Friday, June 29, 2007

Shark Salad

In recent years, shark meat has become less available and more expensive at the fishmonger and menus that include it. A few years ago, shark enjoyed a relatively brief run of popularity where perceptions ranged from "not really edible" to "delicious and cheap," to "upscale, special, and endangered." While heading back to Baltimore recently from the Eastern Shore, I considered myself fortunate to find some at the seafood market by the Fisherman's Inn at Kent Narrows. Selling for $11.99 a pound were slices from a shark said to have been caught the day before in Ocean City.

This shark salad recipe dates at least back to the 1970's and early 1980's, when the North Carolina Maritime Museum's now defunct Strange Seafood Festival was in its heyday. Shark meat was but one of many treats being served up that was becoming mainstream enough for this wonderful festival to be losing much of its relevance. In conjunction with the festival, the folks behind it prepared and published the Strange Seafood Cookbook . Last year, Unique Culinary Adventures featured a recipe from therein for chowder made with sand crabs, a species that has yet to enjoy even fringe culinary acceptance anywhere else I'm aware of. Almost as exotic was a dish featuring tiny coquina clams. The Srange Seafood Cookbook also had recipes for whelk and various varieties of Atlantic seaweed. In those days, even squid, mussels, and bluefish were still considered exotic enough to be included---along with shark.

I can't imagine a fish salad of any kind that tastes less fishy than the version to follow. This could relate, perhaps, to my insistence upon marinating shark meat in milk for at least an hour prior to cooking it. The recipe from the Strange Seafood Cookbook doesn't mention milk and calls only for the shark to first be marinated in soy sauce to which a little garlic and ginger have been added. When the meat is cooked and the salad prepared, the soy sauce flavor is evident, and I feel certain that it alone would obscure any objectionable shark flavor. Either way, it helps to marinate shark meat. I did so twice, first for an hour in milk and thereafter for four hours in the soy sauce mixture. The end product tasted almost like chicken salad, and except for a bit of soy flavor, even more neutral, albeit deliciously so.


1 1/2 pound shark fillet cut one inch thick
1 cup milk
1 cup soy sauce
grated garlic to taste
dash of grated or ground ginger
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon parsley
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
mayonnaise to taste

Marinate shark meat in milk, refrigerated, for an hour, turning once. Drain, wipe dry, then marinate for four hours in soy sauce to which garlic and ginger have been added, turning occasionally. To cook, drain the marinade off the steaks, then bake at 375 degrees in the oven until done, about 10-15 minutes. Another alternative is to broil the steaks approximately 4 to 5 minutes per side or until done. When cooked shark has cooled, break the meat into small pieces in a large bowl. Add the celery and onions to the shark pieces along with the parsley, paprika, and pepper. Add enough mayonnaise to give it the consistency of chicken salad. Serve as a meal or as an appetizer on crackers.