Seafood of the Week – Cioppino

May 20, 2014 at 5:26 AM | Posted in fish, seafood, Seafood of the Week | 1 Comment
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Cioppino

Cioppino

Cioppino is a fish stew originating in San Francisco. It is considered an Italian-American dish, and is related to various regional fish soups and stews of Italian cuisine

 

 
Cioppino is traditionally made from the catch of the day, which in the dish’s place of origin is typically a combination of dungeness crab, clams, shrimp, scallops, squid, mussels and fish. The seafood is then combined with fresh tomatoes in a wine sauce, and served with toasted bread, either sourdough or baguette. The dish is comparable to cacciucco and brodetto from Italy, as well as other fish dishes from the Mediterranean region such as bouillabaisse, buridda, and bourride of the French Provence, and suquet de peix from Catalan speaking regions of coastal Spain.

 

 

 

 

Cioppino was developed in San Francisco, California in the late 1800s by the famed Italian fish wholesaler Achille Paladini, (later titled “The Fish King”) who settled in the North Beach section of the city, he came from the seaport town of Ancona, Italy in 1865. He originally made it when the boats came back from sea and the ‘left overs’ were used to make a fish stew, a few Dungeness Crabs were also added. It eventually became a staple as Italian restaurants proliferated in San Francisco.

The name comes from ciuppin, a word in the Ligurian dialect of the port city of Genoa, meaning “to chop” or “chopped” which described the process of making the stew by chopping up various ‘left overs’ of the day’s catch. Ciuppin is also a classic soup of Genoa, similar in flavor to cioppino, with less tomato, and the seafood cooked to the point that it falls apart.

 

 
Generally the seafood is cooked in broth and served in the shell, including the crab (if any) that is often served halved or quartered. It therefore requires special utensils, typically a crab fork and cracker. Depending on the restaurant, it may be accompanied by a bib to prevent food stains on clothing (sometimes encouraged by restaurants for patrons to use as a sign to attract attention to the restaurant’s food), a damp napkin, or a second bowl for the shells. A variation, the “lazy man’s” cioppino, is served with seafood shelled and crab legs cracked.

 

 

Seafood of the Week – Steamed Clams

May 13, 2014 at 5:48 AM | Posted in seafood, Seafood of the Week | 4 Comments
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Steamed clams

Steamed clams

Steamed clams is a seafood dish consisting of various types and preparations of clam which are cooked by steaming according to local custom in various countries.

In the United States the dish is commonly prepared with a kind of shellfish called steamers, a somewhat generic name that usually refers to a small soft-shell clam harvested and served along the East Coast and in New England. Steamers are so named because of the way are most often prepared.

Hard shell clams, sometimes known as quahogs, can also be steamed. They are categorized by size— the smaller ones are called littlenecks, medium-sized ones topnecks, and the larger ones cherrystones.

The clams used for steaming are usually cooked live. If in a hard shell, the clam should be closed when purchased and should open after being cooked. Soft shell clams are open slightly (agape) while alive. Larger chowder clams are not typically used for steaming.

 

 

 
Clams are steamed according to many different recipes in different regions. In China, steamed clams can be served with eggs. In Thailand steamed clams are served with lemongrass, ginger, or herbs. In France they are often cooked with white wine, onion, garlic, shallots, and butter. A huge plate of steamed clams in Restaurant el Club in San Felipe, Mexico, costs 45 pesos, according to a 2007 travel guide. Steamed clams are also eaten in Japan (“Oosari” are large steamed clams), and many other countries with large coastlines.

The New England clam bake is a traditional preparation that includes clams layered with other ingredients such as corn, lobster, mussels, crabs, potatoes, and onions in a metal bucket. The layers are separated by seaweed and steamed over a fire outdoors and served family style as at a picnic.

To prepare steamed clams, live clams are rinsed carefully to remove sand and grit and then cooked in a large kettle of water with salt added. They are served with broth and melted butter for dipping. Lemon juice, beer, garlic, shallots, parsley, and wine are sometimes used for flavoring and to season the broth.

Steamers can be held by the siphon or “neck” when eaten. The covering of black skin is pulled away and removed as the clams are ingested.

Steamers may be served simply. In the open shell the clam is given a few quick dips in broth to remove any lingering sand before being dipped in melted butter and eaten.

