Friday, November 19, 2010

The Story Behind Bouillabaisse

"Soup and fish explain half the emotions of human life." - Sydney Smith

Bouillabaisse enthusiasts will travel far and wide to get an authentic serving of the traditional fish stew. The French Quarters of New Orleans and the five-star restaurants of New York serve up this savory dish nightly, using recipes that reach far back in history. However, if you are able to make it across the country for a bowl of stew this weekend, your other option would be to cook some for yourself. At Kanaloa we have fish, both from the Mediterranean and local, which are perfect for a hot and tasty fish stew. We have ready-made fish stock seasoned so delightfully with saffron and leeks it would make any French chef proud. However, depending on the source, the emergence of bouillabaisse into cultural cuisine may not have derived from the French. Read on to learn more about how this dish is infused with cultural history.

The origins of bouillabaisse and chowder are somewhat mysterious. Recipes centuries old can be found for either dish. However the true origins of these soups go back before the written record. One thing is certain, in the years after the 1600’s or the age of sail, chowder and bouillabaisse traveled widely and many different cultures and peoples influenced the dishes that we recognize today.

Bouillabaisse may have come from Italians or it may have come from Greeks or Phoenicians, depending on whom you talk to. The Greeks boast ancient but vague references to fish stews in their literature. The Phoenicians were a sea-faring people who colonized a settlement near modern day Marseille, which is considered to be the home of bouillabaisse. And as for their own claims, the Italians have a similar dish called “brodetto”. No one has a case that is entirely convincing

Wherever bouillabaisse may have come from, its home is most certainly in France. Bouillabaisse was perfected by French fishermen and has become a distinctly French dish. This is the point which the signing members of the Marseille Charter wished to make resoundingly clear. In 1980, eleven restaurateurs drafted a document outlining the minimum requirements of a bouillabaisse. According to the Marseille Charter an authentic bouillabaisse must consist of at least four of the following fish: Scorpion fish, White scorpion fish, Red mullet, Skate, Conger eel, or John Dory. It should also include the following: saffron, olive oil, garlic, onions, fennel, parsley, and tomatoes.

The signatories of this charter were all chefs and restaurant owners working out of the port of Marseille. They were gourmands who took their fish stews very seriously. They were fed up with counterfeit bouillabaisse and wrote the charter in response to chefs in other regions of France who were taking free license with dishes they presumed to pass off as the famous stew. The charter set out to answer such question as to whether a bouillabaisse could include such ingredients as lobster (yes) other shellfish (yes) potatoes (yes) and whether one could skip the scorpion fish (no!) or rouille, a garlicky red pepper paste (no!).

The Marseille Charter is still an active document. There are even restaurants in the U.S. which make a point of adhering to its guidelines. Anyone who is curious to try an “authentic” bouillabaisse stateside, can find one here.

Whatever your take on bouillabaisse may be, we are here to help you along the way. Come in to our retail counter and take your pick of seafood from a wide array of choices. The dish you make might be Phoenician, Greek, Italian, or French, but it is certain to be a hit with your family.

Holiday Specials!

Remember to place your order one week in advance!

  • Whole Dungeness Crab – Cooked, Cracked, and Cleaned....Market Price
  • Bouillabaisse Broth – Add your own seafood for this traditional fish stew....$12.95 per quart
  • Gravlox – Thinly sliced house cured salmon with dill....$10.95 per 4oz
  • Crab Cakes....$7.95 each
  • Whole natural Salmon, boneless butterfly (for stuffing)....$12.95 per pound (sold in whole fish increments)
  • Natural Salmon Pocket stuffed with crab meat....$12.95 each

Party Platters

  • Sashimi Platter, includes two pounds of Kanaloa sushi grade fish (ahi, albacore, and izumidai)....$144.95
  • Jumbo Shrimp Platter, homemade cocktail sauce with two pounds of jumbo shrimp....$71.95
  • Smoked Salmon Platter, includes Scottish lox, capers, onions, and dill sauce....$107.95

A Simple Rouille Recipe

Bouillabaisse is traditionally served in two courses. First, only the broth is used. It is poured into bowls over pieces of toasted bread which have a condiment called “rouille” spread over them. Rouille is a garlicky red-pepper paste, and according to the Marseille charter is an essential component to a bouillabaisse. For the second course, the fish is served by itself on a platter.

