Catch: A Maine Seafood Cookbook
Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association
Review by Tina Cohen
You may think Maine seafood is seasonal—as if lobsters, for example, are what you can find and enjoy only in the summer months. But Maine fishermen (and the term includes women) are hearty folk, out there working hard to provide fresh seafood throughout the year.
So if you were to read this cookbook while snow is falling, don’t let the weather deter you. And there’s plenty of inspiration to find and use local “catch,” reading the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association’s Catch: A Maine Seafood Cookbook.
The recipes are enticing and many will astonish you with creative twists and combinations you might never have imagined. Maine seafood as exotic? The fishermen may not think of it like that, but the cooks and chefs who provided recipes for this collection are taking a bold, fresh approach. Even standard dishes like chowders, fritters, and fried fish will surprise you with innovative iterations.
But the point of this book is not to remind us how limited our culinary efforts might have been, but as a fundraiser to support those working in Maine’s seafood industry. Sales of this book help underwrite several specific programs MCFA offers—one that places seafood in schools and food banks, and another that connects fishermen with mental and physical health resources.
Monique Coombs, a staffer at MCFA, and Rebecca Spear, both married to commercial fishermen, wanted to create a cookbook supporting enjoyment of Maine’s seafood. They talked to people along the coast who love to cook—whether for pleasure at home or professionally in restaurants. Their request for recipes was met with enthusiasm. They describe the cookbook as a tribute to Maine’s fishermen, and a way to benefit “healthy fisheries and vibrant fishing communities.”
Whole meals can be constructed, appetizers to dessert, with mixed drinks thrown in.
Recipes are complimented by color photographs that are motivational, suggesting the outcome is well worth the effort. Whole meals can be constructed, appetizers to dessert, with mixed drinks thrown in. I’ll be trying the cocktail called “Island Time,” which, as a phrase on Vinalhaven, serves to describe a more laid-back, “manana” approach to life.
The drink combines a coconut-flavored rum, triple sec, and pineapple and orange juices with some Caribbean spices—nutmeg and cinnamon. Oh, and could I have that with an appy of lobster and buttermilk corn fritters with remoulade, please?
Next, I’d like the main dish “Maine Halibut with Three Sauces and Pickled Vegetables,” incorporating the Asian flavors of cilantro, ginger, and miso. And to finish this feast, why not some Wild Maine Blueberry Shortcake. Here, the cake is actually a buttery lemon thyme scone topped with blueberry compote, then slathered with whipped cream and blueberry syrup.
There are a few recipes calling for ingredients I wouldn’t have on hand routinely and wouldn’t likely find in the Vinalhaven grocery, like wonton wrappers, poblano peppers, or Asian fish sauce.
And while fresh-picked crabmeat can sometimes be just as difficult to come by, when you can get some, indulge! The recipes here for crab dip, crab-topped haddock baked with a blueberry sauce and finished with a sprinkle of potato chips, and crab and corn chowder with smoked shrimp sound beyond delicious.
Hungry now? Order a copy on the website mainecoastfishermen.org, or use its link to find the bookstores along the coast that stock it.
Tina Cohen is a seasonal resident of Vinalhaven.