Sunday Supper: Crawfish or Shrimp Boil

Over on Kitchen Daily I’m talking lobster, but here’s another shellfish recipe that just screams Summer. Adapted from How to Cook Everything.

Crawfish or Shrimp Boil, Louisiana Style

Makes: 4 to 6 servings

Time: 30 minutes, plus time to cool

It’s traditional to serve the seafood (and vegetables; see the variation) in the center of a newspaper-covered table with some French bread and a bowl of the cooking water—which will taste pretty good after having all this cooked in it—handy for dipping.

About 6 quarts water, fish stock, or shrimp stock

4 bay leaves

2 teaspoons dried thyme or several sprigs fresh thyme

1 tablespoon black peppercorns

4 cloves garlic, crushed

1 tablespoon coriander seeds

3 cloves

4 small dried hot red chiles

Salt

4 pounds whole crawfish or shrimp

Tabasco or other hot red pepper sauce for serving

Lemon wedges for serving

Freshly ground black pepper

Garlic mayonnaise, or tartar sauce for dipping, optional

1. Bring the liquid to a boil in a medium to large saucepan and add the bay leaves, thyme, peppercorns, garlic, coriander, cloves, chiles, and plenty of salt. Turn the heat down to medium and cook for 10 minutes.

2. Add the crawfish or shrimp. Cook for 5 minutes, then turn off the heat and let the seafood cool down for a few minutes in the liquid.

3. Remove the crawfish or shrimp with a slotted spoon, sprinkle with more salt, and serve, passing hot sauce, lemon wedges, black pepper, and sauce at the table.

Crawfish or Shrimp Boil with Vegetables. More of a meal: In Step 1, add 11/2pounds waxy potatoes and 1 pound onions (all cut into large chunks if they’re big- ger than eggs). Boil with the seasonings until just beginning to get tender, about 10 minutes. When you add the seafood in Step 2, add 4 to 6 ears of shucked corn (cut in half if you like). Proceed with the recipe.

Posted in Recipes, Seafood

Quick Pickles, the Wrong Way

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by Kerri Conan 

Or call them skillet pickles. Whatever: They’re the perfect antidote to full-on canning or refrigerator-cured vegetables, since there’s no work involved and you don’t need a bushel of produce. 

Start with trimmed whole or sliced vegetables (in this case green beans but I later made a batch with beets) and a hot skillet filmed with olive oil. Add some aromatics (the first garlic from the garden for the first; the other got a mixture of sesame and grape seed oils with scallions). When the seasoning just starts to sputter, toss in the veg. Move them around in the pan a bit so the color brightens evenly, then stir in a splash each of water and vinegar (I used sherry v. for the beans and rice v. for the beets, but your call). If you’re worried about ratios, figure 1 part each of oil, water, vinegar. But you only need enough to douse the vegetables, not submerge them.  

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Posted in Produce, Recipes

On Finding and Shucking Oysters

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by Cathy Erway

It was something I would have normally found awe-inspiring: a platter of freshly shucked oysters, placed ceremoniously on a chrome stand. The opened half shells dotted the perimeter of the dish, sunken into a bed of crushed ice. In the center lay lemon wedges and small cups of cocktail sauce, horseradish and vinaigrette, with spoons dug provocatively down in. In their pools of clear brine, the silver flesh of the oysters seemed to quiver gently even seconds after being set down, and their juices threatened to drip into the ice. These were served up at a well-heeled restaurant with much recent hype, no less, at a table that was the envy of every person waiting patiently outside. It was, by all standards, a real foodie’s dream. But it just wasn’t the same for me.  

You see, the day before, I had foraged for oysters on a calm and sandy beach. I wasn’t expecting to find them, nor the quahogs, hermit crabs and miniature shellfish that lay half-hidden at my feet. But I recognized the teardrop shape and craggy surface of the first oyster from afar, and spent the next hour or so peeling the beach for more. Once home, I shucked them open one by one, to enjoy with friends. I’d collected ten oysters in total, and they ranged wildly in stature: the smallest being the size of a baby’s ear and the largest one, a round and deep-bowled object that held a mouthful-sized mollusk. Some had translucent green strands of seaweed clinging to its shells, which I could never get off. One had another oyster shell impossibly stuck against it like a Siamese twin. Slipped into the mouth, some oysters gave with a subtle crunch, like a softened piece of cartilage, while others went down as a smooth, cold lobe of blubber. All of them were very easy to shuck. Perhaps it was this particular species, but the way the tiny crevice between the pointed ends of both shells – the sweet spot – gave so easily with the shove of a shucker made it seem as if they had been waiting to be opened, too.  

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Posted in Farming, Seafood

Early Birds Abroad

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By Edward Schneider

A perennial problem for visitors to Spain is the dining timetable. Many Spaniards have their main meal at lunchtime, eventually going back to work and staying there until well into the evening. Only then do they start to think about going out for a stroll, a drink, another stroll and something more to eat. But if my wife and I were to have a full-blown sit-down lunch, we’d be useless for the rest of the afternoon and would miss a precious half day of sightseeing. So going native is not for us.

