Posts Tagged ‘Fish’

From Dish Rachelle:
Clam chowder
I’m pretty sure that in my lifetime I’ve done some serious damage to the clam population of the Northeast. Some of my favorite dishes – and my family’s favorite dishes – center around this one simple ingredient. I grew up eating fried clam strips with tartar sauce with my Mom at Howard Johnson’s at brunch on Sundays and at fish fry places on the boardwalk at the Jersey Shore. I always ordered the chalky New England clam chowder at Friendly’s when I was little (and we know what a big part Friendly’s played in my childhood). I’ve known my father to cook three dishes, and three dishes only: 1) “Cheese eggs” (aka scrambled eggs with American cheese) 2) Linguine with white clam sauce and 3) Baked clams (see the bottom of this post for a neat trick he taught me). I love Zuppa di Clams and even raw ones on the half shell with cocktail sauce. This is really just starting to sound like a survey of New Jersey restaurant menus.

I’ve made Manhattan clam chowder before (“red”) but never New England. I was very pleasantly surprised. Sorry, clams – this might become another go-to.

Ingredients (makes 2 entrée-sized portions or 4 appetizers)

18 raw whole clams, shells on
2 strips bacon, chopped
Olive oil
½ large yellow onion, chopped
splash of dry white wine
1 large baking potato, diced small
clam stock (see below)
1/3 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon cornstarch (optional)
Ground pepper

Start by steaming your clams open. In a large, deep saucepan, place rinsed clams (shells on) in about a half-inch of water. Cover and steam over medium-high heat, giving the pan a shake every few minutes. Cook until the water looks foamy and the shells are all wide open, about 10 minutes.
Steamed clams
With tongs, remove the clams to a bowl. Do not drain or discard the clammy water at the bottom of your saucepan, because this will become the base of your stock! Remove the clam meat from the shells and reserve for later. Place the empty shells back in the saucepan and add about a pint and a half of water, covering and bringing it up to a simmer. Let this cook while you prepare your other ingredients.
Coming out of their shells
Clam stock
Cook the chopped bacon in a soup/stew pot over medium heat. When it looks about done, add the onions and a little bit of olive oil so they don’t stick, and soften. Deglaze with the white wine and add the potatoes.
Diced potato
Return to your clam stock and taste it. It will likely be very salty. Remove shells* and pour the liquid through a cheese cloth to remove any sand or grit that has come from them, and then pour the strained liquid straight into your soup pot. Add some fresh water if necessary to cover ingredients and dilute the salt. Bring to a simmer and cook, mostly covered, about 15 minutes.

Check your potatoes and make sure they’re done. If so, roughly chop the clam meat and add to the pot along with any liquids that emerged. Add the corn and stir. Cook, mostly covered, over low heat for another 5 minutes.
Chopped clam
Add heavy cream and if you prefer a thicker soup, the cornstarch (you can dissolve it in a little bit of warm water first to make a paste so that it’s not gritty in your mouth). Plate and season with ground pepper.

*You can toss them, or rinse and save them for another use. My Dad used to make baked clams using canned clams – easy, but without the benefit of shells for easy baking and nice presentation. No problem: when he ordered clams casino at a restaurant, he used to ask the waiter if he could keep the empty shells so that the next time he felt to urge to make baked clams he’d have them on hand.
Mutual admiration society, clam edition

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From Dish Gwen:

My husband and I recently signed up for a Community Supported Fishery (CSF) program, meaning every week we get to pick up a little package of fresh-caught seafood. So far we’ve gotten Long Island Oysters and clams, fresh Atlantic cod, a whole fish (which we grilled) and some really nice filets of striped bass. This week we received a golden tilefish filet, and although it was my first time cooking tilefish it was instantly clear to me where it gets its name (check out that coloration!).

