Weird weather for January! Now that we have that out of the way, let's talk about seafood.
Certainly, mid-January is not the height of the Alaska seafood season, but there are plenty of delicacies still out there. Both John Jackson of New Sagaya Markets and Dannon Southall of 10th & M Seafoods are highlighting one of Alaska's most versatile fish.
"The seafood world is a cod state of mind," Southall says. "This wonderful white fish are coming in daily from the cold pristine waters of the Gulf of Alaska. When cooked these succulent flaky fillets are amazing."
Says Jackson: "Fresh cod has been pretty consistent, the product has been looking real nice and value-wise ... it is hard to beat for a fresh fish out of Alaska!"
(Check out the cod recipe at the end of the story.)
10th & M has cod on special this week for $5.50 per pound. Also at the store will be side-stripe shrimp for $10.95 per pound and Alaska oysters for $12.95 per dozen.
"An exciting mid-winter treat from the waters in Southeast Alaska are fresh side-stripe shrimp," Southall says. "These cold-water beauties will be available fresh head off this week. Also being harvested in the cold waters of Southeast are fresh troll king salmon. Fishing has been a little slow lately so it is best to call ahead and check on availability of these amazing winter kings."
Jackson says New Sagaya has Alaska oysters from Homer and Southeast. Right now, some of the best fish is coming from warmer water, with black tiger shrimp in 21/25 size at $7.95 per pound and fresh made poki tuna at $12.99 per pound.
"Look for the exotics to be in the case as well, fresh Hawaiian tuna, marlin and albacore," Jackson says. "We have just over a month or so and the fresh halibut will be coming in."
Expect many of the regular vendors at the market -- where shoppers can pick up Alaska vegetables, freshly grown sprouts, pork or grass-fed beef and much more.
Alex Davis of A.D. Farm has this to report from his root cellar: "We have about 2,300 pounds of orange carrots left, 2,000 pounds of purple carrots and 1,800 pounds of white carrots left. We are at the end of the yellow carrots for the storage season. So if you find yourself at the grocery store wondering why you're buying tasteless California carrots when you could be buying sweet Alaskan carrots, now you know where you can go to get the good ones."
In addition to his carrots, Davis will have cabbage, potatoes, parsnips and golden beets at the market this week. Other items he'll have include fresh chicken and duck eggs, and a large selection of pork products, including chops, steaks, loin roast, regular roast, breakfast sausage patties, Italian sausage, spicy sausage and ground pork.
This week, Rempel Family Farm will have carrots, stripetti squash, sugar pumpkins, Snow Apple turnips, daikon radish, green cabbage, three varieties of beets, and 10 kinds of potatoes.
The market is open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday at The Mall at Sears.
Looking at most yards around town -- where grass is more prevalent than snow -- spring seems closer than it really is. For those who can't wait, Rob Wells is ready with his 2013 dahlia catalog.
The catalog highlights Alaska dahlia tubers grown by The Persistent Farmer. The catalog is available online or via mail. Visit www.thepersistentfarmer.com for more information or to see the catalog or call 1-907-745-2789 or 1-907-355-5586.
Wells expects to begin delivering the tubers in early March at the Center Market.
"I grew almost three times as many tubers this past summer thanks to all the customers who got the business going," Wells says.
Grilled wild Alaska cod soft tacos
1 jalapeno pepper
Salt, to taste
2 large avocados, seeded and sliced
6 sprigs fresh cilantro
1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped red onion, to taste
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
2 green onions, sliced
1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes, drained
1 pound wild Alaska cod fillets
1 to 2 tablespoons Creole seasoning, to taste
6 flour tortillas (8-inch size)
1 ounce olive oil, divided
w Preheat grill or heavy pan to medium heat.
w Rub or brush the jalapeno with 1 teaspoon olive oil, sprinkle on salt and place on the grill or in pan.
w Rotate the jalapeno until it is roasted and tender on all sides. Cool slightly
w Using gloves to protect from burning, peel the pepper, slice lengthwise and remove the seeds.
w In a food processor, add half or all of the jalapeno (if spicier is preferred), avocado, half of the cilantro and the juice of half a lime.
w Pulse the mixture to the desired texture (less for chunkier or more for creamy) and season with salt, to taste.
w Place in a bowl, cover and reserve.
w Clean the food processor, and then add the red onion, bell pepper, green onions, canned tomato, remaining cilantro and juice of two limes.
w Pulse the mixture until your desired texture for salsa. Season with salt to taste.
w Slice the cod fillets crosswise into 1-inch wide strips, then place in bowl.
w Sprinkle on Creole seasoning, add remaining olive oil and toss to coat.
w Grill or pan-fry until is opaque throughout; remove from heat.
For Tortillas and Serving:
w Microwave the tortillas until warm, about 1 minute.
w Onto each tortilla spread 2 to 3 tablespoons avocado puree.
w Place cod pieces on top of avocado puree.
w Then top with ¼ cup fresh salsa.
w Pull up or fold over the tortilla to eat.
Source: Dannon Southall at 10th & M Seafoods and the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute
Steve Edwards lives and writes in Anchorage. If you have a suggestion for a future Market Fresh column, please contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.