Whether you want to use two steps or not, fresh bread is always a great side dish with a bouillabaisse. It is fantastic for sopping up the flavorful broth.

If you would like to try traditional rouille with your stew, the following recipe is delicious and easy to prepare:


1 roasted and peeled red bell pepper

1 roasted hot red chili pepper or ground cayenne pepper to taste

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 small peeled garlic clove

1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs or finely chopped almonds

1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves

Fine sea salt, about 1/2 teaspoon or to taste

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Puree everything except for the olive oil in a food processor until smooth. Slowly add the olive oil while processing to form a paste.

Spread over toasted, rustic bread and serve on the side of a bowl of bouillabaisse.

Chowder, A Rich History

Some believe it was first cooked by the French and that its name comes from “chauderie”. Others believe it came from English fishermen and the name is derived from the Old English word “jowter” which meant “fish peddler” or “mounted peddler of fish.” Still another theory is that chowder was developed out of fishing camps in the Americas with input from Micmac Indians.

One point most people can agree upon is that chowder was a dish that evolved on the open ocean. It was shaped by common ingredients and cooking practices aboard sailing and fishing ships of different nationalities. Sailors were among the first and greatest disciples of chowder.

Early sailing vessels had very limited pantries. Their stores usually did not consist of much more than hard tack (a simple type of cracker), salted pork, salted fish, onions, and root vegetables. In an effort both to cook in rough weather conditions and make these ingredients more appealing, shipboard fare was often boiled down into stews. These concoctions were early versions of chowder. They were not called such at first, but instead went by such varied names as Loblolly, Lobscouse, Sea Pie (there were probably layers of ship’s biscuits in this one), and Burgoo. Eventually the name chowder won out. There are references to it by the early 1700’s, and the term was common in the English language by 1751. A popular novel of the time even featured a small dog with the name “chowder.”

It was in the 1850’s that chowder reached the height of its popularity in the U.S. In the summertime, families held “chowder parties” on the beach, cooking fish they caught in giant kettles on the shore. At church dinners, fairs, and political rallies, huge vats of chowder were often served as part of the festivities.

Around the turn of the century, the first recipe describing a tomato based chowder, or a Manhattan Chowder, was published. This development would ultimately pit two different sides of chowder enthusiasts against one another in a grudging rivalry. While the rest of the country is probably indifferent to the controversy (since both versions really are quite delicious) in the northeast it is taken fairly seriously, as are most matters of regional pride. Tomato chowders are popular south of Rhode Island, while milk based chowders are found to the north. In 1939, an assemblyman named Seeder even introduced into Maine Legislature a bill to make tomato clam chowder illegal in the state.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Some Tips For Grilling Whole Fish:

1: Select a whole fish from the Kanaloa retail counter. Striped Bass, Orata or Loup de Mer are regularly available and are excellent choices for the grill. Ask for your fish to be cleaned, gutted and scaled.

2: Once in the kitchen, the first thing to do is dry your fish! Any water left on the skin will create a barrier and keep your fish from grilling properly!

3: Cut small slits in the skin of the fish to allow the filet to breath. This is known as “scoring” the fish. Scoring will help your fish to cook more evenly. It will allow heat to penetrate and will prevent the fish skin from tightening up or curling, resulting in parts of the fish being lifted off the grill.

4: Try using a stuffing! If you have a beautiful whole fish to grill, why not put something in the belly cavity. This will add a tremendous amount of flavor to your fish as it grills. A stuffing can be something as simply as parsley stems, lemon slices, garlic cloves, salt, pepper, and olive oil.

5: Rub oil on the outside of your fish, use a neutral flavor cooking oil, canola, rice, or grape seed oil.

6: Make sure your grill is HOT, and CLEAN!!! This will make or break your fish!

7: Lay your fish on the grill at a 45 degree angle to the bars, this way you can easily slide a spatula under it to flip it over

8: Cook your fish about 6-8 minutes per inch, per side, with the grill lid closed. Try to avoid excessive opening and closing of the lid.

