Picture yourself standing before the fish monger's display case with the day's catch all nicely laid out on gleaming shaved ice, the price tags and labels in place, the fishmonger's retail smile intact. He's waiting, patiently, for you to make up your mind. Trouble is, you're shopping for a specific fish, and it's not for sale. So what do you do, fall back on old tried-and-true recipes for the seafood you recognize in the case? You can hear your family yawning, can't you?
Fear not, lover of seafood. Jay Harlow has written West Coast Seafood: The Complete Cookbook. Tuck this sucker under your arm next time you head out the door and you will never again suffer seafood angst. Nor will you have to stand in front of the fish counter thumbing through a book like a damned fool. Harlow, you see, has organized West Coast Seafood by type of seafood, not according to where in a meal the dish will be served.
And if that doesn't tell you that this guy knows what he's doing, then just dig in. Complete Cookbook falls short of the mark; Final Word comes closer. Because everything is here: all the information you need to select the best-quality seafood; instructions to clean and prep the seafood you bring home; and then a wide flavor range and cooking-style range to keep new and exciting dishes coming to the dinner table.
The finned fish of fresh and salt water, both wild and farmed, are all here. Can't stand the idea of another grilled salmon steak? Try Kurt's Salmon with Oyster Stuffing. And if there are any leftovers, go straight to Salmon Cakes. How does Grilled Halibut with Roasted Garlic Marinade sound? Or Halibut Cooked with Poblano Chiles and Cream? Yes, there are Dungeness Crab Cakes in West Coast Seafood, but you will also find Stir-Fried Crab with Chiles and Ginger.
There are no desserts. But Harlow does end his book with a selection of appropriate sauces as well as two essays on the future of fishing, and the place of aquaculture. Like the entire book, well worth reading. --Schuyler Ingle