ForeWord Reviews

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The Fishes and Dishes Cookbook

Seafood Recipes and Salty Stories from Alaska's Commercial Fisherwomen

Foreword Review — May / June 2010

For many, preparing seafood can be daunting—some might even call it an adventure—but when guided by three seafaring women with over forty years of experience fishing, cooking, and captaining on Alaskan fishing ships, both novice cooks and experts are in sure hands. This delicious collection is steeped in adventure, packed with fish tales and cooking tips, simple recipes and exotic flavors. Use this book, and you can enjoy an appetizer of King Crab Dip while reading about a Bering Sea rescue in which an unfortunate engineer took a dip in the drink.

The adventurous spirit of the commercial fishermen who have shared their recipes and their stories are captured in beautiful color photographs on nearly every page. The photographs reveal, not the anticipated images of prepared food, but pictures of the lives of the people who harvest the sea. Some photographs are indeed mouthwatering; imagine gorgeous seascapes and baskets of whole steamed shrimp. Others capture the sense of humor and camaraderie among the crew. The high seas fashion section is particularly fun.

In this collection, simple recipes are mixed with more adventurous. One can feast on Jade Dumplings or Crab, Shiso, and Avacado Tempura Salad, or simple fare like Cast Iron Broiled Salmon. Recipes draw flavors from all over the world and include breakfast fare and appetizers, main course dishes, and libations (cleverly titled “In the Drink”). Though the recipes may be adventurous, the preparations are often simple and easy enough to be done in the bow of a tossing ship. Salmon, shrimp, and crab are heavily featured.

Novice cooks will find the glossaries of terms and ingredients particularly helpful, and most ingredients should be readily available to most readers. In addition, the section entitled “Fish Basics for Greenhorns: Tips, Techniques and Terms” offers helpful tips like how to tell when a fish is done, how to gut, skin, and debone a fish, or how to debeard mussels. Finally, with a master’s in environmental policy and time working for World Wildlife Fund International, co-author Laura Cooper offers tips for supporting sustainability in the fishing industry. Cooks looking for adventure will find much to love in this generous haul of culinary delights.

Jennifer Sperry Steinorth