9: Grill your fish evenly on both sides, moving it around the hot spots of the grill as necessary.

10: Remove from grill and let your fish set for about 5 minutes or so. This way the juices have a chance to evenly disburse through out the fish!

For a delicious and fragrant stuffing, place oranges, lemons, and fennel along with a pinch of salt into the body cavity of your fish

Michel Blanchet's Cordon Bleu Smoked Salmon

In 1973, Michel moved to New York City where he worked as a “poissonnier” at the famed La Caravelle in midtown Manhattan.

In French cuisine, a poissonnier is the chef responsible for every menu item containing seafood. Even a dish containing a nothing more than a half-cup of fish stock would fall under his or her provenance. The world of high-end French Cuisine is a demanding and unforgiving one. It is therefore necessary for the poissonier to become an expert in everything from mussels to menhaden. He or she must be a stickler for quality and freshness. Fish becomes something of an obsession for the poissonier.

After a two year stint in New York, Michel moved on to Los Angeles. He began working at L’Ermitage, a trend-setting restaurant for French Cuisine. Ever the poissonier, Michel was unsatisfied with the salmon that L’Ermitage was receiving from regional smoke houses. He decided to make his own.

At this time, Michel was working under Jean Berantrou, a demanding and ground-breaking restaurateur. As head chef of L’Ermitage, Berantou was known to go to extremes in his search for the finest meats and produce. He would pressure local farmers to cross-breed the perfect duck for fois gras or badger them into harvesting a new strain of green bean for authentic haricots-verts. Berantou’s passion and dedication would soon elevate him in the culinary world. He would soon be considered a visionary of West Coast Cuisine.

Eventually Michel himself rose to become head chef at L’Ermitage. One cannot claim that it was on the strength of his smoked salmon that he reached these heights, but we can say that perfecting the cold smoked delicacy certainly didn’t hurt his chances.

In 1995, after years of leading some of L.A.’s most highly-regarded restaurants, Michel decided to return to the ancient art he had mastered early on in his career: cold smoked fish. He opened Michel Cordon Bleu, a state of the art smoking facility in Los Angeles.

One reason Michel’s cold smoked fish is so delectable is that during the smoking process the salmon never reaches more than 99 degrees Fahrenheit. The fish is infused with a smoky flavor, but cures instead of cooks. It remains moist and tender: a true artisanal food, and a bonafide delicacy.

We now have Michel Blanchet’s salmon available at Kanaloa. It is delicious in pastas and quiches, in terrines or scrambled eggs, or simply on a bagel with cream cheese. Be sure to ask for this delicacy at our retail counter!

Grilled tarragon and spinach stuffed Loup de Mer with roasted fingerling potato salad


1 Scaled and gutted Loup de Mer

1 Cup cooked spinach chopped

1 T. Butter

¼ Cup Pernod

1 Shallot sliced

½ bunch tarragon picked and chopped

1/3 cup bread crumbs

¼ cup heavy cream

½ T kosher salt

3T Olive oil


½ lb. Fingerling potatoes

1 T kosher salt

1 t black pepper

2 T capers minced

½ Bunch tarragon picked and chopped

½ Red onion thinly sliced

¾ cup Mayonnaise

2 T olive oil

½ T Worcestershire sauce


For fish:

Melt butter in a sauce pan over medium-low heat. Sweat the shallots till translucent, add the Pernod, and cook till almost dry. Add the spinach and heavy cream. Bring to a simmer and reduce by half. Fold in the bread crumbs to bind the mixture. Add extra breadcrumbs if the mixture is too thin. This stuffing should not be at all runny. Fold in tarragon and season with salt. Let the mixture cool until it has become formable, then pack the mixture inside the Loup de Mer and lightly tie the fish closed. Rub the outside of the fish with olive oil. Grill over medium-high heat for about 7 minutes per side until skin is crisp and the stuffing is hot. Serve alongside roasted potato salad.

