I’ve been writing about buying seafood directly from local fishermen for weeks now. While I’d had fresh and local seafood, I had yet to purchase anything off the docks myself. With the summer almost over, I decided it was time to put my money where my mouth was and seize the oppor-tuna-ty to buy something at Shop at the Dock (writing posts for the Fisheries Extension Facebook page has brought out the best of my fish puns).
At the end of Shop at the Dock, I stopped at F/V (fishing vessel) Triggerfish to complete my survey and placed an order for a tuna. Triggerfish is owned by brothers, Ernie and Joe. Like many other boats, they often fish at the beginning of the week and come back Thursday night or Friday morning to sell off the docks over the weekend. Alternatively, there are boats like H/F/V (historic fishing vessel) Chelsea Rose that are essentially floating fish markets. Their seafood comes from other boats they own and other fishermen, so they are able to stay docked everyday.
Tunas average 10-20 lbs, but some can get MUCH larger. It is priced per pound for the whole fish and there is an additional fillet charge. I asked for a 14 lb fish, so Ernie weighed several fish until he got one about that size. The recovery rate (the amount of meat recovered after filleting) is roughly 50-60% for tuna, so I was to expect about 7-9 lbs of meat.
There are a couple of things to do to ensure the freshness and quality of your fish:
- Ask when the trip started- fishing trips can last multiple days, so that’s the earliest it could have been caught
- Ask how the fish was cooled down- tuna are very warm fish and quality can decrease if it is cooled slowly
- Inspect the fish to ensure its quality (clear eyes, scales and gills still in tact)
I already knew that I wanted to split a fish with my mentor, so once I was satisfied with the fish, I asked for it filleted and split in half. It’s regulation that boats sell whole fish to avoid contamination, but most boats are willing to split the fish for you so you can purchase with other people. I made sure to bring a hot-cold bag and cash to pay for the fish (because most don’t take cards).
I kept the tuna on ice and when dinner came around I marinated it in brown sugar, soy sauce and garlic. I ended up having it raw, seared and barbecued and it all tasted fantastic. There is something really thrilling about knowing where your food is coming from. I love that I was able to see a whole tuna fresh from the ocean in the morning and eat it for dinner a couple hours later. It was quite the experience and I know I’ll definitely miss Newport’s seafood at the end of this summer.
That’s all for now. Thanks as always for reading!