Last evening we were invited to check out the exciting new dinner series at CampO Modern Country Bistro in Oak Cliff prepared by chef Matt McCallister. The dinner was an inspiration of Louisiana Foods Total Catch which has been introduced to the area by Dallas fishmonger Jon Alexis at TJ’s Seafood Market.
The Total Catch owners PJ Stoops and Bill Tellez were at the dinner and introduced each fish McCallister cooked for the capacity crowd. The Total Catch program is a straight forward idea that culls all the by-catch fish that boat captains yield while casting for more common breeds.
Stoops explains Total Catch on his Professor Fish Heads blog, “The fishery resources of the Gulf are finite, but fished and managed rationally the Gulf can provide us and future generations with large and dependable supplies of highly nutritious protein. Rational management and rational fishing means elimination of waste from by-catch and high-grading. It means well-regulated multi-species fisheries. It means small allowable catches of some species, and larger quotas of those fish which are most resilient to fishing pressure. It means responsible methods of harvest. It also means rational use of the animals landed.”
You can find the more exotic fish (exotic by American standards) at TJ’s and on the CampO menu. Many restaurants in Houston are grappling for the by-catch fish, but a small supply is distributed to both Austin and Dallas.
Last night McCallister had a field day playing with the fish and broke the dinner down by method of cooking such as raw, steamed, fried, poached, etc..
The catch changed three times before a final menu was settled less than 24 hours before the dinner. At one point there was a chance no fish would make the plates, but this was saved in the final hours.
Raw: Piggy Perch Ceviche, Fermenting Chile, Freeze Dried Green Olive, Onion Ash
Steamed: Steamed Barrel Fish, Aromatic Broth, and 6 Vegetables.
Fried: Fried Sand Trout, Perserved Satsuma, Garlic Mustard, Foraged Oxtails.
Poached: Butter Poached mackeral, Blue Runner, Blue Fish, Dirty Farro, Celery Salad.
Roasted: Roasted Scorpian Fish, Beard Fish, Long tail Bass, Queen Snapper, Shark Sucker, Furnet, Chorizo and Peas. Each table had one of the varieties of fish shared family-style.
Seared: Seared Queen Snapper, Charred Kale, Burnt Dashi Mayo, Fish Sauce Caramel.