If every neighborhood had a fish market like the one Jim Oswalt runs in Issaquah Washington the U.S. would be a healthier nation because more people would eat more fish on a regular basis.
Issaquah is about 20 minutes southeast of Seattle Washington. It’s where our son John and daughter-in-law Julie live with our grand children – Ella, 5, and Miles, 3.
Oswalt’s fish market – Gemini – is about a mile from their house. August 5 will be the first anniversary of the day Oswalt opened his store. John, who is a very inventive cook and a devoted foodie, discovered the store within days after opened. I first became acquainted with it early this year after Jennifer and I landed at Seattle-Tacoma Airport, picked up our rental car and were headed for Issaquah. John called and asked if I would stop by Gemini and pick up two pounds of white springer salmon that was being held for him.
I browsed around the store, while Jim wrapped our fish. What I saw made me jealous of everyone who lives in Issaquah. The display case was brimming with fresh local fish that never had been frozen. There were several varieties of oysters and mussels. There was Jim’s “homemade” ceviche, pickled herring and several varieties of smoked fish.
On an earlier visit, John cooked some white king salmon he had bought at Gemini. It was the best salmon I ever had tasted and one of the best pieces of fish I’d ever eaten. The fish we ate that night had been in the water 24 hours before we bought it. Not long after that, on a visit to Asanebo, the wonderful sushi restaurant in Studio City, I was offered white king as sushi. WOW. (You can read about Asanebo at www.atLarrys.com)
It was on our next trip up that I received the fateful phone call from John on the way in from the airport. White springer entered my life with a splash and a new standard was set for great fish.
Jim told me there is a short season for the white springers. In advance of each season the state issues permits to 20 people to catch up to three fish each. They must be line caught. The fish are weighed and inspected and, based on what is found, the season is scheduled. Jim had a friend who got one of the permits and gave him two of the fish he caught fish. John was a regular customer and received an email notice from Jim that day. He called immediately to reserve two pounds.
Before I left Gemini that day I teased Jim about opening a store in the San Fernando Valley. He told me he would ship any fish I want, cold packed – not frozen – and I could eat it less than 48 hours after it had been swimming in the water. (NOTE: An article on Online Edibles by Larry Sheingold appears elsewhere in this online cuisine magazine.)
This week’s selection includes Quinault steelhead fillets at $10.99 a pound, Alaskan Coho salmon fillets at $9.99 a pound and Alaskan long line rockfish fillets at $9.99 a pound. Other fresh fish available this week include swordfish, sashimi grade ahi, black cod and Alaskan halibut. For those of you who share my distaste for the warm water halibut we are offered throughout California and most of the rest of the country, you don’t know what halibut is until you’ve tasted the Alaskan.
I stopped in today to get some fish for dinner. Jim pulled a whole king salmon from its shipping crate, sharpened his knife and cut me a piece a bit over two pounds. That fish had been caught yesterday. He was expecting some halibut in later, but I didn’t feel like a return trip. While we were there, we picked up a couple of crab cakes that he had just finished preparing. We’ll pan fry them as an appetizer tonight. I got six ounces of shrimp ceviche and Jennifer got half a pound of Maine shrimp for lunch.
Jim Oswalt started working in a fish market when he was a 17-year-old high school student. He worked in fish markets while in college and later in some of the better fish markets around the Puget Sound area. He and several partners owned a combination fish store, café and smoke house in southern Washington for some 14 years. He left that business and moved to the Issaquah area, where he worked in the business end of the fish business for 18 months before opening Gemini.
If I lived in Issaquah I would be eating fish four or five times a week. If I lived in Seattle, even if it was just around the corner from the famed Pike Market, I would make a trip into Issaquah for a visit with Jim at least once a week.
If you want to be added to Jim’s email list with and order stuff to be shipped to you, drop him an email at Freshseafood@Geminifish.com. Phone number is (425) 961-0741.
Chapter Fourteen – July 26, 2010 – A FOOD LOVER’S TREK tracks the travels of Table Talk editor Larry Levine and his wife Jennifer from Los Angeles to Fairbanks Alaska and back. You can follow our travels through Seattle, Oregon, the northern tier of California and the Bay Area at http://www.TableTalkatLarrys.com and click on A FOOD LOVER’S TREK. If you are enjoying these writings please pass the link on to a friend.