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Cooking with David

Seafood

Copyright © 2006-2007, 2010, 2013, 2016 by David E. Ross

I really like many kinds of seafood. While I don't eat them often, fried oysters have a special place in my heart — my mother won my father's attention and affection with a platter of fried oysters.

With true fish — not mollusks or crustaceans — do not over-buy. As delicious as fish may be and as hungry as you are, fish seems to be much more filling than red meat or poultry.

NOTE: All these recipes call for RAW seafood.

Fried Catfish

While I generally avoid farm-raised fish, catfish seems to be available in local markets (southern California) only as farm-raised. This recipe may also be used for other fish fillets such as sole.

1 large catfish fillet (between 1/2 and 3/4 pound)
2 heaping TBS dry bread crumbs
1 heaping TBS flour
seasoning (optional)
olive oil

Cut the catfish crosswise in half, into two individual servings.

Put the bread crumbs, flour, and seasoning on a dinner plate. Stir with a dinner fork flat to the plate to mix thoroughly.

Place the catfish on the mixed breading, press down and turn to ensure a thorough coating; even the cut ends should be coated. Let stand on top of the remaining breading mix for about 20-30 minutes.

In a frying pan large enough to hold both pieces of catfish, pour just enough olive oil to coat the bottom. Heat the pan over a high fire and then reduce the fire to medium. Fry the catfish on each side until golden brown, turning the fish only once.

Serves 2.

It's important to let the fish — or any other food to be fried — stand after coating with the breading mix or even with just plain flour. This allows the mix to absorb moisture from the fish and become sticky. Then it will remain attached to the food and not fall off into the frying pan.

I only use one seasoning when making this, and that seasoning is used very lightly. More than one or too much will overwhelm the inherent flavor of the fish instead of enhancing it. Try any one of the following:

You might try others according to your own tastes.

11 November 2006


Pasta with Seafood

For this, I can't really give a recipe, only a guide. Change it according to your taste.

Getting Ready for the Sauce

Get all the ingredients ready for this before cooking the pasta, but don't start cooking the sauce until the pasta is cooking.

1/4 cup olive oil
3-4 cloves of garlic
3/4 lb of seafood
2 large florets of a cole vegetable: broccoli, cauliflower, or "brocciflower"
2 small or 1 large tomato
lemon juice
1 tsp capers
6 black olives
6 small or 3 medium mushrooms

Peel and finely dice the garlic. Put the garlic with the olive oil in a blender and blend until the garlic is minced. Pour into a pot large enough to cook all the ingredients.

Blanch the tomatoes in boiling water for about 45 seconds. Rinse under cold water. Peel, quarter, and seed the tomatoes. Cut into small pieces.

Cut the cole vegetable into small pieces. Cut the seafood into bite-sized pieces.

In the blender, mince the capers in enough lemon juice so that the result can be poured. Add the olives and blend just enough to coarsely chop them.

Slice the mushrooms.

For this, I used 10 large shrimp and about 6 very large scallops. You can also use any combination of true fish, calamari (squid), clams, mussels, or lobster. I would not recommend oysters because of their very strong flavor.

I used 2 Roma tomatoes. They really don't have to be seeded, but they must be peeled. Otherwise the peel will come loose in the sauce.

I used 6 crimini mushrooms. Unless you are doubling the recipe, I would not use a porta bella because even 1 is too large.

I used kalamata olives. You can use Greek olives or even green olives if you prefer.

We had brocciflower, so I used it. You can even mix broccoli and cauliflower if you have both.

The Pasta

pasta for 4 small or medium servings
olive oil
water
salt

Put water into a very large pot about 3/4 full. Pour a generous amount of salt into the water. Add enough olive oil to almost cover the water. Cover the pot and put over a high fire until the water boils.

When the water boils, uncover the pot and add the pasta. Cook until it is done but still firm, stirring occasionally.

I prefer a textured pasta such as rotelli or a tube pasta such as penne. These tend to capture and hold the sauce better than spaghetti or noodles (e.g., linguini). My doctor strongly advised me to use whole wheat pasta.

