Friday, June 6, 2014

How To Cook Seafood, Vol.2

"Scallops are expensive, so they should be treated with some class. But then, I suppose that every creature that gives his life for our table should be treated with class."
--Jeff Smith

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 second edition of How To Cook Seafood series where I present advice and recipes for seafood from local 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 local chef is interested in participating in this series, please contact me.

Now onto two more chefs with advice and recipes.

Chef Rich Vellante, the Executive Chef at Legal Sea Foods advises:

"First things first: you want to make sure that you’re cooking the freshest, highest quality fish possible. Not only is it important for obvious reasons but, to me, cooking a great piece of fish is about keeping it simple so the true flavors of the fish are prevalent. Make an investment in your ingredients and you’ll make it easier on yourself in the kitchen. So a few words about fish purchasing:

"The first rule of thumb is to buy from a well-known, busy (one that has a high volume so inventory moves quickly) fishmonger with a quality-driven reputation. It’s particularly important because the seafood industry is not regulated as tightly regulated as the meat or poultry industries, so one must have a level of confidence and trust that the fishmonger is providing you with high quality, fresh fish.

"Then ask questions such as: Where and when was the fish caught? Was it previously frozen? Is it wild or farm raised? Are antibiotics or chemicals added? What fish had been plentiful and looking/tasting good recently? When you get direction from the fishmonger on what fish is very fresh, ask to look at it. If it is a fillet, then look for a firm flesh with a clean cucumber aroma. If it is a whole fish, the eyes should be clear, not cloudy. And if the gills are there, they should be bright red, not a dull red. Once you decide what you want, a good fishmonger will dress the fish anyway you ask.

"You should cook the fish the day you bring it home. Worst case scenario, cook it the next day. Now on to the preparation:

"Many home chefs find the prospect of cooking seafood somewhat daunting but, in fact, fish is very versatile and can be prepared in a multiple of ways. Depending on the fish, you can bake, sauté, poach or grill it. But my favorite way to cook it is always rooted in simplicity. One of those ways is to cook the fish in parchment or foil and bake it in the oven - take any fillet of fish and put it in foil with your favorite vegetables, herbs, white wine, salt, pepper and any other flavoring you desire and wrap it up tightly and bake in the oven. The end result is that all the aromas and juices are captured in the foil, so you end up with a light, flavorful and moist fish that will impress every time. It’s a very easy to prepare, all-in-one dish that’s healthy and satisfying. It’s a great family meal that can easily be adapted to serve more or fewer people. Enjoy!"

Fish in Foil
serves 4

2lb 4 haddock fillets (or any white fish)
3oz sliced zucchini (or any seasonal vegetable)
3oz shaved brussels sprout (or any seasonal vegetable)
1/4 cup chopped onion
4 plum tomatoes - cut in half
1T fresh marjoram
1T butter

Preheat over to 400 degrees. Place the fish in the middle of a piece of aluminum foil layered with parchment or wax paper. Cover fish with zucchini and Brussels sprout, then layer tomato slices and marjoram on top. Add salt and pepper to taste, then dot with the butter. Make an envelope out of the foil, enclosing the fish and vegetables, and place it on a cookie sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes. Open the foil carefully to let out steam.

Chef Paul Turano, Owner of Tryst and Cook, advises:

These tips may seem simple, but they are often overlooked. It is key to have all your prep work done before you start. You get one chance to do fish right. Be sure to always taste everything and be sure you don’t over salt. You can always add. Make sure you remove any extra moisture by using a paper towel to absorb excess water. Make sure your pan is hot when searing fish and always sear the fresh side first. Once you flip it over you can lower the heat.

4-6 Halibut Steaks

Pan sear halibut steaks until golden brown.
Finish in oven @ 350 for 6-8 minutes

1 Sliced white onion
4 Stalks lemon grass
1 diced red chili
1/4 cup sliced ginger root
Sauté until lightly caramelized
Cover with the juice of 3 coconuts and 1/2 cup water. Simmer for 30 minutes, shut off heat and steep following ingredients
--1/2 cup cilantro
--1/4 cup chopped scallions
Strain after 30 minutes

Red Curried Vegetables
1 sweet potato peeled and diced
1 head of cauliflower separated into small florets
1 bell pepper diced
1 red onion diced
3 small zucchini diced 1/2 " and seeded cut on a bias
1/2 T minced lemongrass centers
1/2 T minced garlic
1/2 T minced ginger
2 T Coconut milk
1T red curry paste
1/3 cup scallions cut on a bias
Roast cauliflower and sweet potato separately with canola oil salt and pepper until tender
Stir fry Zucchini, onion and peppers with ginger, garlic and lemon grass until tender and aromatic
Add coconut milk and curry to coat, combine with cauliflower and potato
Add scallions and adjust seasoning adding picked cilantro leaves for garnish

In a bowl mound heated vegetable composition, top with a piece of fish and pour about 1/3 cup of strain broth over the fish. Finish with scallion Julian


Megan Anderson said...

Well, it’s quite understandable why most people are not comfortable with cooking any seafood. While the actual cooking process can be easy, the preparation is what has most people daunted about it. So those tips from different chefs are very useful, especially the one regarding how to choose the fish to buy. At the very least, you'll know if what you're getting is fresh, and that you could have the fishmonger do the initial prep work, rather than doing everything yourself. Thanks for sharing!

Megan Anderson @ Café Fina

Unknown said...

My husband loves seafood and I want to make a special dinner for him. I have no experience cooking seafood and it is a little intimidating to me. Your tips on how to make sure the fish is fresh will be really helpful in making a delicious meal.