Born and raised a Catholic girl, I spent most of my life scrunching my nose at the mention of seafood. And I don’t think it was closed-mindedness. Rather, I blame Lent. When Lenten “sacrifices” involved eating fish on Fridays, I naturally assumed fish was some type of punishment. And it doesn’t help when the extent of my fish experiences involved fish sticks and canned tuna, and the unappetizing odor associated with both. Would I like fish for dinner? No thank you.
As I got older, I did some research and realized it wasn’t the fish itself that was the punishment; rather, it was simply a tradition. Back in the good ole days when Catholic traditions were born, fish was readily available and special accommodations to store it weren’t necessary. However, this wasn’t the case for other types of meat, making them more of a delicacy and therefore a sacrifice to not eat them. Armed with this knowledge, I tried my first real fish in Florida (Florida grouper, to be exact. And on the night KU won the National Championship! Rock Chalk!). I’m pleased to admit I was wrong about fish being evil. Way wrong.
Fast forward through many delightful seafood experiences and we arrive at one particularly moving experience with ahi tuna in Vegas. I sought advice from my sous chef, Kyle. Well, I call him “my sous chef,” but he actually has a culinary arts degree and for some reason enjoys giving me advice, so I take full advantage of it. Anyway, I asked Kyle how I would go about reliving the aforementioned Vegas deliciousness at home and he convinced me I could conquer the dish without infecting myself with food poisoning. So, I set off to The Seafood Shop (6470 E. Central), and my life hasn’t been the same since.
Along with the variety of fresh seafood offered in the store (including the option to have special orders shipped in), there is also a selection of groceries to prepare your dishes, prepared sides you take and bake, and even fully cooked lunches and dinners. I got the most exquisite stuffed mushrooms there once. I believe they were stuffed with lobster and crab. All I know is I would have married those little guys if they would have had me.
The service is remarkable as well. If you’re unsure what you want to buy, or how to prepare something, everyone is always very helpful. Sometimes I feel stupid admitting I’m not a connoisseur, especially in specialty shops where it feels like everyone around me is, but I always get great advice on how much to buy, recipe ideas, side dish suggestions, you name it.
For the purpose of this review, I walked into the store with nothing in mind for dinner. After explaining what I’ve made in the past and that I prefer mild (read: not fishy-tasting) fish, I was offered several selections, and an idea of how much energy I’d expend preparing each. I ended up choosing the Parmesan-crusted trout. My reasoning for choosing the trout was threefold: 1. I’d never tried trout. 2. I liked the idea of something Parmesan-crusted without having to figure out how to make a Parmesan crust. 3. The cooking process sounded easy.
Before leaving, I checked out their ready-made case and saw a few offerings I might try next time. I also asked about their lunch and dinner options, and was told with about a 15-minute preparation lead-time a meal would be ready based on the fish they have available. And most Fridays they prepare a lunch you can stop by and pick up. The menu for a specific Friday is announced in The Wichita Eagle, or you can call that morning to ask what they’re making.
The only problem I ran into with the trout was that I either misunderstood the trout cooking instructions or they weren’t accurate, because I burned the crust on my fish. I seared it in oil on high heat but found out I should have actually cooked it on low heat or even baked it in the oven. I guess this is why I should always consult Kyle to make sure I know what I’m doing. You live and you learn that Kyle’s always right. After I scraped off the burned crust, though, the fish was delicious.
Where do you buy your seafood? And what’s your favorite recipe?