Saturday, February 27, 2010
For years I've been looking at "Mountain Trout" displayed as filets at the Reading Terminal Markets' fishmongers, knowing full well they weren't trout, but not quite sure what they were. Down in Baltimore they call this "Lake Trout".
Today I noticed (at Golden Fish) a sign which identified them, parenthetically, as hake, which is a member of the cod family, as is its very close cousin, the Whiting, which is usually found hereabouts as Silver Whiting, but sometimes called Silver Hake, as if things aren't confusing enough.
All the varieties are interchangeable, as least as far as culinary purposes are concerned. All are suitable for frying, steaming, poaching and baking, though broiling or grilling would be too extreme for these delicate and very mild-tasting fishies. Hake are the most popular fresh fish in Spain, and take particularly well to parsley and potatoes.
In other seafood news, Golden Fish is carrying a new item, head-on shrimp, $7.99/pound. You could probably save a bit by walking over to Chinatown, since that's where Golden procures these formerly frozen farm-raised crustaceans from China.
Nobody asked me, but . . .
Why is farm-raised striped bass more expensive that wild striped bass, a.k.a. rockfish: $6.99 vs. $4.99 at John Yi.
In the event you're wondering, the King salmon at John Yi (and just abou anywhere else) is farm-raised from British Columbia. Like it's Atlantic cousin, it gets its color from feed.
The Produce News
Cucumbers galore at O.K. Lee, including two seedless (or nearly so) varieties: Japanese and English. The former are a buck for what appears to be a one-pound bag with about six of the five or six-inch cukes. The latter are two 16-inches for a buck.
OKL also has bags of green seedless grapes for a buck (a tad more expensive if on trays) and Hass avocados at 49-cents apiece (essentially the same price as Iovine's where they're two for a buck).
Another cucumber-like item normally found in Chinatown made its way to the RTM today: Iovine Brother's had Bitter Melon sitting next to the bell peppers, $2.99/pound.
Saturday, January 16, 2010
A one-pound pack of strawberries for $9.99? Get used to it, at least for the next month or so.
The freeze in Florida and heavy rains in California are taking their toll on off-season winter produce. At Iovine Brothers Produce at the Reading Terminal Market today, the clamshells of Driscoll California strawberries were as expensive as I've ever seen them, $9.99. In late January and into February, Iovines frequently features strawberries from Plant City, Floriday, at bargain prices, typically $1 or $2 for a one-pound pack. Don't expect to see them anywhere near that price this winter. The Florida freeze hasn't yet impacted citrus prices but Vinnie Iovine expects they'll start heading north over the next week or two. He's even, for all practical purposes, out of leeks! About one-third of Florida's total winter fruit and vegetable production has been lost to the freeze.
The Dutch and other growers will take up some of the slack for some of the items, but they'll be priced to reflect the shortages caused by natural phenomena. Chilean fruit isn't expected to be heavily affected, since most of what they grow isn't duplicated during winter in California and Florida, but even the Chilean grapes have been dear, with better quality bunches selling for upwards of $4.99, though some smaller Chilean seedless grapes could be had for $1.99 today.
Vinnie expects his display bins of specials will be heavy on the root vegetables, rather than fruit, in coming weeks.
Supply, demand and inventory hold their sway over fish prices, too. At John Yi today the mackeral was selling for $1.99, vs. $2.49 yesterday -- they gotta move it before it becomes too old. Meanwhile, Golden priced mackeral today at $2.99. A similar price discrepancy could be found in sardines: $4.99 at John Yi and $1.99 at Golden; there was no discernable difference to my eye in size and quanity between the two fishmongers.
Crowds were thick at the RTM at mid-morning today. Partly that was due to the opening of the home show across the street at the Convention Center, but also because of a soccer convention that ends today. Yesterday, DiNic's ran out of roast pork by 4:30 p.m., which Joe Nicolosi attributes to the soccer crowd.
Monday, December 14, 2009
With the approach of Christmas the variety of piscatorial delights at the Reading Terminal Market's fishmongers expands. New today were herring (sardines) and spearlings, both $4.99/pound at John Yi.
