Fun in the Kitchen!

Yesterday Collin popped into the Test Kitchen and asked if I’d cook some Sea Bream for him.

Collin is one of our buyers here at Orca Bay.  We have a fantastic group of folks buying our seafood; I think the world of all of them.  Collin specializes in Asia.   He had come across a deal for Sea Bream and wanted to check the quality.

I’ve heard of Sea Bream, but I confess I’ve never cooked it, nor tasted it.  Asking if I’d cook some was like asking a needlepointer if she wanted to go to the yarn store!  Collin gave me about six portions.  When he had his back turned, I grabbed another six.  All twelve went into my refrigerator to thaw.

In the thawed state, the fish looked fantastic.  Snowy white in color, it had a firm texture and a good, clean aroma. 

Skin side of a Sea Bream fillet

A fillet of this size, shape and thickness allowed for a lot of options for preparation.  But I really wanted to taste the stripped down version of this fish.  “Keep it simple” is not necessarily my style, but I did my best. 

I preheated the oven to 425 F. , yanked out my two biggest fry pans, and mixed up a quick flour dredge.  1 C. flour, 1 tsp. paprika, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. table grind black pepper.  Four fillets went on a lightly buttered quarter sheet pan, four went into the flour dredge, and four waited patiently on a plate for olive oil to heat in the skillet!

Bream awaiting the oven

Bream in the flour dredge

As with any thin fillet, the Sea Bream cooked quickly.  The unadorned fillets in hot olive oil were the fastest; I had them flipped in about 3 minutes, and off the range within 6! 

Sea Bream sauteed in olive oil, medium hot pan

The lightly flour dusted fillets took a bit longer.  Of course, the flour provides a little insulation.  And the goal is to get a nice golden color on that coating.  I cheated a bit for that and threw a bit of butter into the olive oil.  These fillets were probably cooking about 8 minutes.

Flour dusted Sea Bream, fried to a golden goodness!

The oven baked Sea Bream took the longest.  Frankly, I lost track of time.  After maybe 10 minutes, my patience wore thin and I turned my oven over to broiler mode.  But of course it’s an electric oven, and the elements take time to heat up, and after another 2 minutes I gave up entirely.  My thermocouple showed one fillet to be at 147 F. anyway.  I used the opportunity to turn impatience and luck into confirmation of professionalism and expertise. 

Sea Bream baked in a hot oven

Here’s my “take away” on Sea Bream- I liked it.  I found it to be mild in flavor, slightly firmer than flounder, with a bright white color.  It would work well in any sauced or breaded application, as the fish won’t overwhelm the other flavors.  In fact, I want to get more fillets from Collin so I can whip up a Moose Drool Beer Batter!  I’ve found that flounder can be tricky to work with, especially when flipping it.  It can crack, flake and break apart.  The Sea Bream held together nicely, flipped easily, and presented nicely on the plate. 

A quick Google search for Sea Bream will show that the name can tend to be a catch-all for a wide variety of seafood.  The particular genera and species of the fish that I cooked?  Collin has confirmed it as Gymnocranius frenatus.  Yellowsnout Large Eye Bream.  A fine piece of fish.  A debatably difficult name!

 Finger Licking Oven-Roasted Dungeness Crab

Orca Bay is in the process of printing new boxes for our Dungeness Crab.  The boxes will contain 1-1/2 lb. of crab claws and legs.  The terrible, tedious task of creating a recipe to print on that box fell on my shoulders.  Oh, the stress of it all!

What I’ve concocted is a way to oven-roast these sweet morsels, then use some of the flavoring ingredients to create a dipping sauce for the ‘picked’ meat when you’re all done.   The spicy heat from the cayenne pepper is tasted first, but then clears the palate, leaving the sweet flavor of the crab to linger.

 Atlantic salmon from Chile?

The other day we received an email from a customer inquiring about Atlantic salmon.  He had picked up a package of Atlantic salmon and noticed that it had the words, “Product of Chile,” printed on it.  He wondered how this could possibly be, as Chile is situated on the Pacific, not Atlantic, Ocean?

 Consumed by Seafood

My life has been consumed by seafood.

I’ve always enjoyed seafood.  Some of my earliest food memories involve things Piscean, from the fried flounder at Grandpa’s favorite restaurant, “The Syracuse” (located, oddly enough, in Buffalo, NY) to tagging after my older brothers on various trout streams in Western Pennsylvania, to family celebrations at Barnacle Bill’s on West 12th Street in Erie, PA.

I remember stopping after church at that upstart restaurant, McDonald’s, for Filet-O-Fish sandwiches, fries, and milkshakes all around.  Imagine my delight, over twenty years later, to work as Research Chef for Friendly’s, where I had unlimited access to Fishamajig sandwiches on “set ups”.  It helped, at the time, to be blessed with a younger man’s metabolism!