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SiseFromm

Pearson's Port

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Alex Noir and I were chatting a bit in the "Cooking" forum about some spot prawns I recently acquired. He was wondering where they came from and I figured the source was actually worthy of conversation in this forum. One of my biggest complaints about Orange County (and even elsewhere in Southern California) is a lack of a really amazing source of fresh and local seafood. Santa Monica Seafood is a joke (they don't prepare anything onsite at the market near me in Costa Mesa and most of the fish is flown in from far away lands). Markets like MItsuwa and Marukai are have nice product but most of the best fish is meant for Japanese and raw preparations. Finally though, a friend turned me on to a local joint in Newport Beach called Pearson's Port.

It's located off PCH and Bayside Drive (on the East side of the highway) tucked away next to a trailer park. It's sandwiched between the Dunes (Back Bay) and a launching site for a local kayak rental facility. A small walkway over the water leads you to a 15' x 10 shack of sorts with tanks pumping through fresh bay water. Inside you'll find fresh local and seasonal catches. Although I do believe they fly some salmon in, most of what is on hand is caught locally in waters between Dana Point and Santa Barbara. They might travel as far South as San Diego and as far North as waters near San Jose but you'll have to ask to verify. Right now the Spot Prawns are just delicious. Sweet. Plump. Lively (see feisty). Gorgeous. They also have a plethora of Rock Crab, Calamari, and Ahi. I was told that in a few months the Spiny Lobster season will be starting.

The family that owns the joint are extremely nice and a pleasure to talk with. They're always helpful and love it when you show a real interest in what they're doing, where they're fishing, and how best to handle the product. I always love skimming the tanks with my own net for my fresh Prawns. Cooked in Court Bouillon then chilled and served with a house-made Cocktail Sauce, they're a real treat.

I wish I had some pics to post but I promise I'll take my camera down with me the next time I'm looking for fresh seafood. In the mean time, you might want to check them out if you're in the area. I feel like I discovered a real gem and I'm embarrassed that in all my years of hobbyist cooking I didn't discover them ages ago.


R. Jason Coulston

jason@popcling.com

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Thanks Jason - this info is awesome. I can't tell you how frustrated I've become with living so close to the ocean and not having really fresh fish. After buying my seafood from local butchers and "fishmongers", I've just gotten fed up with the lack of good product and the insanely high prices they command ($25 a lb. for BROWN Ahi Tuna). I've been going to Santa Monica Fish Market in Costa Mesa and 99 Ranch Market thinking that was the best I could find, so needless to say I'm excited about the possibility of REALLY FRESH LOCAL FISH!!

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I stopped shopping at Santa Monica Seafood after I was starred at blankly when I asked for fish carcasses. The guy seriously thought I was crazy. I watched his blank stare and confusion and knew that I would never step back into the shop. I guess their "fishmongers" don't know that you can actually make something lovely from the gelatinous bones. He's obviously never heard of stock. He hammered the death nail in when he told me they don't actually prepare any fish onsite and that all fish arrives pre-cut, cleaned, and ready for the case.

Delete.


R. Jason Coulston

jason@popcling.com

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I was in Newport earlier today and decided to look for Pearson's (unfortunately they're closed on Tuesdays). Your directions were great, Jason. The spot is definitely inconspicuous to say the least, but I guess that's a good thing in many ways. I couldn't be more excited to go by again and check out their stuff. Thanks again!

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Great tip Jason. Where do you buy your meat? I am usually in Irvine but this year in Europe. The meat and veg here taste so much better. I shudder to think about coming back to the water-injected no-fat tasteless stuff I was buying at the OC grocery stores.

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Funny you mention that. I was in Ralph's today for the first time in ages (we tend to shop the farmer's market, specialty cheese shops, Promelis, Bristol Farms, and Whole Foods) and I was quite seriously appalled at the meat selection in their so-called "butcher" shelving. It's truly dismal fare and I have a hard time understanding why people would buy such inferior products. I would prefer to skip meat all together and adopt a mostly vegetarian lifestyle over buying meat / seafood from regular commercial grocery stores.

