Catalina Island News

Eating Local

Afishinados Charters

While it is true, I enjoy marlin fishing, I have never and most likely will never harvest a marlin for the dinner table. Regardless, one of my favorite things about fishing for most species is bringing home the freshest seafood I can ever hope to enjoy.

Eating freshly caught seafood is among the many delights of living so close to the sea.  We have many delicacies close at hand from Yellowtail, White Sea Bass, tuna, swordfish, bonito, to one of my favorites, the Spiney lobster.

There are many trends when it comes to food.  Preparation and styles of cooking come and go.  I remember when ‘eating Italian’ was a big deal.  Southwest cuisine has replaced Mexican food on the foodie tour.  At one point in my life pizza took on the mantle of a gourmet meal.

In my younger days, during the hippie movement the trend was to ‘grow your own’.  There was a certain joy in eating freshly picked cherry tomatoes, but our corn never took and I never really liked radishes and jicama, two of the easier things to grow with limited garden space.

For us, as for many city dwellers, the movement took a turn to eating ‘organic’ foods that others could grow or harvest since we had such limited resources for farming.  I still wonder how any food that is grown could be considered anything but organic.

The word ‘organic’ took on broad meanings and became over-used and abused.  It is surprising that the oil industry never jumped on this bandwagon with organic fuels, or better yet the toy industry with organically manufactured plastics.

Currently there is a food movement afoot to ‘Eat local’.  As a result, famer’s markets have again become popular venues for purchasing foods that have theoretically been grown nearby.  But how nearby does a food need to be to earn the label ‘locally grown’.

Living on Catalina Island brings a different meaning to this new trend.  We have a winery, but we do not have any farms, and certainly we do not have any backyard victory gardens.

But we do have the sea, and we do have the opportunity to ‘eat local’, and that is a big part of the fun of fishing here.

Most of our charter customers enjoy the opportunity to catch something and then have it for dinner that same evening.  As fishing has slowed for top water species we have been targeting sand dabs when nothing else is biting.  I was not sure how this would go over with charter customers, but they have been delighted.

Lobster season is in full swing, just in time.  As the menu changes from yellowtail and bonita to rock fish and sand dabs, it is a pleasant bonus to break up the week with some fresh lobster. 

I will let you in on a little foodie secret about our local lobster.  You already know that they do not have claws, and for that reason our Spiney lobster is considered second rate compared to the succulent claws of a cold-water Maine lobster.

However, just like the Maine lobster, our lobster has legs.  Although many anglers simply discard the body and legs of our lobster in favor of the very easy-to-harvest and meaty tail section, this is a big mistake.

One of my favorite meals after a long night of pulling hoop nets is to have ‘Lobster legs and eggs’ first thing the next morning.  The reason folks discard the legs is because the leg meat is difficult to harvest.  But, there is a trick.

The next time you get lobster, particularly the bigger ones, keep the legs.  Take some parchment paper from the kitchen drawer (right next to the Reynolds wrap) and fold a couple sheets into a box.  Place 4 or 5 of the legs into this box, put them into the microwave and cook them like popcorn (no more than 80 seconds usually).

You will hear, and can count as the leg meat will pop, fully-cooked, completely out of the casing.  After five such pops, stop the microwave and gather up these delicious strips, put them into a pan with a good amount of butter and shallots for a minute or two then pour in some scrambled eggs.  Garnish with a little cheese topping, maybe a bit of avocado and your favorite salsa.

Now that is what we call eating local.

By Capt. John King
Afishinados Charters and Catallac Tours – – 888-613-7770