Archive for the ‘Seafood’ category

Baked fish with fennel

May 14, 2011

Fennel, with its faintly licorice flavor, makes a wonderful accompaniment for fish. This recipe works well with any kind of white fish. My favorite is halibut, but snapper, striped bass, flounder, etc. work very well, too.

Four fish fillets 6 to 8 oz each
1 c julienned fennel bulb
1 c julienned onion
1/2 c julienned carrot
4 thin slices of lemon
Salt and pepper
2 TB olive oil

Sauté the vegetables in the olive oil until they are partially cooked, adding some S&P to taste, then set aside to cool. Rub a baking pan with a bit more oil and arrange the fillets on it. Season the fish with S&P, then cover each fillet with 1/4 of the vegetable mix and top with a lemon slice. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or so, depending on the thickness of your fillets.

Freezing shrimp and shrimp stock

May 1, 2011

We are fortunate to be able to go to the North Carolina coast, a few hours drive away, and get fresh-off-the-boat large shrimp for less than $3 a pound—but we have to buy 50 pounds! Now and then we bring back a load of 50 pounds, so we needed to find the best way to freeze them. Here’s what we have found to be the best way to preserve that fresh taste and texture.

1. Keep the shrimp ice-cold at all times, but do not allow them to soak in water.
2. Remove the heads, but leave the shells on. If desired, use the heads to make shrimp stock (see below).
3. Pack the shrimp into Tupperware-type containers.
4. Cover with cold water that has 1 tsp salt dissolved per quart.
5. Put the lid on the container and freeze as quickly as possible.

Recognizing fresh shrimp: First of all, ask to smell the shrimp. If you get even the slightest whiff of ammonia, fuggedaboudit. But, even shrimp without the ammonia smell can be more or less fresh, and here’s how to tell. This only works with head-on shrimp, obviously. Each shrimp has two long feelers, or antennae, on its head. They can be 6 or more inches in length. When the shrimp are really fresh, the feelers are flexible and relatively tough. Most or all of the shrimp should have the full feelers and you should be able to pick a shrimp up by a feeler. As freshness wanes, the feelers get brittle and break easily, so this test won’t work.

Making shrimp stock: When you have a bunch of shrimp heads, you can use them to make stock, useful in soups and other recipes. For about 2 lbs of heads, rinse under cold water and put in a stock pot with 2-1/2 quarts of water and 1/2 c each coarsely chopped onion, celery, and carrot. Add a halved garlic clove, a bay leaf, and a grinding of black pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook for 30 to 60 minutes, skimming off any foam that comes to the surface. Strain and discard the solids. For a really clear stock, strain again through several layers of cheesecloth. Freeze in desired size portions.

Scallops in vermouth cream sauce

April 30, 2011

Rich and luxurious, terrific served on spinach linguini. Serves 2-4.

1 lb sea scallops, trimmed*
1/4 c all-purpose flour (appx)
4 TB butter
1 TB oil
2 shallots, finely minced
1 c dry vermouth
1 c heavy cream
1 tsp dried fine herbs (I use Penzey’s)
1/2 tsp freshly ground white pepper
salt to taste

Rinse and drain the scallops. Pat dry with paper towels and dust with the flour. Heat the oil and 1 TB butter in a non-stick skillet over high heat until the butter foam subsides and it is on the verge of starting to brown. Add the scallops and sauté until nicely browned – they should be almost but not quite cooked thru. Remove to a plate. Melt the remaining butter in the same pan and sauté the shallots over medium heat until soft, 4-5 minutes. Add the vermouth, herbs, and pepper and boil down to about 1/4 c. Add the cream and bring to a boil. Taste for salt and add if needed. Return the scallops to the pan for a moment to heat through and complete cooking.

* Scallops have a thin band of tough tissue running along one side. It’s pretty easy to see if you look closely. If it hasn’t been trimmed off by your fishmonger, you should do it yourself.