 

 

 
In Florida, a couple were halfway through a $10 plate of steamed clams when they found a rare, iridescent purple pearl estimated to be worth thousands of dollars.

 

 

 

Dish of steamers

Dish of steamers

Steamers are praised by many chefs, for instance Jacques Pépin: “Plentiful and inexpensive during the summer, especially in the Northeast, steamers are one of the great treats of the season.” They are found in shallow waters from the Arctic Ocean to North Carolina, and have been found in Florida and Europe. They can be dug up by amateur clam diggers. Steamers have been transplanted to the West Coast and are available from San Francisco to Vancouver, Canada. They are sold in tanks and can also be shipped directly to consumers, but their shells sometimes get cracked.

 

 

 

 

 

Portuguese Steamed Clams

 

INGREDIENTS:
5 pounds clams in shell, scrubbed
1 1/2 pounds chorizo, sliced into chunks
1 small onion, cut into thin wedges
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 cups white wine
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
DIRECTIONS:
1. Wash clams well in a sink of cold water. Discard any clams that are already opened.
2. In a large stock pot with a tight fitting lid, place the cleaned clams. Add the sausage, onion, tomatoes and wine. Cover and set over high heat. Steam until all the clams open up. Be sure to shake the pan often to insure even heat.
3. Drizzle olive oil over the cooked clams. Evenly divide all the ingredients into warm soup plates. Divide the broth into side cups for dipping.

 

Seafood of the Week – Lox

May 6, 2014 at 5:29 AM | Posted in seafood, Seafood of the Week | 1 Comment
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Lox on bagel

Lox on bagel

 

Lox is a fillet of brined salmon. Traditionally, lox is served on a bagel with cream cheese, and is usually garnished with tomato, sliced red onion, and sometimes capers, which diners may or may not opt to add to the bagel. Some American preparations of scrambled eggs or frittata include a mince of lox and onion.

 

 

 

Lox and cream cheese sandwich

Lox and cream cheese sandwich

* Nova or Nova Scotia salmon, sometimes called Nova lox, is cured with a milder brine and then cold-smoked. The name dates from a time when much of the salmon in New York City came from Nova Scotia. Today, however, the name refers to the milder brining, as compared to regular lox (or belly lox), and the fish may come from other waters or even be raised on farms.
* Scotch or Scottish-style salmon. A mixture of salt and sometimes sugars, spices, and other flavorings is applied directly to the meat of the fish; this is called “dry-brining” or “Scottish-style.” The brine mixture is then rinsed off, and the fish is cold-smoked.
* Nordic-style smoked salmon. The fish is salt-cured and cold-smoked.
* Gravad lax or gravlax. This is a traditional Nordic means of preparing salmon. The salmon is coated with a spice mixture, which often includes dill, sugars, salt, and spices like juniper berry. It is often served with a sweet mustard-dill sauce.
Other similar brined and smoked fish products are also popular in delis and fish stores, particularly in Chicago & the New York City boroughs, such as chubs, Sable (smoked cod), smoked sturgeon, smoked whitefish, and kippered herring.

 

 

Seafood of the Week – Black Drum

April 29, 2014 at 9:56 AM | Posted in fish, seafood, Seafood of the Week | Leave a comment
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Black drum caught in Lake Pontchartrain

Black drum caught in Lake Pontchartrain

The black drum (Pogonias cromis) is a saltwater fish similar to its cousin, the red drum. It is the only species in the genus Pogonias. Though most specimens are generally found in the 5-30 lb (2–14 kg) range, the black drum is well known as the largest of all the drum family with some specimens reaching excesses of 90 lbs (40 kg). The world record black drum was just over 113 lbs (51 kg). They are often black and/or gray in color with juvenile fish having distinctive dark stripes over a gray body. Their teeth are rounded and they have powerful jaws capable of crushing oysters and other shellfish. It is recommended those over 15 lbs pounds (7 kg) should be released. Black drum are capable of producing tones between 100 Hz and 500 Hz when performing mating calls.