I salt the water to raise the boiling temperature. I add olive oil to keep the pasta from getting sticky.

Cooking the Sauce

Start this as soon as the pasta is added to the boiling water.

Heat the garlic and oil until it starts to bubble. Add the seafood, cole vegetable, and tomato. Cook covered over a medium flame until the seafood starts to become opaque (almost done).

Add the lemon juice with the capers and olives. Add the mushrooms. As soon as the seafood is done, turn off the flame and cover the pot to keep the sauce warm.

When the pasta is done, drain it. Put the pasta in a large serving bowl.

When the sauce is done, pour it over the pasta.

This serves 2-3 with second helpings.

Since it was winter and my basil was history with the first frost and my oregano was dormant, I added 1/2 tsp of Genoa pesto to the pot with the garlic and oil before cooking. In the summer, I would have added about 6-10 basil leaves or a small bunch of oregano, either of them finely chopped with a sharp knife. This I would have put into the pot when the sauce was almost through cooking. I would not use both basil and oregano; that would have over-seasoned the sauce.

Be careful not to overcook the sauce. The cole vegetable should still be somewhat crisp and not mushy. If you use shellfish, it may get tough if overcooked. Depending on your choice of ingredients and their temperatures before cooking, it may be necessary to add each ingredient separately to prevent overcooking those that need the least cooking time.

Serve with freshly grated or shredded Parmesan cheese. Also serve a crusty bread to sop up the remnants of the sauce.

21 January 2007


Sautéed Calamari

For this recipe, I use frozen calamari rings. I defrost the rings by putting them in a colander and running cold water through them. Calamari "steaks" can also be used. In that case, defrost the steaks if frozen, pound them thin, and then cut them in small strips about 1/2 inch wide and 2 inches long.

Be very careful not to over-cook the calamari. Other recipes might involve cooking it until it is crisp, but not this recipe. If cooked just right, its texture is midway between creamy and not quite chewy. If over-cooked, it can become so rubbery as to be difficult to chew.

1/2 lb calamari
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves of garlic
3 heaping TBS bread crumbs
2 heaping TBS flour
white wine (I use dry Vermouth)
rice pilaf
2-4 broccoli florets

Put the bread crumbs and flour in a Ziploc bag. Shake and turn the bag to mix. Add the calamari. Shake and turn the bag to coat the calamari with the breading. Let the calamari stand in the bag.

Prepare the pilaf, using only half the indicated recipe (e.g., 1/2 cup rice and slightly more than 1 cup of liquid).

While the pilaf is simmering, peel and finely dice the garlic. Put the garlic and olive oil in a blender or mini-processor. Blend thoroughly. Pour the garlic and oil mix through a strainer into a cup, pressing the garlic residue into the strainer with the back of a spoon. If there is much garlic residue, return it to the blender with a little more oil, blend some more, and strain.

Empty the Ziploc bag into a dry colander. Shake to remove excess breading.

Cut the broccoli into very small pieces. Cook covered in a microwave for about 1.25 minutes. Leave covered until it is used.

When there is about 5 minutes left for cooking the pilaf, pour half the garlic and oil mixture into a large frying pan over a medium flame. When the mixture starts to bubble, add half the calamari, making sure that no piece is on top of another. Cook about 1 minute, until the breading starts to brown. Turn the calamari. As soon as the last piece is turned, remove the first piece that was turned to a serving platter. After removing all of the first batch of calamari from the frying pan, cook the rest of the calamari with the remaining garlic and oil mixture as for the first batch.

When the calamari is all cooked, pour a large splash of wine into the frying pan. Cook briefly to loosen any breading residue and to evaporate the alcohol.

When the pilaf is done, pour the cooked wine and oil over it. Add the broccoli and stir it into the pilaf while fluffing.

The pilaf and calamari should be eaten together. Spoon the pilaf into the middle of a plate, and then place the calamari on top.

Serves 2.

Garlic becomes bitter when fried too long. That is why it is necessary to strain the oil and garlic mixture — to remove any pieces of garlic that might create an "off" taste.