For Potato Salad:

Preheat oven to 375

Gently toss the potatoes in olive oil. Season them with salt and pepper, and spread them out on baking sheet. Cook in oven for about 55 minutes, stirring occasionally, until nicely browned. Let stand in refrigerator. Once potatoes have cooled, cut them into bite-sized pieces. In a bowl, stir potatoes along with mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce, onion, tarragon, and capers. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Wolf of the Sea

Loup de Mer is French for “wolf of the sea”. It’s a perfect title for a predatory fish that feeds at any time day or night. Loup de Mer hunt small fish, shrimp, and crab, and its avid search for food leads it through a wide range of habitat including lagoons, estuaries and the open ocean. Loup de Mer is a species of sea bass and can grow up to three feet long, reaching a top weight of about twenty-five pounds.

Over the past few years, Loup de Mer has become a very popular item in upscale restaurants. It is an absolutely delicious fish that is moderately firm with a subtle but slightly sweet flavor. It is fantastic when cooked on the bone. Served raw it makes top-notch sashimi.

Though something of a novelty here in the United States, Loup de Mer has been enjoyed by cultures across the Mediterranean for centuries. In Turkey it is a familiar sight on the table, known there as “Levrek”. It is called “Lavraki” in Greece, “Branzino” in Italy, and “Lubina” in Spanish. It is only recently, however, that sustainable fisheries have made the Loup de Mer easily and readily available.

The ancient Romans were die-hard aficionados of this tasty sea bass. The poet Martial, when musing on all the great luxuries of life, included Loup de Mer in a list alongside perfumes, jewels, and silks.

This unique fish can actually take credit for some of the earliest known examples of aquaculture in human history. Both Loup de Mer and eels were so highly valued by the ancient Romans that aristocrats spent tremendous amounts of money building “piscinae” or fish ponds. The technology of these early tanks and ponds soon advanced to the point where they contained controls regulating both the flow of water and its salinity. Roman fish farmers were able to induce Loup de Mer to spawn in captivity, thus producing successive generations of this highly valued fish and allowing Romans to enjoy the delicacy year round.

Like just about everything else with the Romans, these fish farms were eventually taken to ostentatious and outrageous extremes. The aristocracy spent vast fortunes constructing tanks and pools. Aquaculture became a status symbol. Grand pavilions were built from which to view the fish farms. Some came to regard their fish as pets. For some reasons the Romans seemed to have identified on a personal level with their eels more than with their Loup de Mer. The mother of one emperor is reported to have a pet lamprey on which she hung golden earrings. Another is said to have declared a period of mourning when one of his prize eels turned up dead in the pool.

Although they didn’t bond with their sea bass the way they did with their eels, Romans still valued their Loup de Mer very highly. At banquets, guests used to discuss slight variations in the flavor of their Loup de Mer, the way we do with wines today. Loup de Mer was celebrated with elaborate depictions in mosaics. Preserved bones of the fish have even turned up in sites like Pompeii.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Crab and Truffle Salad

Serves 4 as a first course

Mustard Vinaigrette:

  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons sherry wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 6 to 8 tablespoons mild vegetable oil
  • 1 to 2 ounces truffles
  • 3/4 pound fresh cooked crab meat
  • 1 pound asparagus, or 2 pounds broccoli cut into florets
  • 1 lemon, cut into 4 wedges

To make the dressing, combine the mustard, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Add the oil and mix well. Add more mustard, salt, and pepper to your taste.

Place thin truffle slices between chunks of crab on individual salad plates. Arrange the asparagus or broccoli on each plate. Pour the dressing over and garnish with lemon wedges.

--John and Pat Rawlinson

Famed Winter Truffles Available in Summer

Italian composer Rossini once said: “I have wept three times in my life. Once when my first opera failed. Once again the first time I heard Paganini play the violin. And once when a truffled turkey fell overboard at a boating picnic."

Truffled turkey was a much sought after dish in Rossini’s time. We usually prefer them with scallops or lobster, or stirred into a butter buerre-blanc and ladled over halibut or sole.

The truffle is a form of fungi which grows through a symbiotic relationship with tree roots. Most commonly truffles are found growing in the roots of beech, poplar, birch or oak. They feed on sugars released by the roots systems of these trees, and in return help the roots to better absorb water and nutrient from the soil.

