All posts filed under: Seafood and Chicken

uncooked lime-marinated swordfish kebabs

Grilling Lime-Marinated Swordfish Kebabs

Want a quick, crowd pleasing seafood dish for your next summer cookout? Try lime-marinated swordfish kebabs. Officially, I created this recipe for my seafood cookbook Fish Market (Running Press, 2013) but I’ve made variations of it for years. Lime appears often in my seafood cooking. I love the slightly sweet, clean flavor of this citrus and how it adds complexity and life to fish and shellfish. That dash of green zest on a white-hued fish isn’t bad, either. When I can’t find sustainable, North Atlantic handline or harpoon-caught swordfish, I substitute another firm, white fish. That can be anything from Pacific yellowfin or longtail tuna and mackerel to U.S-sourced snapper, mahi mahi and striped bass. When making this and any other seafood dish, I consult Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch to ensure that I use sustainable fish. Because I’m always a little concerned about losing chunks of my fish kebabs to a scorching hot grate, I lay these skewers on lightly oiled tin foil before placing them on the grill. If you’re not the worrying …

Sizzling Shrimp Spring Rolls

Thanks to my step-father-in-law, travel and Asian cooking classes, I’ve unintentionally become a master at making fried shrimp spring rolls or cha giò tôm. Accident or not, I’m thankful for this skill for spring rolls have turned out to be a fun group activity, popular cooking lesson and intriguing hot appetizer at parties. Just imagine your — or my — friends’ faces when offered a warm, crunchy, golden hors d’oeuvre and hearing the words, “Want to try some crunchy shrimp spring rolls? Nope, they’re not from the Chinese restaurant down the street. I made them myself!” Talk about impressing guests! Although I came to shrimp spring rolls through Vietnamese cuisine, these snacks have their origins in China. During the Tang Dynasty, between the 7th and 10th century, people began serving spring rolls to celebrate the Chinese New Year and the planting of the new season’s crops. The early version of this finger food featured sliced spring vegetables rolled up in a delicate pastry or pancake. Thus how it got the name “spring roll.” Once sealed, …

Eating Like the Locals with the Vietnamese Fish Dish Cha Ca

Thanks to my husband’s stepfather Luong, who was born and raised in Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City), I know a bit more than the average red-haired, American food writer about Vietnamese home cooking. For starters, in the country you might make your meals on a stove fueled by coconut husks while in the city you probably cook over a gas flame. Your meals may be as simple as noodles, rice or steamed fish or as complicated as spring rolls, hot and sour soups or meat-filled crepes. Whatever you make, it invariably is fresh, seasonal and local. While I understand Vietnamese home cooking, until last month, I didn’t have a good sense of what constituted a traditional restaurant meal. By this I mean something generally eaten outside the home or that bears the signature of one chef or restaurant. That all changed when I traveled to North Vietnam and ate cha ca. At the beginning of the 20th century, in Hanoi’s old quarter, a shop owned by the Doan family began selling a fish dish …

Shrimp Khao Soi in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Along with talking to locals, visiting historical sites and browsing museums and shops, eating—and cooking—the regional cuisine always helps me to understand a new place. When I don’t have friends to show me the culinary ropes, I turn to hands-on cooking classes. That’s how I ended up at the Green Mango Thai Cookery School in Chiang Mai,Thailand. Situated on a lush, bamboo- and coconut-tree lined property about 20 minutes from the center of Chiang Mai, Green Mango provided a lovely setting, well-stocked cook stations and delicious, classic recipes. Better still, it gave me a chance to learn from a native chef, shop for fresh ingredients and cook like Northern Thais do. Among the traditional dishes made at Green Mango was khao soi (also spelled “kôw soy”). A specialty of Chiang Mai, this spicy curry features red curry paste, wheat- and egg-noodles and beef or chicken. Since I was the lone pescetarian in attendance, I was allowed to make an untraditional version of this culinary icon, shrimp khao soi. To begin, I pummeled together such Thai …

Crabbing for Blue Crabs

The first time I went crabbing, I remember feeling underwhelmed. Where was the excitement, the blood rush, the fight-to-the-death with my quarry? Not where I was, that was for sure. I just tied a piece of raw chicken to the end of a nylon string, dropped it into the water, wiggled it a bit to attract attention and waited for a hungry crab to wander by and take hold. Sometimes the crab would sneak off with the chicken, leaving me to re-bait my string and wait. Sometimes he ended up in my plastic bucket. That was as lively as it got. Years later I would come to think of line crabbing as far more thrilling than another method of capture, the crab trap. On a recent trip to North Carolina I experienced trapping in action. After baiting his traps with fish scraps, our friend Frank tossed the red, wire containers off his dock and left them to bob about in the water overnight. He didn’t add bait or jiggle lines. With traps there was only …