11 February 2007


Garlic Shrimp

We wanted something special for dinner on New Year's Eve, so I invented this.

Warning: You will continue to taste garlic for hours.

For each serving:

a generous serving of rice pilaf
6-8 raw jumbo shrimp (If you can get raw colossal shrimp, use 4.)
1-2 cloves of garlic
olive oil
chili powder
dill leaves (not dill seed)
lemon juice
1 medium mushroom
vermouth

The night before dinner or that morning:

Remove any shell remaining on the tail. Place shrimp in a Ziploc bag, leaving the bag open.

Peal and dice the garlic. Place the garlic in a blender. Add a pinch of chili powder and a pinch of dill. Add a dash of lemon juice. Finally, add about 2 Tbs olive oil. Blend until the garlic is mostly puréed. If the result is thick, blend with some more olive oil. Add the oil in small amounts to get a marinade that is a thin syrup.

Pour the marinade into the Ziploc bag and seal the bag. Handle the bag to ensure the marinade thoroughly coats the shrimp. If this is all done the night before, refrigerate the bag, handling it again in the morning. If this is done the morning of the dinner, let stand at room temperature for about an hour before refrigerating.

Cooking Dinner

About an hour before dinner, remove the Ziploc bag of shrimp from the refrigerator. Make the rice pilaf. Thinly slice the mushroom.

It takes only a very few minutes to cook the shrimp. If there is a course (e.g., salad, soup) before the shrimp is to be served, eat that course first — while the rice is cooking — before cooking the shrimp.

In a large frying pan over a medium-high flame, sauté the shrimp and mushrooms together, using the marinade without any additional oil. With a fork, turn each shrimp over as the cooked side turns pink and white. Also turn the mushrooms. Turn off the flame as soon as all shrimp are cooked.

Serving

Cover a serving platter with the rice, not mounded but flat. Spoon the shrimp and mushrooms over the rice, leaving as much liquid as possible in the frying pan.

Pour a large splash of vermouth into the frying pan and put the frying pan over a high flame. Tilt and turn the pan to loosen any crumbs of garlic, mushroom, and shrimp. As soon as the vermouth begins to boil, remove from the flame and pour over the shrimp.

Serve.

If blending olive oil, lemon juice, and fresh garlic forms a thick, fluffy emulsion that cannot be poured, there is not enough oil. Add enough oil until the emulsion begins to break down and can be poured easily.

When sautéing, there should be only a single layer of shrimp in the frying pan. This is easily done for two servings. If you are making more servings, you might have to sauté in batches. If so, as each batch is finished, place in a covered bowl to keep warm. When transferring from the bowl to the serving platter, return any liquid in the bowl back to the frying pan before adding the vermouth.

When serving any shrimp dish other than shrimp cocktail, always peal away all shell, including the remnant shell that is often found around the tail. It is too messy to eat garlic shrimp, pasta with seafood, or most any other dish with your fingers; but that becomes necessary if part of the shrimp remains inside its shell. Only with shrimp cocktail do you leave the shell on the tail, but then you often eat shrimp cocktail with your fingers. If shrimp cocktail is served with cocktail forks, then those shrimp should also be peeled. I get very peeved when eating in a restaurant and they serve shrimp (or any other seafood) drenched in a sauce but with shells still attached.

For two servings, I used one small porta bella mushroom, which is almost equivalent to a very large mushroom of any other variety.

New Year's Eve at the end of 2009, I replaced some of the shrimp with very large scallops. The scallops were quite thick, so I sliced them in half into thinner discs. Everything was quite tasty.

31 December 2007
Updated 1 January 2010


Grilled Shrimp and Scallops

This is not as garlicky as Garlic Shrimp.

For each serving:

4 jumbo or 3 colossal shrimp
3 large scallops
1 or 2 strips of thick-sliced bacon
1 clove of garlic
a small amount of fresh dill
1 tsp chili powder
2 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs lemon juice

1 or 2 wood or bamboo skewers

The night before cooking:

Peel the garlic and slice it crosswise into very thin slices. Cut the dill into small pieces. Place garlic, dill, chili powder, olive oil, and lemon juice in blender. Blend until thoroughly puréed.

