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A Brookings holiday bounty of the sea

By Arwyn Rice

Pilot staff writer

One of the advantages of living in many different places over my lifetime, I have found that each place has a different flavor.

To celebrate each new home we prepare a New Year's feast of items that are either locally produced or have special meaning for the area.

On the Colorado plains it was bison, in the Colorado mountains it was elk, in Northern California's wine country it was, of course, various dishes cooked with wine.

What better way to celebrate the Oregon Coast but seafood.

Appetizer

With crab season underway nothing says Oregon Coast like a heaping platter of Dungeness crab, available from a fishing boat near you.

Crab season began Dec. 1 and has been producing big, meaty crab full of flavor. A plate of crab quarters makes a great appetizer for those waiting for the meal, if they're like my family, watching all those bowl games.

Salad

To begin the Brookings New Year feast, start with a green salad garnished liberally with crab or a crab-alternative.

The meal

For the main dish, instead of imported turkey or ham, stuff a Chetco River steelhead. With steelhead season under way, the big fish is plentiful among recreational fishermen.

If you can't catch your own steelhead, salmon is available at most local grocery stores. It may not be currently in season, but it is a Brookings basic.

Stuffing the steelhead or salmon is by cooking saffron rice with butter scampi-fried bay scallops, locally picked chantrelle mushrooms, diced scallions and onions.

Chantrelle mushrooms are the most common mushroom that grows wild in the Brookings area. Chantrelle mushrooms and are available fresh and dried at Riverside Market, 98877 North Bank Road, four miles east of Brookings.

For another hyper-local dish, seaweed soup is a simple and flavorful choice. Collect bright green kelp leaves from any area beach. Wash them well and cut them into narrow strips.

Add the kelp strips to fish or vegetable stock with diced shallots and porchini (boletes) mushrooms, also available at Riverside Market. Add bits of locally-caught cod or rockfish and salt to taste.

For a vegan soup use vegetable stock with tofu in place of the fish.

Complete the meal with asparagus, which sometimes grows wild along the Chetco River each spring, and brussel sprouts, an easy crop to grow in Brookings. Again, these items aren't in season, but complete the local flavor.

Dessert

Finish the evening with a blueberry pie. If you don't have any frozen or canned blueberries remaining from last summer's Curry County harvest, fresh imported blueberries or frozen or canned berries are available at most grocery stores.

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