A Few of My Favorite Things with Katina Holland

Feeding Frenzy

This Sunday July 22, starts shark week on the Discovery Channel.  I wait all year for this week and get so excited.  I’ll admit some of the specials have gone downhill over the last couple years, but I enjoy sitting down and watching the good ones and I have DVD’s of some of the older ones that were really good.  I have always had a fascination with these powerhouses of the oceans. This week, I want to talk about my favorite shark and give you some shark related recipes for any shark themed parties you may be planning.

The Great White Shark is one of the most feared predators of the ocean and it’s not hard to see why.  They average 15ft in length but there are some that have been measured at over 20ft long.  They also weigh about 5000lbs.  The gray color on the top half of this shark helps them blend in with the bottom of the ocean making them harder to see when viewing from above.  The white on underside of the shark makes them difficult to see when underneath the shark.  This gives them great camouflage when hunting.  When hunting, they can attack with a burst of speed and bite as they near their prey. They have several rows of large serrated teeth that can number into the thousands.  When they lose teeth, they are simply replaced by the row behind and new ones will grow.

When it comes to a food source, young Great Whites feed on rays and fish.  Once they mature, they feed on marine mammals like sea lions, seals and small whales.  They are also opportunistic feeders and if a large whale dies, they will congregate and eat on it for a few days.  Often, human attacks are due to mistaken identity or investigative bites.  An investigative bite occurs when the shark is trying to decide whether or not what they have found is food. Since they have no other way to investigate anything in their territory, they have to use their mouth.   Mistaken identity often happens in murky waters or in low light but also happens with surfers.  The shape of a surfboard with someone on it resembles prey enough that a shark will investigate.   Humans don’t have a high enough fat content to be able to sustain a shark so generally any victim is not eaten but simply released.  Unfortunately, due to the teeth mentioned above and the sheer power of these animals, these bites can be fatal.  Though dangerous, you are far more likely to be struck by lightning or die from a snake bite than you are to be attacked by a shark.

In the oceans only larger sharks and orcas pose a threat to the Great White.  Even so, they are an endangered species due to human activity. There are several reasons for this.  Some sharks tangle in fishing nets and die as a result.  Some are killed for sport, for the thrill of the hunt.  Some are killed due to human fear.  Movies like Jaws terrified the public and cause irrational fears that resulted in hundreds of thousands of sharks of all species being killed for no reason.  The saddest reason though is commercialism.  Great Whites are killed for their teeth and jaws which are sold worldwide.  Some cultures eat shark fin soup.  Often the shark’s fins are removed whether the shark is dead or alive and the rest of the shark is discarded creating tons of waste and decimating the numbers of sharks in the ocean.  Luckily this is falling out of favor due to public backlash against shark finning. 

Fun Facts: Great Whites love the surprise attack and often position themselves under prey and then propel themselves up to capture it often propelling themselves straight out of the water in what is known as a breach. 

Most of the world’s Great White Sharks live off the coast of Dyer Island, in South Africa, this area is also referred to as “Shark Alley.”

Scientists previously thought the life expectancy of a Great White Shark was around 25 years, but a recent study shows that their life expectancy is actually around 70 years.

Their sense of smell is so good they can detect the scent of blood in the water from up to three miles away.

A Great White Shark has a bite force of 4,000 psi, which is 10 times the bite force of a lion.

Female Great White Sharks are pregnant for 11 months, giving birth to small litters of 2-12 pups.  Baby sharks practice oophagy, a behavior where the largest, strong pups will cannibalize the other pups inside of the womb.

Great White Sharks become motionless when flipped on their backs, known as “tonic immobility.”  Killer whales have been seen using this tactic to kill Great Whites. 

Sharks are powerful predators but are so misunderstood.  Discovery and NatGeo Channels are trying to help save the sharks by providing understanding.  The public is starting to come around and more and more are becoming advocates for saving these creatures.  Plan on watching some next week and meet me in the kitchen for some shark related foods.


Shark Bait Ceviche

1 1/2 pounds tilapia, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

3/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice, (about 14 limes), plus wedges for serving if desired

2 tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped

2 avocados, halved, pitted and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1/2 English cucumber, peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped

1/4 cup freshly chopped cilantro

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Hot sauce

Small tostadas, for serving 

Combine fish, onion, and lime juice in a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and marinate for about 8 minutes.  Drain, pressing into strainer to remove excess liquid. Return fish mixture to bowl. Stir in tomatoes, avocado, cucumbers, and cilantro. Season with salt, pepper, and hot sauce. Serve immediately with tostadas and lime wedges.

