EDGE OF STEAMBOAT

A fresh look on fish

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— Because of Colorado's landlocked geographical location and Steamboat's remote setting, it's no surprise that it's difficult to get fresh ocean fish.

Sure, cutthroat trout, bass and pike are plentiful in our own lakes and rivers, but when you crave a filet of tuna, shrimp or mahi-mahi, where do you go?

City Market offers some plastic-wrapped filets or frozen shrimp and Steamboat Meat & Seafood Co. has a long list of what they have inventoried. But let's face it, we still are 1,000 miles from a salt water ocean.

Despite the multitude of restaurants in Steamboat, I've also heard complaints about the lack of ethnic foods. There's no Thai, no Indian, no Vietnamese but there is Japanese sushi. And for a town where wild game and beef are some of the most popular food fares, it's easy to get stuck in old habits.

But my ears have kept tuned into the many people who are craving their first sushi experience or are gathering for sushi-making parties.

The first time I ever ate raw fish was in a beach house near the Pacific Ocean in Kauai. I was nervous and terrified I would get food poisoning that would, of course, ruin my exotic vacation. But as my chopsticks grabbed hold of the piece of tuna and it plunged into the ramekin of soy sauce, I felt ecstatic that I was diving into a new experience and a cuisine that has been one of my most favorites since that day in November 1993. What better place than Hawaii to eat some of the freshest fish in the world?

Yama Chan of Yama Chan's Restaurant in Steamboat allowed me the pleasure of making my own inside-out roll of eel, smelt roe, sesame seed, seaweed, rice and avocado Wednesday morning.

Avocado actually is a Western addition to traditional sushi because the Japanese could not get this fruit, Chan said.

The rice was unbearably sticky because of its short grain. Almost like bread dough, I was flinging it from my fingers, but it was nothing a little water wouldn't alleviate. Chan said it makes for a very messy kitchen and when you have a sushi party, watch out for sticky rice carpet.

Sushi is not just raw fish. It's vegetarian, or with beef bits or fried seafood. It comes in all shapes and sizes, all textures and colors. All in all, an experienced sushi chef and/or restaurant will not give you food poisoning from sushi.

And your feet don't need to be buried in the sand and you don't need the smell of the salty ocean in the air for you to taste good sushi or sashimi although, that is a much better way to eat it.

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