Fresh, local ingredients distinguish one of the country's tastiest corners.

By Cynthia Nims
January 24, 2008
Becky Luigart-Stayner

The Pacific Northwest teems with oyster and clam beds, eelgrass(a prime habitat for Dungeness crabs and shrimp), and boats thatfish for tuna, halibut, black cod, and salmon. Oregon, Washington,and British Columbia have a combined saltwatercoastline―including straits, bays, sounds, andislands―that measures more than 20,000 miles. So seafoodnaturally becomes part of the psyche of the Northwest.

Northwesterners take their seafood seriously―not just whatthey're eating or where it's from, but also how it was caught.Menus and seafood markets often note harvest methods, touting fishas troll-caught (one hook, one fish, very little bycatch) orreef-netted (an ancient American Indian technique often called "themodel for sustainable salmon fishing").

When it comes to preparing seafood, the Pacific Northwest mantrais "the simpler, the better." Fresh Dungeness crabs require noelaborate techniques, just a quick steam in water or good ale.Sweet and delicate fresh spot prawns need little more than a simplesauté in butter with a splash of white wine. A rich piece ofsalmon perfectly grilled with a sprinkle of sea salt is supremelydelicious.

The following recipes explore three favorite Northwestcatches―salmon, Dungeness crab, and oysters―embellishedwith regional ingredients such as sweet berries, crisp asparagus,and earthy hazelnuts.