It's been a while since I gave a good ole' fashion market update. I am not sure if you have noticed, but there's a lot going on out there underneath the surface. The weather is getting right, right for the bite as you could say, and seasons are now crossing over. With so many options hitting their stride, I figured now was as good as time as any to let you in on what's "in."
The salmon situation is hot, hot, hot. Kings are coming down in price while sockeye landings are just beginning to come around. For a few weeks it was only Copper River Sockeyes and the prices, as usual, started off in the upper stratosphere. Now that the initial gouge is over and other areas begin to open, sockeye prices are coming back down to earthly understanding. Red kings are flowing out of the rivers, so finding quality fish should not be hard.
An added bonus this year is that ivory king salmon have been readily available for at least for the past two weeks. These special salmon are deliciously different in flavor, more complex and less "salmony" than other kings. Last year you couldn't find an ivory. This year we are having much better luck, making you a very lucky consumer.
Rockfish season is officially open in MD. Good fish are being landed in the 2-4 lb and 5-8 lb ranges. Prices should be steady as there was a quota cut this year to protect the stocks, but relief will come as other northern states begin to open their seasons throughout the summer. This local favorite should be a good buy for the rest of the summer.
Fresh shrimp, especially royal reds from Connecticut, will be available during the summer months. Fresh white shrimp will be coming out of the Carolinas. These shrimp tend to be soft, yet crunchy, with a good natural flavor. The royal reds are on another level of sweetness and shouldn't be missed.
Scallop season in Ocean City is going to last at least a few more days, so if you are a connoisseur of everything local, you're summer will not be complete without at least one meal made entirely of these special bi-viavles. While the Ocean City scallop season is sadly fading, other summer scallop areas are blossoming with beautiful product. New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts scallops are all on the market and can be found fresh, untreated, if you are in the right market. Be sure to make friends with your local fishmonger and get the best out of your scallops.
We've got crabs. At least that's what they are saying in MD right now. Even though flavor won't peak until the crabs fatten in the fall - and who wants to wait for that - domestic crabmeat and soft-shell crabs are plentiful. You can find fresh domestic crabmeat from MD, VA, FL, LA and AL this time of year. Though soft shell availability will wax and wane with the full moon and weather, expect them to be around. Hard-shells you are best waiting on in order to get the fattest crabs, but again, who wants to do that.
Domestic mahi are running at the moment from FL to NC and quality is at its finest. You can find freshly caught mahi, skin still iridescent and shining with bright red bloodlines resting in cold showcases at prices way below what their quality commands.
West Coast halibut is in full swing, prices are stable and product is great, especially from day-boat operations. Not all halibut is created equal, and often higher prices will reflect the properly handled, short trip fish. Fresh sable is also available, and Sitka Sound wild caught fish are the biggest and best. During the season it's worth it to pay more for non-frozen fish.
So many seasons are crossing over, there is so much more to report, but in deference to time and attention constraints, here's a short list of other items: golden and grey tilefish from the Carolinas up to Massachusetts are great tasting and great buys. Our northern neighbors are also producing high quality tautog, tuna, swordfish, Boston mackerel, skate, monkfish, and blue fish. It's always a sign of summer to come when the blues start showing up. Also be on the lookout for fresh New Zealand oysters and clams. It's winter there, so product is actually better during our summer. All other shellfish besides triploid oysters beware; summer is a time of love, and for shellfish that means spawning. I recommend buying shellfish the same day you are going to use it to avoid loss. I almost forgot, lobsters are coming back around. The Canadian season just opened and prices are going to start coming down immediately.
Some seasons there is just too much going on to get it all in one report. If I were you I would get off the computer and get to the market. Everything is aligning right now. Seasons change, fish are on the move, and next week could be too late.