Note about scallops: Some scallops are soaked in a phosphate solution before sale. This acts as a preservative, causes them to absorb some water, and makes the scallops pure white. These so-called wet scallops are to be avoided. The absorbed water means you get less actual scallop meat per pound (and I don’t have to tell you what scallops cost!). Also, they are harder to brown because this water comes out in the pan and you end up with simmer scallops – yech. Untreated or dry scallops are much to be preferred. They may look white at a quick glance but are actually a delicate pearl color with subtle variations between individual scallops.

Pasta with white clam sauce

April 30, 2011

In Italy, this is pasta con vongole. We ate it many times when traveling in Italy, the Adriatic clams are supposed to be special. Even so, you can make a surprisingly good sauce with canned clams (but see below for fresh clams). This is a version I developed over many years. There are many variations possible. You can replace the parsley with fresh basil, replace the wine with bottled clam juice and a squeeze of lemon, etc. Also, if you have fresh clams, you can leave the clams in the shell and serve for each diner to pick out their own. But in my opinion this is solely for appearance and just makes the dish harder to eat while saving the cooks some work.

Two 7 ounce cans of minced or whole clams (your preference)
1/2 c olive oil
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
1″ piece of dried hot red pepper or a pinch of ground cayenne pepper
1/2 c dry white wine or 1/3 c dry white vermouth
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
1/4 c minced fresh parsley

Using Fresh Clams: Put a couple of dozen clams in a big pot with 1/2 c of water or dry white wine. Cover, bring to a boil, and steam until all or at least most of the clams open. Discard unopened clams. Remove the clams from the shells and set aside (chop if desired). Strain the steaming liquid thru a coffee filter of paper towel to remove any grit. The use in the following recipe in place of canned clams.

Put garlic and oil in heavy bottomed sauce pan and put over low heat. Let cook slowly for 15-20 minutes – the garlic should sizzle slowly but not brown at all, or maybe just slightly. Drain the clams and add the clam juice, the wine, red and white pepper, and parsley and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes or until reduced by about half. Remove from heat and stir in the clams.

While the sauce is simmering cook 3/4 lb of imported Italian pasta (I like the De Cecco brand). As for shape, I think that regular spaghetti or thin spaghetti goes well with this sauce. Linguini is also a classic accompaniment. Cook the pasta until it is about 15-20 seconds shy of being done to your liking. Drain and return to the pan. Add the sauce and stir to mix. Let sit covered over very low heat for a few minutes to let the flavors blend. Serve immediately with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Crusty bread, a mixed green salad dressed with olive oil and lemon juice, and a dry Italian white (such as a soave or pinot grigio) are great accompaniments.

Mexican style shrimp

April 30, 2011

One of my own inventions – I like it served over white rice.

1 lb medium size shrimp, shelled and, if you like, deveined
1/2 c chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 TB olive oil
1-16 ounce can diced tomatoes, drained with juice reserved
Cayenne pepper to taste (optional)
1 TB lime juice
Salt, pepper

In a skillet, sauté onion in oil over medium heat until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, chili powder, cumin, and optional cayenne and stir for 1-2 minutes. Add shrimp and stir until about half cooked. Add drained tomatoes and enough of the juice to get the desired consistency. Simmer for a few minutes. Remove from heat and stir in lime juice and S&P to taste.

Pasta with swordfish

April 30, 2011

This is delightful recipe that has its origins in Sicily. I have modified this from a recipe in Giuliano Bugialli’s Bugialli On Pasta (a terrific cookbook).

1/2 c Italian parsley leaves
4 large cloves of garlic, peeled
2 medium carrots, peeled
2 stalks of celery, with leaves
6 large fresh basil leaves
1/4 c olive oil
1 lb plum tomatoes, peeled and chopped coarsely
4 TB capers packed in wine vinegar
15 pitted green olive in brine
3/4 lb swordfish steak
1 lb penne or rigatoni pasta

Chop first 5 ingredients together (1/8-1/4 inch pieces). Sauté together in the olive oil for 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and 1/2 c water. Simmer for 20 minutes, adding more water if needed to maintain a thick sauce. Drain and rinse briefly the capers and olives, and add to the pan, Simmer for 5 minutes. Remove any skin from the fish, cut into 3/4 inch pieces, and add to the sauce. Simmer for 15 minutes. Correct seasoning. Cook the pasta al dente and stir into the sauce.

