Take a trip to the largest international seafood exposition in North America.
Earlier this week I attended The Seafood Expo in Boston, MA. It’s the largest international seafood exposition in North America. The trade-only expo features over 1,000 exhibitors from more than 40 countries. For a seafood lover like myself, it was a mind-blowing experience.
The expo hosts miles of booths and displays featured a dizzying array of seafood from around the world.
I was very much intrigued by the wide variety of exotic species. Fish of every size, shape and color were displayed in artistic presentations.
Perhaps the best part was the free samples. Hundreds of booths had chefs on hand, cooking up tasty delights from the sea.
There must have been 20 booths selling smoked salmon. I sampled more than I should have. Next time I’m bringing a gallon of water.
I had the opportunity to try a lot of things I’ve never had before. I was intrigued but this barramundi. It’s a farm-raised freshwater fish. It was not bad, but not as good as I hoped.
There must have been 100 booths selling tilapia, another freshwater farm-raised fish. It had been at least 10 years since I last tried tilapia. I figured I’d give it a try again. It was just as bad as I remembered. I’ve yet to try a farm-raised freshwater fish that tastes anywhere near as good as any of the saltwater fish we catch locally.
Smoked whole herring from Norway. These might have been the worst thing I sampled. Overly-salty, dry, fishy and full of pin bones.
And this was the best thing I tried. Squid breakfast sausage. Sounds weird, right? But I’ll try anything. It was one of best breakfast sausages I’ve ever eaten. It tasted just like pork, but with just a quarter of the fat and calories. I asked nicely for the recipe, but got denied. But I did get the nutritional data sheet for it, which lists the ingredients. I will try my best to replicate it this spring, when the squid return to our local waters.
These conch fritters were also very tasty. The next conch I find is destined for some fritters.
Dungeness crabs from Oregon. I was very impressed with their flavor, very close to lobster, but with a softer texture.
Much to my delight, I also sampled a lot of octopus, which is one of my new favorites. Properly prepared octopus is a culinary marvel. Tender, succulent and mild, it has quit a bit of fat and is reminiscent of good pork belly. I could eat octopus every day.
I was looking forward to trying sea cucumber for the first time, but sadly, I couldn’t find anyone giving away free samples.
I did, however, try seaweed for the first time. I’m not exactly sure what kind it was. It was from China. Not as good as I hoped, but not bad either.
I also tried sea urchin roe for the first time. It was pretty good; rich, creamy, sweet and briny.
There was also an impressive amount of oysters from around the globe. I had no idea there are so many different varieties of oysters. The locally-grown Wianno oysters were my favorite.
This lobster-cycle was a big crowd-pleaser.
If I ever catch a giant squid, I will keep one tentacle, and sell the rest to this guy.
It was nice getting the chance to talk with some of the local vendors. Boston-based Red’s Best was on hand showing off their local shellfish. I also had an enlightening conversation with the folks at The Town Dock, which is a major player in the New England squid fishery.
I was also fascinated by the industrial processing equipment at the show. I have no idea what this machine does, but I bet it gets the job done quick.
I bet I could fillet scup a lot faster if I had a Curio C-2031 skinning machine in my back yard.
But there was also, to my surprise, a lot of bad-looking seafood on display. Some of the stuff I wouldn’t even consider using for bait.
There didn’t appear to be much activity at the pike monger’s booth.
It made me realize how lucky I am, and how spoiled I’ve become by eating mostly seafood I catch or gather myself. If you really want to enjoy seafood at it’s finest, catch it yourself. The odds are good that it will be much fresher than what you’ll find at even the best restaurants and seafood markets.