That said a truly great source of meat still eludes me. There's a butcher on 17th I had hopes in but when we were there last the lettuces in their produce section were melting and moldy and the cases of meat were nothing marvelous or even worth talking about. I wish I had a great butcher or rancher with whom I could develop a nice relationship with. I tend to look for odds and ends. Veal bones, oxtail, necks, cheeks, organs . . . things not normally sitting around on regular shelving. Bristol Farms is about as close as I've come without turning to a mail-order situation through Lobel's, Snake River Farm, Dartagnan, West Wind Farms, or Heritage Meats. Those are all fine sources, but if I'm looking for sudden inspiration a package from UPS or FedEx doesn't really do it.

If you guys find an outrageous source for farm-fresh meats in Southern California . . . PLEASE post here!


R. Jason Coulston

jason@popcling.com

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If you guys find an outrageous source for farm-fresh meats in Southern California . . . PLEASE post here!

I second that motion.

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Regarding Pearson's...HOW DID I NOT KNOW ABOUT THIS??? Great find Jason, definitely going to check that out this weekend. Im not a huge fish guy but lately this summer I have been having grilled swordfish with my family on Sundays.

Jason, you are right on the money about Santa Monica Seafood...

Lately I have been buying most of my meat and fish at Bristol Farms in Newport. Their beef in particular I find to be excellent, and while not cheap it is certainly far far better, in my opinion, than anything else available, seafood included. I also really like picking up some pre-marinated meats for quick grilling during the week.

El Toro Meats in Lake Forest might be another good option. I haven't been back in a while but they are fairly well known and highly regarded.

www.eltoromeats.com


"A man's got to believe in something...I believe I'll have another drink." -W.C. Fields

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Lately I have been buying most of my meat and fish at Bristol Farms in Newport. Their beef in particular I find to be excellent, and while not cheap it is certainly far far better, in my opinion, than anything else available, seafood included. I also really like picking up some pre-marinated meats for quick grilling during the week.

I'll agree with you there. Bristol Farms Newport Beach at PCH & Avocado is my regular go-to whenever I want to buy quality steak. The best buy in the case is the Wagyu Tri-Tip at $19.99 per pound. It's tough to beat at that price. I also know that if I'm doing a high-end steakhouse dinner party I can get dry-aged strips on the fly.


R. Jason Coulston

jason@popcling.com

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Lately I have been buying most of my meat and fish at Bristol Farms in Newport. Their beef in particular I find to be excellent, and while not cheap it is certainly far far better, in my opinion, than anything else available, seafood included. I also really like picking up some pre-marinated meats for quick grilling during the week.

I'll agree with you there. Bristol Farms Newport Beach at PCH & Avocado is my regular go-to whenever I want to buy quality steak. The best buy in the case is the Wagyu Tri-Tip at $19.99 per pound. It's tough to beat at that price. I also know that if I'm doing a high-end steakhouse dinner party I can get dry-aged strips on the fly.

Yeah those dry aged prime strips are phenomenal, I made one about two weeks ago, seared it hard then finished in the oven, better than any steakhouse steaks I have had in recent memory. i'll have to check out that Wagyu tri-tip, how did you cook it, roast in the oven?


"A man's got to believe in something...I believe I'll have another drink." -W.C. Fields

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Tri-Tip is pretty versatile, and the beautiful fat in the Wagyu version makes it an even bigger hit for me. I like searing it off and roasting it in the oven until medium rare, then slicing it thin across the grain for family-style service. It's a favorite cut of mine during the Summer for "Sunday Suppers" at our house.


R. Jason Coulston

jason@popcling.com

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Thanks for the tip, I am all over that this weekend.


"A man's got to believe in something...I believe I'll have another drink." -W.C. Fields

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Made it to Pearson's Port yesterday, what an awesome place! I can't belive I didn't know about this place before.

Picked up some excellent, and very inexpensive, fresh swordfish for the grill, just excellent.

I will be back soon and often, great tip Jason!


