The Taste: Captain's Ketch Seafood Market
Jun 30, 2017 09:00AM ● Published by Arden Haley
Captain’s Ketch Seafood Market
316 Glebe Rd. Easton // 410-820-7177
Preserving the Old WaysBy Rita Calvert // Photography by Tony Lewis, Jr.
The crew at Captain’s Ketch in Easton, Maryland, is a champion in their cause to retain the old Eastern Shore. I sat down with founder and owner, Keith MacPherson, and Nancy Brodie, retail manager, for a good story on the background of this seafood market with an emphasis on excellent service.
Keith’s says it all, “We try not to have NO in our vocabulary!”
June 2017 marks your 35th year in business. Give us an overview of the history and why seafood?Seafood, this has been a love of mine for the entire 35 years of this market and long before that. I studied marine biology and just out-of-college in 1982, I saw the need for a full-service seafood market in this area. My family owned the property on this block and when I was determined to create a seafood business, we built and later expanded this very building of Captain’s Ketch. From my early years of having my own fishing boat and working on the water, I knew the players in the Eastern Shore seafood industry.
There certainly have been down times! The Pfiesteria outbreak in the ‘80s majorly affected folks buying seafood. We hunkered down and offset that issue by selling Omaha Steaks. We made it through okay. I’m not boasting, but we are just blessed.
Everyone here working with Captain’s Ketch is from the Eastern Shore, which translates to friendliness. We know many of our customers’ names and it’s very important to us that we give them personalized service. For example, we are vigilant to always have our corn pudding on hand for a customer who comes in each-and-every week to buy two pans of it.
Your seafood is said to be the highest quality of the area. Give us the background.I was a kid working on my crab boat in the Miles River and I’ve been on all ends—from harvester to end user. All of the seafood here passes through my hands or my son’s. Our customers know this and they know we will spend the time to explain and educate. They trust us to handpick the best seafood and understand that the best quality costs more. They understand the value.
Your website states, “Many of our recipes are totally unique to Captain’s Ketch Seafood Market and you won’t find them anywhere else in the world!” Where do you get your inspiration for these recipes?We strive for good, real old-fashioned food from the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Everything here is made by hand with real and fresh ingredients. Many of our recipes are handed-down from generations of our Captain’s Ketch family. Items like our sweet potato biscuits and yeast rolls are made from scratch daily. Our salad dressings, soups, and sauces are all homemade. Our Oyster Pot Pie is famous with nine whole oysters in each six-inch mounded pie. Only fresh vegetables, not frozen, are used and it’s wrapped in a puff-pastry crust.
With fully operating retail and wholesale seafood space, tray catering and special events, how many employees do you have?We have 12 employees who are part of our family team and I’m very hands-on, rather than spending all of my time in the office. We have a lot going on between fish cutting—as we buy whole salmon—our in-house baked goods, our complete lunch and dinner takeout, homemade carry-out specialties like crab or salmon cakes, and our Eastern Shore Snapping Turtle Soup.
Seafood is a huge topic here in the Chesapeake. As times change, how have your seafood offerings changed?Times certainly have changed! At this point, many of my fishermen friends, who love the seafood business, have had to take supplemental jobs to keep going. Year-round fishing just can’t support them. For that, you have to go further down the Bay. We have more Rockfish than in the past and that’s great because it’s our number one seller. We have less oysters and they are more expensive. They were very plentiful in Harris Creek and now that has been designated as a preserve. The farmed oysters in this area are excellent, such as Choptank Sweets and Tom’s Cove from Chinquoteague Island, Virginia. Good aquaculture is the wave of the future.
It is a challenge to find less expensive fish, but we try new items with our customers, like branzino (European seabass) or monkfish and supply recipes for every fish we sell.
It’s great that on your website, captainsketchseafood.com, under “news” you have nutritional content of a lot of seafood.That news on our website is live from our Facebook page. Yes, we dedicate a lot of information which is important to help people learn about seafood. For example, we talk about monkfish, a lesser known fish, which is “the poor man’s lobster.” It’s much lower in cholesterol than lobster and certainly less expensive. Also on our “news bites,” we announce samplings and our grilling demos in summer.
Tell us about your samplings.We do a lot of taste testing. Sometimes it may be an organized affair with samples of shrimp, salmon, or tuna. Just before Thanksgiving, we do major samplings of all of our [items] “made-in-house.” We often sample our products from around our local area such as: Roseda Beef, dry aged and locally raised near Monkton, Maryland, the Smith Island Cake, Chapel Country Creamery Cheeses, Mark Salters “Eastern Shore Pub Sauce,” Old Bay Seafood Seasonings, Kelchner’s Tarter and Cocktail Sauce.
Recipe: Rockfish Topped with Crab Imperial
As one of our favorite recipes, this dish has been handed down and changed to our liking.
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon creamy Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon parsley (chopped)
- 1 teaspoon Tabasco
- 1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
- 1 pound lump Maryland backfin crab meat
- 2 pounds Rockfish fillets (skin on)
Imperial Sauce Ingredients
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1/8 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
- 1/8 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1/8 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
- 1/8 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
Preheat oven to 350F.
Spray a baking pan with cooking spray and place fillets on pan, skin side down.
Mix first eight ingredients together in a separate bowl. Gently fold crab meat into mixture. Spread mixture over fillets.
Bake at 350° for 25 minutes, or until flaky.
Top with Imperial sauce.
Bake for an additional 3 minutes.