Croatian Octopus Salad

I like octopus. It’s a smart, wily mollusk and it can accomplish things, including opening jars and taking apart clam and coconut shells, that I sometimes struggle to do. Because I admire its intelligence and respect that it has been mismanaged as a food source, I generally avoid eating this extraordinary creature. However . . . A few weeks ago I was traveling around Croatia where octopus was a mainstay of restaurant menus. Although I hadn’t expected to encounter it so frequently, its prevalence shouldn’t have surprised me; seven species of this cephalopod exist in the Adriatic Sea alone. With a variety of octopus swimming off the Dalmatia Coast and seafood playing such a prominent role in Croatian cuisine, its popularity now seems obvious. In Croatia octopus features in such dishes as hobotnica ispod peke, or octopus beneath a lid, and hobotnica sala, octopus salad. The latter is what I tried at a picturesque waterfront restaurant in beautiful Dubrovnik. While usually served as an appetizer, this salad is filling enough to be eaten as a …

Pickle That Herring!

Over the years of cooking, eating and writing about seafood I’ve developed a fascination with herring. Rich in flavor and high in omega-3 fatty acids, this ancient creature has sustained mankind for thousands of years. Small but mighty, it has been the foundation of such major cities as Amsterdam and also the root of such battles as the Anglo-Dutch Wars. Yet, in America most people don’t give this silvery fish a second glance. However, if you’re in Denmark, where I recently spent the past few weeks, you’ll get to know herring quite well.   It’s been said that the Danes have more pickling cures for herring than they do days of the year. I can believe this for, during three trips that I’ve made to Denmark, I’ve sampled at least two dozen types of tart and velvety pickled herring. Curried herring. Herring with dill and capers. Herring in cream sauce. Herring marinated in wine. Herring marinated in sherry. The list goes on and on. With so much pickled herring being commercially produced, people tend to …

Spicy Shrimp Scampi

Shrimp. It’s America’s favorite shellfish and, by some accounts, the country’s best selling seafood. Most Americans can rattle off at least one beloved shrimp recipe. Along with shrimp cocktail, the dish most often mentioned to me is shrimp scampi. By definition scampi is not a culinary preparation but instead a small lobster—about 10 inches in length—found from Iceland to Morocco. In French it’s known as langoustine. The Italians refer to it as scampi. Others call it a Norway lobster or Dublin prawn. Yet, in North America, scampi has come to mean sautéing medium- to large-sized shrimp alongside garlic, butter and white wine and then serving the resulting dish over pasta. Go figure! I’ve mentioned previously how you should purchase frozen shrimp and defrost the shellfish shortly before cooking. That way, you’re not buying already-defrosted-and-languishing-in-a-supermarket-seafood-case shrimp that you’re forced to cook right away. To defrost the shrimp, place the frozen bag in your refrigerator and allow the contents to thaw overnight. If you’re pressed for time, you can place the shrimp in a bowl filled with …

Luscious Lemon-Garlic Shrimp

In spite of my annual pledge not to binge from Thanksgiving through Christmas I’ve done what I do every year — eat, eat and then eat some more. Breads. Dips. Spiced nuts, crackers and chips. Not to mention the pies, tarts, cakes, cookies and trifles. How can I forget eggnog, Bloody Marys and poinsettia cocktails? By the time that New Year’s rolls around I need not only a diet but also detox! Tapped out on heavy holiday foods and hours spent in the kitchen, this New Year’s I’m opting out of the usual homemade sauerkraut, butter-drenched mashed potatoes and faux pork offering. Instead, on January 1 I’m serving Lemon-Garlic Shrimp. Even sticklers who insist on eating “lucky foods” on New Year’s Day can appreciate this dish. With it they get the color yellow or gold, signifying money or good fortune in the new year. Plus, they eat seafood, which somewhat satisfies the old custom of consuming fish on January 1. Tradition dictates that, because fish swim upstream, one should eat fish to ensure advancement in …

Lovely Littlenecks with Sherry-Shallot Butter

I’ve got a bit of thing for clams, particularly for the smallest of all hard-shell clams, littlenecks. Whether farmed or hand-harvested, these bivalves are one of the eco-friendliest shellfish around. Along with sustainability, they have healthfulness in their favor. Rich in omega-3 fatty acids and protein, they’re a heart-healthy seafood. The joys don’t end here. Quick to cook and easy to pair, clams make wonderful appetizers as well as entrees. What would winter be without a warming bowl of clam chowder or linguine with clam sauce? In my case it would be a cold, dreary winter. What I adore most, though, about clams is how simple it is to clean them. Before cleaning, you should sort out the clams with broken shells or shells that don’t close completely after being tapped with a knife or finger. Once you’ve discarded the duds, tumble the remaining bivalves into a large bowl. Cover them with cold water and then add a generous amount of salt. Almost immediately the clams will begin to push the salted water—and bits of …