Monday, April 6, 2009

Lunching @ El Pescador Fish Market - Part One

My grandfather a farmer and many of my uncles also avid hobby fishermen, I remember visiting them as a kid and the simple but amazingly fresh meals they would serve.

The Sashimi was usually from fish caught that day. Peeking into the low ceiling kitchen with the hanging donut shaped fluorescent light, I would witness the effortless filleting with the splotchy gray carbon steel bocho that I knew so well was deceptively razor sharp. Not too far from it was its sharpening stone, still wet that was personally quarried ages ago. Of the Sashimi I especially remember the near clear Ika that I would be able to chew with ease despite my missing front tooth. People who do not like squid sashimi never had it this way and this fresh. I won't go too into the vegetables but most before prepared were still with fine prickly fuzz and if eaten whole would snap like a fat Pocky then bleed enough moisture to even quench a mild thirst.

Of course at the time I took it all for granted cause I didn't know better (or more accurate I didn't know worse?). My upbringing was definitely frugal but some things I had it good. :)

What prompted this memory was this Hamachi Sashimi at El Pescador. Laid on an aluminum foil covered paper plate it was so fresh looking and so unpretentiously beautiful that I had to try.

Most Sashimi plates are listed as $8.95 but this was $11.95. All would be explained quickly upon closer inspection. Just look at the lovely marbling..

This was Hamachi Toro and an amazing fresh batch at that. A mild buttery flavor that I only wished I had a few Shiso leaves with the complementary seaweed salad to make some Sashimi Tacos.

It's hard to say how much this plate would've cost at a restaurant since everything is so relative. Considering its freshness, the ten generous pieces and the toro factor, 0.5X minimum up to double in certain restaurants would be my humble guess. Of course again you're eating it off an aluminum foil wrapped paper plate but when it's this good who really cares. Certainly not me and certainly not my uncles. :)

El Pescador's full menu can be found here on their official website. I'm not sure how up-to-date the prices are but they seemed generally accurate with at least the few items I had.

My first visit to El Pescador was about a year ago. I had some Fish Tacos that I then thought was some of the freshest I had. Admittedly a bit underseasoned especially when you consider Wahoo's is next door but to me admirable in the respect to the freshness of their product. I found this consistent with their sandwiches too which I'll get into shortly but nothing a little shake of S&P and on occasion a few drops of Tapatio can't handle.

Not the Cioppino though ($3.95 for a small cup).

I had Cioppino only twice in my life and both times were here so I have nothing to compare. I can say though I really liked this and it was a great gateway Cioppino sample to make me want to try experimenting with other Cioppino out there. :)

As usual I found the Wiki article very informative and also very much inspired by the quote "..often served over spaghetti.." Wow that sounds so good.
El Pescador's is a "lazy man's" version without shell. Mildly spicy but also surprisingly sweet for what I imagined the seafood stew would be. Also perhaps it was the particular ladled batch in my cup but unlike my first experience the larger seafood chunks I was able to recognize were mostly of white fish. Still the flavor of the broth was just as great as the first.

Now to a sandwich. Most were priced at $8.95 as this Lemon Butter Sea Bass written on the chalkboard menu behind the counter.

Thanks to what I learned on Kirk's recent post on the Torta Factory, I believe the bread used is a Bolillo. It is just a fantastic bread that I feel is perfect for these. To start, fish are oval and so are the bread.. :) But it was also airy so to not crush the delicate grilled fish while the light crust was only firm enough to hold everything together without falling apart. I am now a Bolillo fan. No bean spread or guac here of course since it's not a Torta.

As I mentioned seasoning is very light. I still wished there was more butter flavor since it was part of the sandwich's name but wishing for more butter wouldn't be the first for me. Most important though the fish was perfectly grilled, moist, light and flaky with the light lemony tartar sauce like spread to help complement.
And since we're on the topic of freshness, the whole time I am eating my meals three feet away from a glass case completely filled with raw seafood. I dare anyone to try this at supermarkets.

My next visit I started with a small cup of the Clam Chowder ($2.25).

Not too thick, medium creamy and good fresh flavors of clams. It has a "fresh batch" quality that is rich but not at all heavy. I'm not sure if it was thin enough for Clayfu (fun reading) but I definitely had clam chowder elsewhere where it was full of flour filler, sometimes almost as thick as a starter roux for a Bechamel sauce. To think at Whole Bristol this would cost four bucks easy I was a very happy luncher.

To end is the Salmon Burger ($8.95).

Fresh salmon blended with herbs and spices then lightly packed into a patty and grilled. Same light bun and crisp shredded lettuce, thin slices of tomatoes and the light tartar type spread.

The coarse chopped salmon had a nice texture and flavor. Despite having OD'd on the fish not too long ago it was enough of a twist to make me interested in salmon again. This I can have any time.

El Pescador wasn't too busy the couple times I visited recently. The sandwiches may take a bit to come out but a small sample of their soups were a perfect appetizer while waiting. I'm sure to be back soon.

El Pescador Fish Market, 627 Pearl St, La Jolla, CA 92037


Mike said...

We really like El Pescador - we get most of our fish there.

Dennis K. said...

Hi Mike, I wish they were a bit more conveniently located for me. Every town could definitely use a place like it. :)