Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Saturday, Aug 28th - Bounty of the Pacific Ocean! - Fresh off the Boat Sea Urchin Ceviche and BBQ Lobster

Live Sea Urchin Fresh off the Boat
We had been planning on stocking up on fresh caught fish in Steveston for some time.  We discovered that today was a slapstick comedy of bad timing and poor planning on our end.  Our first stop for the day was a Blueberry farm, as I mentioned and when we moved on to Steveston, we hit the Massey Tunnel just after an accident that backed up to Delta.  We sat in that traffic for over half an hour.  We were going to meet some friends in Steveston but they were overwhelmed by the crowds and had some food and fled.  They just moved to Vancouver from Quebec, bless them and the Sockeye Salmon Festival in Steveston was definitely a 'Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore' experience.

It was a mad house.  There were droves and droves of people walking around with bags of whole Tuna, the biggest Sea Urchin I have ever seen and most of all, Sockeye Salmon.  To add fuel to the fire, it was a gorgeous sunny day, blue skies and a bit of a breeze.  We have been down there in the summer before and there are maybe 30 people on the docks picking up fish at any one snapshot of a moment from the boats with the other visitors milling around the restaurants and shops.  There were probably close to 300 people on the docks today.  As the dock gently swayed while I stood in an epic line up at the Sablefish and Salmon boat, the over cautious structural engineer in me was wondering why no one was controlling access on the ramp as they were doing down at Pajo's fish shop.  Actually, the line up for that boat was not as bad as the other at the bottom of the ramp.  I reckon it is because they had non-frozen Salmon.  Generally speaking, the frozen fish off these boats is as good as fresh because they are flash frozen out on the water.  It preserves them.  Though in the case of BC Sockeye, I do not know how far they came from?  The only advantage to the non frozen variety is the ability to cut it up before freezing. 

I bought a Sablefish as well which is the Canadian branding for Black Cod.  Though, really, I did not think it was that good a price at $8/lb.  But there I was at the front of the line after a long wait, before I could see the price.  D was over by the Sea Urchin boat waiting in line so neither of us had gone ahead to check the price.  No matter.  It is a nice fish and part of a nice day despite the setbacks.  Actually, I had seen the Sockeye on sale at TnT Supermarket last week for the same price as the boats.  It is a monumental year for the Salmon.  One they have not seen in decades.  I anticipate there will be more opportunities to get some more at this range of $4/lb.  The Tuna was a pretty good price as well but we were pretty loaded up and did not think we had room in the freezer for anymore. 

We did stop at the TnT on the way home since we still needed non-frozen something for dinner.  The Sockeye, as it turns out, was gone anyway.  The 1-2 lb lobsters were on sale for $7/lb so I bought two for the BBQ.   TnT has a fabulous selection of fresh seafood and there is significant turnover so it is good quality.  I do know some local chefs that buy their fish there.  They will also chop up some of the more intimidating fayre as well like Dungeness.  It was like one of those 'Ahhhh' moments, when we found that out!  Of course you still have to pick the live critters out be it Mussels or Crab or Lobster. Sometimes they just don't want to go in the little weighing basket and the tongs they give you are useless for the bigger stuff.

Back in Steveston, the boat originally ran out of Urchin just before D's place in line.  They ran over to their storage area where the boats that actually go out daily drop containers off.  They had 1 and only 1 left.  The guy had to talk one grabby Asian woman out of asking for nearly half the container given there was still a long line up behind us.   While D was waiting though, the lady on the boat prepared a Ceviche out of one of the cracked Urchin and D decided to give it a go at home with some adjustments.  1 adjustment being that she ate it on the spot and she was also a bit more skilled at the cleaning while we had to do it over a sink and had to rinse off some of the less appetising bits.

Fresh off the Boat Sea Urchin Ceviche
Fresh off the Boat Sea Urchin Ceviche

1 large Sea Urchin
2 T Red Onion, diced fine
1 Serrano Chili, sliced lengthwise (optional)
1 Lime juiced
1/2 Lemon, juiced
1 T Rice Wine Vinegar
2 T Olive Oil
1 T fresh Cilantro
2 leaves Lemon Grass
Salt and Pepper

Cut open the Sea Urchin through the underside that looks like a button.  Find the soft spot in the middle and cut outward to start a circular hole.  Drain out the liquid and the 'Green Innards'.  D had to do this.

The flesh you want looks like segments of a Grapefruit inside.  Carefully remove and try to keep whole.  They are very delicate.  Rinse away any green stuff. 

Set the Sea Urchin flesh in a bowl of Water and Sea Salt.  It should be quite salty.  As salty as the sea, you might say.  Let stand for 10 minutes and drain and place in the Ceviche brine below.

In a bowl or container, mix all the ingredients.  You can leave out the Chili if you do not want to mask the Sea Urchin taste.

Place the Sea Urchin so they are nearly covered.  Let stand for at least half an hour in the fridge. 

Sea Urchin melt like Fois Gras in your mouth.  There is no 'give' like Oysters.  It's more like room temperature Sorbet that dissolves as you eat it.  It tastes of the sea.  Really, it is the only way to describe it.  It is not fishy in the nasty sense but there is some of that.

I am a moderate fan. D loves them!  Also very popular as Uni (Ooni) Sushi Nigiri. 

BBQ Lobster with Corn and Potatoes
BBQ Lobster Dinner

2 x 1 1/2 lb Lobsters
2-3 T Old Bay Seasoning
3 Cloves Garlic
1/4-2/3 c Butter, melted
2 T fresh Parsley

In a large pasta pot, fill with Water.  Add the Old Bay Seasoning and bring to a boil.  You can buy Old Bay everywhere.  If you cannot find it, you can leave it out or look up the components on the web.  It is a traditional southern American Crab Boil mix.  We thought after the fact that we could have done our Corn and Potatoes in there too but it was too late by the time we thought of it, particularly since I love the roasty goodness of Corn on the Q.

Melt the Butter and mix with the minced Garlic and chopped Parsley.  Separate into 2/3 the butter you use on the parcooked Lobster to the dipping at the table 1/3.  Upto you, you could go half half and use less on the grill.
When the water is vigorously boiling, place the Lobsters in.  D had to do this too.  Cover and let boil.

Boil for 2-3 minutes.  Remove and place on a cutting board.  With a large sharp chef knife, cut down the centre.  Spread open, drizzle with the Garlic Butter and place on the grill for 10-13 minutes.  Baste again as needed.  Baste the Potatoes too.


2 Leave a / Read COMMENTs:

Speakeasy Kitchen said...

I am literally drooling! And officially regretting that I live in a mountain state, rather than a coastal state!

Me said...

That's the wonder of the modern food chain and flash freezing. :^D We get the rain that goes along with the fresh fish though too.