Archive for the ‘seafood’ Category

These days, there’s a day for everything, but who knew that May 10th is National Shrimp Day?

Any excuse to make shrimp scampi is a good one, as far as I’m concerned!

I love shrimp scampi, and had the need to satisfy my cravings the other day. But what started as a simple scampi recipe, turned into something a bit more. I may never make scampi the same way again!

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1 lb. wild-caught American shrimp, peeled and de-veined
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons parsley
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon granulated onion
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons Spirgučiai (see below)
1/2 lb. fresh mozzarella, sliced
oregano, for sprinkling

Thaw the shrimp under cold water. Place them in a colander to drain.

Spirgučiai is a Lithuanian favorite: chopped bacon and onions, fried until crisp and usually sprinkled over anything and everything in Lithuanian cooking. I always have some in my fridge, already prepared and just waiting to be used.

In a saucepan on medium heat, combine the butter, olive oil, parsley, garlic salt, oregano, onion, pepper and Spirgučiai.  Heat only until everything melts and combines. Don’t let it burn. (If you don’t have Spirgučiai, all you need to do is take a couple of slices of bacon, chop them up, and fry them in a pan until crisp. Keep the bacon and the fat in the pan and then add the butter, olive oil, parsley, garlic salt, oregano, onion and pepper.)

In a small sheet pan lined with foil, lay the shrimp in a single layer and cook them halfway in a pre-heated 400-degree oven to remove the moisture from the shrimp.

Take the pan out of the oven, and drain off the moisture, if any. Pour the butter mix from the saucepan all over the shrimp and toss to coat. Return the shrimp to the oven for a few minutes, until they’ve heated through and are almost completely cooked. (Careful: never over-cook shrimp!)

Take the pan out of the oven, and place pieces of mozzarella on top, garnishing with a little oregano. Set the oven on broil and cook until the cheese has melted.

Slice with a spatula and serve on top of pasta, making sure you get some of that buttery scampi sauce.

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As a low-carb option, you can serve this on broccoli or roasted spaghetti squash.

Great fried shrimp is like sea candy…you just can’t get enough. This recipe is easy and really delicious. I never use anything but wild-caught American shrimp!

This recipe can easily be made gluten-free by substituting the all-purpose flour with GF flour.

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1 lb. wild-caught USA shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup yellow corn meal
2 tablespoons Paul Prudhomme Seafood Magic seasoning
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 raw egg, scrambled
avocado oil for frying

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Combine the flour, corn meal, Prudhomme seasoning (see below) and salt in a bowl. Set it aside.

Scramble the egg in another bowl and set it aside.

Peel and de-vein the shrimp. Remove the entire shell, or leave the tip of the tail, depending on your preference.

Heat a pan with an inch of the oil. When it reaches 325 degrees, it’s ready for frying.

Dip the shrimp in the egg, and shake off any excess. Then toss the shrimp in the flour mixture, shaking off any excess. Carefully place the shrimp in the pan of oil.

Cook the shrimp for about 45 seconds, flip them over, and cook for another 45 seconds, until they’re golden brown. Don’t crowd the pan and never over-cook shrimp!

Drain them on paper towels and serve immediately!

The shrimp are delicious by themselves, but here’s an easy remoulade to make along with them…

1 cup mayo (I like Hellman’s)
1/4 cup mustard (I like Gulden’s)
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 tablespoon dill pickle relish
1/2 teaspoon Frank’s Red Hot
Pinch cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper

Combine the ingredients and keep in the fridge until ready to use.

It’s a bit of a cheat, but I find the Paul Prudhomme Seafood Magic seasoning has great flavor and works really well for this. I also use it on fish: simply pan sauté a filet in butter, and sprinkle on the seasoning. I originally started with the small jar found in most supermarkets, but then quickly graduated to the jumbo size can found online! And, by the way, it is gluten-free.

If you want to make your own seafood seasoning, a combination of salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika and cayenne will get you a result that’s pretty close to the Prudhomme seasoning.

