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Thi N. | Sep 3, 200209:22 PM

Hanging out on Sunset Beach, right by little Saigon, I saw a big Vietnamese family working together. Two ladies shelling mussels dug up from the beach, three guys and 2 kids fishing. Pulling up fish after fish - I think I counted 7 fish, pretty hefty-sized, in their. I asked him what it was. He told me - in Vietnamese, but I did't recognize the name, and don't remember it. He told me: "Good eatin'" - or, at least, the Vietnamese equivalent.

And I stared at that bucket and I thought to myself - I live by the Pacific Ocean, and I love fresh fish, and sometimes, when Assi market smells bad and Santa Monica Seafood is too expensive - how good could this be? Could I keep these babies alive to my kitchen?

Amy was with me - quietly noted enthusiasm, remembered her own desire to restart fishing, and returned from North Carolina with three family-heirloom reels. Beautiful.

So, questions, if anybody out there fishes - think of this as the Foraging in L.A. thread Part III - Fruits of the Ocean:

1. Is the fish from this area relatively safe to eat? Even: is it good enough to eat raw? (In the book "California Fishing," the guy describes being on Catalina Island, pulling up a yellowtail from the *pier* and chopping it up and eating it sashimi style right there on the pier, using part of the fish as a table. 15 pounds of it. Holy christ.) (ALSO - one of my favorite sushi fishes is bonito. And apparently, according to "Califoria Fishing", the Redondo Beach area is, in season, the best bonito fishery in the area. And that most of it is boat, but during the hard runs, you can get it from the Redondo pier, which runs along a canyon)

2. What varieties are particularly good eating? I saw thousands of mackeral being pulled on Venice Beach, and lord knows I love mackeral - raw, grilled Japanese style - and I'll go for that. But anything else, and where is it?

2a. Particularly - I have heard that there are certain fishes that are not commercially fishable, but very tasty. The book I pulled from the UCLA library specifically mentioned corvina as a protected, sport-fishing only fish that was particularly tasty, fishable from the Santa Monica beach below the pier, but that book is 30 years old. Does anyone know about more such fishes, and where you can get them? (This reminds me of my mushroom-hunting high school biology teacher, who sold thousands of dollars of wild morels and chantrelles and the like to San Francisco restaurants - but his favorite eating was the Inkspot, which was unsellable and essentially worthless, because it dissolved into ink within 20 hours of being plucked.)

3. Similarly - have heard that there is stocked trout in San Gabriel River. Man, the smog up there scares me. Is this stuff safe to eat? Get some of the good Whole Foods bacon and a skillet and... or would it be too ridiculous to bring some butter and almonds?


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