Cook the Books! March: Good Fish with Becky Selengut

We are totally doing this thing! Cook the Books is rolling right along and I’m having a blast. How about you?

I still have a final dumpling post yet to come and Briggs is working on our party post. The Cook the Books! Asian Dumplings wrap up slated for Wednesday or Thursday. Our Dumpling Fest on Saturday? Yep, that ruled. What a night!

As fun as dumplings were, it is time to move along on our next adventure. Next up?  Good Fish by Becky Selengut.

grow and resist cook the books good fish becky selengut

Fact: I don’t eat fish. At all. Well, that isn’t entirely true, but it might as well be. I can sort of handle halibut. The occasional (once every 3 years or so) tuna fish sandwich hasn’t killed me (yet). Crab cakes are kinda good. Grilled shrimp looks like something I should love. But that is pretty much it.

And yet. I chose this book. I, the fish-phobic Seattle-ite, purposefully chose to cook from a seafood book for an entire month.  Even though the thought of me preparing fish is impossible to imagine. Now, lest you think I’m just a masochist, I have a purpose. You see, I really want to like fish. I want to be able to eat oysters and clams and the like. It is an area that I am not adventurous at all and I find that is annoying. Plus, I live in Seattle. There is a lot of seafood around and my weird fish-food hangup is a pain, and frankly, kind of embarrassing.

If at the end I haven’t discovered a deep hidden love for seafood, I feel confident I’ll be able to source and prepare a rocking good seafood meal for others. The Ladyfriend loves seafood and I’d also like the Babylady to eat and explore seafood and not inherit my fish-freakiness.  Hopefully by the end of the month I’ll be a bit more like this (one of the Babylady’s former favorite books): grow and resist cook the books march hooray for fish

I should also tell you I chose this book because I know Becky and think she is pretty awesome. Sure, she is super smart, an amazing chef, a sustainable food advocate, and a great teacher. But Becky is also one of the funniest people I know. Hold your sides and cry with laughter funny. Hope your 40-plus-year-old-self-doesn’t-pee-on-herself funny. I like funny. Funny and smart rules.

Now, the book.  Good Fish explores smart, healthy, sustainable seafood choices focusing on the Pacific Coast. Now, before you freak out and cry that you don’t live on the west coast! Breathe! Don’t get nervous and run away because I promise you will be able to do this! Becky provides substitutions for each type of seafood.  Many of the seafood types are available most everywhere. Additionally, there are two online resources that she likes: Vital Choice Seafood and i love blue sea. See? No matter where you live, you are covered.

Becky divides the book into 3 categories: Shellfish, Fin-fish, and Little-fish and Eggs. Each of the main categories has 5 varieties, so she covers 15 types of seafood. For each type of seafood, there are five recipes ranging from easy to advanced. (That is 75 recipes if you don’t want to do the math.)

Becky introduces each seafood type and covers all your burning questions right off the bat. In well-defined sections she covers why the particular seafood is a good sustainable choice and what other names it goes by. She also gives you buying tips, questions to ask from the seller (fish monger or fisherman), information on the best season for a particular seafood, as well as how to care for your fish.  You’ll learn how the seafood is raised and harvested and what would make good substitutes.

A few examples of appropriate substitutions:

  • dungeness crab— blue crab
  • clams, mussels, squid, shrimp, trout, scallops— readily available and know that flash frozen is great if you can’t find fresh, but make sure it is domestic (east or west coast)
  • arctic char— trout, lean wild salmon, tilapia, or barramundi
  • black cod— wild King salmon
  • halibut–true cod, ling cod, or haddock
  • albacore tuna – sustainable US-caught skipjack or bigeye
  • sardines— anchovy, herring, or mackerel

There is a section for discussing specific terms that will be helpful for the book, as well as tools you might consider having. Confused about fresh vs frozen and farmed vs wild? Yep, she covers that too. Bonus! Becky is married to a rockstar wine sommelier, April Pogue, who provides wine pairings for each recipe!  You’ll be eating and drinking in style.

Before you get going, I highly recommend spending a little time watching videos on her Good Fish website.  She has a wealth of information posted that has already given me a bit more confidence. Becky has a way of explaining a rather daunting (for me, at least) subject in a way that assures me I can do it. Another great resource that you should consult is the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch, where you will find pocket guides, apps, as well as other important information.

The book is gorgeously photographed by the also-awesome photographer Clare Barboza (btw, check our her fantastic studio and props!)

You can also find Becky at Chef Reinvented or if you are local to Seattle, you can take a class at PCC Markets or The Pantry.  And check out her new podcast Closed for Logging with author Matthew Amster-Burton.

Get the book, source some seafood, prepare something, and tell us about it!  We have loved your entries and enthusiasm so far and can’t wait to see what you do with seafood! Cook the Books! March entries are due the weekend of March 23rd/24th.

And, finally, check back with Briggs later this week for Cook the Books! February: Asian Dumpling wrap up!

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14 Responses to Cook the Books! March: Good Fish with Becky Selengut

  1. Screw fish – I’m just going to move into Clare’s studio for the month. #swoon

  2. Pingback: Cook the Books! Review: Asian Dumplings | Grow & Resist

  3. Mari says:

    Oh man, I just read through all your posts since you started this cookbook project and even though it is 8:30am and I am a little queezy with morning sickness I just went and put the first 3 cookbooks on hold at the library because everything sounded good. Here’s hoping my appetite is back in order by the time the books are available at the library.

  4. Pingback: Cook the Books February! What Did Everybody Else Make? Asian Dumplings Round-Up! | oh, briggsy...

  5. Lois says:

    my version of wild salmon with fennel two ways! Made this a few days ago after I bought Good Fish for my IPad– nifty way to read the recipes while I cook. Don’t know if I can attach my photos of the before and after but will try. Only had fresh spinach, so made some rice and peas to round out the dish.
    Oh yeah, that is my version of a French 76 with the uncooked salmon (some leftover but still fizzy champagne, a little “Sacred” gin, splash of limoncello,bit of fresh lemon juice, and drop of grenadin, shaken not stirred—- you know, use what you have!) went well with dinner.
    Looking forward to making more East Coast modifications in the next few weeks as inspired by the pacific recipes and access to fresh seafood in NC. 🙂

  6. Moms Kitchen says:

    My first attempt at one of the recipes didn’t work out so well…but I’ll try another. Love the books photography and the storytelling in it. She sounds like an interesting gal – would love to meet her.

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