My buddy, Lee, is in Maine right now, enjoying the limited season of freshly caught scallops. It inspired me to post this blog…
Here in Rhode Island, we have access to amazing seafood year-round. My friend Gary, is a lobster man. My neighbor farms oysters. And for anything else, I go to my friends’ farms: Simmons Organic Farm in Middletown, RI and Wishing Stone Organic Farm and Sweet & Salty Farm, both in Little Compton, RI…great places for veggies, bakery goods, pastured meats, yogurt, cheese, and more.
I was on a mission to find fresh mussels the other day, and in the process, stumbled upon fresh bay scallops, piled high on ice at a local farmers’ market. Unlike like the larger sea scallops or bomster scallops, bay scallops are small and sweet, about the size of a mini-marshmallow…hard to find and my absolute favorites.
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As far as I’m concerned, there is no better way to eat a fresh scallop than right out of the shell with just a little marinade on top, popping these beauties into my mouth literally as they’re still pulsing on the shell.
Scallops are a bit trickier to open and clean than clams or oysters (at least for me) but all it took was a little practice while sipping a Stoli Elit martini and I got the hang of it in no time.
There are two marinades that I use when serving up raw scallops. The acidity in these marinades will cook the scallop a little, like in ceviche, though eating them raw is perfectly fine if they’re super-fresh.
“MILLS TAVERN” MARINADE
The first place I ever had a raw scallop was at Mills Tavern, a highly rated restaurant in Providence, RI. Freshly shucked scallops (in large flat shells) were served on ice with a tangy red marinade. I never got the recipe from the restaurant, but this is my version of that marinade.
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons Grenadine
1/2 teaspoon fresh finely grated ginger
2 teaspoons finely chopped scallions
 Combine all the ingredients and chill before using.
A trick I learned from the folks at Wishing Stone Farm, where they grow their own ginger roots: keep the ginger stored in the freezer in a tightly sealed bag. Most of us don’t use ginger all that much, but we want fresh ginger when the recipe calls for it. By wrapping it tightly in plastic and storing it in the freezer, it’s ready to use any time. Simply take the ginger root out, and grate it finely–no need to peel the skin–while it’s still frozen. It will be almost powder like, and it will blend beautifully into any recipe you’re using. Then just put the rest back in the freezer.
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ALZ CEVICHE MARINADE
My marinade is closer to a basic ceviche, using 3 kinds of citrus and some Asian flavors.
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon peanut oil
1/2 teaspoon honey
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh finely grated ginger
2 tablespoons finely chopped scallion
2 small dried chili peppers, finely chopped
 Combine all the ingredients and chill before using.

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Both marinades are gluten-free, as long as you use GF soy sauce. La Choy is an easy-to-find brand.

 

 

I recently returned from a trip to New Orleans, where I had oysters every which way: Bienville, Rockefeller, char-grilled, baked, and, of course, raw. But here in New England, we’re pretty proud of our oysters, and Rhode Island alone, we’ve got a wide variety to choose from. And we don’t just buy ’em and slurp ’em down: we go out and dig our own…and we have a different buck-a-shuck oyster bar to go to for any given day of the week.

 

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Fresh oysters deserve an amazing cocktail sauce, and my recipe kicks butt: lots of horseradish, lots of flavor, and a secret ingredient: vodka. Not only does it give it a kick, it keeps it from freezing solid, so I can keep the cocktail sauce in the freezer until I need it. Then, I just scoop it out like sorbet.

2 cups ketchup
4 tablespoons prepared horseradish
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon Frank’s Red Hot, or other hot pepper sauce
5 grinds of fresh black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon good quality vodka, like Tito’s

Combine all the ingredients. Store in a tight plastic container in the freezer.

 

Fresh shucked oysters with pickled red onion ice.

Freshly shucked oysters with pickled red onion ice.

 

When I’m in Portland, Maine, I visit one of the best oyster bars in the country: Eventide. Besides some wickedly creative dishes, they consistently have a fantastic variety of fresh oysters to choose from. And they offer a variety of “accoutrements” to go with them: anything from a red wine mignonette to kimchee ice. My favorite is the pickled red onion ice. All you need is a shot glass with a freshly shucked oyster inside, a half-shot of chilled vodka on top, and some pickled red onion ice, and you’ve got the best oyster shooter on planet Earth. I even suggested the shooter to the manager at Eventide. It has yet to make it to the menu. (But I remain hopeful!)

 

An oyster shooter with pickled red onion shaved ice. Bottoms up!

An oyster shooter with pickled red onion ice. Bottoms up!

