The Scuttlefish

Love the Ocean. Wish you were here.

Category: food

This Is Life in an Andaman Sea Village During Monsoon Season. A Photo Essay.


One moment, the Burmese coast of the Andaman Sea looked like this, frenzied and white-horsed, with gale force winds and pelting–literally stinging–rain. The next, it would abate to the sobering serenity of still air and blue skies. All of this has no bearing on the people living in small stilted villages on the Andaman Sea, who make their homes and feed their children day-in, day-out, year-round, come wind, hail, rain or shine. Photo: Owen James Burke.


Watching these small narrow boats fade out on the horizon behind a line of squalls chilled my bones to the marrow. Photo: Owen James Burke.

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The sound of the rain meeting this tarpaulin-tin city was tremendous. It hushed all conversation and jarred your concentration. Photo: Owen James Burke.


But then, moments later, it would look like this, but regardless of the weather, tide or hour, these longboats seemed to be buzzing in and out port all day long. Photo: Owen James Burke.

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Wish You Were Here: The Lobster Roll. A South Sea Interpretation.

Scuttlefish writer Owen James Burke is currently rambling around New Zealand in a camper van with a camera, surfboard and speargun in search of stories, waves and fish. We’re putting together a waterperson’s guide to the island nation, but meanwhile, we’ll be publishing stories and photographs, short updates along the way from the Yankee in Kiwiland. -CD

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Photo: Owen James Burke.

This past week, I’ve been spending a lot of time rooting around in the kelp-laden rocks along the lobster-rich eastern shore of New Zealand, where spring tides bring the post-spawn crustaceans into the shallows.

So, naturally, having had lobster–or ‘crayfish’ as they’re known in New Zealand–about nine different ways (sashimi–still my favorite, steamed, seared in oil with chillies, curried, in a taco . . .) I couldn’t help but turn back and attempt to recreate the simple but classic New England lobster roll–or at least my South Pacific take on the dish–as I knew it growing up.

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Wish You Were Here: Wandering Through a Taiwanese Fish Market


See how reflective and translucent these eyes look? Fish don’t get any fresher. Another way to tell is the sheen on the skin and scales, which lets you know that their protective coats are still intact. I’ll always favor catching my own, but when I absolutely have to buy fish, this is what I look for. Photo: Owen James Burke.

Weaving through the hawker stands of a Taiwanese fish market, you’re thoroughly and consistently astonished by the freshness and diversity within their ice chests, each and every morning. What’s more–I took this photograph nearly 30 miles inland in Zhongli, Taoyuan County. These fish, I was told, are caught at night and delivered each morning before the sun came up so that the hawkers–artists at heart, no doubt–can arrange their sleeted canvases before patrons arrive.


Is Kelp the New Kale, Omega-3 Supplement, Snack, Animal Feed, Bacon – or even Gasoline?


Illustration of Bren Smith’s 3-D ocean farm. Image from

There is a revolving door in global markets for food fads. Coconut water and related products have become a billion-dollar industry. Kale, in the ‘chip’ form alone, made about two hundred million dollars last year. But there is a new contender that is gaining in popularity, sneaking up on a number of different food products and may turn out to be far more than just a fad – seaweed.

I’ve always been fascinated with seaweed, especially since my husband is an ecologist who studies algae, and I’ve worked with him on several studies, as well as in the aquaculture world. So last week’s article by Dana Goodyear  in The New Yorker was especially interesting

The article laid out the future of seaweed on the American plate – “A New Leaf: Seaweed Could be a Miracle Food—If We Can Figure Out How to Make it Taste Good”. In the article, Goodyear explores all the potential roads to success for the ‘sea vegetable’, especially against the backdrop of seaweed as a carbon negative crop; as a conservation measure to restore seaweed habitat and the thousands of marine species that rely on it, and as a way to mitigate impacts of run-off due to the fantastic ability of seaweed to absorb nitrogen and phosphorus.

Goodyear features Bren Smith – a fisherman turned entrepreneurial ocean farmer, who wants to bring sustainable seaweed and shellfish to a table near you. Smith is a lifelong commercial fisherman, who turned to aquaculture as a way to restore jobs for out of work fishermen, and help hedge against climate change, while creating an environmentally-friendly farm that has zero inputs.


Kelp harvest. Image from at Thimble Island Ocean Farm.

Thimble Island Ocean Farm, off Stony Creek, Connecticut is the equivalent of 3-acres of ocean surface and 6 feet in depth. Smith’s approach has been a multi-trophic and integrated ocean farm, which means numbers of different species are raised in the same area. In addition to seaweed, Smith also harvests marine invertebrates including mussels, scallops, and clams. His farm is self-sustaining and he told The New Yorker that, “…The farm is a reef for hundreds of species. This is what you want to see. This is good, restorative ocean farming.”