 

 

 

The black drum is usually found in or near brackish waters. Larger, older fish are more commonly found in the saltier areas of an estuary (closer to the ocean) near oyster beds or other plentiful food sources. Juvenile fish have 4 to 6 bold vertical black bars on a light background and can be mistaken for Sheepshead at first glance, but are distinguished on closer inspection because sheepshead have teeth and black drum have chin barbells. These stripes usually fade to dull grey as the fish grow from 12″ to 24″ in length. Juvenile fish are more commonly found in less salty areas and relate more strongly to structure and cover. In the western Atlantic, black drum are found from Nova Scotia to Florida, the Gulf of Mexico, the Antilles (uncommon), and the southern Caribbean coast; also from the Orinoco delta to Argentina. They are common between the Chesapeake Bay and Florida coasts, and most abundant along the Texas coast. After reaching maturity by the end of their second year, black drum spawn in and around estuarine waters. In Texas, most spawning takes place in February and March.

 

 

 
Black drum are bottom feeders, so they are most commonly caught with bait either on the bottom or suspended within a couple feet of the bottom. Bottom fishing methods are used both in surf fishing and inshore fishing. Shrimp is a typical bait that works well; squid can also be used and is less subject to bait stealing by hardhead catfish and Atlantic croakers which often frequent the same waters. There are times when the older, larger fish are more readily caught on a half or a quarter of a blue crab with the top shell removed and cut or broken to fit on a 4/0 to 9/0 hook. This type of fishing is often combined with chumming, a baiting practice that involves scattering bits of fish parts and blood into the water as an attractant. Sometimes black drum are caught on spoons and jigs.

Black drum are reported to mouth a natural bait, so anglers need to wait a few seconds before setting the hook. Once a big adult drum grabs the bait, it takes off with gusto, and can put up quite a fight. An unsecured rod can easily be pulled into the water. Landing these big fish on light tackle can be challenging, and since drum are primarily scent-based feeders, there is little disadvantage in using heavier line and tackle. A 40-lb braided line with a comparable weight flurocarbon leader is a good compromise between castability and strength. However, big drum are frequently caught with everything from 8-lb monofiliment to 100-lb braided lines with heavy steel leaders.

An effective strategy for fishing from a boat is to select a spot with a sandy bottom or oyster bed where food is plentiful at a time of day with some tidal movement. Pier or bank fishing should target jetties, structure, or a boat channel near a rapid increase in depth and some tidal movement. With stout tackle, black drum above 10 lbs are relatively easy for children to catch because they are not particularly skittish and do not easily come off once they are hooked. Because bigger drum can make a long, strong run right after taking the bait, preventing broken line often requires a relatively light drag setting early in the fight.

One researcher reported good success with trotline fishing techniques, which he used to catch a large sample of black drum for tagging and scientific study.

 

 

 

Black drum are edible, with a moderate flavor and are not oily. Some restaurants in the southern US serve smaller black drum. Big drum can be challenging to clean; removing the large scales is a challenge. Many fishermen prefer to fillet with an electric knife, first removing the fillet from along the backbone, and then using the electric knife to cut the fillet from the skin and scales. Fish over 15 lbs can become tough and have a consistency comparable with chicken, rather than the flakey texture of many species of fish. Younger fish are often indistinguishable in flavor from red drum.

 

 

Seafood of the Week – Edible Seaweed

April 22, 2014 at 8:44 AM | Posted in seafood, Seafood of the Week | Leave a comment
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Seaweed with sea urchin soup, Korea

Seaweed with sea urchin soup, Korea

 

Edible seaweed are algae that can be eaten and used in the preparation of food. It typically contains high amounts of fiber and they contain a complete protein. They may belong to one of several groups of multicellular algae: the red algae, green algae, and brown algae.

Seaweeds are also harvested or cultivated for the extraction of alginate, agar and carrageenan, gelatinous substances collectively known as hydrocolloids or phycocolloids. Hydrocolloids have attained commercial significance, especially in food production as food additives. The food industry exploits the gelling, water-retention, emulsifying and other physical properties of these hydrocolloids.

Most edible seaweeds are marine algae whereas most freshwater algae are toxic. While marine algae are not toxic, some do contain acids that irritate the digestion canal, while some others can have a laxative and electrolyte-balancing effect.

 

 

 
Seaweeds are used extensively as food in coastal cuisines around the world. Seaweed has been a part of diets in China, Japan, and Korea since prehistoric times. Seaweed is also consumed in many traditional European societies, in Iceland and western Norway, the Atlantic coast of France, northern and western Ireland, Wales and some coastal parts of South West England, as well as Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. The Māori people of New Zealand traditionally used a few species of red and green seaweed.

