No. This is not a post about sustainable fishing. In fact, it may be the opposite.
With summer just around the corner, I can’t help but think about sitting on the beach in some South American town eating really fucking fresh fish. Though, I love meat of all cuts and this site is meat-centric by name, my first love in food has always been the creatures from the water. And I think more people should eat like me, because I love the shit out of food.
So here’s a list of delicious seafood items that are somewhat hard to find and, in my opinion, not consumed enough:
1. Tuna collar
I list this as #1 because it’s that important to know the existence of this glorious piece of fish. If you take away anything from this list, it should be that if you see tuna collar served as a special, you need to order that shit quick. It is exactly what it sounds like, the real estate between the tuna’s head and the meaty part that we make steaks out of. The meat melts in your mouth and explodes with flavor. It is often roasted or grilled and lightly brushed with a sauce.Where to eat it: Make friends with someone who works at a very respectable Japanese joint and have them phone you when it is available. If you want to try to grill it yourself, go to the fish market early.
2. Sea urchin
The most commonly used phrase to describe sea urchin is that it’s an “acquired taste.” The most common way I describe it: Sperm of the gods. And I will fellate it day and night.
Where to eat it: Jaleo offers it as an appetizer (pictured above). Any respectable Japanese restaurant will definitely have it.
Sure most of us have had this creature’s cousin, the squid, in its heavily battered and deep fried form. But I personally like the octopi better. They’re meatier, and more flavorful and versatile. They go great in paella, because it has a tendency to sponge the taste of whatever it’s cooking in.Where to eat it: Zaytinya in Gallery Place has a very simple grilled octopus dish.
4. Squid ink as a sauce
Outside of Spanish and Southeast Asian cooking, this item rarely appears. The ink is naturally salty and packed with flavor. Most commonly, the squid is cooked in its own ink and served over rice. The dish is a serious contender for one of my last meals on death row.
Where to eat it: Jaleo has two dishes that feature squid ink; one is a Basque-style stew and another is served on a bed of rice and mushrooms.
This is an edible sea snail. The only way I’ve had it prepared is sauteed/steamed with soy sauce, chili peppers and basil/lemongrass. And that’s really the only way you need to eat it. In places like Vietnam, they’re often served as nibbles while you’re drinking.
Where to eat it: I have no clue. I’ve only stumbled upon this dish randomly. Your best chances of finding it will probably be in Chinese and Vietnamese restaurants out in the ‘burbs.
6. Shishamo (smelt)
In the U.S., we like our fish big and meaty. It’s almost as though any fish that we can’t get a two-pound filet out of is baitfish; therefore, we neglect them at the dinner table. But not around the world. Small fish are often served as appetizers or companions to main courses in Spain, Italy and all of Southeast Asia. My favorite is shishamo, a type of smelt, usually served with its roe inside, baked/grilled with a dash of sea salt. You eat the entire thing, head to tail, bones and all.
Where to eat it: Tachibana in McLean…yeah I know, it’s a trek, but if you love Japanese food, it’s definitely worth the trip.
Some call them crayfish or crawdads. There’s an art and definitely a “correct way” to eating crawfish. They’re best enjoyed spicy with a beer. And if you don’t like crawlie things that you have work for, enjoy them in an etouffee.
Where to eat it: Hot N Juicy Crawfish in Woodley Park does them per pound and also in their etouffee. This place also does shrimp, different kinds of crabs, oysters, clams and lobsters all by the pound and steamed in one of the four special seasonings. If you haven’t been there, you’re missing out.
There you have it. What do you think of my sea creatures? Let us know in the comments!
- Eric Wang