There are seven seas, and I have only seen two, but I have seen the five Great Lakes, so it evens out. I have lived in seven areas (now you see the “seven” connection). I have moved a lot in my life and have found out that each region has its unique seafood specialty. Locals will steer you to the local favorite and what they like. Now, sometimes within a city, they differ. I know some don’t like fish, but I’m a big fan from my days at Superior Fish Company. Now these are my tastes, so feel free to differ.
I’m from Detroit, and when I think Detroit, I think Great Lakes walleye. Light flavor walleye were at Friday fish fries all over the city. A light coating of flour or corn meal and pan fried was a Lenten staple.
California – The rainbow trout was all over Southern California; I fished for them with my Uncles Jim and Ed when I was young. They were at almost every restaurant, and you found them served with butter, salt, pepper, and paprika. Everyone seemed to use the same recipe. When I got older and worked for a fish monger, I learned about trout with crab stuffing. This is a mild fish. Now, my wife has to have the head cut off – she refuses to have food look at her.
Seattle – Dungeness crab is the Northwest gem. Growing up in the midwest, we saw snow crab at the classy buffets and king crab at fine dining. When I moved to Seattle, I was introduced to the Dungeness crab: sweet and the perfect one-person crab. The beach crab BBQs are legendary, and the planked salmon are a memory everyone without a shellfish allergy should have. Now, I know many will say salmon in the Northwest, and it is fantastic, and smoked salmon is incredible, but I’ll still take the Dungeness crabs.
Chicago – The Lake Michigan lake trout is the local fish of choice: meaty and flavorful with the right amount of fat, and mostly served baked or broiled with the simple Midwest sides of potatoes and broccoli.
Indiana – Catfish is the local fish since there are catfish farms. The most common treatment is a cornmeal-dusted catfish fillet, pan fried in butter and served with a creamy coleslaw and hush puppies. You will think you are at Cracker Barrel – all you will need is the peg board game.
Tampa – Grouper is the fish of Tampa although some may argue snapper. This is a thick fish but flaky. Now, where I live, the price has shot to $30 a pound, so I don’t get to enjoy it often in the Mid-Atlantic. It is versatile, but this dish is best when eaten watching the sunset over Tampa Bay. It is usually served with a coleslaw and a hush puppy of some sort.
Washington DC – Blue crab. Followers of this blog know there are many blue crab recipes on the pages of this blog. My favorite is still using it in the stuffed pick-a-fish: trout, sole, grouper, you name it fish. I started doing this when I was kid in Detroit using phony crab meat because it was all I could afford. It is a great ingredient for its versatility. Although it’s getting spendy, if you purchase for the recipe, like lump for crab cakes and special for stuffing, you will save money.