 

 

 

Roasted sheets of nori are used to wrap sushi

Roasted sheets of nori are used to wrap sushi

Seaweed contains high levels of iodine relative to other foods. In the Philippines, Tiwi, Albay residents discovered a new pancit or noodles made from seaweed, which can be cooked into pancit canton, pancit luglug, spaghetti or carbonara and is claimed to have health benefits such as being rich in calcium, magnesium and iodine.

Polysaccharides in seaweed may be metabolized in humans through the action of bacterial gut enzymes. Such enzymes are frequently produced in Japanese population due to their consumption of seaweeds but rarer in North-American population.

In some parts of Asia, nori ,zicai,and gim,sheets of the dried red alga Porphyra are used in soups or to wrap sushi or onigiri. Chondrus crispus (commonly known as Irish moss) is another red alga used in producing various food additives, along with Kappaphycus and various gigartinoid seaweeds.

Japanese cuisine has seven types of seaweed identified by name, and thus the term for seaweed in Japanese is used primarily in scientific applications, and not in reference to food.

Seafood of the Week – Fish Pie

April 15, 2014 at 5:58 AM | Posted in fish, seafood, Seafood of the Week | Leave a comment
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Fish pie

Fish pie

Fish pie is a traditional British dish. The pie is usually made with white fish (for example cod, haddock or halibut) in a white sauce or cheddar cheese sauce made using the milk the fish was poached in. Prawns and hard boiled eggs are other common additional ingredients. It is oven-baked in a deep dish but is not usually made with the shortcrust or puff pastry casing that is associated with most savoury pies (e.g. steak and kidney pie).

In place of a pastry casing enclosing the pie, a topping of mashed potatoes (sometimes with cheese or vegetables such as onions and leeks added) is used to enclose the contents during baking. The dish is sometimes referred to as “fisherman’s pie” because the topping is similar to that of shepherd’s pie, in that it uses mashed potatoes.

 

 

 

Fish Pie with Sweet Potato Topping

Fish Pie with Sweet Potato Topping

The royal seafood tradition of England started in the time of Henry I, crowned in 1100, when cooks rolled crust over an annual Christmas lamprey pie. A separate tradition of Lenten fish pie required Yarmouth cooks to send the king two dozen pies containing 100 herrings. The customary gifts of fish in crust prevailed in 1530, when the prior of Llanthony, Gloucester, baked eels and carp into a pie for Henry VIII. The presentation of the royal eel pie continued in 1752, when bakers sent one to the Prince of Wales, and again during Queen Victoria’s reign.

 

 

 

Seafood of the Week – Kipper

April 8, 2014 at 7:56 AM | Posted in fish, seafood, Seafood of the Week | 5 Comments
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Kippered "split" herring

Kippered “split” herring

A kipper is a whole herring, a small, oily fish, that has been split in butterfly fashion from tail to head along the dorsal ridge, gutted, salted or pickled, and cold smoked over smouldering woodchips (typically oak).

In the United Kingdom, Japan, and some North American regions they are often eaten for breakfast. In the UK, kippers, along with other preserved fish such as the bloater and buckling, were also once commonly enjoyed as a high tea or supper treat; most popularly with inland and urban working-class populations before World War II.

 

 

 
The exact origin of kippers is unknown, though fish have been slit, gutted and smoked since time immemorial. According to Mark Kurlansky, “Smoked foods almost always carry with them legends about their having been created by accident—usually the peasant hung the food too close to the fire, and then, imagine his surprise the next morning when …”. For instance Thomas Nashe wrote in 1599 about a fisherman from Lothingland in the Great Yarmouth area who discovered smoking herring by accident. Another story of the accidental invention of kipper is set in 1843, with John Woodger of Seahouses in Northumberland, when fish for processing was left overnight in a room with a smoking stove. These stories and others are known to be apocryphal because the word “kipper” long predates this. Smoking and salting of fish—in particular of spawning salmon and herring which are caught in large numbers in a short time and can be made suitable for edible storage by this practice predates 19th century Britain and indeed written history, probably going back as long as humans have been using salt to preserve food. Kippered fish were also eaten in Germany and the custom reached Scandinavia in the Middle Ages.