Recipe from Martha Stewart


Fish Tacos

1 1/2 cups cake flour

2 Tbsps. paprika

2 tsps. black pepper

Salt, to taste

3/4 cup beer (plus more as necessary)

1 egg

3/4 cup Miracle Whip (if you don’t like Miracle Whip, you can also use sour cream)

2 Tbsps. sriracha or other chili sauce of your liking

2 quarts peanut oil

1 pound white fish (such as cod, hake, or halibut), cut into eight 2-ounce fingers

16 corn tortillas, warmed

1 small head of cabbage, finely shredded

Pickled red onions, to taste

1/2 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro, optional

2 limes, cut into wedges, optional

Fish Batter: Combine flour, paprika, black pepper, and salt and whisk to combine. Transfer half of mixture to a large bowl and set aside. Add beer and egg to remaining mixture and whisk until a smooth batter is formed. Batter should have the consistency of thick paint (add up to 1/2 cup more beer as necessary until proper consistency is reached). Set aside.  Chili Mayo: Combine Miracle Whip and hot sauce in a medium bowl and whisk until combined. Set aside.  Heat oil in a deep fryer, Dutch oven, or large wok to 350°F. Transfer fish pieces to bowl with batter and turn to coat thoroughly. Working one piece at a time, lift fish, let excess batter drip off, then transfer to bowl with remaining flour mixture. Toss to coat thoroughly. Lift carefully with tongs or dry fingers and slowly lower into hot oil. Repeat with remaining fish.  Fry, turning occasionally, until golden brown on all sides. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and season with salt.  Top each tortilla with shredded cabbage, 1 piece of fish, pickled red onions, chili mayo, and cilantro. Serve with lime wedges if desired.

Recipe adapted from seriouseats.com.


Shark Attack Jell-O Shots

1 package blue Jell-O

1 cup boiling water

1 cup rum

12 gummy sharks

Red food coloring

In a large bowl or liquid measuring cup, combine blue Jell-O mix, boiling water and rum. Whisk until combined.  Place gummy sharks in shot glasses. Fill the glasses with the Jell-O mixture and refrigerate for 20 minutes.  Add a drop or two of red food coloring to each glass and swirl with a toothpick. Return to the refrigerator to harden completely, about 40 minutes. Serve.

Recipe from delish.com.


Shark Bite Cupcakes

Ok I am going to make this one so basic.  You can make it as complicated or as easy as you want.

White cupcakes--You can either use a cake recipe I have provided in a previous column or just use a white cake box mix.  

Buttercream icing—again feel free to use a recipe I provided last August or use a tub of icing from the store. 

Strawberry filling or jam

Fondant or white chocolate for making shark fins. 

If making shark fins from fondant, add 1 drop of black to white fondant and work with your hands until incorporated.  Repeat as necessary until the fondant is the gray you want it.  Then, simply roll out the fondant to about a ¼ inch thick.  Using knife or exacto blade simply cut out several fins.  You can also cut yourself a stencil using paper to make sure they are how you want them.  Make these a day in advance.  The fondant must harden or they won’t stay upright.  If using chocolate or melting wafers, melt in chocolate melting pot and add color slowly to reach desired gray.  Place parchment paper on a baking sheet.  Pour into piping bag or sandwich bag and snip a hole for a round tip.  Pipe the edge of your fin and then fill in, smoothing with a small knife or the back of a spoon if necessary.  Bake cupcakes as directed.  Once completely cool, remove the center of each cupcake and fill with strawberry jam.  Dye frosting blue to simulate water.  Work with one or two drops at a time and mix well until it reaches the color you want. Pipe frosting onto each cupcake.  Top each cupcake with a shark fin.  Bam! Easy cupcakes!


Shark Attack Cocktail

¾ oz. light rum

¾ oz. vodka

½ oz. Blue Curacao

3 oz. pineapple juice

1 oz. Sweet & Sour

Crème De Cassis, for drizzling

Put all of the ingredients except the cassis in your shaker with ice.  Shake.  Shake some more.  Shake a bit more than that (you want it extra foamy – sea foam is a must).  Pour into an old-fashioned glass.  Drizzle with Crème de Cassis right before serving.  Serve in a dramatic fashion while playing Jaws theme music.

Recipe from thedrinkblog.com.


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