Aside from being beautiful, tilefish is delicious. It’s a flaky white fish with fatty skin that reminds me of cod or halibut. Ours was caught the day we ate it off of Montauk, in Long Island. Here’s how I cooked it:

Ingredients (serves 2-3)
– 1-2 lb tilefish filet (skin-on, scales-off)
– 2 tablespoons honey
– 2-3 large shallots, sliced into rings
– 2 tablespoons butter
– 2 cups white wine
– salt
– white pepper
– olive oil

Simmer some butter in a small sauce pan on medium heat and add your sliced shallots. While they’re browning, heat up a larger skillet on high and grease it lightly with olive oil. When it is good and hot, place your filets skin-side-down on the skillet and let them cook for a few minutes (you want that fatty skin to get nice and crispy so don’t move or flip the filets – leave them alone!). Toss the shallots so they brown all over and then add the white wine and butter, as well as a pinch of salt, and stir on low heat.

Once the flesh of the fish is white nearly all the way through, take a spatula and scrape the filets off the pan and flip them over.

Turn off the heat, and quickly drizzle a spoonful of honey on the crispy brown skin of the filets, then spread the honey evenly across the surface of each filet. Sprinkle the fish with a pinch of salt and white pepper, then serve the filets over a bed of rice, pasta, polenta or another grain of your choice. Spoon the shallots and wine/butter sauce over the fish and enjoy!

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From Dish Nicole:

Tis the season to B-B-Q! Every spring I get sooooo excited to move my kitchen outside and cook and dine al fresco. The grilling gods have been very kind to me and I have always been given or loaned a grill, oddly enough. My last apartment had a backyard and my landlord let us use his gas grill for the 3 years I lived there. I got used to the convenience of just turning on the gas and grilling away. When I moved into my current apartment my boyfriend and I were very pleased to find that the previous tenants left us a relatively new charcoal grill on the porch (they even left most of the grilling accessories). Score! The only problem with the charcoal grill is that I had never used one so the boyfriend has come in rather handy and has been giving me grilling tutorials. One of the benefits of charcoal is that the food actually tastes the way grilled food should taste, slightly smoky. I went out and purchased a grill pan so I could take the grilling even further and add more delicate items to the old Webber, e.g.: fish and veggies. The grill pan is a MUST otherwise you will lose most of the food into the smoldering coals.

To keep things interesting throughout the grilling season we have a lot of fun experimenting with sauces and marinades. Zeke’s mom recently passed along a walnut sauce recipe that we love. Its light, savory and the walnuts add a really nice texture. Not only that, it’s tasty on salads, chicken, you name it. Another added bonus to sauces is that they can be made ahead of time and thrown on to spice up a quick dinner.

Here is what you need to make the salmon, asparagus and walnut sauce:

Salmon filets with the skin on
1 bunch of asparagus rinsed & dried
Salt & pepper to taste
2 Tbs olive oil

Walnut Sauce:
1 c. walnuts chopped
3/4 c. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 c. EVOO
Salt and pepper to taste
4 Tbs chopped, pitted Mediterranean-style black olives
1 Tbs capers, rinsed and chopped

Start out by making your walnut sauce. I prepared the walnut sauce a day ahead of time but you can make it right before serving as well. I like the way it tastes after the flavors have had a chance to infuse into the oil. All you have to do is prep your ingredients and then mix together. Boom, you’re done.

Next prepare your grill. Rub the salmon filets with olive oil to prevent sticking and lightly salt and pepper then set aside. Next, prepare the asparagus by cutting off the bottom where the green color fades. You will also want to lightly coat the asparagus with oil, salt and pepper. Once the coals are ready you can add the grill pan to the grill and add the salmon filets. Start with the salmon skin side up on the pan and cook for about 5-6 minutes per side. The salmon will continue to cook once you remove it from the heat. Add the asparagus to the grill pan and cook for about 5-6 minutes or until tender.

You can remove the salmon skin before serving (I prefer it that way). Add the sauce to both the veggies and salmon and dig in! I think grilled food is best served outside with a glass of chilled wine, but that’s just me. I wouldn’t call myself a grill master just yet but I plan to take the title by the end of summer.

