooking fish is daunting for a lot of people. Customers ask me all the time what’s the best way to cook a particular fish, but I think what I think they mean by “best” is “easiest.” For many people, cooking fish seems complicated
I’m always the first to volunteer to prepare a dish or three for the potlucks we sometimes have in my office. I enjoy cooking, of course, but I also think it’s important to nurture good working relationships with co-workers. One of the most effective ways I’ve been able to endear myself to those around me is through food. In my office, there are a wide range of diets, all of which must be catered to if a potluck is going to be a success.
For these current, cold, wet and snowy winter days, there’s a gumbo recipe that is a favorite of mine. An added bonus is that it goes absolutely great with Dungeness crab, which just so happens to be in season right now.
I’ll admit that despite my cooking background, perfectly searing a piece of fish (especially a delicate one like halibut) can be a daunting task. You have to have your pan just hot enough, with just the right amount of oil, and the window between having the oil at the smoking point and burning it is miniscule. I barely have enough time to cook myself dinner, let alone spend time lovingly basting my halibut fillet so it doesn’t dry out. And I’m sure I’m not the only one that feels that way. That’s where poaching comes in.
Forget New Year’s resolutions centered around denial. I’m gonna focus on what makes me happy. Eating oysters is one of my favorite things to do--give me the sun glinting off a body of water, a condensation-covered glass of bubbly next to me, and the cool, saline taste of a fresh oyster.
But you don’t need to be outside to enjoy these bivalves, nor do they need to be raw. With oysters in season, and the weather outside not necessarily conducive to picnicking, I’m going to try making a Hangtown fry this new year as part of my brunch menu.
Growing up in Vietnam, our traditions for Christmas Eve were a bit different than here in the Bay Area. One of the many things I love about this country is how many culinary options there are for people to celebrate the holidays. While turkey is an established tradition for Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve dinner is up for debate. Some families I know have roast beef and others serve another turkey. Some go out to Chinese food. Me? I like fish. Because of my fondness for seafood, one tradition I’m fascinated by is the Italian Feast of the Seven Fishes.
Last year, I went to a friend’s house for a Christmas party, and nearly every guest brought a bottle of wine, myself included. Halfway through the party, the unthinkable happened: all the finger foods and appetizers were gone. Yet, we still had more than enough wine. To be fair, we probably should have done a better job coordinating with our host about what she needed. However, I think Christmas party guests generally have a tendency to get stuck in a rut at this time of year, always reaching for a bottle of wine before going to a party.
One of the things I’ve started doing in order to mix it up a bit is to bring a cold seafood platter instead. A tray of fresh fish that guests can eat with their fingers or off of small plates is almost always welcomed. I’ve got tips and inspiration for building the perfect seafood platter, and a few suggestions about wines to pair with it as well.
Daily Fresh Fish founder Chris Lam was named Business Person of the Year by the Hayward Chamber of Commerce.
Remember when the whole Korean taco truck thing blew up about 10 years ago? The two cuisines (Korean and Mexican) were worlds apart, but diners found they were a great match on the plate (and in a tortilla). Now it’s everywhere. I think the same is true of Vietnamese food and Cajun food but no one (that I know of) has run with the idea—yet.
A few years ago for Thanksgiving, I spent the holiday with my friend and her husband. When I arrived at their house, everything looked familiar. The table was set with an autumnal cloth, there were decorative gourds scattered about, and I could hear Dallas Cowboys football playing on the living room TV. But something was off. Their house didn’t smell like turkey. That’s when I remembered: my friends are pescetarians (at least, they’re vegetarians during most the year, and pescetarians on holidays).
I have to admit, I was skeptical about a Thanksgiving without turkey, but the Thanksgiving dinner they served was honestly one of the best holiday dining experiences I’ve ever had.
Don’t get me wrong, I love turkey, Thanksgiving and a crowd of hungry people in my house. But because I have seafood on the brain, when I think of fall, I think of Dungeness crab, a SF Bay Area tradition. While last year’s season was a bust, there are plenty of reasons to give thanks this year. So, the night before Thanksgiving, I’ll be grateful to serve easy, delicious and crowd-pleasing crab.
A couple of years ago, I was hosting Thanksgiving, and I wanted to do something a little different. I decided to swap out some of the standard Thanksgiving side dishes with ones that used my favorite fall vegetables: squash, zucchini, and pumpkin, among others. Then I added seafood for a combination that sounds crazy but is actually delicious.
