Chapter 10 Seafood

10.1 Fish

10.1.1 Panko-encrusted baked fish

I discovered this recipe by googling, and I have had great success with it. The original recipe calls for addition of a little mayonnaise, but I have deleted it (I detest the stuff). I also use cilantro rather than parsley, as I find the latter to be rather tasteless.

I have given instructions for indoor cooking. It is also excellent on the grill - cook at 425 with the ConvEggtor in place (or on the cool side of divided coals) for about 15 minutes, flipping after about 7 minutes. I did it in a grilling basket that had been lightly oiled, and sticking was not a problem.

Ingredients

~1 lb. mild white fish (I use red snapper)
kosher salt
black pepper
onion powder
garlic powder
1 cup unseasoned panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 large eggs
1 tsp Cajun seasoning (of course I use Penzey’s)
dash of hot sauce
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
lemon wedges for serving

  1. Preheat your oven or toaster oven to 425o F.

  2. Line a sheet pan with foil and spray with cooking oil.

  3. Sprinkle the fish with salt, pepper, onion powder and garlic powder.

  4. You will need three shallow bowls for this, prepared as follows:

    • Put the flour in the first.
    • Whisk the eggs in the second and add in hot sauce and cajun seasoning.
    • Combine the panko, cilantro, and parmesan in the third.
  5. Roll the fish in the flour, followed by the egg wash.

  6. Press the panko mix into the fish evenly and place fish onto the prepared sheet pan.

  7. Bake at 425o F. until the fish is flaky (16-18 minutes).

  8. Serve with lemon wedges. I often have this over bucatini pasta, but it would go well with rice as well.

10.1.2 Blackened Grouper

The original recipe calls for cooking indoors on a hot frying pan. I decided to try it on the grill, and while I realized the spicing needed some adjustment, the fish cooked just fine.

Ingredients

1.5 lb. grouper filets
3 tbsp melted butter
lemon

Seasoning mix

2 tsp sweet paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp brown sugar

  1. prepare your grill for high heat direct cooking (500-550o F.)
  2. Combine all the ingredients of the spice mix and stir well.
  3. Blot the fish dry with paper towels.
  4. Brush melted butter on the top side of the fish and spread the spice mix over it.
  5. Flip the fish and repeat step 3.
  6. Oil a grilling basket liberally and place the fish on it.
  7. Insert a leave-in probe into the fish.
  8. Grill until the internal temperature reaches ~100o F.
  9. Flip the fish and continue to grill until it reaches an internal temperature of 125o F.
  10. Squeeze lemon juice over each filet and serve.

10.1.2.1 Notes

The first time I made this, I followed the recipe as given, using Penzey’s half sharp paprika. The result was too hot for my tasted, so I’ve adjusted the recipe by calling explicitly for sweet paprika and reducing the cayenne pepper by half.

10.1.3 Smoked Salmon

Salmon is probably the most widely consumed fish in America today. In truth, however, it is not exactly my favorite. EXCEPT when it is fresh caught pacific salmon (as in at a dockside restaurant in Seattle) or it is smoked Pacific salmon (I’ve never tried smoking Atlantic varieties). These include sockeye (the most commonly found), coho, and (for a luxury treat) king salmon. A few years ago I ventured forth on smoking my own, and actually came up with a recipe that drew rave reviews at a party, including from my old friend Lee, who is an avid fisherman and pretty much a go to expert on cooking fish.

A couple of points before we begin. First, this is one place in which the wood used for smoking really matters. And alder is definitely the way to go. It may be a bit hard to find, but it is worth the hunt. And in addition, since the cooking time is relatively short (1-2 hours), I recommend chips rather than chunks. The will generate a lot of smoke right away and will be burned out by the time cooking is complete.

Second, the overnight dry brining is critical. The spices in the brine add some flavor, but what is most important is that the salt acts to dehydrate the fish and remove some of the more unpleasant fishy flavor.

Finally, temperature control here is tricky. The grill temperature used, 160o F., is the lowest of any we use in this book. A few tips may help:

Keep the amount of charcoal and wood to a minimum.
Just as soon as the flame from the starter dies down, add the smoking wood and set up your Billows device set to 160o F. If you do not have one, turn both vents down to the smallest possible openings.  If you are able to maintain the temperature at 160o F., the temperature may stall at 125o. It’s ok to pull it then - just wait 15-20 minutes after it reaches that temperature to ensure that any harmful bacteria in the fish have met their maker.
Even if the grill temperature does drift upwards, as long as you monitor the internal temperature and pull the fish when it hits 135o F., you will have an excellent piece of fish to share with friends.

Note that I have only used this for Pacific Salmon, which tends to be more expensive than Atlantic salmon and is sometimes hard to find. Some day I’ll smoke a piece of Atlantic fish just to see how it turns out.

This recipe comes from Delishably and is optimized for Big Green Egg cooking. My only bone to pick with the recipe is the pull temperature - they recommend 160o F.; to me, that makes the fish overly dry and, if anything, too flaky.