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From Dish Gwen:

I’ve always loved shrimp, but I don’t eat it much because in general it’s a seafood that is farmed and fished in ways that are terrible for the environment. But when I come across some nice domestic Gulf Coast shrimp at the fish store it’s hard to resist. Usually I get them in the summer and put them on the grill with skewers, but since it’s February I cooked them up on the stove this time.


1 lb jumbo shrimp, heads off, shells on
1/2 head garlic, minced
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon crushed chili pepper flake
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup white wine


In a large bowl, toss together the shrimp, garlic, honey, salt and spices, making sure all of the shrimp are well-coated with everything. Get a skillet nice and hot (on high) on the stove, and melt the butter in there. When the butter starts smoking (or ideally just before then), toss in the shrimp and whatever juices and garlic bits are in the bottom of the bowl. Cook for about 3 minutes, making sure all the shrimp are laying flat on the bottom of the pan, then flip them all over (you can toss them all up in the pan to spread the garlic and whatnot around too). Cook the shrimp for 3 minutes on that side, then take one out and taste it to make sure that they’re cooked enough. It’s better to under-cook your shrimp than to over-cook it (because the meat gets rubbery if they’re too well done). Give them another minute if you think the one you tasted is too raw.

Turn off the heat and serve over rice and vegetables (I steamed up some bok choi). Serves three.

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From Dish Rachelle:

Some dishes are brilliantly simple, but are nonetheless impressive. I had an entree similar to this one at my 30th birthday dinner with my family and I was pleased with the harmony of the plate, its nicely unfussy preparation, and the way it allowed such terrific fall ingredients to shine. We ate at an upscale downtown restaurant and as I was enjoying my food, I was also thinking, hell, I can do this. Salmon is such a versatile fish and it works with the earthy potatoes as well as the sweet apples and beets. I call them “pink” potatoes because as the hash cooks, the beets sweat juice that then absorbs into the potato pieces.

This recipe is forgiving and flexible. It can be prepared after work for a healthy, satisfying dinner, or it could easily be served under more formal circumstances. Paging the butler…

To serve 2, you’ll need:
1 beet
a bunch of small potatoes
1 apple
2 salmon filets
Olive oil

Start with three ingredients:

Cut the potatoes and beets into small squares, all of approximately equal size. Don’t cut the apple yet because you don’t want it to brown while it’s waiting for its turn in the frying pan.

Heat about 2 tbsps of olive oil in a medium saucepan and add the beets and potatoes. Lower heat and let cook, about 20 minutes, until both are close to fork tender. For the last 10 minutes, add your apple — cut (you guessed it) to the same size as the other ingredients.

While the apples are cooking, remove any skin from your salmon filets and season them. Cook them over medium-high heat, 2-3 minutes per side for medium rare fish.
Season the hash with salt and pepper and plate it with the fish, and a dollop of creme fraiche.

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From Dish Erin:

“I don’t know what to say, except it’s Christmas and we’re all in misery.”

That’s the inimitable Ellen Griswold. It’s one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite movies of all time, National Lampoons Christmas Vacation. It’s also part of the reason Dish Rachelle and I were cooking up a storm last night at our annual pre-holiday get together. Every year around this time, we grab our boys, our kitchen toys, and drink lots of wine while we cook up a feast in an attempt to de-stress from all the holiday craziness.

When I entertain guests, I like to cook something that’s simple to prep and cooks up fast, like pasta or shrimp. This dish has a lot of ingredients, but it’s relatively stress free, so it’s the perfect meal for guests or a weeknight meal–or both!

To brine shrimp:
1.5 lbs peeled and cleaned shrimp
4 cloves of garlic, minced and divided in half
A big ‘ol handful of parlsey, chopped roughly and divided in half
White wine

For grits:
1/2 cup quick cooking grits or polenta (not instant)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

To prepare shrimp:
2-3 slices of pancetta or bacon, diced
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon paprika
A few shakes of cayenne pepper (optional)
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
Salt & freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup white wine
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
3 tablespoons butter
2 scallions, diced (white + green parts)

Open a bottle of white wine. Have a glass.