 

 

 

"Red herring": Cold smoked herring

“Red herring”: Cold smoked herring

A kipper is also sometimes referred to as a red herring, although particularly strong curing is required to produce a truly red kipper. The term appears in a mid-13th century poem by the Anglo-Norman poet Walter of Bibbesworth, “He eteþ no ffyssh But heryng red.” Samuel Pepys used it in his diary entry of 28 February 1660 “Up in the morning, and had some red herrings to our breakfast, while my boot-heel was a-mending, by the same token the boy left the hole as big as it was before.”

The dyeing of kippers was introduced as an economy measure in the First World War by avoiding the need for the long smoking processes. This allowed the kippers to be sold quickly, easily and for a substantially greater profit. Kippers were originally dyed using a coal tar dye called Brown FK (the FK is an abbreviation of “For Kippers”), Kipper Brown or Kipper Dye. Today, kippers are usually brine dyed using a natural annato dye, giving the fish a deeper orange/yellow colour. European Community legislation limits the acceptable daily intake (ADI) of Brown FK to 0.15 mg/kg. Not all fish caught are suitable for the dyeing process, with mature fish more readily sought, because the density of their flesh improves the absorption of the dye. An orange kipper is a kipper that has been dyed orange.

Kippers from the Isle of Man and some Scottish producers are not dyed: The smoking time is extended in the traditional manner.

 

 

 
“Cold smoked” fish, that have not been salted for preservation, need to be cooked before being eaten safely (they can be boiled, fried, grilled, jugged or roasted, for instance). “Kipper snacks,” are precooked and may be eaten without further preparation.

In the United Kingdom, kippers are often served for breakfast, tea or dinner. In the United States, where kippers are less commonly eaten than in the UK, they are almost always sold as either canned “kipper snacks” or in jars found in the refrigerated foods section.

In Haiti, kippers are eaten with scrambled eggs for breakfast or mixed with pasta or rice.

 

 

 

Kippers for breakfast in England.

Kippers for breakfast in England.

Kippers are produced in the Isle of Man and exported around the world. Thousands are produced annually in the town of Peel, where two kipper houses, Moore’s Kipper Yard (founded 1882) and Devereau and Son (founded 1884), smoke and export herring.

Mallaig, once the busiest herring port in Europe, is famous for its traditionally smoked kippers, as well as Stornoway kippers and Loch Fyne kippers. The harbour village of Craster in Northumberland is famed for Craster kippers, which are prepared in a local smokehouse, sold in the village shop and exported around the world.

 

Seafood of the Week – Crab Meat

March 25, 2014 at 8:05 AM | Posted in seafood, Seafood of the Week | Leave a comment
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Crab meat from crab claws, atop toast

Crab meat from crab claws, atop toast

 

Crab meat or crabmeat is the meat found within a crab. It is used in many cuisines across the world, prized for its soft, delicate, sweet taste. Brown crab (Cancer pagurus), blue crabs (Callinectes sapidus), blue swimming crabs (Portunus pelagicus), red swimming crabs (Portunus haanii) are among the most commercially available species of crabmeat globally. In some fisheries, crab meat is harvested by declawing of crabs. This is the process whereby one or both claws of a live crab are manually pulled off and the animal is then returned to the water. The practice is defended because some crabs can naturally autotomise (shed) limbs and then about a year later after a series of moults, regenerate these limbs. It is argued that declawing therefore provides a sustainable fishery, however, declawing can lead to 47% mortality and negative effects on feeding behaviour. Furthermore, once separated from the body, the claws will start to degenerate. Usually, crabs are cooked moments after capture to ensure freshness; the freshness of claws previously removed from the crab cannot be accurately gauged and should therefore be avoided.

 

 

 
European Crab
In Western Europe crab meat is derived primarily from the species Cancer pagurus. Cancer pagurus is a large crab noted for the sweet, delicate flavour of its meat. It is also known as The ‘Brown Crab’ the ‘Common Crab’ or the ‘Edible Crab’. The United Kingdom is the largest fishery for Cancer Pagurus with large fisheries in Scotland and a smaller but substantial fishery in the South West of England in Cornwall. The best grade of Crab Meat is ‘handpicked’ – this refers to the method by which the crab has been processed (by hand) and ensures the flavor of the crab meat is unadulterated. By contrast ‘machine processed crab’ is produced by using water or air to blast the crab meat from the shell which has a detrimental effect on the flavour. Cancer Pagurus Crab meat is widely consumed throughout the countries from where it is fished. Due to its short fresh shelf life of around 4 days, much of the crab meat available through retailers is sold from defrosted crab. White crab meat has a natural water content that crystallises when frozen. Once defrosted this leads to an alteration in the texture of the crabmeat and a loss of the natural flavour. This crab meat is also available pasteurised, which avoids the pitfalls of freezing and should where produced with care have a flavor almost indistinguishable from fresh crab. Cancer Pagurus contains two types of meat:

 
White meat
White crab meat comes from the claws and legs of the crab and while predominantly white in color it does have a naturally occurring red/brown tinge throughout. White crab is very low in fat and particularly high in protein, it has a delicate, sweet flavor, a sweet aroma and a naturally flaky texture. White crab meat is versatile and while it is consumed largely in sandwiches, it can be used in pastas, risottos, and salads as well as a canape topping.
Brown meat
Brown Meat is from the body of the crab. It has a higher natural fat content, but is also extremely high in Omega-3. 100g of Brown Crab contains 2/3 of the 3g weekly recommended intake of Omega 3. Brown crab meat has an even pate like texture and a rich full flavor. The color and texture of the brown meat vary throughout the year as the crabs physiology changes.

 

 

 

Crab Colossal

Crab Colossal

* U.S. Crab
For the U.S. market the meat of crabs comes in different grades, depending on which part of the crab’s body it comes from and the overall size of the crab the meat is taken from.
* Crab Colossal
Colossal crab meat, also called Mega Jumbo Lump, is the largest whole unbroken pieces available from the blue crab and blue swimming crab.The colossal meat is taken from the two largest muscles connected to the back swimming legs of the crab. The lumps, or pieces, in the Colossal grade are bigger than those in the Jumbo Lump.
* Jumbo Lump
The jumbo lump grade crab meat comes from larger crabs, is the meat from the two large muscles connected to the swimming legs. Contrary to smaller portions of crab meat, it can be used whole. It has a brilliant white color.
* Crab Lump
The Lump grade of crab meat is composed of broken pieces of Jumbo Lump, which are not included in the Jumbo Lump grade pack, and other flake pieces. This grade of crab meat is ideal for crab cakes and it is commonly used by manufacturers.
* Back fin
The back fin portion consists of flakes of white meat, coming both from the special meat and the jumbo lump. Back fin is a popular crab meat for Chesapeake Bay, Maryland style crab cakes
* Special
The “special meat” is shreds and small flakes of white meat from the body cavity of the crab. It is generally used for all dishes in which white crab meat is used.
* Claw
Claw meat is the dark pink meat that comes from the swimming fins and claws of the crab. It has a stronger taste, and is less expensive than the white color meat grades. It is often used in soups, where the strong taste comes through.
* Claw Fingers
The Claw Fingers, also called Cocktail Fingers, are the tips of the pinchers, usually served whole, with the dark pink meat still in it. They are commonly used as garnish or hors d’œuvre.

 

Claw Fingers

Claw Fingers

Imitation crab meat is widely used in America as a replacement for 100% crab meat in many dishes – popularly used in American sushi (e.g. California roll).
The flaky, red-edged faux crab often served in seafood salad or California roll is most likely made of Alaska Pollock. Also called Walleye Pollock, Snow Cod, or Whiting, this fish is abundant in the Bering Sea near Alaska and can also be found along the central California coast and in the Sea of Japan. Pollock has a very mild flavor, making it ideal for the processing and artificial flavoring of imitation crab. While Pollock is the most common fish used to make fake crab. New Zealand Hoki is also used, and some Asian manufacturers use Southeast Asian fish like Golden Treadfin Bream and White Croaker.
The processing of imitation crabmeat begins with the skinning and boning of the fish. Then the meat is minced and rinsed, and the water is leached out. This creates a thick paste called surimi. The word means “minced fish” in Japanese, and the essential techniques for making it were developed in Japan over 800 years ago. Surimi is commonly used in Japan to make a type of fish ball or cake called kamaboko. In 1975, a method for processing imitation crabmeat from surimi was invented in Japan, and in 1983, American companies started production.

 

Seafood of the Week – Squid

March 18, 2014 at 6:49 AM | Posted in seafood, Seafood of the Week | 2 Comments
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Fried calamares

Fried calamares

Squid is a popular food in many parts of the world.
In many of the languages around the Mediterranean sea, squid are referred to by a term related to the Italian “calamari” (singular “calamaro”), which in English has become a culinary name for Mediterranean dishes involving squid, especially fried squid (fried calamari).

