When I hear the word barracuda, I think of the former Alaska governor Sarah "Barracuda" Palin, who somehow fell into her nickname in high school because of her skills on the basketball court. The Republican National Committee even played Heart's song Barracuda at their convention, which really pissed off Heart. I think it's odd, however, that Ms. Palin would invite the media to refer to her by her old high school moniker -- she with the designer glasses and stiletto heels -- as an actual barracuda is one ugly fish.
For someone as food obsessed as I am, the fact that I think of a politician instead of barracuda meuniere, or some other dish, must mean that that Mr. Ugly Fish just hasn't been on my culinary radar. So when I was in Berkeley Bowl West a couple of weeks ago, checking out that great fish selection, I was surprised and intrigued to find barracuda cut into thick steaks. I had never seen barracuda for sale before, so asked the butcher about it. He had just told me all about the halibut they had, going through the fish monger motions of detailing where it came from, if it had been frozen, etc. But when I asked about the barracuda, his eyes lit up and a slow smile spread across his face. "I had some last night," he said excitedly while leaning over the counter. "And it was fantastic." Obviously, the halibut was a distant memory and I quickly asked for four pieces of barracuda.
Not sure what to do with this unexpected haul, I went online once I got home to look up some recipes. I was surprised to find that other than some sport fishermen sites, there really weren't any food articles available. Most cooking blogs, Epicurious, All Recipes, and even The Food Network haven't seemed to discover barracuda yet. There were a few recipes (barracuda burgers seemed the most popular choice), but the majority were for a cocktail made with vodka and Southern Comfort (which sounds terrible). I stared at my computer and started to doubt my purchase. I mean, if I couldn't Google a recipe, then no one was writing about this fish. And if no one was writing about it then I was either lucky enough to have struck upon something unique and wonderful, or, more likely, I had just purchased a fish most people considered inedible.