|Fish | Peixe
The fishing industry, once the life's blood of Provincetown, has fallen on hard times. Over fishing, in particular, and the economic realities of fishing from antiquated boats has all but ruined Provincetown's once lively and vital fishing fleet. Reduced in number from the more than 70 boats berthed at the old Railroad Wharf (now MacMillan Pier) in 1947 when the First Annual Blessing of the Fleet was held, Provincetown's fishing fleet now numbers about 20 vessels.
Codfish and haddock, so plentiful a mere 30 years ago, are now endangered species. The fresh fish markets on Provincetown's narrow streets are now a thing of the past, as is the generosity of the fishermen who gave fish away to anyone who wanted it.
Spicy Salt Cod Cakes with Chouriço and Stewed Fava Beans | Essence - Rustic Rub | Cod Fish Cakes | Boiled Codfish Dinner | Codfish Casserole | Cod Fish Salad | Brazilian Fish Stew | Marinated Fish Steaks in Spicy Wine Sauce | Tim's Portuguese Codfish | Amêijoas Na Cataplana | Amêijoas Bulho Pato | Sea Clam Casserole | Portuguese Clams and Rice | Moon's Mussels | Shrimp Cake | Catfish Vinho D'Alhos | Joyce's Stuffed Flounder | Clara's Flounder | Stuffed Squid | Madeira Squid Stew with Couscous | Tillie's Mackerel | Portuguese Fish Bake
|Today's commercial fishermen, still as hardy a lot as their grandfathers ever were, are fishing under the stringent circumstances of government- imposed quotas designed to replenish the species. They cannot afford to give anything away.
Do not despair. Codfish and haddock are available in markets, but they are shipped from Norway and Iceland. These fish are excellent, but shockingly expensive to local people who once got them for free or for a pint of whiskey.
Many of the recipes in this cookbook call for cod but would be excellent prepared with some of the other light fish, like snapper, which are now readily available, thanks to air express, in our fish and supermarkets today.
Clams, like codfish, were once a plentiful resource in Provincetown. The first thing the Pilgrims did here when they landed in 1620 was gorge themselves on clams until they got sick. As a child, I remember seeing the flats full of people at low tide, in all seasons of the year, digging for those delicious mollusks. Even Provincetown's tourists got into the act once they realized what a rich source of good cheap food could be obtained with only a rake and a bucket. As a result, the clam beds became depleted. Today, taking clams is strictly regulated. Only Provincetown residents are eligible for licenses to take clams during the short months of winter. The clam warden, Reggie Enos, is vigilant and will separate scofflaws from their illegally gotten gains. Thanks to Reggie, Provincetown residents are assured ready supplies of quahogs, cherry stones, littlenecks and steamers.
Mussels grow abundantly in Provincetown. Unlike clams, a license is not required. Mussels may be gathered year round. Most Provincetown natives, and my father was one of them, never ate mussels. It was the tourist population, especially those from Europe and French-speaking Canada, who taught a lot of hard-headed Portuguese to appreciate the glories of the lowly mussel.
If you pick your own mussels, be sure to take them from areas that are always underwater, even when the tides are at their lowest. Do not take any mussels that are lying about in the sun.
Carefully scrub each mussel and beard them by firmly pulling off the little beard that is popping out of the side of each mussel. The mussels are ready to be cooked.
Certain rules apply to both clams and mussels. Be sure your shellfish are tightly closed. An open mussel or clam is almost always bad. You'll be really sorry if you eat one. You'll know if one is bad by the smell.
Second only to getting ill is having a wonderful preparation ruined by a "mudder." Mudders are shellfish you thought were fresh but were really filled with black gunk. If the mudder leaks, it can foul your entire dish. Check each and every individual clam or mussel before you drop them in the kettle.