A resurgence at the Saturday fisherman’s market

Written by

Early Saturday mornings, you can stroll down the Santa Barbara harbor to pick up local seafood like rockfish, urchin and abalone direct from the fishermen. Sometimes, you can even find ling cod, halibut and shark.

The Santa Barbara Fisherman’s Market has been around for over a decade, but the number of visitors has dwindled in past years.

That may change soon. A new marketing campaign launched by the Commercial Fishermen of Santa Barbara [CFSB] aims to promote Santa Barbara fishing and seafood sales. It was partially funded through a grant from Plains All-American Pipeline Company to the Chamber of Commerce following the Refugio Oil Spill.

“We’re making a push to grow [the market], expand it, and make it bigger and better,” said Kim Selkoe, executive director at CFSB.

One element Selkoe hopes to add to the market soon is a mobile filet station, where customers can learn about preparing fish and take home a sliced, boned and ready to cook piece.

“If we bring in a whole halibut or swordfish, we can filet the fish out here on the dock and sell whatever portion you want,” she said.

Becca Ellen and Doug Bush from Cultured Abalone Farms. (Kathryn Barnes/KCRW) (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

Doug Bush at the Cultured Abalone Farm not only sells his abalone, but is now beginning to sell the red branched seaweed called “ogo” that he feeds them.

“It’s got a really wonderful, delicate, crunchy texture to it,” said Bush. He also dries it out, throws it in the oven and sells it as a dried seasoning. “It’s a nice salt substitute that brings in a little ocean flavor.”

KCRW’s Katie Hershfelt went down to the harbor to speak with Selkoe and abalone farmer Doug Bush.

Recipe: Doug Bush’s Ogo Salad

  • To make a fantastic seaweed salad, start with fresh ogo. You can give it a very quick rinse under running cold water, but too much fresh water will make the seaweed wilt. If you do rinse it, do it immediately before preparing. Coarsely chop the branched fronds and toss with your choice of vegetables; peeled and chopped cucumber, shredded carrot, and shredded daikon or English radish are all delicious, as are radish sprouts. Some finely chopped green onion is a nice addition. Toss together and put in the fridge to chill.
  • Any rice vinegar-sesame-soy vinaigrette will do. I especially like the addition of fresh ginger. Dried chili flakes are a nice option.
  • Chill the dressing, and dress the salad immediately before serving. Top with toasted sesame seeds, toasted crushed cashews or fried onion.
  • Alternatively, to make a variation on poisson cru, take the chopped ogo and mix with peeled chopped cucumber, green onion, cubed papaya, fresh squeezed lime, sushi grade cubed ahi, coconut milk, and some chili flakes if you like it sweet and hot. Toss mixture and chill for about an hour before serving.

Want more farmers market news? Click here.