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Friday, August 3, 2012

I ski down the blue-square-slopes of the seafood mountain

I like seafood, but I wouldn’t exactly call myself an adventurous seafood eater. I love fish and chips. I also like fish blackened, and occasionally sautéed or baked. However, I don’t really like any of the “oily” fish species (salmon, tuna, mackerel, or any other kind of fish that may find itself in a tin can that can only be opened with a key). In other words, I don’t like the kinds of fish that are actually good for you.

I also really enjoy eating some shellfish, mainly of the crustacean persuasion. That’s right, crab cakes; pasta with lobster; and shrimp served just about any way turn me on. You know what a marine invertebrate can do to really turn me off, though? Wind up on my plate with way too many of its organs still attached. When I’m eating a shrimp I expect it to have dutifully removed all of its eyes, legs, “feelers”, and exoskeleton parts before reaching my dinner table. I’ll deal with that tiny little bit of tail left on the end of its succulent white flesh, but that’s it. Similarly, if I’m going to be eating crab or lobster meat, someone else better have dug into the animals’ hard outer body to remove the tasty innards. I will not whack my food with a hammer, or attempt to pry open a claw with a nut cracker. This also applies to my feelings on eating fish; I intend to eat fish meat, not a whole damn fish with its one (perhaps two in the case of a flounder) eye staring up at me while I dig into its body. You have to draw the line somewhere.

I will not, however, be talked into eating any of the other two main phyla of shellfish: mollusks (oysters, squid and such) or echinoderms (sea urchins, sea cucumbers, and other joke species of marine life). The one notable exception to this is scallops, but, in my defense, when I began eating scallops I didn’t know that those little round pieces of tastiness once resided inside two shells, since, as I stated above, I only eat seafood after the body has been removed. I guess I’ve also tried calamari on several occasions, but only once would I characterize the experience as enjoyable. My feelings on the rest of these types of seafood goes something like this: clams, “Nope;” raw oysters, “I stopped eating snot in grade school;” octopus, “Screw you! I’m not chewing on a suction cup!;” sea cucumbers, “My ancestors didn’t come to this country, tame the wilds of Montana, break their backs working in saw mills, and defeat Hitler so that their descendants would have to subsist on jiggly little bags of slime scooped up off the ocean floor!”

Figure 1. A visual representation of the types of seafood Rose Boy will consume.

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So, it was to my great surprise that I discovered I really enjoy eating Korean seafood pancake. Perhaps it’s more accurate to say that I was surprised to find that the “pancake” I ate when my lab ordered Korean food was actually a “seafood pancake” filled with the kinds of seafood not on my “acceptable” list. I must admit, though, that there is a lot of willful ignorance on my part concerning this dish. When I first ate it I realized that there were things in it that I couldn’t identify, the coloring of which looked awfully seafood-esque. When I subsequently learned that it was, indeed, a seafood pancake, I knew that the pieces in question were not readably classifiable as belonging to any of the groups of seafood that I care to consume. It tastes so good, though, that I simply don’t want to know what’s in it. Even now, I’m too afraid to Google “Korean Seafood pancake,” for fear that I’ll learn that the main seafood ingredient is sea urchin foreskins, or some other equally-gross “delicacy.”

Basically, what it comes down to is that I’m fully comfortable with walking into a Korean restaurant, sitting down at the table, and telling the chef “I do say, my good sir, before I sup on a heaping pile of your scrumptious bulgogi, accompanied by an array of delicious kimchees and other prepared vegetables nested in delicate little bowls, be so kind as to whet my palate with your rendition of that classic Korean appetizer, the seafood pancake,” without really caring what I’m putting down my throat. It’s just that good.

Figure 2. I’m sure those purple-white things are totally normal fish or something.

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