Here in Washington – a state brimming with local oysters, mussels, shrimp, crab, salmon, halibut, and a dazzling array of other fish and shellfish – October is Seafood Month and a great time to support local growers, fishermen, producers and purveyors by taking a delicious departure from every-day home cooking.
But a lot of people, especially those in charge of cooking, don’t think of seafood for regular meal planning. They may think it’s too expensive, smelly, or hard to cook, maybe all of those things.
That’s one of the reason’s Quan Hoang, Executive Mansion Chef for Governor Jay Inslee, joined WSDA, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Washington Sea Grant to celebrate Seafood
Chef Quan has heard these trepidations many times before. But fortunately, as chef to the governor, a man who ranks salmon among his favorite meals, he knows quite a few ways to help people overcome some of the most common misgivings.
Chef Quan wants people to know that a lot of Washington’s amazing seafood can be simple to prepare – and in some ways even easier to cook than other meats.
“Seafood is often overlooked,” he said. “People are intimidated by seafood because they think the cost is high. They think it’s more of a gourmet type of food. But there are many types of seafood out there that are inexpensive and very easy to cook.”
Anybody can cook seafood
As chef Quan demonstrated how to prepare a rockfish recipe in the governor’s mansion kitchen earlier this month, he mentioned that you don’t have to be a chef to cook seafood.
“You just have to enjoy fish, and love to eat,” he said. “It’s a very simple dish and people will love it.”
Golden fish filets sizzled in a large sauté pan on the stove behind him as chef Quan spoke. A Lemon Beurre Blanc sauce bubbled on the back burner. Hoang discussed the virtues of local fish with a smile, occasionally rattling a whisk around the sauce pan and testing the filets’ doneness with the gentle press of his fingers.
“Rockfish is a very versatile fish to work with. It’s great for eating, it’s flakey and has a very mild flavor,” he said. “And it will take any flavor you may want to add. It’s one of those fish you can’t really screw up.”
Fishing, crabbing and shrimping are part of Washington’s heritage. The communities along Washington’s coastline play host to a commercial fleet that puts more than 20,000 people to work each year in living-wage jobs. Their labor drives more than $600 million in economic benefit to our state and delivers healthy, sustainable Washington seafood to kitchen tables across the state.
Seafood month isn’t the first time chef Quan worked with WSDA to help people find ways to prepare food they may not be familiar with. In the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic, he took on the challenge of coming up with good recipes based on emergency food boxes.
“I took it as a challenge to try to make meals out of the ingredients in these boxes at the food banks,” he said. “From garbanzo beans to canned salmon to pre-packaged stew, I made meals out of each. Hopefully, I gave people some ideas of what to do with their food boxes.”
Chef Quan said he tested his recipes on a very picky eater, his wife.
“If she liked it, then I knew it was good to go,” he said.
“We tried to do recipes that people could do with ingredients they have in their homes,” he said. “Nothing elaborate. It was a lot of fun, and I’m trying to come up with a lot more to make it more exciting to “eat out of a box.””
More information about when and where to buy locally sourced Washington seafood is available at WFWD. Consumers can also find Pacific Northwest seafood near them with the help of Local Catch, a network of supported fisheries and small-scale harvesters.
Visit WSDA’s Food Assistance Program’s webpage for more recipes.
Here’s Chef Quan's rockfish recipe. (Reporter's note: It's delicious!)
Pan-seared Rockfish with Garlic Lemon Beurre Blanc Sauce
2 Lemons (Juiced)
½ cup dry white wine (like a Sauvignon Blanc)
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
½ cup vegetable oil
6 (8oz) Rockfish fillets
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cold butter (cubed)
Prepare the lemon beurre blanc sauce by combining tablespoon of oil and garlic to a 1-quart saucepan cook for about 30 seconds. Add lemon juice, wine and cream to saucepan and simmer on medium heat until reduced by half the volume. Meanwhile, heat canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Dredge fish fillets in flour and sauteed in the hot skillet until golden brown. Remove fish from heat and let rest. When the sauce has reduced, slowly whisk in the butter one cube at time, whisk until all the butter is well incorporated, add salt and pepper to taste. Place fish on platter, and drizzle sauce around and over the fish to serve.
Note from Chef Quan: I like to serve this with some wild rice and grilled vegetable.