PORTSMOUTH — Local fishermen, chefs and Redhook Brewery will come together this Sunday to celebrate the beginning of the commercial fishing season.
The 2013 Fresh & Local Seafood Kickoff will also help raise awareness about some of the lesser-known and lesser-used fish caught by New Hampshire fishermen each year as they face massive quota cuts for more popular species including cod and haddock.
Award-winning Portsmouth chefs Matt Louis of Moxy and Evan Mallett of Black Trumpet will join Mark Segal of the 100 Club in Portsmouth, Evan Hennessey from Stages at One Washington in Dover and Rob Martin from The Oaks in Rochester in preparing simple and tasty dishes from redfish, Pollock, whiting, softshell lobster and dogfish for guests to enjoy along with Redhook Brewery’s latest Backyard Series brew, “Black Lobstah Lager,” a dark lager that was made with fresh, New Hampshire caught lobster.
Tickets to the event are $18 and can only be purchased at https://www.events.unh.edu/RegistrationForm.pm?event_id=14944.
University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension and NH Sea Grant are also helping to host the event.
“It’s a kickoff to the commercial fishing season, but more importantly what we’re doing is making a point to highlight underutilized species that are extremely indigenous to here, extremely underutilized and species these fishermen catch and can catch regularly but they don’t have a market for it right now that can help them sustain,” Louis said.
He said it is a more critical time than ever to raise awareness about these species and how restaurants and regular consumers can help support the industry.
Louis already works with redfish, soft-shell lobster and pollock in his restaurant, so he said he is excited to work with whiting, a small, white hake, for Sunday’s event.
“I’m actually excited because it’s small enough that it’s the one that can really be shown in a whole format, it doesn’t have to be broken down to filets or portions because it is that small a size, like a sardine,” Louis said. “So we definitely decided that with the whiting we are going to highlight it in it’s truest form: make a simple marinade, grill it, and utilize serving it whole like you would a fresh sardine.”
He said the chefs are not necessarily looking to show off the crazy creations they can make from the fish, but to show how tasty the fish are, and how simply they can be prepared at home.
Louis, like all of the participating chefs, tries to source locally as often as he can, whether it be produce, meat, or seafood.
“I think there is something to be said at really looking at what you have for products here, on all levels, not just seafood, but especially dealing with the fishing industry here. I can see the water from my restaurant and in those waters there’s an industry that is really, really struggling like never before and I don’t know why anybody wouldn’t want to do their part to get involved in that,” Louis said. “This is a 400-year-old industry that is on the brink of destruction and I serve fish so why not serve fish to keep this cycle moving.”
New Hampshire fishermen and lobstermen will also be on hand at the event to discuss the importance of buying local seafood and the challenges the local industry is facing with quota cuts and continued high fuel costs.
The event is from noon to 3 p.m. on Sunday, May 26, at the Portsmouth Commercial Fishing Pier.
For more information, go to nhseafood.com.