One of my favorite parts of moving to the South last year is that I can now dive head-first into a new food culture. For example, take today’s New Orleans-Style Barbecue Shrimp. A local friend asked me if I had tried “BBQ Shrimp” yet; I immediately thought of shrimp doused in smokey-sweet KC-style barbecue sauce, which sounded a bit weird (but not altogether terrible, honestly). My friend then explained that BBQ Shrimp here in the South is not like your typical barbecue experience. Instead, it’s a crispy shrimp dish flavored with hot sauce, butter, and rosemary, typically served as an appetizer.

Barbecue Shrimp was first popularized by Pascal’s Manale Restaurant in New Orleans during the 1950s. This dish has an “old timey” feel to it today, mostly because of its liberal use of Worcestershire sauce (made famous by Lea & Perrins back in the 1830s). The end result is a little tangy, a bit spicy, and very robust in flavor. One thing I really appreciate about this dish is that it lets the shrimp take center stage. Moreover, it’s relatively cheap to throw together once you get your hands on some high-quality shrimp (especially when you consider the fact that this dish will set you back $26 at the original restaurant!). Head-on shrimp is traditionally used, but I won’t tell on you if you use shelled shrimp.

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About this time last year, I posted a Blue Crab and Chipotle Tabasco Bisque that quickly because one of my most-cooked soups (and this is coming from a guy who cooks a lot of soup). I’ve been playing around with the formula a bit, to the point where I felt it was appropriate to post another one using shellfish (and that Shellfish Stock recipe from last week).

Quick reminder – I am giving away eight $25 Costco gift cards, and the giveaway ends on Thursday, so jump on it if you haven’t already.

And now for the big news: I found out that my cookbook, Paleo Takeout, made it onto the New York Times best seller list for July! How cool is that? Now I need to go through all of my social media profiles and add my new title to everything. I’m super excited and tremendously thankful for the support I’ve received in getting this book off the ground and into people’s hands. And to think, less than six months ago I planned on releasing it as an eBook because I didn’t think it would have a large audience – thank you for your readership and enthusiasm, which convinced me to release it as a hard copy book! Okay, enough gushing, let’s make some food.

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Poke is a raw fish salad from Hawaii, most famously made with yellowfin tuna (“Ahi”). The word “Pokē” itself is a Hawaiian verb that means to slice or cut. It’s not unlike other raw fish dishes worldwide (fish tartare, carpaccio, and sashimi, for example), but it holds a special place in my heart, having lived in Hawaii for most of my 20s.

Originally made with sea salt and seaweed, foreign ingredients like soy sauce, ginger, onion, and tomato were added later when other cultures brought their cuisines (and ingredients) to the islands. Poke as we know it today – with a base of fish cubes, soy sauce, onion, and salt – became popular in the 1970s when it started to appear in local cookbooks, and has been growing in popularity ever since.

For those of you who haven’t picked up Paleo Takeout yet, or are thinking of gifting it, now’s the perfect time to grab it – the book is currently down to $18.13 on Amazon right now, which is 48% off its $35 cover price! Amazon is having some trouble keeping the book in stock, so if you want it even sooner, both Costco and BJs superstores are carrying the book at a deep discount, too (less than $22 each). For my international readers, keep in mind that Book Depository ships worldwide for free, and their current price isn’t bad either ($26.56)!

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At long last, Paleo Takeout has arrived! To celebrate, I’d like to share one of my favorite recipes from the book. This “Bam Bam Shrimp” recipe is inspired by a certain shrimp dish found in a couple different chain restaurants across the United States.

One cool fact – when coming up with a title for the recipe (one that reminded readers of the original dish without infringing any copyright!), I was stumped. So I posed the question to the Paleo Takeout Facebook group and after a lot of great feedback, we decided on the term “Bam Bam Shrimp”, since it got the point across and had a bit of a Paleolithic (in other words, Flinstones) feel to it. Other frontrunners included Bazinga Shrimp, Dynamite Shrimp, and Whiz Bang Shrimp.