The size of a truffle ranges roughly from that of a pea to that of a potato, with the larger ones being considered the most valuable. To harvest them requires the use of specially trained dogs (and sometimes pigs) who sniff them out from underneath the leaf litter and shallow soil where they lie hidden.

We are very lucky to have Winter Truffles available during the upcoming months. The Winter Truffle is superior in quality to that of the summer variety. Ours are shipped in overnight-express from Western Australia; and it is only thanks to the fact that it is now winter in the southern hemisphere that we can enjoy access to this renowned delicacy!

The cool, rainy climate of Western Australia is ideal for the cultivation of the Black Winter Truffle. The ones that we will have available over the course the next season are the exact same species of truffle and are of the same premiere quality as those from the famed region of Perigord, France.

Most foodies have at one time or another experimented with truffle oil. However, this product, which one can find commonly in gourmet stores and supermarkets, is simply olive oil flavored with synthetic chemicals and does not actually contain any of the prized fungi.

A fresh truffle is something that the aspiring cook should try at least once. When you cut into one a distinctive scent will fill the kitchen. It’s an expansive, earthy and slightly musky fragrance. Many chefs like to store common ingredients like rice or eggs or potato in a closed container with fresh sliced truffles for a few days and simply allow the flavor of the delicacy to infuse into that of the rice, eggs, or potato.

It is absolutely necessary to use truffles when they are fresh since the flavor and fragrance of this delicacy will dissipate over time.

Truffles wonderfully complement seafood and give a cook a lot of room for creativity. Try them with Chillean Seabass, Crabmeat, Trout, and Scallops. Black Truffles can be eaten raw or cooked. Just a few shavings can make a dish dazzle!

We will have shipments of this remarkable ingredient arriving at Kanaloa every Thursday. They are portioned in one ounce increments and will be available for purchase at $100 per ounce. Please note that we will need orders to be placed at least one week in advance.

Also keep in mind that we can over-night our prized truffles anywhere in the U.S. They make the perfect gift for that die-hard foodie who lives out-of-state!

If you are looking for Truffles or any other out-of-the ordinary seafood item or ingredient sure to ask our staff about our “Fish Wish List”!

Local White Sea Bass, The Prime Rib of the Ocean

Just in time for the Grilling Season, the ocean’s own version of prime rib is now available. Local White Sea bass is a meaty fish with large flakes and a fine texture. The species comes from a sustainable, well-managed stock right off the coast of California. For a beautiful, hypnotic video of schools of sea bass swimming through our off-shore kelp forests, enjoy this link

Local White Sea Bass has been given a “best choice” rating from the Monterey Aquarium. The population, which was once low due to over-fishing, has been brought back to healthy, sustainable levels thanks to the efforts of state run hatcheries and a rigorously enforced quota system.

Local fishermen consider this to be one of the best-eating fish from the sea - certainly one of the tastiest from off the coast of California. It is ideal for outdoor cooking, but is also delicious pan-seared or broiled. This fish serves as a great substitute in recipes calling for swordfish, tuna, or shark.

The White Seabass is a gun-metal silver color, and has white flesh with a dark red muscle running through its center line. A member of the drum family, the fish makes a loud clicking noise when threatened or distressed. It also uses this sound as radar when hunting its prey.

Native Americans along the coast of California greatly prized the White Sea Bass, so much so that they used to use its ear bones as currency!

Don’t miss the opportunity to try this delicious, versatile fish. The season begins in June. We will have fillets available throughout the summer and into the fall. Be sure to try Local White Sea Bass the next time you plan to grill. You won’t be disappointed!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Grilling Tips

  • ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS, DRY YOUR FISH! Place 2-3 paper towels on a plate, lay your fish on the towels, and pat dry both sides until there is NO moisture on the surface of the fish. Repeat as necessary!
  • Lightly oil your fish with a neutral-flavor cooking oil that has a high smoke point. (Grape seed oil is Kevin’s favorite, but you can also use canola oil, or rice oil)
  • Avoid Olive Oil at all costs! It has a very low smoke point, and when it gets too hot it will actually add a bitter olive flavor to your fish!
  • Season fish evenly with salt and pepper on both sides!
  • Make sure your grill is very clean. A light coating of oil on the grates will help reduce "stickage".
  • Be sure the grill is hot before placing fish on the grates. When you place your fish on the grill it should sizzle, if there is no sizzle remove fish and wait for your grill to get hotter!
  • Baste or brush fish with lemon and butter (or any other marinade) while it is cooking.
  • Admire the sizzle and smoke of your hot grill!
  • Turn the fish only once. Resist the urge to flip repeatedly. When turning your fish (for the one and only time) place it on a new section of grill. That way you have a sizzle again!
  • Use a wide flat spatula to handle your fish. Avoid tongs, leave those for hot dogs!
  • As a general rule, cook fish for a total of about eight minutes per inch of thickness (Use less time for med-rare fish!)!

And finally, enjoy your delicious meal with friends and family!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Q & A: Kevin King on Sautéeing Halibut

The simplest way to enjoy the fresh halibut is to pan roast or sauté it.

Necessary Items:

The first step in to creating a restaurant quality dish is to start with restaurant quality ingredients. The fish is the easy step, the next is to have a quality high-heat cooking oil (such as a grape seed oil, or rice oil). These oils contain zero trans-fat and no cholesterol, but won't start to smoke until they reach higher temperatures than average oils. If you use grape seed or rice oil, your pan will get hot enough to put a good sear on the fish, without any worries over bitter flavor from burnt oil.

Kanaloa recommends Salute Santé oil (available for purchase at our store), which we offer in lemon, chili, and straight grapeseed oil for you to enjoy with your halibut.

Make sure you have a good, heavy-bottomed steel pan in which to sear your fish in.

After you have these very important pieces, you will now need 2 more important ingredients, kosher salt, and cracked pepper, white or black works fine.


When you get your fish home, take it out of the bag, and place it belly side down on a thin layer of paper towels to dry off. The dryer the fish the better the sear. If you leave moisture on your fish, the halibut will just steam in the pan and not have a very good texture. So dry it well!

After your fish is dry, pre-heat your pan over med-high heat, 4-6 minutes. Add about 1 tablespoon of oil to the pan. When you add the oil it should move around your pan quickly, reacting like water. If it sits in the middle in a slow moving puddle, your pan is not hot enough yet. Wait until the oil moves quickly around the bottom of the pan.

After your pan and oil are hot and your fish is dry, season both sides of the dry fish evenly with salt and pepper. Pull the pan off the direct heat, and gently add the fish (belly side down) to the pan. Place the pan back over the burner at med-high heat, and do not touch the fish! Wait at least 2 minutes before moving your fish to the oven. (If all of the above steps are followed properly, the halibut will not stick to the pan.) Place the fish in the oven at around 350 degrees for 2-4 minutes, depending on the thickness of the halibut. After 2-4 minutes, remove the fish from the oven and check your sear. You want a nice deep golden brown crust on the entire side of the fish before you flip it over. Once you flip the fish over, remove the pan from heat and add about 1 tablespoon of cold butter to the pan. Gently "baste" the fish for 3-4 minutes. The residual heat from the hot pan will help cook the second side of the halibut, while the butter will gently flavor the entire piece of fish. After basting, remove the fish from the pan and serve immediately.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Wild Alaskan Halibut

As the saying goes "No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow." And nowhere is that more true than at Kanaloa Seafood Market. We had a great winter, and with spring fast approaching it's time to look forward to a new season of seafood and more great reasons to come see what we have to offer. Just as the frost disappears around us, so does the defrosted Alaskan halibut, because March marks the opening of the wild Alaskan Halibut season, and Kanaloa works with first receivers to ensure you get the freshest product as soon as it hits the market. Stay tuned for updates through our posts, both here on our blog, and on twitter.

Fun Facts and Information:
  • Eating/Cooking: 3.5oz. serving- 130 calories, 22g. protein, 3g. fat. Versatile fish, great baking, broiling, grilling, and kebabs...sears well, doesn't overcook easily.
  • Catch: hook & line, quota based system for sustainability, MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) certified
  • Diet: halibut feed on salmon, flounder, octopus, pollock, and cod. These eating habits make halibut a very sweet and succulent fish.