I'll pick up some of those herrings (head-on whole, ungutted but scaled) on my next trip. They are probably fated for a quick pan-fry, with those I don't eat immediately destined to marinating in a vinegar brine with onions, then consumed with rye bread slathered with copious amounts of butter, and Aquavit.
Saturday, December 05, 2009
The Radicchio di Treviso at Iovine Brothers Produce at the Reading Terminal Market was priced at $17.99/pound today in cello-trays. Heads of regular radicchio were $5.99/pound.
If you buy those Hass avocadoes from the Dominican Republic for $1 apiece (they still need a day or two to ripen, based on my light squeezes this morning), the limes to accent your guacamole are a little less dear: five for a buck.
Once upon a time you could buy dried Italian porcini mushrooms at Iovine's. All they've had recently are Chilean porcinis, which aren't bad but not as good to my taste. You can find the Italian ones over at the Spice Terminal; while I don't recall the price, it's considerably north of $30 a pound.
I'm lazy today so I passed up buying ingredients for soup. But it's definitely the right weather for it. I ran into one acquaintence who was planning to make a mushroom soup with maitakes (a.k.a. hen of the woods). For a mushroom barley or cream of mushroom soup, I like the dried porcinis, but also plain old fashioned white button mushrooms. Plain domestic mushrooms tend to be a forgotten food among foodies, but they represent excellent value and depth of flavor, particularly if they're a bit shriveled (but not slimy), which intensifies their flavor.
I complained previously about the high price of grapes. The green seedless ones were even more expensive today: $3.99/pound. Bell peppers are about as expensive as they ever get: even the frying peppers were $1.99/pound today.
The long English cucumbers (nearly seedless) are a good deal at Iovine's, however. Two for a buck. I'm going to make a quick Scandinavian style pickle from one to accompany fried fish for dinner.
As we near the holidays, the variety and price of fish seems to increase, especially those staples enjoyed for Night of the Seven Fishes. I picked up some cod filet from John Yi today at $9.99/pound, which is pretty much the normal price in retail markets. Good-looking whole wild striped bass was available at Yi and Golden Fish for about $6/pound.
What the Reading Terminal fishmongers don't carry is one of my favorite clam varieties: the soft "steamer" clams, which when prepared for frying are often called "Ipswich" clams. You can get them at Wegman's for $5/pound. The RTM fish stalls also don't offer much variety in the way of oysters. Chesapeake, Virginia and, occasionally, Long Island shell oysters are available for about a buck apiece, as are shucked oysters for stewing and frying, but I've yet to see this bivalve from more the northern waters of Maine, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.
Still no beignets at Beck's Cajun Café.
Joe Nicolosi does more than make great roast pork sandwiches at Tommy DiNic's. He's an accomplished musician. Although his main thing these days is classical piano (he's hard at work on his Chopin), he's going to be playing bass with his old band in a reunion of sorts Wednesday at Johnny Brenda's.
It's always fun to people-watch at the Reading Terminal. Today I squinted rudely to read the badges of one group of visitors attending a convention: the American Anthropology Association. They must have been there to study participants in a cheer-leading competition at the convention center, who were also gawking at the food and sandwich stalls.
Sunday, October 04, 2009
That halibut I purchased a week ago at John Yi's in the Reading Terminal Market (about one and a third-pound) wound up providing the basis of five servings: three for dinner the first night, them two "leftover" portions of fish hash.
I first encountered fish hash at a so-so short-lived fish restaurant on Mount Desert Island near Acadia National Park. The restaurant, Bulger's, was replaced after a season or two by XYZ, one of my fav Mexican restaurants anywhere I've been in the U.S.
Fish hash is nothing more than leftover fish turned into a potato-onion hash. It's best with a mild, firm white flesh fish like halibut or haddock. Here's my recipe:
All purpose potato, 1 to 1-1/2 pound
Fish filet (white flesh), 6-8 ounces, cooked and roughy flaked
Onion, one medium
Bell pepper, one medium
Cayenne pepper to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
- Prep washed, skin-on potatoes into half-inch cubes. Dice onion to roughly the same size.
- Melt 2-3 tablespoons bacon fat in 10-12 inch non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.
- When fat is hot, turn heat to high and add potatoes and cook, undisturbed after initial tossing, for five minutes.
