Off the Hook: A Book Review

Off the Hook: A Book Review

By Cheri Sicard

Off the Hook: Reflections and Recipes from an Old Salt

By Roger Fitzgerald, Recipes by Susan Volland

Published by Ten Speed Press

Ordering Information

"Question: How do you know a nice fish when you meet one?

Answer: In general, IÂ’d say you look for the same qualities in a fish that you would from a friend: clear eyes, healthy skin-color, and no strong body odors. A fish that fits these criteria is a fish worth taking home." ~Roger Fitzgerald

The above snippet gives you an idea of the authorÂ’s sense of humor. With years of commercial fishing experience as well as writing credits for Seafood Leader, Simply Seafood and the Alaska FishermanÂ’s Journal, Fitzgerald is an expert on all kinds of seafood. His humorous and informative essays introduce each chapter, teaching readers lots of practical seafood lessons like how to ask the right questions when ordering seafood at restaurants, the best raw fish for sushi, how to identify seafood scams and imitations, and the inside information on various types of seafood delicacies and oddities like sea urchin roe, halibut cheeks and cod tongues.

Rounding out FitzgeraldÂ’s fascinating and fun prose are recipes by Cordon Bleu trained chef Susan Volland. ItÂ’s a marriage that works well -- the down to earth musings of an old salt, perfectly offset by delicious recipes the home cook will be able to whip up in their own kitchens. YouÂ’ll find recipes for all kinds of fish and shellfish. Culinary influences range from New England to Thailand and everywhere in between. Most recipes also include suggestions for seafood alternatives, so you can always get the freshest product at the market (or adapt to the dayÂ’s catch).

If youÂ’re a seafood lover, youÂ’ll love these recipes. If youÂ’ve ever been intimidated buying seafood, youÂ’ll soon put that fear behind you. And if youÂ’ve ever fished (or if you just enjoy a good yarn) you wonÂ’t be able to put the book down until youÂ’ve read all of Roger FitzgeraldÂ’s entertaining stories.

Sample Recipes from Off The Hook

Walnut & Horseradish Crusted Salmon Fillets

Seafood Alternatives: Bluefish, Arctic Char, Sturgeon

Salmon is a fish that can really stand up to robust, earthy flavors. Although the amount of horseradish seems excessive at first, it mellows and adds a gentle complexity to the fish. This is a nice cold weather dish, served with roasted winter squash.

1 1/2 C walnut pieces

2 tablespoons chopped fresh tender herbs, such as tarragon, chervil, parsley or chives

6 filets (6 oz. each) salmon, skin on, pin bones removed

4 tablespoons prepared horseradish

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 C butter, melted

Serves 6

Coarsely chop the walnuts. Mix the nuts and the herbs and set aside while you prepare the salmon.

Place the salmon fillets on a lightly oiled baking sheet, spread the horseradish evenly over the fish and season with salt and pepper. Divide the nut mixture onto the filets and press gently. Drizzle with melted butter. The fish can be prepared to this point and kept refrigerated for 24 hours.

Preheat the oven to 425 F. Bake the fillets for 10-12 minutes, until the nuts are brown and the fish is resilient when pressed at the thickest part.

Steamed Clams with Bacon and Beer

If you are simmering this dish on a beach, people will come from miles around just to discover what smells so good. A light ale is a good choice here, but whatever happens to be in the cooler will work fine. If you donÂ’t drink beer, this recipe doesnÂ’t suffer too much when made with water or broth. Have plenty of crusty bread on hand for sopping up the cooking juices.

4 slices bacon, chopped

1 small onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

3 pounds manila clams, scrubbed well

1 C beer, water or chicken stock

Serves 4

Fry bacon in a medium pot until soft and golden, about 4 minutes. Add the onion and garlic and continue cooking until the bacon is nicely browned and the onion is tender, about 4 minutes longer. Stir in the clams and add the beer. Cover the pot and steam the clams for 6-7 minutes, until they open. Discard any clams that do not open. Stir gently to mix with the bacon, garlic and onion, and serve immediately.

About the Author:

Cheri Sicard is the author of "The Great American Handbook: What You Can Do For Your Country Today and Every Day," and the editor of, a favorite net destination for recipes, cooking tutorials, health and fitness information, holiday and entertaining ideas, celebrity chef interviews, cookbook reviews and more. Sign up for their free cooking and recipe newsletters!

Order Information

Off the Hook: Reflections and Recipes from an Old Salt is available from Barnes and Noble. Click Here for order information


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