"A man's got to believe in something...I believe I'll have another drink." -W.C. Fields

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Glad you found it. The staff is really nice, eh? If you get brave, you HAVE to buy some spot prawns while they're in season. The best.


R. Jason Coulston

jason@popcling.com

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99 Ranch Market, the one on either Culver or Jeffrey, had tanks teeming with absolutely beautiful and active live spot prawn last year. I've also occasionally seen live King crab there as well as live crawfish. They also carried lobsters, all atleast 5 pounders, which were on sale for something like $9 a pound.

The meat there doesn't seem to be of the highest quality, but being a Chinese supermarket, they do carry different bits and ends of different animals. They do have oxtail. It was the only place in Irvine that I found that sold a bag of bones for my beef stock.

How is the meat at Whole Foods? There's one opening up in Tustin or Irvine. I'm kind of boycotting them, but I could be persuaded to buy something if it was worth it.


Edited by savvysearch (log)

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99 Ranch Market, the one on either Culver or Jeffrey, had tanks teeming with absolutely beautiful and healthy live spot prawn last year. I've also occasionally seen live King crab there as well as live crawfish. They also carried lobsters, all atleast 5 pounders, which were only something like $9 a pound. 

The meat there doesn't seem to be high quality, but being a Chinese supermarket, they do carry different bits and ends of different animals.

Last time I was at that particular 99 Ranch Market in Irvine they had trotters. They usually have livers and other offal, but I've been too meek to try my hand because as savvysearch said the meat section isn't immaculate. Their seafood section on the other hand is actually really great. Most times I've gone they've had prawns, lobster, crab and various fish (I believe I saw tilapia, catfish, etc.) that were all live and in tanks. The prices are insanely low.

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I went to Pearson's Port this past Friday and sadly they were out of the prawns (they were supposedly going out the next morning). Instead I picked up a few rock crabs (I think they were about $5 a pound). I made a rich broth from the shells which was used in a crab risotto on Saturday and tried my hand at the Corn Crab Cakes from Michel Richard's cookbook on Sunday. The crab was sweet and succulent - everything you could want from good crab. The folks at Pearson's are very friendly and helpful. It seems like they do bring in quite a bit but even what they bring in is much fresher than what you would get elsewhere.

Also in case any has difficulty finding Pearson's, their address is 100 E. PCH in Newport. They mentioned that the Spiny Lobster season starts in October. Freakin' Sweet!

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How is the meat at Whole Foods? There's one opening up in Tustin or Irvine. I'm kind of boycotting them, but I could be persuaded to buy something if it was worth it.

I have had mixed luck with the meat at Whole Foods. They have a store in Tustin off of Irvine Blvd and Newport Ave. Their meat has been OK (they at least have veal, lamb, oxtails and other interesting cuts), whereas their seafood has been outright nasty. I remember getting some scallops about a year ago that looked like they got into a fight with a cheese grater. The existing Whole Foods store is closing soon and the new one is going to be opening up later this month. I believe it will be on the corner of Barranca and Jamboree. One of the employees claimed that the new store will be "3 times the size of the old one" and that the butcher/seafood section should be "much better".

Just out of curiosity, why would you boycott Whole Foods?

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Glad you found it.  The staff is really nice, eh?  If you get brave, you HAVE to buy some spot prawns while they're in season.  The best.

Yeah it is really quite a find. I think I am going to go back for some of those prawns this week. What do you think would be the best way to cook them, simple sautee? Grill? I'd probably like to mess with them as little as possible given how high quality they are...


"A man's got to believe in something...I believe I'll have another drink." -W.C. Fields

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Funny you mention that. I was in Ralph's today for the first time in ages (we tend to shop the farmer's market, specialty cheese shops, Promelis, Bristol Farms, and Whole Foods) and I was quite seriously appalled at the meat selection in their so-called "butcher" shelving.

Ralphs doesn't even have lamb. Apparently lamb is too "out there" for Ralphs.

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How is the meat at Whole Foods? There's one opening up in Tustin or Irvine. I'm kind of boycotting them, but I could be persuaded to buy something if it was worth it.