I want to take a second and thank everyone for your continued support, enthusiasm, and readership. Paleo Takeout began as a whim, then an eBook, and now it’s finally here as a full-scale print book, and easily the most challenging (and rewarding) project I’ve ever undertaken. The book is now available online and in stores, wherever books are sold. If you’re an international reader, please note that Book Depository ships worldwide for free.

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Last month I had the opportunity to visit Avery Island, Louisiana, the home of Tabasco. Each year the company selects a group of bloggers to visit their island (which is actually a salt dome surrounded by bayou). In turn, the bloggers are asked to write about their experience and create some recipes using Tabasco sauces. Since I was probably going to make some recipes using Tabasco this year anyway, it was an easy decision to join the event.

I’ve always valued Tabasco sauces for their short ingredients list (the original red pepper sauce contains just three ingredients – peppers, vinegar, and salt), and their ability to add a complex flavor to any dish; I feel that acidity is a tragically underutilized dynamic in most kitchens, and Tabasco has acidity in spades. But until this trip I never realized how much care Tabasco puts into each bottle, which you’ll see in my pictures below the recipe. But first, the food.

It’s coming into flounder season here in Florida, and it is easy to find in my area right now. The fish are caught using a spear (called a “gig”), typically at night, much in the same way that frogs are traditionally caught. A favorite preparation for flounder is to simply pan-fry them in Cajun seasoning (often used interchangeably with the term “blackening seasoning”); since I was already making the seasoning from scratch, I figured this is also an opportunity to incorporate it into one of my other favorite dishes from this area, Étouffée.

Étouffée translates to “smothered” from French, which indicates that the main ingredient (often crawfish, but in this case, shrimp) is smothered in a thick sauce of broth and vegetables. Might as well add some bacon to it for good measure, because bacon.

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Ceviche is a popular seafood dish in Central and South America made from raw seafood (usually fish or shrimp) marinated in citrus juices. Today, it is most associated with Peru, who even has a holiday to celebrate the dish (June 28, if you’re interested). Spaniards arriving in the Americas found that the pre-Inca peoples of Mocha had a similar dish, which used the fermented juices of the banana passionfruit. There is archeological evidence of ceviche’s consumption as far back as 2,000 years ago.

Unlike Peruvian ceviche, the Mexican variation often includes tomatoes, jalapeños, and green olives. That’s the variation we’re going to make today.

When choosing a fish, it’s best to use a white ocean fish like sea bass, grouper, halibut, or flounder. Keep the fish as cold as possible while preparing it, and be sure to remove the blood line (the dark line down the center of some fish) to keep the dish from tasting too “fishy”. I also prefer to combine the ingredients near the end; red onions steeped in lime juice will color the dish prematurely.

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Phew! Okay, since last checking in, I’ve completed all of my photos for my upcoming book, Paleo Take Out, and the manuscript is with the editor. I’m happy to announce that the book will feature over 150 recipes! That’s a far cry from the 45-60 recipes I started with last year, and I’m really excited to get this book in your hands. Paleo Take Out will be out in all bookstores starting in June, and I’ll be sure to share more info as I put the finishing touches on it.

Starting today, I’m bundling a preview copy of Paleo Take Out with every purchase of The Safe Starch Cookbook. The preview book features 10 recipes from Paleo Take Out plus three that didn’t make the cut (initially I planned on having 5-10 not make the cut, but I found a way to squeeze them into the book!). One of those recipes also happens to be today’s recipe, which I think you’ll enjoy – Korean Oyster Soup.

Gulguk (굴국) is a quick and tasty soup, often considered a cure for hangovers. It’s sometimes served with cooked white rice dropped in at the end, at which point it’s called Gulgukbap (굴국밥). But if you’re not a rice eater, don’t worry – it’s just as tasty without the rice, or with some spiraled vegetable or kelp noodles thrown in at the end.

One last note – that Virtual Ultimate Health Summit I mentioned last week is now live through March 13th. I recorded my segment last week and had a lot of fun with it; we discussed food, history, and culture, and I think you folks will really enjoy my talk. Plus there are 17 other panelists involved, too! Okay, soup time.