Ingredients

1 pacific salmon filet, 1-1.5 lb.
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup Kosher salt
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp grated ginger
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
2 bay leaves, crumbled

  1. Pat the fish dry and place it in a glass baking dish.
  2. Combine the remaining ingredients and apply them to both sides of the fish.
  3. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and refrigerate overnight.
  4. The next morning, remove the fish from the pan and rinse very thoroughly.
  5. Pat it dry and return it to the refrigerator for about an hour.
  6. About 45 minutes after you return the fish to the refrigerator, prepare your grill for smoking, with the convEGGector in place. You will want to place an aluminum drip pan on its surface.
  7. When the coals are going and the wood added, insert a needle probe into the fish and place it on the grill. Close the grill and leave it closed! There is no need to do anything to the fish while it is smoking.
  8. When the internal temperature reaches 125-135o F. (see above), remove the fish to a platter and let it cool.

This is, of course, best served as an appetizer with some sort of lightly salted and flavored crackers. It will keep in the refrigerator for at least a week, and can be frozen as well. It can then be thawed overnight in the refrigerator.

10.1.4 Garlic Butter Roasted Fish

From the Splendid Table; looks like an excellent indoor dish for winter. I’m going to try it with pompano; if I like it, I may spring for some halibut.

Ingredients

5 tablespoons unsalted butter
7 garlic cloves, minced or finely grated
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/3 cup white wine
Finely grated zest of 1 lime
1/2 tsp cajun seasoning
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for serving
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, plus more for serving
Kosher salt
1 pound cod, halibut, or hake fillets

  1. Preheat your oven to 350o F.
  2. Melt the butter in a frying pan.
  3. Add the garlic and fry for about 30 seconds.
  4. Add the tomatoes and cook until softened (2-3 minutes).
  5. Stir in the lime zest, cajun seasoning, black pepper, red pepper and garlic powder.
  6. Add the cilantro and basil, and cook for 4-5 minutes until sauce is reduced by 1/3.
  7. Pat the fish dry and season with salt and pepper.
  8. Nest the fish in the sauce and then spoon some over the top.
  9. Place in a covered dish and place in oven.
  10. Bake for 10 minutes, uncover, and bake ~8 minutes, until the fish is flaky and the internal temperature is around 135o F. 10 Garnish with additional cilantro and basil.

10.1.4.1 Notes

This one is absolutely superb. The combination of flavors, notably the garlic and lime, is sublime. I would be thrilled to be served this in an upscale restaurant.

Next time, I may spring for halibut. It was great with pompano, but the flavor of that fish is a little too delicate to stand up to the boldness of the sauce.

10.2 Shellfish

10.2.1 Grilled Shrimp

I agree with Bubba in Forrest Gump - you can do just about anything with shrimp. Furthermore, they can be cooked easily and rapidly (the big danger is overcooking). As for grilling, there are lots of possibilities - allrecipes.com provides 18 recipes for doing so. Thermoworks has a post that goes through the grilling process in detail.

Here’s the recipe I’ve settled on. You may also want to try shrimp wrapped in Serrano ham, which follows below.

Ingredients

1/2 cup butter 1 shallot, minced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/4 tsp red pepper
1 tsp. paprika
0.5-1 lb. large (16/20) shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 lemon, quartered

  1. Light your grill and bring it to about 350o F.
  2. Soak 3-6 wooden skewers in water for at least 20 minutes
  3. Melt the butter over low heat.
  4. Add the shallot, garlic, paprika and red pepper. Simmer 2 minutes
  5. Place the shrimp on skewers (3-4 shrimp on each) and brush liberally with the butter mixture.
  6. Grill for about four minutes, turning at least once. The desired internal temperature is 120o F.
  7. Serve over pasta, with any remaining butter mix mixed in. Squeeze 2 lemon quarters over each serving.

 

Shrimp on skewers, before and after grilling

10.2.2 Grilled Shrimp in Serrano Ham

Spanish ham is nothing like the domestic ham I grew up with - you need to try it to appreciate its unique flavors. I am fortunate enough to have a local source (Jungle Jim’s north of Cincinnati), but you can also purchase it from La Tienda (although their shipping charges are steep).

Ingredients

1/2 lb. large shrimp
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp smoked paprika
salt and ppepper to taste
4 oz. sliced Jamon Serrano

  1. Prepare your grill for grilling at 450o F.
  2. Peel and devein the shrimp, leaving the tails on.
  3. Mix together the olive oil, paprika, and salt and pepper.
  4. Add the shrimp and toss to coat.
  5. Wrap each shrimp with a 2 inch piece of the jamon and place on a skewer. If you are using wooden ones, be sure you have soaked them for at least 20 minutes prior to use.
  6. Place on grill and cook for 1-2 minutes per side, until the shrimp are opaque and the ham has crisp edges.
  7. Serve immediately.

