We can still have fish on the table

Cynthia Stone
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Canada is a drop in the ocean when it comes to the world’s fishery, and Newfoundland and Labrador can’t even claim top province.

It’s 20 years post-moratorium and we seem to be struggling with who we are. I know who we are. We are still people of the water because if we weren’t we wouldn’t bother debating the question.

I have neither insight nor expertise to bring to the discussion, but I grew up here and mourn the losses, as do most of my generation. We will never be the same as we were in 1992, but fishers still sail — they just don’t bring back northern cod.

The biggest shame for me is how difficult it is to buy local seafood to cook in my kitchen. Maybe it’s time to redefine ourselves and start valuing what we sell more than what we can’t have.

The rest of the world enjoys our top seafood exports. If we can’t beat ’em, let’s join ’em.


Crab quesadillas

Here’s the lunch you want to serve your best friends on the nicest day. Pass tomatillo salsa and sour cream for dipping; slices of fresh avocado on the side are fantastic. This amount serves 6.


1 small onion, finely chopped

3 tbsp. vegetable oil (divided)

1 tbsp. butter

1/2 small red bell pepper, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 small tomato, seeded and finely chopped

2 tbsp. pickled hot peppers, finely chopped

1/4 tsp. each salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese

2 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

1 tsp. lime juice

1 cup crab meat, coarsely chopped

12 small to medium corn or flour tortillas


Fry onion until soft and starting to brown in 1 tbsp. of the vegetable oil together with the butter. Stir in red bell pepper and garlic and cook just until fragrant. Remove from heat and cool for a few minutes.

Stir in tomato, pickled peppers, salt, pepper, cheese, cilantro and lime juice. When well combined, gently stir in crab meat, being careful not to break it up. Divide filling among half the tortillas. Top with remaining tortillas and fry — as many as will fit in your frying pan in a single layer — in remaining vegetable oil until golden brown and crisp on one side.

Flip carefully so as not to lose the filling and fry until done on the second side. Allow to sit a couple of minutes before cutting into wedges to serve.


Shrimp fried rice

This dish is most delicious when you use uncooked shrimp. If you decide to do otherwise, don’t recook — stir them in at the end. This amount is enough for four side dishes, or double the recipe and serve as the main course some summer evening.


1/2 lb. raw shrimp, shelled, deveined and cut into bite-sized pieces if large

2 tbsp. soy sauce

1 tsp. sesame oil

3 eggs

1/4 tsp. each salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 tbsp. vegetable oil (divided)

3 or 4 green onions

1 small piece fresh ginger root, peeled and grated

1 cup snow peas, halved

1 cup shredded carrots

1 clove garlic, thinly sliced

3 cups cooked, drained and cooled long-grain rice


Cover shrimp with soy sauce and sesame oil and refrigerate until ready to use.

Whisk eggs with salt and pepper.

Heat 1 tbsp. of the oil in a heavy frying pan or wok and add eggs. Fry over medium heat until set but not browned on one side; flip and cook on the other side. Remove to a cutting board and allow to cool.

Add another 2 tbsp. of the oil to pan and crank up the heat. Thinly slice the white part of the green onions; set green tops aside. Add white part of onions to oil and fry 1 minute.

Add ginger and cook another few seconds. Stir in snow peas, carrots and garlic and cook until vegetables wilt and the edges take on a little colour — don’t let this mixture burn or get soft.

Remove from pan and keep hot.

Add remaining 1 tbsp. oil to pan. Drain shrimp, reserving marinade, and add to hot pan. Fry until barely pink.

Add reserved marinade and bring to a vigorous boil. Cook a minute, then return vegetable mixture.

Coarsely chop the fried egg and add, along with rice, to the pan. Fry until hot through and well-mixed. Coarsely chop the tops of the green onions and serve sprinkled on top of the rice.


Greek-style grilled halibut

Fish and lemon are natural friends, so this recipe just seems right, for Greeks and for fish-loving Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

Allow 1 lb. of fish for 2 to 3 people. Yes, I know the price of halibut and it makes me cry, too.

This easy recipe is perfect with any firm-fleshed fish your family enjoys.


1 juicy lemon

1/4 cup olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 tsp. each salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 lbs. fresh or thawed frozen halibut, cut into serving sized pieces

1/4 tsp. dried oregano


Juice lemon and whisk together with oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Set aside about 2 tbsp. of this mixture. Soak the fish in remaining lemon-oil mixture for 10 minutes. Remove fish and dry with a paper towel.

Grill — brushing the clean grill with oil will prevent sticking — over medium-high until the flesh is barely cooked through. You can roast the fish for about 10 minutes in the oven at 450 F if you prefer.

Rub the dried oregano between the palms of your hands to liven up its flavour and stir it into the remaining lemon-garlic-oil mixture. Drizzle on fish and serve.


Cynthia Stone is a writer, editor and teacher in

St. John’s. Questions may be sent to her

c/o The Telegram, P.O. Box 86, St. John’s,

NL, A1E 4N1.

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Recent comments

  • Derrick
    July 15, 2012 - 11:12

    We should be able to trap lobster during the year as it is a shared resource, most of us don't get a share, due to the price. This should be are right to feed ourself's from the food of the sea. Not just a fishery for a privileged few.