Sunday, September 19, 2010

Cookbook Library: The Fishes & Dishes Cookbook

Sisters Kiyo and Tomi Marsh worked together for years on the F/V Savage, a fishing boat Tomi bought in 1990. In additional to living and working on the boat year round, they found that they enjoyed “cooking in the ditch” (the trough between the waves) and developed recipes featuring the ocean bounty they brought in.

Working with author Laura Cooper, the sisters polished their own recipes and gathered other stories and dishes from fellow commercial fisherwomen and like-minded enthusiasts. The result is a real adventure called The Fishes & Dishes Cookbook. The book is subtitled “Seafood Recipes and Salty Stories from Alaska’s Commercial Fisherwomen,” which only hints at the fascinating lives of these daring women.

The recipes range from homey standbys like a Hangtown Fy, to more exotic fare such as Jade Dumplings with Citrus Ponzu Sauce or Octopus and Roasted Red Pepper Salad. The book also includes helpful general instructions on choosing and prepping sea creatures in a section called “Fish Basics for Greenhorns.”

Reading the stories about the fisherwomen opens up a very wide world. Their tales of fishing for halibut bigger than them, running from Russian mafia ships, braving storms, finding love aboard ship, and other adventures adds extra spice to the recipes offered.


I haven't tried any of the actual recipes in this book yet, although Crab Rangoon is a favorite of mine, so I look forward to trying those at home. And I love their idea of adding crab to a Japanese cucumber salad. Can you tell Dungeness crab season is approaching and I am getting excited?

But we have recently used this cookbook to teach us how to grill a whole salmon.  We bought a Columbia River Indian-Caught Salmon when we were driving through Cascade Locks earlier this summer.  It was a beautiful fish and we didn't want to do anything to it besides grill it with some lemons and basil.  Thanks to the instructions in Fishes & Dishes, we got it off the grill before it turned into wood. 


I am pleased to add this cookbook to my Cookbook Library. I am also pleased to be able to scratch one off my cookbook project list.


  1. I saw an ad for this book somewhere was immediately curious about it. I'm so glad that you reviewed it. By the sound of it, I think this is one I'm going to have to own.

  2. I like the sound of this cookbook. Rather than just a collection of recipes, it sounds like there are plenty of stories from real people and stories of how they cook and eat. Thanks for telling us about it.

  3. I know several people who would love, love this cookbook! Thanks for reviewing it and making it sound so delicious.

  4. Beth -- I will definitely spend more time with this one. The recipes are fairly simple and modern -- lots of Asian and Eastern influences in addition to stand-bys.

    Margot -- The stories are very interesting. How exciting it would be to work on a ship! Maybe mot for me. :) But I like reading about their adventures.

    Peaceful Reader -- I have a couple of friends who I know will love to get this for Christmas!


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