Note that his recipe could be prepared with sea scallops (the big ones) as well. If so:

  1. After wrapping the scallops, use two soaked wooden skewers to hold 3 together. Brush with olive oil
  2. Grill at 425o F. for 3-4 minutes on each side, until the internal temperature reaches 130o F. Be careful not to overcook.

10.2.3 Shrimp Creole

Another take on Louisiana shrimp comes from The New York Times and may be better optimized for use with peeled shrimp. You can probably find some suitable commercial creole seasoning, but mixing it yourself is not difficult:

1 tbsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp sea salt

And now on to the shrimp:

Ingredients

1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 teaspoons homemade or store-bought Creole seasoning
¼ cup unsalted butter (½ stick)
⅓ cup all-purpose flour
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
2 celery ribs, thinly sliced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup water
1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce (no salt added)
1 to 2 teaspoons hot sauce, to taste (optional)
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon dried basil
2 dried bay leaves
Fine sea salt and black pepper
¼ cup chopped scallions
¼ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves and tender stems

  1. Toss the shrimp with 1 tsp. creole seasoning and set aside.
  2. Melt the butter over low heat in a heavy pan. Sprinkle flour on top, and stir constantly until it becomes a peanut-colored roux (about 10 minutes.
  3. Increase the heat to medium and add the onion, celery and green pepper. Cook with stirring until soft (8-10 minutes).
  4. Stir in the garlic and cook for an additional minute.
  5. Add the water, tomato sauce, and hot sauce, along with the rest of the seasoning. Reduce the heat to low and simmer covered for 10 minutes, until thickened. Stir occasionally to avoid burning.
  6. Add the shrimp and cook for an additional 10 minutes.
  7. Let the dish stand for 10 minutes, sprinkle with scallions and parsley, and serve over steamed rice.

10.2.4 Shrimp in red sauce

When possible, I really prefer grilling shrimp, but when that is impossible, here’s a recipe I like to use. It comes from Italian, by Whiteman, Wright and Boggiano, a book I picked up in a bargain bin a long time back. Note that the sauce is somewhat similar to my recipe for chicken cacciatore, and it can be used as a basic red sauce as desired (it works well as a pizza sauce or by itself over pasta).

1/2 to 3/4 lb. shrimp, peeled and de-veined
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 green or red pepper, chopped
1/2 cup red wine
1 tbsp wine vinegar
1 can diced tomatoes (14 oz), drained
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
black pepper, to taste grated parmesan cheese
fresh cilantro

  1. Sauté the onion in the olive oil over medium heat until soft (about 10 minutes)
  2. Add the green/red pepper and garlic. Sauté an additional 5 minutes.
  3. Add the additional ingredients EXCEPT the shrimp, parmesan and cilantro. Stir well and then simmer covered for 30 minutes.
  4. Puree the sauce thoroughly with an immersion blender and then return to low heat.
  5. Add the shrimp for 3-4 minutes, until they turn opaque.
  6. Serve over pasta (we prefer bucatini, but suit yourself) garnished with parmesan and cilantro if desired.

10.2.6 Coquille St. Jacques

I was inspired to try this by a photo on facebook posted by a foodie friend of mine. I actually hybridized three different recipes from New York Times Cooking; once I get this refined, I will add links

Ingredients

1/2 lb bay scallops
salt and pepper
2 tbsp butter
2 shallot bulbs, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
~1/2 cup gruyere cheese
~1/3 cup panko bread crumbs

  1. preheat your oven to 375o F.
  2. Blot the scallops dry and season with salt and pepper. Place them on the bottom of a lightly oiled shallow ceramic casserole dish.
  3. Melt the butter in a sauce pan and add the garlic and shallots. Cook for 3-4 minutes until softened.
  4. Layer the shallot/garlic mix on top of the scallops, followed by the cheese and bread crumbs.
  5. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until the breadcrumbs are golden and the scallops are tender (test by poking with a fork).
  6. Squeeze a half a lemon over the dish when served.

10.2.6.1 Notes

Most of the original recipes call for addition of additional melted butter (about 3 tbsp) and don’t call for cheese. When I used both, I found the result, while tasty, to be too soupy for my taste. Accordingly, the additional butter has been deleted.

Prepared as above, I found the results to be rather bland. I think the recipe calls for more pepper, both red and black. Next time I’ll try a quarter tsp of the former and a generous half tsp of the latter. Other suggestions I’ve found and are worth exploring are some lemon zest and paprika. Finally, I might try adding a hlaf cup of white wine to the butter and reducing for 10 minutes or so before assembling everything.

10.2.7 Grilled Sea Scallops with Cherry Tomatoes

This is quite similar to Garlic Butter Fish, although it is lighter on the garlic and includes a bunch of shallots. I’m thinking that for one, this could be cut by roughly 1/2 and include 6 or so scallops.

A lot of the comments suggest roasting the tomatoes (and possibly the shallots and garlic) for 10-15 minutes in a 450o F. oven. Sounds like a good idea.