Fishing.  Seafood.  The words are synonymous with Cape Cod.  The Cape has some of the best seafood in the world.  For over a hundred years now (literally since the late 1800s), Cape fishermen have struggled to make a living.  Declining fish stocks, fluctuating markets, soaring costs–these are just a few of the challenges they face.  Provincetown still has a small but robust fishing fleet.  But as more and more groundfish species (like cod) decline along with the fishing quotas, fishermen have had to get creative to find other fish that they can catch and sell.  Lucky for us that means new tasty morsels to try!

For many, a key part of eating local is eating sustainably.  Some fisheries are going gangbusters.  Others are not.  While on Cape Cod, if you feel a little adventurous, why not skip the cod or tuna and instead, ask for one of the fish listed below.  We’ve got a few on our menu.  But you can also try cooking them yourself.  They are delicious, sustainable, and currently underutilized.  Choosing one of these guys is like a win-win-win.  Support the fishermen.  Eat eco-responsibly.  Try something yummy and delicious.  See?  Win.  Win.  Win.

1) Dogfish

Yup, it’s a bad name.  A branding disaster.  But this small shark deserves more attention.  It has a sweet, mild flavor; some people describe it as similar to mahi-mahi.  Since it’s a shark, it’s also boneless, which is a nice perk, especially if you are cooking for children.  Try it in chowder, fish stews, fish and chips, or grilled.

2) Monkfish

Also known as frog-fish or ‘sea-devil’ the monk fish is one weird looking dude.  But oh, that meaty, tail filet!  With a taste and texture similar to lobster, it is great in stews, soups–pretty much any preparation.  It is already very popular in Europe.  Time for us to catch on.

3) Lobster

Ok, everybody already knows how wonderful lobster is.  It is one of the most popular local fish and Cape Cod lobsters are shipped all over the world.  Interestingly, the fishery is booming so this is a great sustainable, local choice.

4) Conch

I used to pick up the Channeled Whelk (also known as New England Conch) shells whenever I found them on the bayside beaches.  I honestly never thought people ate them!  There’s a huge international market for these little babies.  Plus, they are abundant and available locally.

5) Sea Scallops

They are expensive for a reason.  This is a small, clean (very little bycatch) fishery.  Think small boats; small gear, minimal impact.  I could just pop these like candy.  If you have never seen scalloping, here is a great, short video featuring Chatham scalloper Bob Keese.

Wanna learn more about the fishermen still making it work here on Cape Cod?  Check out the Cape Cod Commercial Fisherman’s Alliance.  Awesome organization.  Important work.  Delicious recipes too!