Blizzard puts damper on early halibut deliveries

WAITING GAME: Markets hope to have fresh fish later in week.

March 9, 2010 

Halibut season opened Saturday, about the same time a wintry blast of weather descended on Alaska. If you've been waiting for the freshest whitefish, the wait may continue a bit longer.

"The weather is putting a huge damper on the beginning of the halibut season," says Dannon Southall at 10th & M Seafoods. "There is a small possibility for some fish later in the week. ... Fresh cod is also at the hands of Mother Nature."

Southall says the best thing to do if looking for halibut or fresh cod is to call ahead. He did say 10th & M has fresh rockfish and Dover sole fillets. Live Southeast littleneck clams will be available Thursday for $6.95 per pound and live Alaska oysters at $9.95 a dozen. If you want a break from the winter, think fresh sushi-grade big eye tuna, which is available.

John Jackson at New Sagaya Markets reports similar problems with halibut landings. He says troll-caught kings aren't doing much better. He says his markets are featuring golden king crab for $9.99 per pound this week and 21/25 white shrimp for $6.99 per pound.

"Hopefully the weather will get better and we will see more fresh halibut coming in later this week. Other than that keep warm and out of the wind," Jackson says.

FishEx expects to have some of the precious halibut available later this week, but expect to pay a premium for the early-season catch. It's listed at $28.95 per pound on www.FishEx.com. And owner Cade Smith explains the pricing this way: "Prices for fresh Alaska halibut will come down later this month. This is not the best time to stock up on fresh halibut, but if you would like to be among those enjoying the first of the halibut catch, my advice is to place a small order. We will do our best to fill it immediately, but at present we are filling orders on a first-come, first-served basis."

If you're looking for veggies, make sure to stop by the Northway Mall from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. today. Alex Davis of the AD Farm will be making his last delivery of the winter. He will have German butterball, French fingerling and white potatoes; beets; carrots; fresh eggs; honey; and jam. He will continue to take down payments on pigs for summer or fall butchering. If you can't make it to the market, e-mail him at adfarm_organic@yahoo.com.

Davis says he'll return to the University Center in May with plant starts, fertilizer, compost, seed potatoes and various other items.

While much of the fresh produce season is winding down, it's still time to think about Alaska farms. I received an e-mail recently from Valley farmer Arthur Keyes promoting Alaska Farmland Trust. He says the trust is a nonprofit organization "that is dedicated to preserving Alaska's farmlands for future generations and is working to collaboratively create and expand regional community based and integrated food systems."

The trust is encouraging people to visit www.thepetitionsite.com/2/Help-save-Alaska-Farmland and sign a petition supporting Alaska farmland. Keyes says the trust intends to present the petition to leadership on both the state and local level, showing "that there is a lot of public support for the activities of the trust." The trust's Web site is www.akfarmland.com.

On the herb front, Dale Walberg at Mile 5.2 Greenhouse in Eagle River says "it's spring in our greenhouses and our culinary herb production is in full swing."

Mile 5.2 has herbs available in six packs, 2-inch pots and 4-inch pots. Herb planters with six or eight herbs are ready to go, or the folks at the greenhouse will make up a special planter while customers wait. The greenhouse is open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week.

Herbs currently available include: three varieties of basil, catnip, chives, cilantro, curry plant, dill, fennel, lavender, lemon balm, lemon verbena, marjoram, several varieties of mint, rosemary, sage, thyme, oregano, parsley and tarragon.

And since Walberg has rosemary and halibut is arriving - hopefully - soon, it seems time to pull out a halibut recipe for this week. Enjoy.

Rosemary-Dijon halibut

4 6- to 8-ounce halibut fillets

¾ cup olive oil

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons prepared horseradish

Juice of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves or ¾ teaspoon dried

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a small bowl, combine marinade ingredients. Place the fish in a resealable plastic bag. Pour marinade into the bag, seal, and marinate fish in the refrigerator for about 1 hour.

Prepare a hot fire.

w When ready to grill, remove fish from the marinade and place on a plate. Pour the marinade into a small saucepan and boil for about 5 minutes to use as a baste. Place the fillets on the oiled grill racks and grill until the fish is opaque and just beginning to flake when tested with a fork, 4 to 5 minutes per side, turning once and basting frequently with the boiled marinade.

Serve hot; makes 4 servings.

Source: "Fish on the Grill" by Karen Adler and Judith M. Fertig (The Harvard Common Press, $15.95)


Steve Edwards lives and writes in Anchorage. If you have a suggestion for a future Market Fresh column, please contact him at sedwards@adn.com.

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