You never know when necessity will force you to try something new.
Our family and our sons' friends spent the majority of spring break at the Oregon coast, at the family beach house on the spit of Salishan. On our beach trips we take full advantage of the readily available fresh fish. We were looking forward to feasting on salmon and halibut, crab, shrimp, mussels and clams to enjoy on National Clam on the Half Shell Day and ling cod for meaty fish tacos. My menu ideas ran longer than nights we would prepare dinner.
For the past 17 years, we have bought fish from Allan Black's Crab Pot fish store in Lincoln City. It is always a treat to see what the Crab Pot's cold case offers for our dining enjoyment. Allan and I have shared conversations about Oregon's fishing industry, world events, tourism and his bike trips to British Columbia.
But alas! When we arrived at 6 p.m. Tuesday, the Crab Pot was closed. I figured I had just missed Allan and I made plans to come earlier the next day.
The following day, the Crab Pot was still closed. I drove to another fish market in Lincoln City, but was dismayed to learn they offered no local fish! 'The fishermen aren't fishing much right now ... ,' I was told.
From my deck chair I had watched several boats trolling along the coast line earlier in the day. I was not willing to settle for the salesperson's answer, any more than I was willing to settle for what he had in his refrigerated case - and more importantly, I knew I didn't have to.
I remembered my cousin Jeff Folkema's (owner of Garibaldi Marina) words of encouragement offered last summer. He assured me that we consumers do not have to settle for farm-raised fish (or frozen products from Chile or Taiwan!) and urged us to do what the commercial fisherman does every day: Try our luck against Mother Nature. Someone is catching fish on the Oregon coast today, I reasoned.
The yellow page category for fishing charters gave me names of seven businesses in the area; I rang up Chris Olson at Newport Marina Store.
Olson's charter clients were catching fish: Salmon, bottom fish such as ling cod, snapper and rock fish. He'd be happy to take me fishing. If I wanted to buy local fish, he told me I should go to Lighthouse Deli and Fish Co.
Located about one half mile south of the Newport Bridge on Highway 101, Lighthouse Deli and Fish Co. is committed to offering only the local fishermen's catch. Owner Jim Iverson boasts that 90 percent of the fish sold at the store is from Oregon waters.
Wheeling into the parking lot, it is immediately apparent that Lighthouse Fish Co. has more to offer customers than just fresh fish. Crab pots were bubbling industriously in the front of the market next to the picnic tables that afford customers the opportunity to breathe in the sea air as they eat their fresh from the sea meal.
Besides fresh fish you can cook at home, the market's deli serves all your seafood favorites. Their menu lists more than 40 items including halibut, salmon or other fish and chips, clam strips, calamari rings, steamer clams, crab and shrimp burgers, chowder, fresh fish, shrimp or crab sandwiches, crab or shrimp cocktails and salads. Assistant manager and chef of the day R. Josh Way reported that no trans fats are used in their cooking.
Lighthouse Fish Co. offers fillet services of your fresh-caught wild chinook, king salmon, albacore tuna and Pacific halibut. They custom cut, vacuum pack and freeze your fish prior to shipping. They will even store your fish in their freezer until you pick it up or they ship it to you at no charge. They can custom smoke your fish using their teriyaki/brown sugar brine and hickory wood chips for the process. They also offer their canned fish items under the label Iverson Gold. Their catalog offers more than 50 fresh, frozen and canned seafood products readily available for shipping by next day and second day air.
With summer quickly approaching, now is the perfect time to book your family's fishing excursion. Wouldn't you be proud to serve salmon, halibut or tuna you caught yourself at the summer barbecues?
The Crab Pot did reopen during our stay. Black sold to my husband Mark a variety of fish - halibut, cod, snapper and oysters.
Mark then made a boatload of fish and chips for our 'frat house' - our sons Dave and Cole and their friends, Jackson Smood, Joel Stein, Collin Gilbert and Anton Cauduro. We enjoyed it immensely and hope you will, too.
Randall Frat House Fish and Chips
3 pounds your favorite firm flesh fish, halibut, cod, snapper, oysters, salmon, shrimp or scallops
8 ounces tempura batter mix (or your favorite commercial fish batter mix)
12 ounces beer
8 ounces water
Canola oil for frying
Paper toweling for draining
Fish cocktail sauce, tartar sauce, lemon wedges for condiments
Mix batter, beer and water thoroughly.
In a deep fryer or heavy skillet, pour Canola oil to a depth of ½ inch; heat over medium high heat. To test for proper heat, insert the end of a wooden spoon into the hot oil; the oil will sizzle around the handle when the heat is perfect.
Cut fish into 2-inch square pieces and dredge in the batter. (Oysters and scallops will not need cutting.) Place batter-coated fish in the hot oil and fry, after two or three minutes turn to cook second side. When fish is crispy golden brown, remove from the pan to a paper towel-lined tray. Serve immediately with French fries, cole slaw and ice cold lemonade.
For more information about the marinas and shops noted in this article, see the Web sites www.garibaldimarina.com, crabpot.com,newportmarina.com and lighthousedeli.com/