Pan seared salmon

April 30, 2011

When you have top quality salmon, this is in my opinion the best way to emphasize the flavor of the fish while getting that delectable crisp skin. It’s easy, too. For best results, get belly meat from wild king salmon.

Salmon fillets, skin on, about 1″ thick
Olive or other vegetable oil
Non-stick fry pan, or well-seasoned cast iron

Heat the pan and add enough oil to coat the bottom with about 1/16 inch. I use setting 6 (of 10) on my range. Pat the fillets dry with paper towels and put in pan skin side up. Do not crowd! When about 1/3 cooked turn over and continue cooking until cooked, meaning that the center is still translucent. Serve skin side up, sprinkled with a little salt.

Pan-seared mako shark

April 30, 2011

My fishmonger suggested mako shark as a substitute for tuna. It does not taste all that much like tuna, but responds well to the same cooking techniques and is very tasty.

Mako shark fillets about 1 inch thick, 6-8 oz, one per person
Old Bay seasoning
Kosher salt
Vegetable oil
Finely minced fresh chives
Sweet butter at room temperature

For each person being served, mash 1 TB butter and 1 TB chives together, and set aside. Sprinkle the fillets with kosher salt and let sit for about an hour. Rinse off and pat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle both sides with Old Bay, then brush with oil. Heat a heavy skillet over medium-high heat until quite hot – not scorching, as this is not blackened fish! Add the fillets and cook for 2-3 minutes. Flip and continue cooking until almost cooked thru, another 2 minutes or so. Cut a slit in one fillet to check. Transfer to heated plates, top each fillet with a glob of chive butter, and serve.

Scallops with black trumpets and cream

April 30, 2011

Another dish that resulted from finding black trumpet mushrooms in our yard.

1 lb sea scallops (see note below)
1/2 c dried or 1c fresh black trumpet mushrooms
1/4 c minced shallots
1 TB each butter and olive oil
1/2 c excellent white wine (I like a Sancerre)
2/3 c heavy cream
lemon

If using fresh mushrooms, clean carefully and chop coarsely. If using dried, reconstitute in water, drain, and chop. Heat butter and oil in a sauté pan until smoking. Add scallops and sauté until lightly browned and almost fully cooked. Remove to a warm bowl. Reduce heat, add shallots and sauté until limp. Add mushrooms and sauté for a minute or two. Add wine and reduce until almost gone. Add cream and simmer for a few minutes. Season to taste with pepper, salt, and lemon juice. Return scallops to pan and heat thru. Serve over pasta.

Note about scallops: Some scallops are soaked in a phosphate solution before sale. This acts as a preservative, causes them to absorb some water, and makes the scallops pure white. These so-called wet scallops are to be avoided. The absorbed water means you get less actual scallop meat per pound (and I don’t have to tell you what scallops cost!). Also, they are harder to brown because this water comes out in the pan and you end up with simmer scallops – yech. Untreated or dry scallops are much to be preferred. They may look white at a quick glance but are actually a delicate pearl color with subtle variations between individual scallops.

Salmon with chive butter

April 30, 2011

A lovely way to do salmon.

Two 8-10 oz salmon fillets, skin removed, about 1″ thick
4 TB butter at room temperature
4 TB minced fresh chives
1 TB vegetable oil

Mash the butter with the chives. Preheat oven to 250F. Form a tray out of heavy duty aluminum foil that is just large enough to hold the fillets, and place tray on a baking sheet (or, if you have it, use a baking pan of the right size). Heat a cast iron skillet over high heat until quite hot. Dry the fillets with paper towels, season with salt and pepper, and rub on both sides with the oil. Cook in skillet for about 1-1/2 minutes per side to brown both sides. Transfer fillet to tray and spread chive butter on top. Bake for about 10 minutes. Transfer to serving plate and drizzle with melted butter from the baking tray. I like this served with mashed potatoes.


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