Monday, August 22, 2011

Fish Part II

So how do the observations and research in Paul Greenberg’s Four Fish apply to the summer beach goer who stops at a fish shack to pick up some “local” catch? While in Carolina Beach, NC, my friends and I decided to hit the local farmers market on the island and talk to some fishermen. We braved a very rainy morning to go out to the market, ready to chat up some local anglers but much to our surprise, there was no fish to be bought there.

As true Millenials, we pulled out our smart phones and quickly learned that there is only one place on the island to buy fish without having to drive half an hour into Wilmington. Even this one market on the island only had a couple pounds of shrimp though we were told she’d had flounder earlier in the day but not much and it had sold out quickly. Interestingly, the shrimp she had to sell wasn’t even from the southern coast of North Carolina but rather from the Outer Banks over 100 miles north. To be honest, we were shocked. There we were, 30 feet from the ocean and unable to buy anything that was caught there. The market clerk explained that shrimp from that area were very small and not commercially viable. But what about other fish? 

Later that day, we took a trip to the Kure Beach pier, one of two on the island that survived a nasty slate of hurricanes that hit the NC Coast in the late 1990’s. I remember walking the pier as a child and peeking in the coolers of all the casual fishermen which would be brimming with fish. This walk was much different; instead of overflowing coolers, there were disgruntled men and women, not to mention some skinny pelicans, lining the railings all fish-less and deflated.

This concept reminds me of what Greenberg writes in Four Fish about each generation having a base level of wildlife in their collective consciousness. We each believe that a certain number of birds, squirrels and, in this case, fish exist in the world based on our early experiences but this level of biodiversity is shrinking with each generation. In this case, as I saw quite vividly last weekend, it has taken far less than a generation for a huge decrease in perceived wildlife.

However, since I promised you a fish recipe, we went ahead and got a half pound of Outer Banks shrimp from the lovely Veggie Wagon in Carolina Beach and, below, is Corinne’s amazing shrimp taco recipe.

Shrimp Tacos for Two  by Corinne
Shrimp tacos are a great beach food. If you're in a rental, or even if you are lucky enough to own a beach house, you don't have a fully stocked pantry and all the gadgets you might at home. This can be prepared with a minimum of pantry staples and even the blender isn't totally necessary (just chop cilantro very finely, mix with yogurt and other ingredients, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours so the flavors meld).

Cilantro Yogurt sauce:
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice

1/2 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
Garlic powder

Assorted toppings (shredded cheese, diced tomatoes, chopped onions, etc.)
Warm tortillas
  1. Sauce: Put all ingredients except salt in a blender or food processor and puree. Sauce is done when it is a light green color and you can't see many whole cilantro leaves. Add salt to taste, and more lime juice if you like. Refrigerate until ready to use (at least 2 hours).
  2. Shrimp: Heat a small amount of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add shrimp and season with salt and a sprinkle of garlic powder. Cook shrimp on one side 2 minutes and flip, cooking on the remaining side until shrimp are just opaque and cooked through. Remove from heat and keep warm.
  3. Put out your spread on the table, and enjoy! We adapted this for a non-fish eater and included chicken as well.

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