Whole Fish

Gulf Seafood + Southern Food

28th Annual International Boston Seafood Show

At the beginning of this week, I was fortunate enough to attend the 28th Annual International Boston Seafood show -- and on St. Paddy’s Day weekend no less! This year, there were over 52 countries represented, Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto as keynote speaker, 6,114 exhibitors and an estimated 17,231 conventioneers attending. Let me tell you, for a guy like me, it was complete sensory overload. I was like a fevered maniac all three days. With more information and booths than it is humanly possible to absorb, I was like a shopaholic during a Walmart Blue Light special, screaming through exhibits, trying to do my best impersonation of a sponge, spurred on by the knowledge that around each corner there would be yet another new thing/fish/product/machine that pertains 100% to my daily obsession. It was an orgasmic and yet futile endeavor to try to take it all in. All of this set in the heart of Historic Boston. And with over 1,000 Irish bars in the surrounding Boston area…obviously, I was a busy boy. And did I mention it was St. Paddy’s Day Weekend?

28th Annual International Boston Seafood Show
The most interesting booths were the ones with the products from Asia. What made them so damn interesting was the sheer number of items that were new to me. That and the aggressiveness of their salesmen (actually women, mostly), leading with samples and politely insisting on the superiority of their product. Folks, this may sound like a stretch but, during those three days, I ate my weight in sushi, no bullshit! At least 20 pounds of Hamachi passed through my gullet; and I’m not just talking about regular old stuff, I’m talking about new, different and special types like Rookfish, Bluenose, Sun Mackrel, some kind of red tilefish and many more.

Japanese fish

There was even a table where Morimoto had his crew laying it down.

Morimoto crew

The Japanese dried products were fascinating, especially these crispy whole crabs with some sort of glaze. They had the mouth feel of potato soufflé, straight up addictive.

Crab poppers

At the same booth, this dude had what looked like a hot griddle press on which he would place a tiny dried shrimp or sprinkle dried baby anchovies, hit the press and out would pop a chip. Seriously. It took me back to those days when I would cruise my neighborhood on my black, banana seat Huffy and, turning the corner, saw the new kid on a brand new BMX Super-Goose…
I want one!

Chip press

On the other end of the aisle, a guy from the Midwest was selling nothing but what most would consider trash fish: Shoepeg, Gaspergoo, Buffalo, Carp and Flat Head Catfish.


On day two, they held the national Oyster Shucking Contest where three-time champion, and the current world champ title holder, William “Chopper” Young took the gold home once again. He had an unusual technique and tool: his knife was about 2 ½ inches long and resembled a prison shank and he attacked the oyster from the side. This guy was all business.

Oyster shuck

I was equally as intrigued with the equipment side of the show. There were space-aged coolers, vacuum machines large enough to package a man, “green” packaging solutions, non-stick flooring and totes for shipping live fish.

Live Fish Tote
There were all kinds of amazing instruments for monitoring and evaluating environmental conditions like 10-mile remote thermostats and hemostasts, refractometers that calculate Brix (sugar content) and blood-protein content and my new favorite toy, a salinometer.


You should have seen the looks I got at the three different oyster bars that night when I pulled that sucker out to gauge the salt content of each different oyster we sampled. Geeky I know, but what the hell …I’m a 6’4” Texan obsessed with fish, rollin’ strong in Bean-Town on St. Paddy’s Day weekend. I’m pretty sure I pulled it off.


Anonymous said...

Gaspergoo may not be worth eating, but they are fun as hell to catch.

Anonymous said...

amazing review of what must have been a spectacular foray into the world of seafood.


RLHII said...

As a 6'4" Texan of Irish decent, and a lover of all things seafood, I am truly jealousy. I can only imagine the multitude of offering from Asia, you can be introduced to a new fish, seafood product, gizmo, gadget or technique every day for the rest of your life and barely scratch the surface.

I also found note with the Mid-West purveyor of "trash fish" and especially their Carp. As they say one man's trash is another man's treasure. It seems that the rest of the world celebrates Carp as a food source,(Apparently the number 1 cultivated fish in the world) it is relegated to "trash" status here in the States. While not on the top of my fish deep-chart, when properly prepared and from the proper source it can be quite tasty as it is open to a multitude of techniques and preparations. Having had it from Asia to Eastern Europe and a back-country fish-fry in the States. Keep up the good work on the blog.

Whole Fish said...

Damn right they are fun to catch. 100% Bran Flakes, oatmeal and Big Red all mashed to a paste on a free lined treble hook. We used to nail'em with that combo. Especially on Lake Conroe right after they would mow the grass around the golf course.

Whole Fish said...

True very true, I myself have been accused of serving "Trash Fish" (Croaker, Sheepshead, Triggerfish)
my grandfather used to call redfish trash and I have heard stories about lobster only being fed to prisoners in the 1800's. Also Paddlefish (spoonbill) are now highly sought after for thier row(Caviar)

RLHII said...

Yes, what was once "poor-man's" caviar, at around $17-20/oz is no longer "poor-man's" caviar and I remember the days when one wasn't found of landing a redfish.

With the rise in seafood consumption, I suspect that a lot of former "trash" and "bycatch" will become the next "it" dish on many a restaurant table. I can think of one "former bycatch" starting to make its way around is the Jonah crab, former bycatch of the Lobster fishery. While not a household name, a growing name.

Anonymous said...

congrats on the bnc...next time your back in boston, swing into toro...cheers...

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