 

I’ve managed to come up with a pretty good version of the pickled red onion ice at home, and I serve it alongside my cocktail sauce.

2 large red onions
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

 

Peel and quarter the onions. Drop them in a medium-sized pot and cover with about a quart of water. Bring it to a boil and cook it down until it has reduced to a cup of concentrated onion water after straining.

Bring the strained onion water back to the stove, and on medium heat, add the sugar and vinegar, stirring. When the sugar dissolves, remove it from the heat and let it cool to room temperature before pouring it into a container and placing it in the freezer.

When it’s time to eat oysters, remove the block of red onion ice from its container, and, using a fine cheese grater, shave the ice over the top of the freshly shucked oysters and devour immediately! (It melts quickly.)

 

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This is a rich, delicious, and unusual surf-and-turf, using wild Texas boar (I got it as a gift!) and locally caught Rhode Island scallops. Wild boar is an ingredient usually only found online, so substituting pork belly, which you can find at your local butcher shop, is a great alternative.

 

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For the pork belly…
3 lbs. fresh pork belly
salt and pepper
1–2 tablespoons leaf lard or olive oil
1 carrot, coarsely chopped
1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 fennel bulb, quartered
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
4 cups beef stock
1 cup hard cider or apple juice

Pre-heat the oven to 350.

Season the belly with salt and pepper. On medium-high heat, melt the leaf lard, then sear the meat on all sides in an oven-proof pot big enough to hold it in one layer. Add the carrot, celery, onion, fennel, thyme and peppercorns and continue cooking for another 5 minutes, until caramelized.

Add the beef stock and the cider. Cover the pot with a lid or seal it with aluminum foil, and braise the belly in the oven for 3 hours, until tender.

Remove the pot from the oven, carefully remove the pork belly, and put it on a plate. Cover it with foil. If you’re cooking earlier in the day, you can place the belly in the fridge at this point.

Strain the leftover braising liquid from the pot and discard the vegetables and thyme. Skim off the excess fat. If you’re starting this dish earlier in the day, you can put this liquid in the fridge and the fat will harden, making it easier to remove.

 

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For the glaze…
braising liquid, strained
1 tablespoon espresso
1 tablespoon honey

In a small saucepan, reduce the brazing liquid by half, then add the espresso and honey. Cook a few more minutes until the sauce thickens. When it coats the back of a spoon, it’s ready. Set it aside.

For the scallops…
Fresh scallops
salt and pepper

When you’re ready to serve, heat a pan on high heat with a little more leaf lard. Cut the belly into equal pieces and sear them on all sides for about a minute. Place the scallops in the same pan, seasoning with salt and pepper, and sear them on both sides, being careful not to overcook them.

To serve, place the belly on a plate. Top it with a scallop or two. Drizzle the glaze over the top. Season with Fleur de Sel or other finishing salt and serve it immediately.

Growing up in NY, I was introduced to smoked whitefish, herring, and lox at an amazing deli just down the road from my parents’ house. My wife’s family from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, meanwhile, caught the whitefish, herring and salmon and smoked it themselves.

Smoked whitefish may be a bit hard to find, and it could get expensive if you buy it from your local deli. But sometimes big membership stores like BJ’s will sell whole smoked whitefish. (They also sell already-made whitefish salad, but don’t buy that…it’s all mayonnaise and fish leftovers.)

My in-law’s recipe calls for dill pickle relish, but I went with capers instead. Both work well.

 

Remove every bit of meat. Double-check for bones!

Remove every bit of meat. Double-check for bones!

 

1/2 whole smoked whitefish, meat removed
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup finely chopped Vidalia onion
1 tablespoon capers, finely chopped
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 hard-boiled egg, finely chopped
Freshly ground pepper
Pinch of sea salt (I like Fleur de Sel)

 

 

Remove the meat from the smoked whitefish carefully, making sure all the small bones have been removed. Double-check to make sure you’ve done this really well. It pays to be really meticulous with this job so that you (or your guests) don’t gag on a fish bone later!

 

Place all the whitefish meat in a bowl.