This Thanksgiving, I heartily encourage you to do the same. Put away those canned green beans and start some tasty new traditions using produce--and seafood--that’s in season, like cranberries and Dungeness crabs.
Our headquarters are located in Hayward, across the Bay from San Mateo, which is home to Maker Faire, an annual celebration of DIY making, tinkering, creativity--and good food. I know many people who go to Maker Faire, and when they talk about it they inevitably mention Gerard Nebesky's famous paella. Maker Faire may not be until spring, but paella is delicious anytime, especially when it’s cold out and made when clams, shrimp, and mussels are at their sweetest and most flavorful.
Making paella may feel daunting because of the many ingredients (you’ve got to run around and find at least three different kinds of fresh shellfish, along with the special rice and saffron), but ordering a paella kit online really simplifies the process.
My husband is at an age where he doesn’t get to see even his closest friends as much as he once did. Everyone is busy with work, kids, relatives, or those inevitable household to-do lists. That’s why he recently decided to organize a get-together--just a casual night for him to spend time with his good friends, eat some great food, and drink some beer. When planning a reunion focused on craft beer and seafood, you don’t want complicated recipes. With that in mind, let’s start with a super easy hot crab dip.
I’ve loved seafood all my life. Growing up on Vietnam's Mekong Delta, we fished every day catching fish, shrimp, crab, shellfish, you name it.
Steamed whole fish with garlic and ginger is one of my favorite dishes. The recipe brings back vivid memories of my childhood in Vietnam. It’s a festive dish that’s great for a crowd, family gathering, or dinner party.
This particular version of the recipe comes from Andrea Nguyen’s excellent book Into the Vietnamese Kitchen. Her recipe calls for salmon fillets, which are great, but I like it with whole branzini, head and all.
For parents like me, the fall season means making sure kids do their homework, eat a good meal and get to bed on time. It also means a return to fundraising season. Schools need to ask the community for help to extend the funds they get. For me, donating and volunteering are part of being a parent. But they can get a little redundant. Bingo night again? Another bake sale?
I have a suggestion for a different kind of fundraiser: a cioppino feast. Seafood. Big surprise coming from me, right? But I’m here to tell you it works.. Offering delicious bowls of classic San Francisco-style cioppino to eat is a great alternative to hosting a car wash, especially as the weather cools down.
I may be out on a limb, but I think there’s some psychology at play here too.
I actually like fish and chips so much, I once decided to cook them at home for a dinner party. I only did this once. That’s because between all that batter and what seemed like half a gallon of oil spattering all over the kitchen, I was cleaning up for days. And because I cooked the fish in a pot instead of deep fryer (who has a deep fryer?) the fish doesn’t quite get crisp enough. Worse, deep-frying fish in oil usually means you’ll be smelling what you eat for dinner the next morning over breakfast. I know I did.
All this is why I’ve come up with a better alternative:
I admit the latest trendy diet--the Paleo diet--has rubbed off on me a bit. I’ve cut back on grains, sugar, and dairy. But long before the Paleo diet became trendy, there was the Mediterranean diet, and although it isn’t in favor right now, I think it gets a lot of things right. The Mediterranean diet appeared on American shores in the 1990s, and de-emphasized beef in favor of more fish, whole grains, seasonal vegetables, and olive oil. And red wine. You have to love a diet that okays wine in moderation. But the Mediterranean diet endures because it's more than a diet. It's a way of life, and fresh fish, cooked simply, plays a starring role. It’s worth revisiting.
I’ve mentioned before that a dream of mine is to retire in Barcelona. Tapas are big in Barcelona, which is part of the reason this type of dish is near and dear to my heart. Barcelona is also right on--and I mean right on--the Mediterranean Sea, making seafood a huge part of any Barcelonian's diet.
For me, the combination of incredible seafood in the format of flavorful small tapas plates is heaven. There are so many amazing seafood tapas recipes that it would be hard to limit the best to just 2 or 3. In an effort to not deprive you of any of my favorites, I will just jump right in. Here’s our first recipe: Artichokes with Clams.
Did you have red snapper for dinner recently? It turns out there’s only a 13% chance that the fish you ate was actually snapper. As someone in the seafood industry, I find this news disappointing. I’m disappointed that consumers are paying for fish that they’re not getting, and that restaurants and stores are contributing to the problem. But consumers aren’t helpless. There are ways to ensure you’re buying seafood that’s been accurately labeled.
