First review published 4/10/2010

“The Fishes & Dishes Cookbook: Seafood Recipes and Salty Stories from Alaska’s Commercial Fisherwomen.”
By Kiyo Marsh, Tomi Marsh, and Laura Cooper

Daily News Staff Writer
They’ve braved the ocean from Ketchikan to the Bering Sea, these “goddesses in Grundéns,” harvesting salmon and crab and halibut and herring. Such hard work produces a healthy appetite, and fisherwomen know seafood at its best. And thus have these fisherwomen — Kiyo Marsh, Tomi Marsh and Laura Cooper — combined their knowledge of seafaring, fishing and the culinary arts into a remarkable new volume entitled “The Fishes & Dishes Cookbook.”

Two neat things stand out in this book. A variety of vignettes, glossaries and photos provide an illuminating glimpse of the authors’ fishing lifestyles and the seafood they harvest. Secondly, the 80 recipes are as adventurous as the authors themselves. Betty Crocker, the poor dear, got left on the dock for this one. Many Ketchikan residents and commercial fishermen in Alaska are likely to know of at least one of the “Fishes & Dishes” authors and contributors. The most visible here around the First City is Tomi Marsh, the Ketchikan-based skipper of the 78-foot fishing and tendering vessel Savage, and a 28-year veteran of the commercial fishing industry. Tomi’s sister, Kiyo Marsh, worked five years as a deckhand and boat cook aboard the Savage from Southeast Alaska to the Bering Sea. Laura Cooper worked as a boat cook and deckhand aboard longlining and tendering boats in western Alaska. Kiyo and Laura now reside in Seattle.

So, where did the cookbook idea come from? Aboard the Savage, about a decade ago, Kiyo Marsh told the Daily News in March. “When Tomi and I were fishing crab, rolling around the Bering Sea, cooking was always such a challenge,” Kiyo said. “We started off joking about making a cookbook called ‘Cooking in the Ditch.’ Each recipe would be good whether you were in 30-foot seas or tied to the dock.” Kiyo laughs when she says this, recalling how she’d use bungie cords and straps criss-crossed over the top of the Savage galley’s stove in an attempt to keep pots and pans in place. “You’d take a hard roll and it doesn’t matter how hard it’s strapped down. it’s going to want to jump,” she said. “There were times where I’m literally just laid out across the stove trying to keep things from going on the floor.” Over time, Kiyo and Tomi collected recipes, testing and innovating at sea and on land. The process toward a cookbook gathered speed about three years ago when Laura Cooper began helping out. The world-traveling Kiyo said she loves to be creative with cooking, which is reflected in the selections featured in “Fishes & Dishes.” “I wanted to try to put some recipes in that were going to be a little different than what you usually see in a cookbook,” she said. “Not just your clam chowder, and your fish and chips, and your salmon dip — not that those aren’t good.” Her personal favorite recipes in the book include the miso-glazed black cod, a cast-iron broiled salmon and the jade dumplings made with salmon. Many of the recipes include ethnic flavors from Japanese, Vietnamese, Spanish, Chinese and Thai cuisines. Kiyo also said she wanted to give cooks opportunities to make things like sweet chile sauce or green enchilada sauce from scratch. “But you know, definitely if we’re rolling around on the boat, we’d probably grab a jar of chile sauce or a can of green enchilada sauce for the seafood enchiladas,” Kiyo said. In addition to basic preparation tips for a variety of seafood species (ever de-beard a mussel or clean a geoduck clam?), “Fishes & Dishes” includes some beverage mixology and a section on how to pair wines with seafood.

“Fishes & Dishes’ has several contributions from other fisherwomen, such as Carol Brown, Stefani Smith, Mary Lang, Shannon Zellerhoff, Roxanne Kennedy and Kacy Hubbard-Patton. One short story is about Dawn and Dave Rauwolf of Ketchikan. There’s also a page on fishing fashion —the book’s working title was “Goddesses in Grundéns” — that covers the fab basics such as Xtratuf boots, Polartec fleece, hoodies, rubber gloves and Carhartt coveralls. It all rings true, written by women who’ve lived at sea and know their subjects well.
“Fishes & Dishes” is available now at some booksellers, including Parnassus Books in Ketchikan.
“People have been really positive and haav really liked it a lot,” Kiyo Marsh said.

She and Tomi Marsh plan to be at Parnassus Books beginning at about 2 p.m. Sunday during Parnassus’ 25th anniversary open house (which runs from noon to 5 p.m.). “I’m not exactly sure what we’re going to make yet, but there will definitely be food from the book there,” Kiyo said.


Second review published 7/17/2010

For the Ketchikan Daily News
My job as the Ketchikan Public Library’s outreach librarian takes me into the reading lives of many people in Ketchikan. I remember years ago, when cooking was not much of a priority for me, visiting Dorothy Sadlier and wondering why on earth she would want to check out cookbooks when she no longer was able to cook. I asked her about it and she said she just liked to read them. How odd, I thought. Now I am older (and maybe a teeny bit wiser) and my culinary tastes have matured and improved. I have grown a bit bored with years of cooking dinners and find myself seeking out new and exciting recipes to experiment with.

New cookbooks abound at the public library, but “The Fishes & Dishes Cookbook: Seafood Recipes and Salty Stories from Alaska’s Commercial Fisherwomen” really stands out for me. This is simply a good book to read. Written by fisherwomen and cooks (among other things) Tomi Marsh, Kiyo Marsh and Laura Cooper, this book is a unique seafood cookbook full of creative recipes and amazing tales of adventure. If you are local, then you will love recognizing stories about fisherwomen you know and reading about familiar places, and if you are unfamiliar with our people and fisheries, you surely will love the tales of adventure, the portrayal of Alaska and the recipes for the bounty our waters provide. Every page has a either a color photograph or a collage image by co-author Laura Cooper. Each chapter begins with a story about life in the fisheries, and they all are written by women. The first story is about the history of Tomi Marsh’s tender The F/V Savage in Brooklyn, N.Y., while others give a history of Dutch Harbor and talk about “the lure of the catch.” There is a salmon primer to explain the anadromous salmon and identify differences between the types of salmon. Another helpful page explains the difference between the types of Alaska fisheries, the terms used and tips, such as how to clean and cook a crab or a geoduck, and how to make a basic fish brine. One of my favorite stories explains the terms buoy balls — as opposed to just plain old balls — and there is even a bit of poetry in the book, too.

The recipes in “The Fishes and Dishes Cookbook” are pretty great, too. My one complaint is that some of the ingredients might be a bit unusual and hard to find for your average Ketchikan cook on a budget, but the dishes I tried were absolutely delicious. I highly recommend the jade dumplings, but wish there had been a bit of an explanation on how to “pleat the won tons.” Mine looked a bit wacky, but tasted great. The smoked salmon pizza was pretty good and I’m about to make grilled salmon with cilantro and lime.

“The Fishes and Dishes Cookbook” is great for cooks and noncooks alike. The Ketchikan Public Library has shelves of great cookbooks, and this one will be available to check out just as soon as I’ve finished my dinner.