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Clams Blog

As you probably read in my post from the other day, I’m knee-deep in recipe development and writing, in order to get my sophomore cookbook ready for release – which is a lot of fun, but leaves me with little time to keep up with blog recipes. So, I figured out a solution that’s good for both of us: I’ll just post a recipe from The Ancestral Table! I’ve been meaning to share more of these recipes anyway, and this one is a special favorite in our house. The wine sauce is the highlight of the dish, and it is absolutely, ridiculously, heartbreakingly delicious. One of these days I’ll figure out a way to batch-cook and sell this sauce for millions of dollars, but for now, here’s a bit more about the dish, stolen directly from the book (I can do that!):

While clams, wine, and butter are all delicious, the combination of the three is truly divine. This dish, developed in the Provençal region of France, is the quintessential marriage of these rich, decadent flavors. It is equally tasty when prepared with mussels.

Though wild and sustainably caught seafood is generally ideal, it’s better to buy farm-raised clams and mussels. They are raised on ropes suspended above the sea floor, which makes them less gritty than wild clams and mussels dredged from the ocean floor. Dredging up wild clams and mussels can also damage the ocean’s ecosystem.

Even though I’m mostly MIA for a bit, there are still ways to get your Russ Crandall fix (is there such a thing?), should you need it. Next week, I’ll be participating in the Virtual Ultimate Health Summit, which focuses on restoring your health through lessons on diet, sleep, energy, hormones, body image, confidence and stress. I am one of 16 panelists, and I’ll be talking about how history, food culture, and health can combine to find that perfect balance of tasty food and healthy diet, with an emphasis on safe starches (no surprise there, right?). It’s free to enroll, and runs for two weeks, so check it out!

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I love buying frozen fish. It’s super handy and still tastes great since many fishermen can flash-freeze it almost immediately after harvesting. And while fish thaws quickly, the thawing process is still a tiny pain in the butt; so I started looking for ways to forgo the whole “thawing” thing altogether (sheesh, how lazy can I get?). And that’s when I stumbled upon my new best friend, Torsk.

The word Torsk itself means “cod” in Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish, but also is often used to describe a cod dish in Scandinavia that is sometimes cooked from a frozen state. Perfect. When researching Torsk recipes, I found that they were either poached or broiled; never one to do something halfway, I decided to do both methods in the same recipe to get the best of both worlds. Pulling this dish off is a little different from your typical recipe, but don’t worry, I’m here to walk you through the process. I’m really excited about this recipe, especially because you can pull fish out of the freezer and put it on your dinner table in 20 minutes. It just can’t be beat in terms of convenience and tastiness.

Most broiled versions of Torsk call for butter, but in order to keep the butter from burning I mixed in an equal amount of ghee (which has a much higher smoking point since it doesn’t have milk solids). Lately I’ve been using Tin Star Foods ghee, which is hand-poured in small batches using Kerrygold butter (from grass-fed cows). This ghee is awesome – smooth, flavorful, and rich. Definitely worth your time.

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Having spent most of my 20s in Hawaii, we regularly made trips to Giovanni’s shrimp truck in Kahuku to enjoy their signature dish: garlic shrimp. The shrimp is pan-fried in an aromatic scampi sauce, and served with a cubic ton of garlic. I have regularly tackled this dish since moving to the mainland in 2008, but it wasn’t until this past year that I really figured out how to recreate the dish at home.

My process includes marinating and par-cooking the shrimp in butter, then reducing the marinating liquid and garlic until it’s crispy, and finally returning the shrimp to the pan to finish everything off. I have made a couple adjustments over the years that ended up making a big difference in the final product. In order to prevent the butter from burning, I used clarified butter (or ghee) which has a higher smoke point than butter (previously I used olive oil, which I don’t like using at high temperatures). Also, by using tail-on (or even shelled) shrimp, the marinating liquid better penetrates the shrimp, making for a more flavorful (and less messy) experience.

For clarification (no pun intended), there is a difference between clarified butter and ghee, although the two are often confused. Clarified butter is butter with its milk solids removed, generally scraped from the surface of the butter as it gently simmers. Ghee, on the other hand, is made when the milk solids are allowed to fall to the bottom of the butter and brown as the butter simmers. Ghee has a more toasted flavor than the more neutral clarified butter.

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