OK, now: Place shrimp in bag with half the garlic, half the parsley, and a generous 2-3 tablespoons of kosher salt. Throw in a few splashes of your wine for good measure. Fill bag with very cold water to cover shrimp. Set aside and let shrimp brine for about 20 minutes.

Make grits according to package directions. It will take about 10-12 minutes to cook, so it can simmer while the shrimp cooks.

In a sautee pan over medium heat, cook pancetta until it’s rendered and starting to crisp up. Remove from pan but leave heat on.

Add remaining garlic and stir until fragrant. Empty most of the brine from the bag and add shrimp to pan (you want a little bit of juice in there). Cook for about 2 minutes until shrimp begin to turn pink. Add the dried spices and stir to coat.

Make a “well” in the middle of the pan and add the tomato paste, a few more splashes of wine, and the Worcestershire sauce and stir to incorporate. Then stir everything together to coat the shrimp and add the pancetta back to the pan.

Add the butter to the pan, stir again to coat, sprinkle with parsley and scallions and turn off heat.

Add the cheese to the grits and stir.

Plate grits, then top with shrimp and a bit of sauce. Serve with a crusty piece of bread and a salad. Shown here: arugula, pears and pomegranate seeds with a balsamic and fig vinaigrette.

Keep drinking your wine and reminding yourself that it’s the holidays, and we’re all in misery, but if you have good friends nearby, it’s all good.


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From Dish Gwen:

Every August my saucy little family goes up to the coast of Maine for a week or two, and aside from swimming and boating and generally enjoying the outdoors, we do a lot of cooking and eating. Maine is well known for its lobsters, and we always have a lobster dinner when we’re there, but as delicious as lobsters are, they’re not terribly fun to cook. My favorite dish to make when we’re in Maine is mussels. Myself and a couple of friends will scramble out onto some rocks at low tide and dig around in the seaweed and pick mussels directly out of the salty water. Then we bring them home, clean them, and cook them up. Yum.

Cleaning Fresh Mussels
There’s one great thing about store-bought mussels, and that’s the fact that they’ve already been cleaned. Mussels have barnacles and beards, and they’re not particularly fun to clean, but it’s totally worth it because they’re delicious. There are two main steps in cleaning them:

1. De-beard them. The “beard” is the hairy-looking part that sticks out of the side of the mussel’s shell, and it needs to be pulled off. Sometimes the beards are easy to yank off, but occasionally you’ll get a stubborn one and in that case you should pinch the beards off using a damp dish towel to improve your grip.

2. Scrape of the barnacles. Barnacles are little white crustaceans that stick to the shells of the mussels, and you don’t want them to end up in your meal so you have to scrape them off. Take a dull butter knife and scrape them while holding the mussel under the water. The little buggers pop right off.

Ok, so once your mussels are clean you can just give them a rinse with fresh water and then get on with the show.

– 50-75 mussels, cleaned and rinsed
– 2 red or green peppers, chopped
– 3 large tomatoes, chopped and de-seeded
– 1 large zucchini, chopped into ½ inch pieces
– ½ head of garlic, minced
– ½ bottle dry white wine
– 2 table spoons olive oil
– 1 lb thin spaghetti
– salt

Get your spaghetti cooking, and once it’s done al-dente, rinse it and prepare it with light salt and olive oil. In a large pot, simmer the olive oil on medium-high, and toss in the garlic and zucchini with about a teaspoon of salt. Once they’re lightly browned, add the peppers and tomatoes, and keep simmering until they too begin to brown and stick to the pan. Add the wine and stir, making sure that all the brown glaze from the vegetables comes loose into the liquid.

Simmer everything for about two minutes until the contents are sizzling and steaming, then drop the mussels into the pot and cover. Steam the mussels until the shells open (should take 10-15 mins), and mix the mussels and veggies together once or twice with a large spoon, gently churning everything together with broad strokes so you don’t break any of the shells.

Place the spaghetti into a large bowl and then pour out the mussels, veggies, and all the broth on top. Serve with some crusty bread and butter for sopping up that broth, and don’t forget to put out bowls for the empty shells. Serves 4 to 5 hungry beach-goers.

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