Teach a Man to Fish

Fish ClassMy day started very, very early this morning, thanks to a gift certificate that my girlfriend gave to me last December for a recreational class in cooking at the Institute of Culinary Education. For some reason, we thought it would be a good idea to sign up for a one-time session called “Fulton Fish Market Tour and Cooking Class,” noting but not seriously considering the difficulty of its unseemly 05:30a start time.

So even before the sun could be bothered to begin its business, we took a taxi down to the southeastern tip of Manhattan, where the long-standing Fulton Fish Market operates until it relocates (reluctantly) to the Bronx in 2005. The instructor gave us a tour of the market and a quick primer on the varieties of fish sold and how to select them.

Market Speak

With more sleep, I might be able to give a better description of what the market is like, but suffice it to say that, first, you’ve never seen so much fish in your life and, second, the term ‘salty’ was coined expressly for the kind of characters that move the market’s many, many tons of fish every day. It’s an experience that made waking up so early worth it; if I thought I could convince any reasonable person to wake up so early to make it to the market for a visit, I’m a hundred percent sure they would find it completely worthwhile.

Eat What You Catch

Below: The Fulton Fish Market at about 07:30a. Below: A face to remember; we bought this wolf fish, prepared it in the classroom and ate it. For real. Bottom: I prepared and grilled these shrimp and they actually didn’t make anyone sick.

At the end of the tour, we bought a whole bunch of fish — which is only available for purchase in wholesale quantities, so don’t head down there if you’re looking for a salmon dinner for two — and headed back to the school’s main building on 23rd Street, where we cooked and prepared what our ‘catch.’ It took us three hours to do it, but things moved so quickly that I’m not sure how much practical knowledge I really accumulated. Still, it was a lot of fun, and at the end of the class, when we had assembled a half-dozen huge, pretty impressive platters of various kinds of fish, squid and shrimp, we got to eat it all. That was good.

Fulton Fish Market
Wolf Fish