Originally Posted by ChicagoRon
Dumb Question... why the hell would you import fish from Europe (except for dover sole)? We live in a country surrounded by 2 oceans, a major gulf, and with the largest supply of fresh water in the world. What fish is available in Italy that you cannot get here?
You ask a valid question. And another very valid point is that the most important thing about seafood is time out of the water which is harder to pull off coming in from Europe as opposed to here but the fish there was very very fresh and I could tell it was not out of the sea for that long.
On the other hand, some if you really want to taste a fish that is not really available here routinely than it may be worth it. The european sea bream is similar in some aspects to the Red Snapper or varieties of snapper, porgy, etc available here but it does have a different flavor. The dentex is another variety of fish they had that is not available here. The languostines(sp) from europe are different as well. The slipper lobster that they get (Vongola I think it was called) is like our slipper lobster but unless you dive for them yourself here in the gulf you are never going to get a taste of that. The Tai or true sea bream from the pacific is not the same fish that we have here and neither is amadai (another japanese fish)so I grabbed that dish when it was available at ALEX. If you don't really care for the differences (sometimes subtle), then yes it is a waste of money. And honestly, the vast majority of people dining at Bartolatta probably would not know if you served catfish fillets if they did that but they do present the fish to you in whole form so you know what you are getting.
I have eaten a certain european fish (Dorade and red mullet) at local restaurants here in ATL in which I thought there was a much better national, even regional replacement. That the fish was from France or Italy added nothing and a sub with a fish from the gulf would have improved the outcome of the dish. So I can see where many of you are coming from. People say "its from Spain, France, Italy, etc" and it COULD be used as a marketing ploy. BUT sometimes the fish/seafood is unique and there is a difference. Yes we have a huge selection of great seafood here in the U.S. but not everything out there that is great comes from our local waters.
On a more national level should those from the Northeast only eat striped bass, fluke, porgy?West coasters can only eat yellowtail, corvina, rockfish? No wild king or sockeye salmon for us east coast folks? Those from Mich. can only eat bass, walleye, perch, and pike? Much like fruits, vegtables, meats, cheeses (okay I am a little overextending here), I think there are some things that I appreciate from other parts of the world that I may not be able to get here easily or at all.
I will tell you, many people, even those in the culinary world have somewhat of a limited knowledge of the fish species. I am a strange person in that I am crazy about it because I fish quite a bit for fun all across the world and have a little background on marine fisheries science. There are subtle differences even within species within the same family. Here in the southeast our "glory" fish are mostly grouper and snapper. 99% of the popluation could not tell the difference from red snapper, vermillion, mutton, cubera, or mangrove snapper but to some people there is a difference (taste, fat content, flake, etc)....enough so that some people will pay more for it.
Another example is scamp grouper but most of you will never see it because there is no demand for it since most people think grouper is grouper. I will tell you that it is hoarded by those locals and the few regional chefs who can appreciate the fact that the flesh is of much high quality than the other available grouper. Another one is yellowedge grouper (which I am beginning to see labled as such in some places). Unfortunately, when word gets out people only want that fish and you get overfishing and mislabeling. Monkfish and triggerfish are both delightful but there was little demand so they were cheap and underfished here in the US until more recently they have become overfished in some parts. The New Orleans chef Paul Prudomme(sp) made redfish trendy with his blackened redfish dish and that fish needed federal protection after decimation from severe overfishing that came abruptly when demand came up. It was considered trashfish by many before then. Cobia is another fish to which I think there is no real sub. The list of such fish goes on and on.
Marketing plays a huge role in the fish that we know about and what people are willing to pay for and eat. There is not enough red snapper to go around so much of it is not even really red snapper but other species and you know what..... most people could not even tell the difference. Especially since the preferred presentation of market fish are in the form of fillets deception is common in the industry. Of course if all the fish sold as red snapper was really red snapper that would pretty much destroy that fishery (it happened to swordfish). Interestingly, one of my charter capts. asked if he could take some of our catch home for dinner. He left the red snappers and took home the mangrove snapper.
Unlucky for the giant bluefin tunas...everybody across the world likes to eat them and fish crazy countries like Japan and China are willing to pay crazy prices for them. PLUS if you have eaten otoro sushi from bluefin tuna it was most likely a penned tuna from the Med. sea from half way across the world (wild tuna is caught rasied in huge nets/pens and fed to increase their fat content before harvest). I'm sure those of you who have eaten it would agree it's hard to get that here. Yes, we have bluefin fishery here but most of the stuff comes from abroad and the best from our catches goes abroad. And I ask, is there anything like fatty bluefin in the fish world that we have here? When one eats sushi, how many of those fish/seafood items are from here?
You may make the point that it is not an environmentally sound thing to have fish flown half way across the world and I could not argue with you. Vegas is usually a very hot place and it makes shipping seafood there an expensive deal. But in that sense is Vegas even a green place to visit? (yeah.... I do feel a little guilty every time I go......they got a drought and you see the lake in front of the Bellagio...even with the water conserving steps they take...)
Sorry for the long post I just wanted to explain some viewpoints.......