I love going to grocery stores. And cooking and baking as much as I do, this makes a lot of sense. I have all my favorite spots for picking up necessary ingredients. When it comes to the basics: flour, sugar, butter, I buy them wherever I happen to be, but when it comes to produce, meat, and especially fish, I’m kind of picky.
Papa Joe’s Market in Birmingham, Michigan is where I do most of my grocery shopping for fresh ingredients. I love their produce, although I buy some at other stores. They have a lot of what the other stores have, but then they get ramps and huge, juicy, and perfect stone fruit from Gold Bud Farm in California. Their meat has never disappointed either. Many a fantastically fatty prime rib has come from there. But why do I really drive thirty minutes at least once a week to buy groceries? The fish.
A few years ago I began to dip my toe into the world of fish, and I quickly came to like it, but wanted to find more variety and quality than the pallid frozen Sockeye salmon my nearest grocery store carried. Costco has some excellent and reasonably priced Sockeye salmon throughout most of the summer that I highly recommend, but for most of my fish purchases I make the pleasant drive out to Papa Joe’s. Rob and Irv are my fish guys, who I’ve come to know and who have come to know me. In fact a trip to another location resulted in a salmon filet full of pin bones because I forgot to ask for them to be removed. The fish is unlike any other I have been able to find in this area, though Monahan’s in Ann Arbor comes close, and although the fish is kind of pricey, it’s competitive for what’s being sold and is totally worth it.
There’s nothing like the flavor and texture of fresh wild Halibut, Alaskan King Salmon, and Alaskan Sockeye Salmon. Nothing. The fish is delivered fresh most days out of the week and smells like it was just in the ocean a few hours ago. That fresh smell of the ocean and sometimes no smell at all is a sign of amazing product. I eat Halibut and Salmon at least once a week, though many weeks it’s more, but my favorite fish, as I shared with you not too long ago with the Wild Salmon Salad, is Wild Alaskan Ivory King Salmon. It has a mild flavor, traditional salmon texture, and is fatty and unctuous. It was something I’d never heard of, let alone seen, before shopping at Papa Joe’s. This is a treat, making me feel like I’m eating an Iron Chef America ingredient, sourced from Alaska’s finest purveyors. There is no comparison to the kind of fish I have found at Papa Joe’s. So, while this amazing fish is in season, I wanted to continue experimenting with it.
Baking it in the oven is still my favorite way to cook it, but I found a new way that comes close: pasta. I don’t eat real pasta unless it’s at a restaurant or homemade (still on my kitchen bucket list); instead I eat Shirataki Noodles, which have 40 calories for a whole bag, serving 2 nicely, are made from yam and tofu, and can be found in the refrigerator section in most grocery stores next to the tofu. They smell funky, like fish you shouldn’t buy in fact, but follow the instructions on the package and they’re an awesome and healthy substitute for calorie laden traditional pasta. A few other simple ingredients, some leftover wild salmon, I used more Ivory King, but any wild salmon would do, and dinner is on the table in about 20 minutes. Another brightly flavored quick and easy summer dinner that is still sure to impress.
With all the amazing foods of summer available, check out your local gourmet markets to see what interesting ingredients they have to offer. You may find a new favorite grocery store or ingredient.
- ½ pound cooked wild King salmon, skin and pin bones removed
- 1 Vidalia onion, diced
- 5-7 cloves of garlic, peeled and coarsely minced
- 2 lemons, zested and juiced
- ½ cup loosely packed flat leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 bag Shirataki Spaghetti, prepared according to bag instructions
- Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. When hot, add the olive oil, followed by onion and garlic. Cook onion and garlic, stirring frequently, until soft and translucent, not brown, about 5 minutes. If they are browning, turn the heat down. When softened, add lemon juice and zest. Cook for a couple minutes, until the juices have reduced and thickened. Add noodles and salmon. Cook until warmed through, about 2-3 more minutes. Add parsley, and cook for 1minute more. Make sure the ingredients are evenly distributed, serve, and enjoy. A piece of bread, perhaps even homemade Italian, is the perfect compliment.