I always like to come up with some sort of a theme for a party to make things more fun and interesting. We once celebrated my father’s birthday with a Hawaiian theme. We really like to roast each other in my family, so we all dressed in Hawaiian shirts with sandals and socks since that seems to be my father’s outfit of choice. A huge bonus of that party is that he changed his wardrobe!
Even if your father has excellent taste in clothes, a theme can help to anchor a party, and a luau-themed party is always fun (and you can make it as authentic or as kitsch as you want). And sure, cooking a whole pig in a pit is traditional at a luau, but you don’t have to bother with that to have authentic food. A seafood-based menu gives the party that island feel, and it’s a whole lot easier.
If you live in a major city or even a small town, then you know that Sunday brunch has started to transform from an occasional meal after church to what seems like a weekly holiday. Restaurants all have signs on the streets advertising their brunch specials in the same way that retailers advertise their Black Friday specials. The best brunch spots are nearly impossible to get reservations to or don’t accept them, and winging it without a reservation will doom you to long lines.
There is a simple solution to this problem, and that is to host your own brunch. If you don’t have any good brunch spots nearby, this is also the best way to celebrate this soon-to-be-weekly national holiday with the rest of us.
Ask anyone who works at your local brunch spot and they will tell you the most popular item on the menu is almost always the eggs benedict, and if there is a seafood benedict, it’s a sure fire win for the restaurant (assuming they use fresh seafood). For this reason, I am going to tell you about three of my favorite seafood benedict recipes that your guests will absolutely love!
Sometimes it’s good to create your own traditions. In my family’s case, it’s our holiday dinner. Yes, it’s turkey and yams for Thanksgiving, but paella for Christmas at our house. We settled on paella after a trial run led by my uncle, who grew up in Brazil. None of us knew how to prepare this hearty seafood dish from South America, but it was a hit the first time out. The real seal of approval was that there wasn’t much left in the pan.
I had big plans for dinner. The day before I had ordered several pounds of beautiful, ivory white halibut fillets. They were so fresh I knew just a few days ago they were swimming at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean somewhere, probably the cold waters off Alaska.
While my husband and I were showing out-of-town guests the sights in San Francisco, the halibut was waiting for me at the bottom of the refrigerator at home. When we got home I was going to make one of my favorite recipes--baked halibut with black olives, fennel, and shallots--and serve it outside on a warm summer night. It’s a delicious dish that never fails to impress.The excursion was a hit, but on our way back to the car, we hit a snag. My plan for baked halibut was out the window so I had to improvise in a hurry.
With summer coming to a close, I often fall back into bad eating habits or let the holidays get the best of me. The best way to beat this cycle is to eat healthy all year round. For a long time, I had the misconception that healthy food is bland. But if you are doing it right, you can really pack some great flavor into healthy (but still filling) meals. Seafood is perfect for this.
I’ve been to a few retirement parties lately, and, no matter how you slice it, they tend to be focused on the past--on all the things the retiree did during his time at the company. I’m proposing a different type of party; one that focuses on the future instead. If you ask most people what they want to do when they retire, they will tell you that they want to travel. They have spent the last 30 years with the same routine, and now they have a chance to explore some exotic new places. Thinking about those places they’ve always wanted to go is a great place to start when you’re planning a retirement party menu.
The list of places I’d like to go when I retire is St. Petersburg, Lima, Barcelona, and all of Australia, though I’m not due for retirement for a while. With these places in mind, here’s an around-the-world menu that’s healthy, exotic, and delicious.
As a seafood lover and cook, the fancy foams, deconstructed ingredients, and space-age technology of molecular gastronomy-type cooking doesn’t hold much appeal for me. But there is one technique from modernist kitchens that has revolutionized cooking fish for me and I bet it will do the same for you: sous vide. Personally, I love using it to cook fresh halibut.
Here’s a citrus-based recipe for halibut that I love to use.
Summer tends to be full of big gatherings--parties, barbecues, family reunions, and potlucks. But once you’ve socialized yourself to the limit, why not try something a little more intimate? Gather your closest friends together and try a “girls’ night in” complete with a seafood-and-wine-pairing guessing game.
