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Bacalhau à Brás (Salted Cod, Eggs, and Potatoes)

18 Mar


Bacalhau à Brás is a Portuguese dish using salted cod (bacalhau), eggs, and potatoes. The Portuguese were one of the first European cultures to fish for cod, making huge harvests and preserving the fish off the coast of Newfoundland shortly after Columbus discovered the New World. Since then, this salted cod has been an integral part of Portuguese culture, and it’s often said that you can cook a new recipe using bacalhau every day of the year (some say there are over 1,000 recipes that include this fish). Advances in fishing technology in the mid 20th century had collapsed the Northwest Atlantic cod market by the 1990s – cod takes a long time to mature, and overfishing had run rampant. Today, bacalhau is most often made using cod harvested from Arctic waters under more strict quotas.

Bacalhau is made by salting and drying the fish in the sun; while it was originally a method of preservation (salted cod keeps a long time even without refrigeration), its unique, strong flavor is unmistakable and delicious, and its popularity endures today. The only downside to eating bacalhau is that it requires a bit of foresight, since it needs to be soaked overnight to reconstitute the fish.

Bacalhau à Brás is one of the most famous Portuguese dishes, and is considered the ultimate comfort meal in Portugal. The dish uses many of the quintessential ingredients found in Portuguese cooking – bacalhau, eggs, potatoes, and black olives.

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Lobster and Mussel Bouillabaisse

6 Feb


Bouillabaisse is a traditional Provençal (Southeast France) stew, typically made with fish and shellfish. Although it was originally made with rockfish, today it’s also made with all sorts of different seafood. For this recipe in particular, I decided to go with lobster and mussels; I like the idea of pairing two foods that are at opposite ends of the price spectrum (lobster = rare & elegant, mussels = common & unglamorous). This dish is paired with my lobster stock recipe, so be sure to check that out since you’ll need some stock. Putting this dish together – stock and all – is actually a fairly quick experience: in about 90 minutes you’ll have a recipe that will have your dinner guests swooning.

Don’t let the assumed costs of buying lobster deter you. If available in your area, live lobsters are surprising affordable when compared to the going rate at a seafood restaurant. And really, sometimes you can’t put a price tag on eating a rich, classic meal in the comfort of your own home.

Also, don’t forget that I’m hosting a giveaway this week; click here for a chance to win two live 1.5 lb lobsters from lobster.com ($65 value)! The giveaway is limited to continental US residents and ends midnight, Saturday, Feb 8th, 2014. Good luck!

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Lobster Stock (and a Giveaway)

4 Feb


Phew! January has come and gone, which means that my tradition of sharing only Whole30 recipes during the month is over. While I think that Whole30 recipes are easy to make and fun to work with, I miss cooking with alcohol the most each January. So let’s dive right into February with an easy, tasty recipe that can be used in many different ways – lobster stock. Most people associate stock with long, boring hours of slow-cooking. The opposite is true with lobster (and all shellfish) stock, as it’s just a matter of sautéing vegetables and the shells, then adding water and wine, and cooking until it’s super delicious (about 45 minutes).

The folks at Lobster.com were kind enough to donate a lobster for my stock recipe. They ship overnight to the continental US, and it was quite an experience to receive a package in the mail that contains a live, breathing animal; not only was it alive, but it was the most lively lobster I’ve ever worked with! I par-boiled the lobster (instructions in the recipe below) so that I could use its shell for stock, and its meat for a Lobster and Mussel Bouillabaisse. I bought a couple lobster shells from my local grocer to add to this recipe and I was amazed at how thick and hearty the Lobster.com shell was compared to what I usually buy!

I was also able to arrange a giveaway through Lobster.com: two 1.5 lb live lobsters, delivered to your door ($65 value)! To enter, click here to enter via Rafflecopter. The giveaway is limited to continental US residents and ends midnight, Saturday, Feb 8th, 2014. Good luck! Okay, let’s move on to the recipe.

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Steamed Littleneck Clams

25 Jan


This past week I did a guest recipe on PaleoParents.com, and I wanted to share the recipe with you folks too. This is actually an update of an old recipe that I decided to re-shoot because I was unsatisfied with the recipe’s photos. It’s amazing to see how much my photography has changed over the past three years; sometimes it’s hard to see the forest for the trees. For comparison’s sake, I’ve included the old picture at the bottom of this post. Although I’m posting all Whole30 recipes all month, this recipe isn’t technically Whole30 because it uses white wine; but it’s a guest post, so it’s exempt, right??

Lately, I’ve been on a personal quest to turn more people on to seafood. Besides the fact that it’s both delicious and full of nutrients, it can often be dead-simple to prepare. Take this recipe, for example, which requires only 15 minutes from start to finish – 5 minutes to scrub the clams, 5 minutes to prep the melted butter, and 5 minutes to steam the clams. Cooking clams at home is also much more economical than ordering them at a restaurant; you can often find and steam clams yourself for a fraction of the cost you’d pay out in town.

Clams in particular are especially nutritious. Pound-for-pound, they have more iron than beef liver, and they’re high in Vitamin B12, Vitamin A, calcium, selenium and potassium. They are an excellent source of protein, and are especially healthful when considering that they have Omega-3 fatty acids and a much lower contamination profile than other ocean-based sources of Omega-3 (like salmon). Have I convinced you yet?

