Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Something's Fishy...in a Good Way

By Michael Baehr
Something’s Fishy…In A Good Way!
Catalina Offshore Products

If you’re looking for something tasty, healthy and fresh to barbecue this summer, or perhaps you’re in the mood to make some refreshing sushi, I have just the place for you.  My foodie pal Dominic mentioned that Catalina Offshore Products is an oasis of fresh, locally sourced seafood in the Morena District.  I had been meaning to give this place a visit, but when they were mentioned in San Diego Magazine’s Best Of San Diego  issue, I couldn’t resist trotting over for a visit.  

Located down a long industrial road off Sherman Street and Morena Blvd. on Lovelock Street, this place is nicely hidden from the uninformed public.  Upon entering, you are greeted by friendly staff in low-rise cubicles that call a server and request that you don a stylish hairnet before entering.  You are led into the small warehouse area where a beautiful array of fresh fish and seafood awaits. 
Fishmonger Tommy Gomes was my guide and explained the establishment’s 30-year history.  Tommy takes pride in serving San Diego’s elite chef clientele and occasional walk-in customers.  The fish is very competitively priced and varies by day and by season.  When I asked about special recipes, Tommy grabbed a handful of fresh scallops and growled like an old fisherman: “Come over here…I’ll show you myself.”  In about two minutes he whipped up the tastiest and freshest seared scallops I have ever tasted.  
I requested some halibut, and Tommy disappeared into the refrigerator and reemerged with a whole, huge fish.  He flopped it down on the carving table and in less than three minutes had carved and sliced four beautiful and extremely large halibut filets.  Kate Murray of Miss Sushi San Diego happened to be visiting and watched this all unfold.  She whispered in my ear, “I’ve been doing this for years and it takes me half an hour to do what he just did in a couple of minutes.”  Needless to say, this Chowhound was in awe!
According to Tommy, the vision is to open a more formal retail shop and kitchen before year’s end.  For now, occasional walk-ins, chef tastings on Friday and Saturday from 11-2 and a monthly cooking demo called Collaboration Kitchen are the extent of their public availability.  Don’t be intimidated by the obscure location…they welcome the public.
Catalina Offshore Products
5202 Lovelock Street
San Diego, CA 92110
Hours: 8am-3pm Monday-Friday; 8am-2pm Saturday.  Closed Sunday.
RECIPE: Chowhound’s Blackened & BBQ’d Halibut Filet
2 (6-8 ounce) halibut filets
½ cup oil
Blackened seasoning recipe:
In a small bowl, combine
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dried thyme
½ tsp dried oregano
½ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp hot paprika
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp toasted and crushed fennel seeds
  1. Preheat grill for medium-high heat
  2. Lightly rub oil on both sides of filets
  3. Coat one side with blackening seasonings
  4. Lightly oil grill grate.  Cook five minutes per side or until fish can be easily flaked with a fork.  Squeeze fresh lemon or drizzle melted butter and enjoy!

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