You might think that French food would make the best bridal shower menu. But for me, Latin America is the way to go. They have the passion, and they also have a way with seafood. Unlike the more traditional French treatment of seafood, which tends to involve heavy sauces, Latin Americans have a way of cooking their seafood simply, to let the freshness really shine. One of my favorite Latin American dishes isn’t cooked at all. It’s the Peruvian dish ceviche, which is just raw fish marinated in citrus juice. You can make it as an appetizer, salad or the main course!
Every couple of months or so, a friend will call the house in a mild panic because it’s their turn to host a party (either a book club, investment club, parent meeting, dinner group or something similar) and they are having a hard time planning the menu. That’s because so many people have crazy food allergies these days, and everyone has a dietary restriction. There’s so many people who are also gluten-free, etc.
The best way to go with these groups is obviously seafood, and that’s why my friends always call me. Since book clubs, investment clubs and parent meetings - to name a few — involve eating, socializing and sharing information, I’m going to focus an array of appetizer-type samplings that can be eaten as finger food.
For me, the best way to mark summer’s end and the changing of the season is with a feast. And by feast, I’m thinking a seafood boil--preferably by the beach. Boiling is not a gentle cooking method, so you’ll need seafood and ingredients that will stand up to a bubbling pot. I like shrimp, clams, mussels, and mild, firm fish like cod or halibut. So how do you find great seafood for a boil?
For me, the best way to mark summer’s end and the changing of the season is with a feast. And by feast, I’m thinking a seafood boil--preferably by the beach. There’s something about the smell of a wood fire, the sand under your feet, the smell of salt water and the setting sun that makes a seafood boil memorable.
In the warm days of summer, crab feeds are an East Coast tradition. Pounds of blue crabs are boiled with a healthy dose of Old Bay seasoning and dumped out onto picnic tables covered with butcher paper as hungry crowds descend on the mass of crustaceans armed with wooden mallets, melted butter or vinegar, and plenty of cold beer. It’s about as good as it gets.
But there’s no reason the East Coast should have all the fun. In the San Francisco Bay Area we have the delicious and abundant Dungeness crab, Northern California’s crabby claim to fame.
The key, of course, is to get the best, freshest and most sustainable crabs you can find.
During my last trip to Hawaii a couple of weeks ago, I couldn’t wait to head down to a local market and get fresh ahi to whip up some classic Hawaiian poke. There was a neighborhood market nearby and I bought four pounds of ahi tuna to feed a crowd.
Poke is classic Hawaiian dish made with nothing more than cubes of raw fish and a splash of soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, and sesame oil. It’s a little like sushi, and a little like ceviche, but with a flavor all its own. Here’s my favorite recipe!
Everyone loves a get together at the beach, yet most people satisfy their beach-going hunger with limp sandwiches or hotdogs. A beachfront barbecue featuring super fresh seafood will make your gathering memorable.
Here’s the base for a delicious, exotic seafood salad. Just add 2 pounds of fresh grilled shrimp and scallops:
I love to entertain, and guests are always curious and impressed when I break out a fish they’ve never tried. Turns out mixing it up will not only make for happy dinner party guests, but it does greater good for the ocean, where playing favorites with a few fish puts them at risk for overfishing.
We’ll start with the amazing branzini!
“There are more fish in the sea” may apply to dating, but unfortunately it doesn’t always apply to the sea itself. Worldwide, nearly two-thirds of all fisheries are overfished.
There are simply too many boats catching too many fish, but the good news is that governments, fishermen, wholesalers, and the public at large are heeding the warnings about crashing fish stocks. Some fisheries have bounced back from serious decline while others are going from good to better. This can make it hard to stay current with what’s okay to eat and what’s not.
Here are three seafood choices that you can feel good about eating at your next cookout.
If you’re a seafood fan like I am, you’ve probably paused to admire the seafood display case in your local grocery store on your shopping trips. It’s really quite impressive, with loads of big, beautiful, whole fish, mounds of yummy-looking shellfish, and slabs of colorful fillets. But have you ever wondered just how fresh that fish is?
Daily Fresh Fish is a subsdiary of Pucci Foods whom has deep roots in the San Francisco Bay Area’s seafood hub. Our history stretches back to 1918 when Joe Pucci, an Italian Immigrant, started his family fish business dedicated to providing elite restaurants and discerning customers with an exceptional selection of high quality fresh fish.