Dogfish Tasting Event
As part of our ongoing Saltonstall-Kennedy grant that focuses on product development, marketing and increasing domestic sales of spiny dogfish, also known as “Cape shark,” the Fishermen’s Alliance organized a dogfish tasting event on November 10.
The event, held at the Chatham VFW, brought together local chefs, representatives from fish processing companies in New Bedford, corporate food buyers, fishermen and community members to try dogfish prepared in a variety of ways. The goal was to analyze and compare the quality and taste of dogfish when handled differently.
First, we engaged local fishermen to catch and follow different protocols including bleeding and icing the fish or handling them exactly as usual. Then, the samples were processed by Marder Trawling in New Bedford and labeled accordingly. Chef John Pontius of Finely JP’s Restaurant in Wellfleet lightly seasoned them with salt and baked them simply in the oven at the VFW.
Some of the invited guests readily discerned which fish was most elaborately handled, while others had more difficulty telling them apart. In addition, Chef J.P. prepared dogfish steaks in a seafood-infused tomato sauce, and Ipswich Shellfish Group sampled its baked Shark Bites, made with gluten free breading. Ultimately, it was an important step in developing familiarity and understanding consumer preferences for a fish species that is so important to the local fishing fleet. We are hoping to conduct a few more tastings to compare results and strategize how to market the product to local restaurants and test consumer demand.
In the end, our work with the Saltonstall-Kennedy grant is focused on finding a national market for a fish that is from our backyard. Currently, the fishermen are making $0.22 per pound on dogfish, which is then exported to Europe. Connecting the fishermen to the fish on our plates is an important story to tell and could result in a higher price per pound.
We are excited to explore this type of marketing with our new partner, Sea to Table. Sea to Table has a small sales team focused on selling dogfish to large-scale buyers, such as universities and foodservice concessions. Its mission is to connect seafood buyers and their customers with the fishermen who harvested what’s on their plates. See more photos here.