- Return heat to medium-high, toss potatoes, add caynne, salt and pepper, layer onion and bell peppers on top. Cook for five minutes more undisturbed before tossing again. Continue cooking for about five minutes more, tossing occasionally to brown everything nicely. Add flaked fish, toss some more. When it's heated through, serve.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Shad from Southern rivers appeared at John Yi's last week. Today they were selling for $3.99 (buck), $4.99 (roe) and roe sets were commanding $7.99. Local shad don't appear in the Delaware until May.
Based on how good it was a few weeks ago, I bought some haddock fillet at $7.99. I'll pan fry it tonight, perhaps in a panko crust.
More About Citrus
Or, at least, price reports from Iovine Brothers at the Reading Terminal Market.
The prices have held relatively steady except for a whopping reduction in the cost of limes. For the past week limes have been selling for a dime apiece. With Hass avocados under a buck (89 cents), it's once more guacamole time.
On to the other citrus:
- Honeybells, small 8 for $1
- Honeybells, large 2 for $1
- Temple oranges, 4 for $1
- Cara Cara oranges, 5 for $2
- White grapefruit, 89 cents
- Jumbo red grapefruit, 3 for $1
- Small ruby grapefruit, 4 for $1
- Navel oranges, 3 for $1
- Mineola oranges, small 4 for $1
- Mineola oranges, large 2 for $1.49
- Jumanji oranges, 2 for $1.49
- Juice oranges, 4 for $1
Oh, and black truffles, $300/pound, with the two packs I saw priced at $18 apiece. Makes a heck of an omelet.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
A steaming bowl of chili or cauldron of soup seems essentially in cold weather. Fish chowder also satisfies that craving for me.
I went with a piece of haddock from John Yi's Saturday. Since I'm the only one in the house who enjoys this New England classic, I only used about a quarter pound of filet. A lot of folks think New England chowders have be creamy and thick. They don't. IMHO, whole milk allows the flavor of the fish to come through best.
I start out by gently sautéing in bacon fat a small onion, a stalk of celery, and half a carrot, all diced to about one-quarter inch. Once they turn translucent I add a medium diced potato, and gently sauté for about 10 minutes. Next comes about a cup of stock (I used vegetable stock made primarily from last fall's red celery from Tom Culton of Headhouse Square, though either fish or chicken stock would work very well) and a cup of milk, which simmers the veggies for another 10 minutes. By this time the potatoes are just about done, so it's time to add the fish (cut up into spoon-sized pieces), salt and pepper to taste, and thyme, dried or fresh, maintaining the pot at a simmer. After five minutes add a tablespoon of butter -- don't stir, just let it melt atop the liquid. By the time the butter adds its yellow sheen, the fish is probably cooked through. Once in the bowl, I top the chowder with fresh chopped parsley. To accompany, I used the last of my precious stock of Crown Royal crackers, a Maine favorite which has been discontinued by Nabisco, but OTCs would work well, too. Saltines and oyster crackers just don't have the necessary heft for those soup.
If you don't like plain white fish, no reason why you can't use shrimp, lobster, scallops or clams.
That filet of haddock at John Yi's in the Reading Terminal Market set me back $7.99/pound, which was also the price of the flounder. Fluke was $9.99. It was also one of those weeks where wild striped bass cost less than its farmed-raised cousin (a striped bass-white bass cross), $4.99 vs. $6.99 for whole fish. Boston mackeral has made an early appearance (it's strongest runs start in the spring), with prices ranging from $1.49 to $2.59, depending upon size. Medium-sized porgies were $2.99, cod filet (which would be an other good choice for chowder) $9.99, black sea bass $5.99.
A Wan's Seafood, the haddock would have set me back $11.99/pound. Whole striped bass as $3.99 (though the quality didn't look quite as good as at Yi's), though the filets were appealing at $9.99. Wan's was the only RTM fishmonger still selling sardines, $3.99.
Golden Fish's new cases displayed wild striped bass at $4.99, whole black sea bass at $4.99, Bronzino (another sea bass, farm-raised in Europe) for $7.99 on the bone, and particularly good looking, fat mackeral at $2.99.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
The new cases at Golden Fish, one of three fishmongers at the Reading Terminal Market, have been in place for about a month. They make a big difference in how the product looks. Much more attractive than the old cold cases.