Suddenly, Jaws feels a little less scary, because now I’ve eaten a shark sandwich.
Armoury D.E., the intrepid bar in Deep Ellum with a deserved reputation for ingenious bar snacks, is now serving a sandwich called the Jabber Jaw ($11.50), featuring, yes, battered and fried slices of mako shark.
Eagle-eyed foodies will remember that there are ethical concerns over the consumption of shark fins. Shark fin soup, an Asian delicacy, is widely shunned because of the inhumane practice of removing the shark’s fins while the animal is alive, leaving it unable to swim and doomed to a miserable, prolonged death. Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama each signed laws meant to proscribe the practice in the United States; the latter bill came about after the unforgettably named court case, U.S. v. Approximately 64,695 Pounds of Shark Fins.
Happily, this isn’t a problem at Armoury D.E. The kitchen uses meat from the main body of the mako shark, frequently a cut from along the mako’s underbelly. The sharks are hauled in by a fisherman in Honolulu, who calls up Armoury chef Abram Vargas when he has a fresh catch.
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What does mako shark taste like? Armoury takes thin cuts, battering and frying them so the result is a bit like a more exciting fried catfish sandwich. The breading isn’t too crunchy, and the sharkmeat is firmer and less flaky than catfish. That more solid texture is the only real hint that this is an out-of-the-ordinary dish. When the sandwich arrives, a faint aroma arrives with it: not necessarily fishy or worrisome, just different.
“I like the chew, the texture of shark,” Vargas says, “so I decided to mimic a fried catfish sandwich with it.”
As for the rest, Armoury is adding pickles, lettuce and paprika mayo to the grilled bun — nothing fancy about the trimmings. And the bar’s killer fries, topped with unhealthy but irresistible amounts of big salt and pepper flakes, are as grand as ever. In the new Deep Ellum, it’s always Shark Week.
Armoury DE, 2714 Elm St.