M.V. Smokehouse was started in 2014 when friends Chef Nathan Gould and Island native and fisherman Gus Leaf went fishing and caught a bluefish. Nathan smoked the filets, and gave them to Gus. “Gus loved it so much,” Nathan said, that he told Nathan, “We should start a business.” And M.V. Smokehouse was born.
At the time there were no commercial smoked seafood products being made and sold retail on the Island. Hard to believe.
What is so special about M.V. Smokehouse seafood spreads, like their off-the-charts smoked bluefish spread?
“Sourcing and handling make us unique,” said Nathan. “Gus catches 80 percent or more of the fish we use; also it is how he handles fish from the moment they’re caught and selected that makes the difference.” All the fish caught for their spreads are bled and iced immediately. Doing this preserves the meat from being exposed to blood and oils, keeping the meat clean. With bluefish, it makes a night and day difference.
One of the biggest misconceptions about bluefish is that it is oily and strongly flavored. It is in fact a delicate fish, and susceptible to damage when handled poorly.
“Our spreads also have seafood as the first ingredient,” Nathan said. Many fish spreads start with cream cheese, making them heavy and dense. “Most of our recipes are actually dairy-free, except a small amount in the whitefish spread,” he explained.
All their seafood is smoked at Gus’ commercial facility here on the Island. Gus and Nathan went through the lengthy process of acquiring a wholesale license, which requires learning safe handling practices. The seafood is smoked, starting with a dry cure or rub, using hickory for a great smoky essence that does not overpower.
This duo has worked hard to get their product out to the public. M.V. Smokehouse has its spreads available at the West Tisbury Farmers Market, Grey Barn Farm, the Larder, Tony’s Market, Edgartown Meat and Fish, Port Supply, as well as a few Island restaurants that add it to their menus. Off-Island, they are at the Osterville and Falmouth farmers’ markets.
The staple selection is smoked bluefish spread, smoked spicy yellowfin tuna with jalapeño, smoked whitefish salad, and in summer, smoked peppered mahi-mahi. They will add special spreads, such as one made from local scallops, depending on the catch throughout the season. Personally, I think the Spicy Tuna is off-the-hook delicious.
For information on M.V. Smokehouse, visit mvsmokehouse.com. This story is excerpted from the 2020 Early Summer Edible Vineyard.