I’m not a fisherman and I don’t particularly like to eat fish, but a few months ago I brought home a ten pound tuna.
I had been having a lonely December row when I spotted a strange sight. A bright blue, open-ocean fishing boat tied up at downtown Portland’s transient moorage dock. Usually you’ll find big fiberglass cruisers, a few homeless boats, and one or two tourists visiting from downriver, but that’s it. There aren’t enough fish on the Willamette for a commercial fishery, so this was indeed a strange sight.
Its hull rose a dozen feet above the water and as I rowed up to the stern, I noticed a huge banner hanging off a yard that read TUNA. Intrigued, I called up from Terrapin’s low seat. It took the groggy-looking fisherman a modest effort to notice me so far below.
I learned that the fish had been line-caught about 150 miles off the coast near the border of Oregon and Washington and frozen immediately in the hold. The crew had gotten out late in the season; by the time they got the fish to market, the processor was paying so little for tuna that they decided to cruise from the sea, 100 miles up the Columbia and try their luck at retail sales.
Urban foraging is big on my list of things to do. If I can pick it or catch it myself, I’m all smiles. Next on my priority list is finding bargains at the grocery store or a garage sale. This find was somewhere between. This was as close to the source as I could get it, short of catching it myself, and the price was unbeatable.
At $2.o0 a pound, even after we gutted and boned it (which I might add is about the easiest fish I’ve ever cleaned) it was cheaper than chicken and a fraction of the retail price.
But price wasn’t entirely the point. The victory was the satisfaction of the find, the hands-on processing, and the delicious, sushi-grade product that made for many fine meals and a happy family.