Before a brief trip to Córdoba, our first, we asked friends for dining ideas that were a little off the beaten track – that might take us out of the ancient center of the city into neighborhoods that most tourists don’t see. The one that particularly struck our fancy was about a twenty-minute walk east of our hotel (the dreamy Palacio del Bailío, which for a September stay, for example, can be booked on hotels.com for $233 a night). Continue reading

Posted in Travel

Fix the Farm, Not the Salmon

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By Paul Greenberg

[Paul Greenberg is author of the newly released “Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food” and a frequent contributor to the New York Times on fish, seafood and ocean issues. As far as I’m concerned, he’s fast becoming the country’s most knowledgeable writer about aquaculture, a difficult topic if ever there was one. – mb)

When the New York Times reported in June of 2010 that the US Food and Drug Administration was “seriously considering” approving a genetically modified Atlantic salmon for American consumption the cries from environmentalists and food reformers were, predictably, almost audible on the streets. The AquAdvantage® Salmon uses a “genetic on-switch” from a fish called an ocean pout (a very different animal) in combination with a growth gene from a Chinook salmon to achieve double the growth rate of unmodified Atlantic salmon.

The animal’s creator, AquaBounty Technologies of Waltham, MA, asserts that the fish will be sterile and grown in out-of-ocean bio-secure containment structures. (We’ve heard that before. – ed.) Nevertheless the emotional worry of genetic contamination of wild fish, the public preoccupation with health risks a modified salmon could pose, and just the overall ick-factor consumers have about GMO food were all on display across the foodie and environmental blogosphere a few days after the Times article ran.

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Posted in Food Politics, Seafood

My AOL Piece About Noma, And Some Comments:

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If you haven’t read the AOL piece, you can do so now; or after you read this. -mb

Someone said to me yesterday “If you’re skeptical about the ‘best restaurant in the world’ awards, why did you go to Noma”?

It’s a good question. The fact is I’m often slow, perhaps not uncommonly so, but in any case I’m busy, with many things drawing my attention. And I don’t always listen to good advice. In the mid-90s Colman Andrews told me to go to El Bulli; I got there five years later, after Jose Andres and others told me I was a moron for not going earlier.

Two years ago, Dave Chang told me to go to Noma. I responded similarly: I didn’t go.

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Posted in Behind The Scenes

This #$!% Has Got to Stop: Part Seven, Local Gone Stupid

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- mb & Kerri Conan

A greenhouse, a real greenhouse – with sun and soil – this makes all the sense in the world. But hi-tech lettuce? Dumb. Yet a Subway in Tokyo is growing five percent of its lettuce hydroponically, in the shop. This is local? This is junk. No soil, no sun means hi-energy input (lights) and hi-nutrient input (fertilizer). A complete waste, and tasteless no doubt to boot – flavor comes from sun and soil, not from water and lightbulbs. Sheesh.

 

 

 

Posted in Behind The Scenes

Score One for the Oceans

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By Casson Trenor

In the embattled world of seafood, it’s nice to see positive change in a major public venue. As heartwarming as it is to hear from someone who has pledged to stop eating unagi, it feels even better when a sushi restaurant – or even better, an entire seafood distributor – drops it altogether in the name of environmental preservation.

So I’m thrilled to see a spark of light appear in the otherwise relentlessly dismal saga of the bluefin tuna.

No doubt you’re familiar with Food Network’s Iron Chef America, a culinary contest wherein a visiting chef races against time to prepare an assortment of gastronomic delights for a panel of judges. At the same time, one of the resident masters – a star-spangled group known as the Iron Chefs – embarks on the same task in an effort to defend his or her title against the upstart challenger. The dishes are linked by the requirement that they must all involve the day’s secret ingredient, which is revealed only moments before the contest, which takes place in a regal arena known as Kitchen Stadium, begins. The chefs are allotted one hour to prepare their items and are judged on the relative merits of their menus. The chef whose culinary tour de force is deemed to “reign supreme” by the panel is the winner. Continue reading

Posted in Food Politics, Seafood

About “Better” Supermarkets

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Tony Naylor, from the Guardian, writes here about rethinking his relationship to Waitrose, the UK’s principled (and generally upscale) supermarket chain that puts Whole Foods to shame.

We should unquestionably support good supermarkets, but we should also be pushing them to:

-          carry sustainable seafood exclusively

-          carry ethically raised meat and poultry whenever possible

-          carry organic and/or local fruits and vegetables whenever possible

-          buy from suppliers who themselves have a conscience whenever possible

-          pay their own staff a living wage, with benefits

-          think about their energy usage, their waste, their community service

And so on. All of which will, yes, make food more expensive. It has to: crap is cheaper than real food, and treating your employees like indentured servants or worse saves employers (and consumers) money, as does treating the environment as a dumping ground and the oceans as if they were inexhaustible. Reversing these policies will raise food costs. (Though there is an argument that reducing food waste will allow us to raise quality while raising prices less.) Continue reading

Posted in Food Politics