Combine all the other ingredients with the fish, mixing thoroughly using a fork. (Try not to mush it up too much!)
The standard way is to serve it with crackers. But there’s nothing wrong with slathering it onto an everything bagel! Or…if you have guests…slice everything bagels as thin as you can and toast them until they’re crisp like crackers. Then serve them on the side.
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Here’s a shot of the real deal straight out of the smoker, at a fish store in Mackinaw City, Michigan, on the way to the Upper Peninsula. Man, that was some good eatin’!
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What can I say? I was craving both dishes, so I combined them. I figured: if I love each one of them, I’d be crazy over both together!

 

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Pasta
1/4 lb. bacon, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
18 small clams, washed and purged*
1 teaspoon fresh oregano, finely chopped
1/4 cup white wine
Good quality olive oil
6 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped

 

In a large pot, salt some water and bring it to a boil. Cook the pasta until al dente.

In the bottom of another large pot on medium-high heat, fry the bacon until it’s crisp. Add the onions and sauté them until they’re translucent. Add the clams, oregano and wine, and cover the pot with a lid. Reduce the heat to medium. The clams are cooked when they open. Discard any unopened clams.

In a frying pan, heat the olive oil to medium. Add the chopped garlic and fry it until just crispy. Toss in the parsley and stir it to combine.

Place the pasta in a bowl or plate. Pour the clams and juice over the pasta. Pour the fried garlic and oil all over the clams.

 

*Purging clams: Clams can be pretty sandy and gritty, so it’s important not only to scrub the outside of the shell, but to purge them as well. Clams should be stored in a bowl in the fridge with a wet dish towel over them, never in water. Once you’re ready to use them, fill a bowl with water and add salt (think salty like ocean water) and a tablespoon of corn meal. Mix this around, then add the clams and let them sit in this solution in the fridge for a couple of hours. The clams will purge (clean themselves) out. Discard the liquid and rinse the clams before cooking.

Fat Tuesday reminded me of one of my favorite dishes to come out of New Orleans: Barbecue Shrimp.

The first unusual thing you notice about the classic dish, New Orleans Barbecue Shrimp, is that it’s not cooked on a barbecue grill and it has no barbecue sauce.

So why the name?

Its origin goes back to the mid-1950’s, to an Italian restaurant in New Orleans called Pascale’s Manale. (It’s still there, and I’ll be visiting and tasting this dish in April!) The story goes that a regular customer had just returned from Chicago, where he had dined on an amazing shrimp dish. He asked the chef at Pascale’s Manale to try to replicate it, and what resulted was actually better than the original. And though no barbecue grill or sauce was used, it is believed that they gave it the name “BBQ Shrimp” to cash in on the backyard barbecuing craze that was all the rage at the time.

The classic New Orleans Barbecue Shrimp is served with shell-on shrimp, so you have to make a big, buttery mess of yourself as you devour it. And it’s served with plenty of crusty French bread.

Sometimes I leave out the bread and go for rice instead. And I’ll peel the shrimp completely, using the shrimp shells to make the stock I cook the rice in.

 

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For the seasoning…
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, very finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/4 teaspoon granulated onion
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon white pepper

 

Mix all the seasoning spices and set them aside.

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For the BBQ shrimp…
2 lbs. large wild-caught American shrimp, peeled and de-veined
1 stick butter (4 oz.)
1/2 cup beer
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
olive oil

 

For the rice…
1 cup rice (I like organic basmati)
2 1/4 cups water or seafood stock (see below)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning

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Cook the rice following the directions on the package. I like using stock instead of water when I cook my rice, so after peeling all the shrimp, I toss the shells in a saucepan full of water and I boil the heck out of it, strain it, and use that stock to cook the rice. I add the olive oil and the Tony Chachere’s (available online or at your favorite food store) to the stock before cooking.

To cook the shrimp, I heat a little olive oil in a large skillet over moderate heat. Then I add the shrimp, and sear them on one side (about 30 seconds) and then flip them over to sear on the other side (another 30 seconds.) I’m not trying to cook them all the way through, just get them a bit caramelized. Then I remove the shrimp from the skillet and set them aside.

(I serve the BBQ Shrimp over the rice with broccoli. If you want to use broccoli, add a little butter and olive oil to the same pan you seared the shrimp in. Cook until the broccoli is nicely caramelized, then remove from the pan and set aside.)