I have had mixed luck with the meat at Whole Foods. They have a store in Tustin off of Irvine Blvd and Newport Ave. Their meat has been OK (they at least have veal, lamb, oxtails and other interesting cuts), whereas their seafood has been outright nasty. I remember getting some scallops about a year ago that looked like they got into a fight with a cheese grater. The existing Whole Foods store is closing soon and the new one is going to be opening up later this month. I believe it will be on the corner of Barranca and Jamboree. One of the employees claimed that the new store will be "3 times the size of the old one" and that the butcher/seafood section should be "much better".

Just out of curiosity, why would you boycott Whole Foods?

It's my own personal boycott and I'm sure no one is doing it with me, so it doesn't matter if I break it. But it was that whole "live tank lobsters are cruel" excuse that just ended it for me.

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I think I am going to go back for some of those prawns this week.  What do you think would be the best way to cook them, simple sautee?  Grill?  I'd probably like to mess with them as little as possible given how high quality they are...

I would agree. Given the quality and freshness, less is definitely more when preparing the prawns. You can dump them live into a pot of simmering Court Bouillon (water, mirepoix, fennel, white wine, lemon, thyme, bay leaf, parsley) for just a few minutes. Remove them to a bowl of ice water to shock them and stop the cooking then pull the tails off and peel them for a cold preparation. If you want to saute them, you'll need to run your knife through the heads then remove the tail, peel the shells, and clean them for final cooking. If you're sauteeing, I would suggest just a bit of unsalted butter and a lively hint of minced/crushed garlic. Saute then deglaze with fresh diced summer tomatoes and a bit of white wine. Swirl in butter and fresh green herbs to finish. That's an idea anyway. That sounds delicious actually now that I read through it.


R. Jason Coulston

jason@popcling.com

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I think I am going to go back for some of those prawns this week.  What do you think would be the best way to cook them, simple sautee?  Grill?  I'd probably like to mess with them as little as possible given how high quality they are...

I would agree. Given the quality and freshness, less is definitely more when preparing the prawns. You can dump them live into a pot of simmering Court Bouillon (water, mirepoix, fennel, white wine, lemon, thyme, bay leaf, parsley) for just a few minutes. Remove them to a bowl of ice water to shock them and stop the cooking then pull the tails off and peel them for a cold preparation. If you want to saute them, you'll need to run your knife through the heads then remove the tail, peel the shells, and clean them for final cooking. If you're sauteeing, I would suggest just a bit of unsalted butter and a lively hint of minced/crushed garlic. Saute then deglaze with fresh diced summer tomatoes and a bit of white wine. Swirl in butter and fresh green herbs to finish. That's an idea anyway. That sounds delicious actually now that I read through it.

I hadn't thought about a cold preparation but that saute idea sounds absolutely fantastic, spanish style with olive oil and a bunch of garlic might be good too. Hmmmm.....

Thanks for the tips Jason.


"A man's got to believe in something...I believe I'll have another drink." -W.C. Fields

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Last week marked the start of Spiny Lobster season over at Pearson's Port, so Saturday morning I found myself driving home with a couple of ornery Spiny Lobsters I picked up. Here's a photo recap of my day with the Lobbies...

In a bag, fearing for their lives:

gallery_54501_5252_8462.jpg

After being steeped for 4 minutes and removed from the water:

gallery_54501_5252_42055.jpg

Most of the meat is in the tail / lower head section of the lobster, I removed and split in half (as you can see the meat on the right was "cooked" whereas the meat on the left was simply steeped in boiling water just long enough to pull away from the shell):

gallery_54501_5252_33957.jpg

For dinner I butter poached the lobster (it was insanely tender juicy), made a potato puree, beet and potato chips and sauteed cremini mushrooms with a roasted tomato sauce. I wasn't happy with the presentation (shouldn't the lobster be the focal point? uhhh...), but the meal, especially the lobster was awesome.

gallery_54501_5252_20618.jpg

Pearson's Port is an amazing place and with Lobster Season running till March (or was it May), it's going to be hard to keep me away. For anyone in the area who hasn't checked this place out - I highly recommend it.

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