Thursday, April 21, 2016

A Tasty Shade Of Blue

Hand harvested fish
I received a call last week from a supplier exclaiming about this brilliant blue fish found only in New Zealand that we "just had to try".  They call it blue cod, although it isn't a cod at all but a member of the sandperch family, but nothing new there, colloquial names for fish are often derived from species people are familiar with.  My interest was piqued, but I wondered, how blue are we talking here?  I mean, there's blue and then there's blue.  "You just have to taste it and see it to believe it," he responded coyly.  Well, we are always game for something new, delicious, and sustainable, and since this fish checked all the boxes, we decided to give it a go this week.

The result: the Kiwi aren't exaggerating when they say it's blue and it's delicious.  The fish came in pristine, with glistening bright blue skin, the color of light sapphires.  If fish could blink, I feel like I would have gotten a cheeky wink, as the blue cod were so fresh that their eyes seemed to sparkle with life.  The blue cod's ideal condition can be attributed to the artisans who man the fishing vessels Equinox and Fishheads.  Both vessels harvest the blue cod by trapping it with cages.  This means the fish are brought aboard still alive where they can be handled with care and shipped immediately to preserve the upmost freshness.  Fishing this way also eliminates bycatch and the risk of killing juveniles.

Behind their cerulean exterior lies a succulent white flesh that tastes sweet like shellfish and cooks firm, yet silky, like tautog or triggerfish.  Blue cod feed on the bottom of the ocean, mainly consuming small fish, abalone and other small crustaceans.  It is this diet that gives the fish their sweet, heavenly flavor.  They are harvested around New Zealand's Chatham Island and are endemic to the country, so it's impossible to get them confused with any other species.

I encourage you to stop by the market this week to get a look at these beautiful, one-of-a-kind fish.  Even if you choose to dine on another species, getting a glimpse of these show stoppers is worth the visit.  Blue cod are treasured in New Zealand for their great flavor and beauty, and we are excited to get these sapphires of the sea in our market amongst our local jewels, even if it's
only for a short visit.

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