Tuesday, January 27, 2015

How To Cook Seafood, Vol.3

Are there reasons why you don't cook more seafood at home?
Do you have difficulty, or feel intimidated, preparing seafood at home?
Do you know how to best cook fish and shellfish?

As I have previously said, on repeated occasions, Americans don't eat enough seafood. You should eat seafood at least twice a week, garnering its significant health benefits. A significant reason why people don't eat enough seafood is that many are not comfortable cooking seafood at home. They feel intimidated, and don't want to potentially ruin an expensive piece of fish. I have found that even some of my more food-oriented friends still are not confident cooking seafood. So how do we change that? How do we give people more confidence in preparing seafood at home?

Welcome to the third edition of How To Cook Seafood series where I present advice and recipes for seafood from chefs. The advice is geared for home cooks, simple suggestions and recipes that most anyone can do at home. My hope is that it will spur on more people to cook seafood at home. If any chef is interested in participating in this series, please contact me.

For this edition, I am showcasing a few chefs who were featured at the Mohegan Sun WineFest. which was held this past weekend. They participated in free chef demonstrations held within the Grand Wine Tasting hall. With their seafood cooking advice presented here they are also providing a suggested wine pairing for their recipes.

Chef Michele Ragussis,, a native New Englander, has worked as a chef for more than 18 years, and uses the influences of her Greek and Italian heritage in her cooking. Her skills have been displayed on a number of television cooking shows, including Food Network Star, Chopped, Beat Bobby Flay, NBC's Food Fighters and Midnight Feast.  Michele states:

"My favorite Fish (Shellfish), all year round, is clams. I always have clams on one of my menus and consider them to be such a versatile food. In the winter, I love to make them a little heartier so I make a Steamed Littleneck dish with Portuguese Chourico, Kale and White Beans. It is almost like a hearty seafood stew. Growing up in New England, and living by the water clams, were a staple in my family and this is a recipe I love to make. Pair it with some crusty bread and you can’t go wrong."

12 Littleneck or Cherrystone Clams
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
1/3 cup white beans
1 stick chourico
1 bunch kale
1 bottle of Portuguese Vinho Verde wine
1 bunch fresh flat leaf parsley
1 tablespoon butter
Salt & pepper

In a large Saute pan, add 1 teaspoon blended oil. On medium heat, add diced onion, garlic, and chourico, Cook for about three minutes, until the onions are slightly cooked and the chourico is rendered. Add the clams, chopped kale and white beans. Add salt & pepper and then a cup of the wine. Cover and let it steam until the clams open, which should take about 8-10 minutes. Then, add the butter and cover for another two minutes. Before you serve, add the parsley and get your crusty bread ready. With this dish, enjoy the same Vinho Verde wine that you used for cooking.

Chef Robert Sisca, a resident of Rjode Island and a graduate of Johnson & Wales, honed his culinary skills in New York City at One If By Land, Two If By Sea before becoming Sous Chef at the famed seafood restaurant, Le Bernardin. Currently, Chef Sisca is the Executive Chef Partner at Bistro du Midi, Robert states:

Cooking seafood at home can be a daunting task, but by following three simple rules it can a much more enjoyable experience.

1. Always buy fresh fish. Eric Ripert at Le Bernardin taught me that the #1 rule of cooking is that all starts with the ingredients. Make sure it is always fresh, and then just let the food be the superstar on the plate. Always ask your local fishmonger to smell the fish. If their product is top quality, they will be confident in what they are selling and should have no problem letting you do this.

2. Do not overcook your fish. This is one of the biggest pitfalls when it comes to cooking fish at home. Don’t be so afraid of cooking fish all the way through, this will most likely only lead to it being dry. The best method to cook fish properly is to temper it. Tempering the fish omits the possibility of the overcooking the outside and having a raw center. To temper the fish, first let it sit at room temperature for approximately 10-15 minutes. Second, use a cake tester or skewer to gauge the internal temperature. This is another trick of the trade that I learned from Chef Eric Ripert. During a regular service at Le Bernardin, we would cook anywhere from 800-1000 portions of fish and every piece had to be checked with a skewer. When you think the fish is cooked, simply put the skewer into the thickest part of fish. The skewer should not be hot or cold, hot means the fish is overcooked and cold means it is undercooked. It should be warm.

3. Consider the seasons and resources available to you when deciding to cook fish. Deciding how you want to cook your fish, before you decide what type of fish you will cook is always a great starting point. Different types of fish taste better utilizing various cooking methods such as grilled, baked, seared or poached. The best method depends on characteristics such as how much natural fat is in the fish.

Recipe: Pan-Roasted Monkfish with Grilled and Roasted Eggplant

Step One: Slice an Eggplant thin, about 1/4 inch, and then marinate in 50 grams of olive oil, 2 cloves of garlic and 1 spring of thyme, for up to 30 minutes. Grill each side, rotating 90 degrees once just long enough to create grill marks and set aside.
Step Two: Sweat 2 cloves of Garlic and 2.5 tablespoons of Olive oil in Sauté Pan until aromatic and slightly translucent. Add 500 grams of chopped canned whole tomatoes and cook for 15 minutes. Peel and dice two eggplants. In a second sauté pan add 2 cloves of Garlic and 2.5 tablespoons of Olive oil, and cook diced eggplant until tender. Combine Tomato and Eggplant into one pan add 1/2 bunch of sage, 1/2 bunch of basil, and 2 springs of thyme, and cook until desired consistency. When ready to plate add 10 grams of capers and 50 grams of tomato sauce and season well.
Step Three: Pre-heat oven to 475 degrees. Heat 3 tablespoons of blended oil in heavy bottomed oven safe sauté pan over med-high heat. Dust lightly one side of four, 5 ounce monkfish filets with flour (all-purpose or Wondra). Add fish to pan flour side down and immediately put in oven until internal temperature reaches 115 degrees for medium rare or 125-130 for more medium (cooked through). Remove from oven and rest fish with sear side up for additional minute or two. To slice, place on cutting board sear side down and slice ¾ inch slices.
Step Four: Place grilled eggplant slices on plate, spoon tomato and eggplant mixture onto sliced eggplant. Place monkfish on top of tomato and eggplant mixture. Season monkfish with salt and pepper and garnish with micro greens.

1 comment:

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