I have often written about ways to enjoy different types of Maine seafood that you might not otherwise think to try. Urchins, periwinkles and seaweeds, for example, are lower on the totem pole than scallops and lobster for most American consumers. These are all delicious and worthy of trying to be sure. But also worth exploring are new ways to enjoy your favorite species. For example, lobster gets a lot of attention in its traditional preparations like as a lobster roll or served whole and steamed with drawn butter or even as a bisque or chowder. There are, however, myriad other ways to prepare it as well as other types of common Maine seafood. It takes a little imagination to think of seafood as another source of protein that can be just about as versatile as chicken or tofu, but doing so opens up new possibilities for integrating it into your weekly menu.

A báhn mì sandwich is one way to put a new spin on seafood to incorporate into your diet. Photo contributed by Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative

While you can’t always substitute fish or lobster for the meat used in any given entree, with a little creativity, you can shift your way of thinking about seafood and find ways to eat a lot more of it without always eating it in the traditional ways. One approach to this is to try recipes from other parts of the world. On a recent visit to Fisherman’s Net Seafood Restaurant & Market on Bath Road in Brunswick, I noticed that they were serving a báhn mì sandwich made with lobster alongside chicken or pork báhn mì options. In exploring their menu offerings, I found that they also have also offered this traditional Vietnamese sandwich featuring both crab and scallops. This is part of its “Vietnamese Fusion” menu, which brings together the owner’s family history of growing up in Vietnam on a seafood farm raising shrimp, fish and snails, and his present passion for Maine seafood. In addition to the menu options, the shop’s blog, mualobster.com, has an array of recipes featuring Maine seafood prepared in traditionally Vietnamese dishes. It may at first appear to center on lobster, but there are great instructional pieces on how to store seafood and what the differences are between types of shellfish as well as how to prepare many other types of seafood.

In another fusion of traditions, Fishermen’s Net recently had a special on lobsters as a part of “Tet,” the Vietnamese celebration of the Lunar New Year. Aside from their retail business and restaurant, they ship Maine seafood around the world. In celebration of the Lunar New Year, they offered a special deal on live shipped lobsters as well as discounts on the prices of several other Maine seafood offerings. Their promotional materials are written in a combination of Vietnamese and English to celebrate both cultures and also to serve both cultures. Much of the business they do is to Asian markets, which allows them to diversify offerings and to sell types of Maine seafood that aren’t all that popular in Maine — like periwinkles and urchins.

Fishermen’s Net isn’t the only place to turn to find out new ways to prepare your favorite Maine seafood. There are many other shops and restaurants as well as great online references and cookbooks from other cultures and time periods. But it is nice to find one so close to home that incorporates ideas from different parts of the world to highlight and expand markets for Maine seafood. I, for one, am looking forward to sampling a lobster báhn mì!

Susan Olcott is the director of operations at Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association.

Comments are not available on this story.