By Kendra Murray.
Living in the most valuable commercial fishing port in the country certainly has its benefits. Although New Bedford often gets a bad rap, there are a lot of great things happening in the city, and the seafood industry is one of them. The most recent fish landings data from NOAA (2017) show that New Bedford landed $389 million in seafood, over $200 million more than the second most valuable U.S. port (in Alaska). How does this dollar figure translate into seafood? By volume, in New Bedford, it equates to 111 million pounds. That’s a whole lotta fish.
A couple of years ago, the Port of New Bedford launched a marketing campaign to promote its commercial fishing industry. This included a “New Bedford Seafood” logo and a website containing stats about the port as well as information for buyers. The campaign aims to increase the awareness of locally-landed seafood, provide buyers with information about the catch and retailers, and make the city as synonymous with seafood as Maine is with lobster and Alaska with salmon. New Bedford has a strong pride in its fishermen and seafood and is happy to share that locally and internationally.
Much of my father’s side of the family has deep roots in the fishing industry. My grandfather owned a fish and chips restaurant and also spent time at sea fishing. His seven brothers were all fishermen. My uncle was a scalloper for years. I have cousins who are still fishing actively. Even one of my first jobs was in a fish market. In Gaelic, the name Murray translates to sailor, or seafarer, which quite perfectly is suited to my family.
Needless to say, growing up I always had fresh, off -the-boat seafood in my house. Most commonly, we ate scallops and whitefish. The recipe I’ve provided here uses both. It’s fairly simple and pulls together quickly without many ingredients. If you’re not a fan of scallops, crab easily can be substituted. This is a perfect weeknight dish and is great served with seasonal veggies.
If you’re not quite as lucky as I am, and you have to head to a fish market for your seafood, there are plenty of great options on the South Coast. My recommendations would be Turk’s Seafood in Mattapoisett, Fisherman’s Market and Kyler’s Catch, both in New Bedford, or Cape Quality in Dartmouth. On the South Shore, Woods and Manomet Lobster Pound in Plymouth are great, as well as Jake’s in Hull, Snug Harbor Fish in Duxbury, and Island Creek Oysters also in Duxbury if you have a hankering for bivalves. There’s a huge difference between fresh and frozen fish and it’s really important to use fresh in this recipe.
As we live in Southeastern Massachusetts, eating frozen Pacific cod is truly an egregious sin. Get yourself over to the market and buy fresh and local!