Unlike other seafood, farm-raised clams (and mussels) are preferred over wild-caught clams; they are raised on ropes suspended above the sea floor, which makes them less gritty than wild clams dredged from the ocean floor. Dredging can also damage the ocean’s ecosystem.

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Mas Riha (Maldivian Fish Curry)

10 Dec


Baltimore/DC friends: Come join me for a cooking demo and holiday social this Sunday! $10 entry to cover grocery costs, space limited to 30 guests. Click here for more info. See you there!

Mas Riha is a fish curry from Maldives, the small group of islands to the Southwest of the Indian subcontinent (it’s officially the smallest country in Asia). The dish is very representative of Maldivian cuisine, which is based on three main staples: fish, coconut, and starch.

While many people associate curries with hot, humid weather, I prefer them in the cold of winter; to me, the contrast of bitter cold weather and tropical food tends to embolden the curry’s flavors. This week is our first real glimpse of winter on the East Coast (there’s snow on the ground as I type this), so it seems like the perfect time to share this recipe. Fish curry is just about perfect, since it needs so little time to cook; you can easily throw together this entire delicious meal in less than 30 minutes.

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Brudet (Croatian Seafood Stew)

5 Nov


Brudet is a fish stew from Croatia, similar to an Italian Brodetto or Greek Bourdeto. All three are based on the Venetian word brodeto (“broth”). The recipes for each dish are similar; in fact, if you ever find yourself traveling along the Adriatic coast and see a similarly-named dish on a restaurant menu, you can probably bet it’s going to be a delicious fish stew cooked in a tomato base.

While there is a lot of variation to this dish, I like the Croatian version because it is an easy and unassuming approach to making soup. Marinate some fish for a while, then throw everything together at the proper time; it’s a true one-pot dish. Traditionally this dish is made with a mixture of fishes, to include eel, rockling, or coral trout; since they’re hard to come by, I think any firm white fish should be okay. I used cod. Adding shrimp and mussels also gives the stew a more rich and satisfying flavor.

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Carne de Porco à Alentejana (Portuguese Pork and Clams)

15 Oct


Carne de Porco à Alentejana is a traditional recipe from Portugal, made from a combination of pork, wine, paprika, clams, and black olives, and typically served with roasted or fried potatoes. When a reader first suggested I tackle this dish, I was floored by the seemingly odd ingredients list; but much like Chicken Marbella, the offbeat ingredients mixed together perfectly to create a unique taste that’s more than the sum of its parts.

While the name might lead you to believe that this dish originated in the Alentejo region of Portugal, it’s actually from Algarve (the Southernmost point of the country). Legend has it that chefs in Algarve gave the dish this name to let diners know that the pork was from Alentejo-raised pigs, who were fed acorns and had a flavorful meat. At the time, pigs in Algarve were fed fish scraps from the burgeoning canning industry, and was not considered very tasty. Some argue that the addition of clams to the dish was a way of masking any “fishy” tasting pork.

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Mohinga (Burmese Rice Noodle Soup)

13 Aug


Mohinga is a Burmese rice noodle soup not unlike many other rice noodles soups found in Southeast Asia, like Pho and Laksa. Mohinga is unique in that it uses a catfish soup stock and it’s typically served for breakfast.

There are many variations of this dish out there, but the most common versions usually include chickpea flour (which I omitted since it’s legume-based) and banana tree stem (which I wasn’t able to find in my area). The fish used to make the stock is often pan fried and added to the soup upon serving. To replace the chickpea flour and pan-fried fish, I used crushed up fish and rice fritters, which was my recipe from last week. It ended up being a very good decision.

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Rice and Fish Fritters

6 Aug


Mankind has been dealing with leftover rice for a long time. While some common uses for old rice are fried rice and congee (rice porridge), rice cakes are also a great way to clean out the fridge. Many variations of rice cakes are made using leftover rice that’s pressed together and steamed or pan-fried. When ingredients are mixed into the rice cake, they often take on a different name, fritter.

In putting together this recipe, I looked to create a dish that has an ideal macronutrient ratio (40% fat, 30% protein, 30% carb), which I achieved by mixing in fish and an egg yolk, and pan-frying them in coconut oil. They came out great, and I plan on using this recipe as a baseline for future creations.

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Ikan Bakar (Malaysian Grilled Fish)

21 May


Ikan Bakar is a popular grilled fish dish (say that 3x fast) in Indonesia and Malaysia, usually sold by street vendors. The fish is marinated in sambal – a Southeast Asian chili-based condiment – and grilled over banana leaves. Popular fishes used for the dish include tilapia, skate, snapper, sea bass, or stingray.

While this is a very exotic-sounding dish, it’s surprising that all of the ingredients can be easily found during a trip to your local Asian market. Banana leaves are commonly sold frozen in large sheets for very cheap – usually a dollar will get you as many as 20 leaves. Bear in mind that frozen banana leaves are more brittle than fresh, and don’t hold up to heat as well – so you’ll want to get plenty of them, at least five leaves per fish.

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