Foraging Dim Sum

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On our hunt for the wily pork buns, potstickers and shumai rumored to inhabit select regions of the Northwest, we were joined by the Bennett family–Josie, Marie and fellow fish guy, Brian–as we combed through the wilds of Seattle’s International District. Our quest led us to this secret “Location X” where we also scored the rare and delicious har-gow (shrimp dumplings) and some sticky rice, which was well hidden in dense leaves…

Sometimes you just have to get out of the woods and off The Rock, as Bainbridge Island is affectionately known, and go get some dim sum. Last weekend, the fast and decisive withdrawal of spraying permits for pesticides on coastal oyster beds seemed like reason enough to celebrate. So we stuffed ourselves with dim sum, visited with our friends, and enjoyed the beautiful weather as we strolled around the city. Well worth the effort.

Stay tuned…I think I’m going to have some cool stuff for you here shortly. And if it takes a little while, please be patient. Hope you are all well.

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NYE Dig-&-Shoot

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With blue skies and a rare, mid-afternoon winter tide coinciding with the last razor clam opener of 2014, a little trip to the coast seemed like the perfect way to ring in the New Year. I met Smarty and his mom, Helene, in Montesano, and we rode out to the beach together. Honey kept me company in the back seat, using my duffel as a pillow.

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Calm wind and full daylight helped us make quick work of filling our limits. Really nice clams, too. That’s Smarty and Honey making the final tally. Gorgeous day and great time on the beach.

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Then, with a little daylight to spare, we hightailed it to some nearby pastures for a quick sneak on unsuspecting quackers. Success in the field meant we had the makings for yet another epic meal in the bag. I can hardly wait to eat. Thanks, David, Helene and Honey. Happy New Year, everyone. Here’s to a great 2015!


School Lunch

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Weston came home from school the other day, saying he wished he could take smoked salmon for lunch. So I dug around in the freezer and came up with a pack of nice Willapa Bay coho we smoked and vac-sealed in September. Next morning, I stuffed a few chunks–along with a bit of cream cheese–into these little plastic boxes, added a bag of crackers and a honeycrisp apple and called it good. Both kids report it was “best school lunch ever.”

It felt great to have them want and enjoy the salmon we made. But then I realized we don’t have nearly enough. Normally I horde the smoked salmon packs and just break ’em out for special occasions or when we’re craving it at home. This is the first time withdrawals from our homemade food stash have included school lunches, and I’m completely unprepared. It won’t last long.

Guess we just eat until it’s gone, and remember that we have to fish more next season. I’m good with that.


Local Bounty

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As we readjust to 21st century Puget Sound, we are happy to find some abundance here at home. It’s been a fantastic crab season (we soaked some pots while going on our “Island Circumnavigation” adventure), and the rain a couple weeks ago brought up some early chanterelles. This convergence of species called for some kind of combination dinner.

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Here are the ingredients. I think this is the first time, at least for us, we’ve had the crustaceans and fungi at the same time. And as I thought about it, a simple mixture of the two seemed to make more and more sense.

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At Weston’s request, I had already bought some halibut for a panko fish fry, a reminder of his great halibut catch up north. Some Lundberg brown & wild mixed with regular Japanese rice and  fresh bush beans rounded out the meal. But back to the crab and chanterelles–we sauteed crab meat and mushrooms with a little garlic and butter. Delicious combo. Some ate it as intended, as a topping for the halibut “katsu,” but I wanted to eat it all by itself. Will definitely make this one again.


Meanwhile, Back At The Ranch

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As we adjust back to the relative austerity of our home waters, I will attempt to catch back up with life in Puget Sound, circa 2014. When we left British Columbia, I said something like, “Nah, we don’t need to haul any fish home, king salmon season is just starting around the Island. We’ll stock up quickly.” Upon our return, we made two quick trips in search of kings and stocked up on…well, this beautiful sunrise. Then, the state closed the king fishery down early due to the quota being filled, and there you have it: No kings for us.

First time since we moved here that we haven’t harvested any local king salmon. I’m now staring at a sadly empty smoker, fridge and freezer. The new vac-sealer I bought for king season sits in its box unopened. And I dream of all those fat, delicious fish we left up in BC.

Missing our local harvest is a small price to pay, really, for the experience of a lifetime. And the fish we boated in BC went to good use with Bruce, Steve, Gerald and their families. Still, a few chunks of that halibut and salmon in the freezer would be pretty nice. Good thing we aren’t a real subsistence family or I’d be in a panic. Now we just have to make the best of other options. We’ll haul out the crab pots and hope for a great run of ocean silvers. And in the mean time, I think I’m going to have to travel a bit farther afield in search of king salmon.