In the same skillet, I heat the butter until the foam subsides. Then I add the beer, Worcestershire sauce, and 2 teaspoons of the seasoning mix. I mix well, then add the shrimp and broccoli back in the pan, simmering for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Serve over the rice!

 

 

 

 

 

This year, our annual BOYZ weekend is happening a couple of months earlier, to coincide with the celebration of our friend, Roy’s, 70th birthday! Weather permitting, we’ll be cranking the grill up for pretty much the first time this year.

One of my favorite ways to enjoy clams…without the clam knife…is by grilling them! When you’ve got to feed a crowd, this is a delicious way to do it. Cooking clams on the grill is one of the tastiest ways to enjoy these awesome mollusks. I use hardwood charcoal to get that true smokey flavor.

Although I live on the other side of the state, I love visiting my friends at American Mussel Harvesters in North Kingstown, RI. The quality of their seafood is second to none, which is why they supply so many area restaurants with their products. They feature “restaurant ready” mussels, meaning they’ve been cleaned and de-bearded. And their “restaurant-ready” clams mean they’ve been purged to perfection! (www.americanmussel.com) I use ’em whenever I can.

clams on the grill

A couple of dozen (or more) little neck clams, washed and purged
1 stick (8 oz.) of unsalted butter
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Clams should be stored in the fridge. Place them in a bowl and cover them with a wet towel. Don’t leave therm in a bowl full of water, and not on ice. (The same goes for oysters.)

Because my clams have already been purged, I don’t have to do it at home. But here’s what to do if they haven’t been purged: Fill a large bowl with cold water, add sea salt and some corn meal to it, and mix it around. Add the clams to this bowl and let them sit in this liquid for an hour. They will suck up the corn meal and spit out sand and grit. After an hour, pour off the water/salt/meal/grit mix, and thoroughly wash the clams.

Start your hardwood charcoal grill and divide it in half: coals on one side, no coals on the other.

While the coals are heating up, grab a disposable aluminum foil tray and place it on a burner on your kitchen stove over medium heat. Add the butter, olive oil, parsley, oregano, basil, garlic and salt, and stir to combine. Once the butter has melted and everything has blended, bring the tray over to the charcoal grill and place it on the side of the grill without coals. It will stay warm.

Once the coals are hot, just place the clams directly on the grill. (Use tongs, unless you want to remove all of your knuckle hair.) When they start to open, carefully flip them over, trying not to lose any of the precious juices inside the clam. Cook them for as long as you like, from raw, to more thoroughly cooked. As each one reaches its desired doneness, place it in the aluminum tray, making sure it gets swished around in the butter and herb mix.

When all the clams have been cooked and are in the tray, serve them with a fresh baguette or over pasta. A glass of great wine is a must.

Growing up in NY, I was introduced to smoked whitefish, herring, and lox at an amazing deli just down the road from my parents’ house. My wife’s family from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, meanwhile, caught the whitefish, herring and salmon and smoked it themselves.

Smoked whitefish may be a bit hard to find, and it could get expensive if you buy it from your local deli. But sometimes big membership stores like BJ’s will sell whole smoked whitefish. (They also sell already-made whitefish salad, but don’t buy that…it’s all mayonnaise and fish leftovers.)

 

Remove every bit of meat. Double-check for bones!

Remove every bit of meat. Double-check for bones!

 

1/2 whole smoked whitefish, meat removed
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup finely chopped Vidalia onion
1 tablespoon capers, finely chopped
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 hard-boiled egg, finely chopped
Freshly ground pepper
Pinch of sea salt (I like Fleur de Sel)

 

Remove the meat from the smoked whitefish carefully, making sure all the small bones have been removed. Double-check to make sure you’ve done this really well. It pays to be really meticulous with this job so that you (or your guests) don’t gag on a fish bone later!

Place all the whitefish meat in a bowl.

Combine all the other ingredients with the fish, mixing thoroughly using a fork. (Try not to mush it up too much!)
The standard way is to serve it with crackers. But there’s nothing wrong with slathering it onto an everything bagel! Or…if you have guests…slice everything bagels as thin as you can and toast them until they’re crisp like crackers. Then serve them on the side.
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Here’s a shot of the real deal straight out of the smoker, at a fish store in Mackinaw City, Michigan, on the way to the Upper Peninsula. Man, that was some good eatin’!
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