Frank: Where to get fish when the fish aren't biting

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wwltv.com

Posted on March 31, 2011 at 6:30 PM

Updated Thursday, Mar 31 at 6:30 PM

You do know that it is possible to get fresh Louisiana seafood here even when the weather won't let you get out to catch your own?

Well, that's because of the dedication of a fishmonger named Harlon Pearce and a state organization he’s chairman of called the Louisiana Seafood & Marketing Board.

“Frank, the board and its services lets people know exactly where the freshest seafood products in the state can be had, thereby insuring the highest quality and fairest prices in the market,” Pearce explains.

“We represent commercial fishermen, shrimpers, crabbers, crawfishermen, and many others who furnish the product to our consumers. But we also make ourselves available as a clearing house to those end users who want solid, bona fide information pertaining to seafood that exclusively comes from our state waters.”

Today, while I was at Harlon’s “LA Fish Plant” in Kenner, he and a 13-year-veteran fishcutter named Benny Kyles showed me and the “Fishin’ Game” camera exactly how a menagerie of seafood finfish is processed for restaurateurs and housewives.

While the videotape rolled, Kyles—using an ultra-sharp, honed, filleting knife, took apart speckled trout, redfish, drum, sheephead, flounder, mahi-mahi, snapper, hake, swordfish, and ahi tuna.

“I don’t use an electric knife to dress any fish I clean, Frank, because you don’t get enough yield with it,” Kyles told me. “Too much of the meat is left on the bone. I prefer a razor-sharp filleting knife that can let me separate meat and bone cleanly.” And cleanly is the proper word for the piscatorial surgery that Kyles performs, all done with intricate precision.

Louisiana’s varied seafood catches that Harlon and other purveyors on the board process daily are shipped to dozens of states and virtually every Louisiana cities. The swordfish he cut and dressed this morning while I was at the plant was being sent out to Houston. Meanwhile an entire slab of prime yellowfin tuna was delivered to Galatoire’s Restaurant just before lunch.

So listen up sports fishermen. Keep this in mind: the next time the wind blows and the tide's low and the water is dirty and you can't launch your boat at your favorite fishing spot, but you want to round up enough fillets for a good, old-fashioned fish fry nevertheless, simply call Harlon at LA Fish at 467-3809 or contact the marketing board at 286-8736 and see what's fresh, on sale, and available.

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