If the shrimp or scallops are frozen, place them in a colander and run cold water through them until they can be separated and have started to defrost.

Make sure the shrimp is thoroughly shelled, including the tails.

Place the shrimp, scallops, and puréed seasonings in a Ziplock bag. If the shrimp or scallops are still frozen, leave the bag on a counter for an hour or two. Then refrigerate overnight.

About one hour before serving:

Wet the skewers.

Cook the bacon until it is about 2/3 done. Set aside to cool enough to handle. Then, cut each strip in half crosswise.

On each skewer, thread a shrimp with the skewer piercing the shrimp twice to hold it firmly. Then thread a bacon-wrapped scallop onto the skewer; the skewer should pierce the bacon where the ends overlap. Repeat with another shrimp and then another scallop. If the skewer is not long enough, start a new one.

Grill on a medium-hot barbecue for 6-7 minutes, turn, and grill for another 7 minutes.

I used one strip of bacon for two scallops, stretching the bacon as needed to overlap the ends around a scallop. I partially cooked the bacon in the microwave oven for about 3/4 of the time I would normally cook it to eat with breakfast.

For this recipe, I heated the gas barbecue on high. When cooking the skewers, I reduced the heat to medium and cooked with the barbecue cover closed.

For the two of us, I used 8 shrimp and 6 scallops. I could not get 4 shrimp and 3 scallops on a skewer. After threading 3 shrimp and 2 scallops on each of 2 skewers, I did 2 shrimp and 2 scallops on a third skewer, which we shared.

16 June 2013


Ceviche

There are many different recipes for ceviche. This one I adapted from a Food Network page that I found on the Web edition of a Canadian newspaper. Ceviche is usually served as an apetizer, but I like this for a light lunch with a few corn chips on the side. This takes two days to prepare, starting in the evening and finishing the next morning.

1 lb peeled raw shrimp
1 lb raw firm fish
1 cup lemon juice

All of the following will be minced. Use a sharp knife, not a food processor.
1 fresh chili pepper Warning
1/2 cucumber
1/2 cup fresh peeled tomatoes *
1/2 cup onion *
1/4 cup cilantro (coriander leaves) *


* These ingredients should be measured after they are finely minced.
In the Evening

Remove any shell from the shrimp. Dice the shrimp and fish into pieces about 1/2 or 1 inch. Place in a container about twice as large as would be needed for only the seafood. Pour the lemon juice over the seafood and stir to ensure the juice is evenly distributed throughout. Cover the container and refrigerate overnight.

The Following Morning

Blanch the tomatoes to allow the peel to be removed. Mince.

After cutting the cucumber in half crosswise, remove lengthwise strips of skin from half. Mince that half. Save the other half for a salad or relish.

Cut the chili pepper in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds and interior partitions. Mince.

Peel and mince the onion.

Mince the cilantro.

Remove the seafood from the refrigerator. Transfer the seafood into a large strainer (not a colander), draining the lemon juice. Press the seafood against the strainer with your hand or the back of a large mixing spoon to ensure excess juice is removed.

Return the seafood to its container. Add the minced vegetables. Stir thoroughly. Refrigerate until served.

The original recipe called for lime juice. However, I have a dwarf lemon tree that produces more fruit than anyone can use; so I use lemon juice. You can use lime juice or a blend of lemon and lime juices.

The original recipe called for two pounds of tilapia and did not mention shrimp. I prefer the mixture of fish and shrimp. While I do use tilapia, you might try halibut, catfish, sole, or similar fish. I think salmon, tuna, swordfish, and similar fish might have too strong a taste.

The acid in the juice effectively cooks the seafood. The original recipe indicates marinating for only two hours. I chose to marinate overnight because shrimp is more dense than tilapia.

For a mild version, use a jalapeño chili and yellow onion. For a spicy version, use a serrano chili and red onion. For a really hot version, add some squirts of Tabasco sauce.

28 March 2016


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