For an in-depth, 2014 Scuttlefish interview with Smith check out: Life in Salt: A Talk with Bren Smith, Owner of Thimble Island Oysters and Long Island Sound’s First Vertical 3D Ocean Farm.

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“The World’s Most Valuable Biscuit”: A Stale Old Cracker from the RMS Titanic Just Sold in Auction for $23,000


Photo: Henry Aldridge & Son.

James Fenwick, a passenger on the SS Carpathia, which came to the Titanic‘s aid, slipped the 103-year-old biscuit into a Kodak photographic envelope with a note: “Pilot biscuit from Titanic lifeboat April 1912.”

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On the Road to Meet the Andaman Sea Gypsies. Part I: Yangon (Rangoon) and Dala, Myanmar (Burma). A Tale of Two Cities.

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Yangon (Rangoon), seen from Dala (Dalla). Photo: Owen James Burke.

I flew to Myanmar (Burma) to meet a group of seminomadic sea-dwelling peoples around the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea collectively known as “sea gypsies”. But that didn’t get off to a great start. First, I was hung up in Yangon, and what I encountered there was a far grimmer, more harrowing reality than the one I’d set out to find.

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The ferry terminal in Yangon. Photo: Owen James Burke.

I landed in Yangon (as the capital city of Rangoon is now known to modern-day, militarized “Myanmar”), during a monsoon where people were sitting in plastic chairs along the sidewalk dining in a river of mud and street grit, and despite recent large-scale urban development, the streets—even in the town center—were dismally dark by any city’s standard.

I must have spent three hours in a taxi on the way home from the airport, otherwise a 25 minute jaunt across the city.

After finding a hotel, I dried off and began to wander the streets, ankle deep in mud, runoff and grit. Taking each step, I felt as good as blind. High-rise buildings may have been going up, but it seemed like the sidewalks hadn’t changed since Orwell was sipping and spilling gin and tonics on them.

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100% Upcycled Salmon Skin Wallets: Sustainable and Stylish


A perfect gift for people that want to make sustainable buying choices. Image from Tidal Vision.

Looking for a unique gift that helps support sustainable fishing, but isn’t the fish? Tidal Vision has taken a new approach to ‘upcyling’, or the use of discarded items, through their craft of Alaskan salmon skin wallets. Using skin only from fisheries that are managed sustainably and certified by 3rd parties, these wallets are one of a kind and come in a variety of colors. The skin is tanned over a 3-week period and the result is incredibly durable and lightweight with a leather-like feel.



Styles include tri-folds, wallets and smart phone cases. Image from Tidal Vision.

Check out Tidal Vision’s online shop to learn more about their sustainable mission – from the source, to the process and to the product. -CS


(Mis)Adventures in #Vanlife with Raw Paua. Part III. A Tired Old Truck and a Boatful of Holes.

Scuttlefish writer Owen James Burke is currently rambling around New Zealand, living in a house truck with a camera, surfboard and speargun in search of stories, waves and fish. We’re putting together a waterperson’s guide to the island nation, but meanwhile, we’ll be publishing stories and photographs, short updates along the way from the Yankee in Kiwiland. -CD


Above: Raw Paua, cooked. Queen Charlotte Drive shows no mercy on a tired old truck and a boatful of holes.

Raw Paua and I took a tour down the east coast of the south island last week, and it began swimmingly. She steamed over two mountain passes and hugged the cliffs nicely along mile after mile of winding coast.

We made camp, and although it was nearly freezing, turning on the broiler to heat a lamb roast (as one does in the land of sheep) warmed me up enough to patter away at the keyboard until the wee hours and comfortably turn in.

The next day, we ventured back up the coast, where we surfed, made fires, and met a crazy Valencian who’s in the process cycling around the perimeter of the island nation.

A couple of days of foul weather and Raw Paua and I decided to make for home base back at the top of the South Island. That was when the smoke started.

I pulled over to the side of the road where a splendid, unridden right-hander was reeling along the beach under a soft pastel sky with nary a surfer in sight. The wave looked enticing, but this wasn’t the time. I had a crisis on my hands.


Then again, in retrospect . . . Photo: Owen James Burke.

Lifting the hood, I was met with a face full of smoke and the alarming, nauseating, intoxicating stench of boiling radiator coolant; it wasn’t exactly the afternoon buzz I was hoping to catch.

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Photo: Owen James Burke.

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