 

 

 
Fried squid (fried calamari, calamari) is a dish in Mediterranean cuisine. It consists of batter-coated, deep fried squid, fried for less than two minutes to prevent toughness. It is served plain, with salt and lemon on the side.
In North America, it is a staple in seafood restaurants. It is served as an appetizer, garnished with parsley, or sprinkled with parmesan cheese. It is served with dips: peppercorn mayonnaise, tzatziki, or in the United States, marinara sauce, tartar sauce, or cocktail sauce. In Mexico it is served with Tabasco sauce or habanero. Other dips, such as ketchup, aioli, and olive oil are used. In Turkey it is served with tarator sauce. Like many seafood dishes, it may be served with a slice of lemon.
In South Africa, Australia and New Zealand fried calamari is popular in fish and chip shops; imitation calamari of white fish may also be used. When offered for sale as whole fresh animals, the term Calamari should only be used to describe the Northern and Southern Calamari (Sepioteuthis spp.), however once prepared as food it is common to apply the term calamari to any squid species and even cuttlefish.

 

 

 

Karaage of squid legs from Japan

Karaage of squid legs from Japan

Squid preparation

The body (mantle) can be stuffed whole, cut into flat pieces or sliced into rings. The arms, tentacles and ink are edible; the only parts of the squid that are not eaten are its beak and gladius (pen).

 

* In Spain and Italy, squid or cuttlefish ink is eaten in dishes such as paella, risotto, soups and pasta.
* In Portugal lulas are commonly eaten grilled whole, in kebabs of squid rings with bell peppers and onion (“Espetadas”) or stewed. Also stuffed with minced meat and stewed (“Lulas Recheadas”). The battered version is known as ‘lulas a sevilhana’, named after Seville, the Andalusian city that popularised the dish.
*In Sardinia, squid have a sauce made from lemon, garlic, parsley, and olive oil.
* In Italy, Greece, Spain, Egypt, Cyprus, Albania and Turkey, squid rings and arms are coated in batter and fried in oil. Other recipes from these regions feature squid (or octopus) simmered slowly, with vegetables such as squash or tomato. When frying, the squid flesh is kept tender by short cooking time. When simmering, the flesh is most tender when cooking is prolonged with reduced temperature.
* In Malta klamar mimli involves stuffing the squid with rice, breadcrumbs, parsley, garlic and capers and then gently stewing in red wine.
* In Spain, (Rabas or Calamares a la romana, battered calamari, lit. Roman-style calamari) has the calamari rings covered in a thick batter, deep fried, and with lemon juice and mayonnaise or garlic mayonnaise. Squid stewed in its own black ink is (Calamares en su tinta). Battered and fried baby squid is (Puntillitas).
* In northern Spain, squid is cooked in its own ink (“Calamares” or “Chipirones en su tinta”), resulting a black stew-like dish in which squid meat is very tender and is accompanied by a thick black sauce usually made with onion, tomato, squid ink, among others.
* In the Philippines, squid is cooked as adobong pusit, squid in adobo sauce, along with the ink, imparting a tangy flavour, especially with fresh chillies. Battered squid is served with alioli, mayonnaise or chilli vinegar. Squid is grilled on coals, brushed with a soy sauce-based marinade, and stuffed with a tomato and onions. More elaborate stuffed squid is “rellenong pusit”, stuffed with finely chopped vegetables, squid fat, and ground pork.
* In Korea, squid is sometimes killed and served quickly. Unlike octopus, squid tentacles do not usually continue to move when reaching the table. The squid is served with Korean mustard, soy sauce, chili sauce, or sesame sauce. It is salted and wrapped in lettuce or pillard leaves. Squid is also marinated in hot pepper sauce and cooked on a pan (Nakji Bokum or Ojingeo Bokum). They are also served in food stand as snack food, battered and deep fried or grilled using hot skillet. They are also cut up into small pieces to be added into HaeMulPaJeon (Korean Seafood Pizza) or variety of spicy seafood soup. Dried squid may also accompany alcoholic beverages as anju. Dried squid is served with peanuts. Squid is roasted with hot pepper paste or mayonnaise as a dip. Steamed squid and boiled squid are delicacies. Squid is also used for Soondae (Korean Noodle Sausage) as a casing to hold in rice and noodle.
* In Slovenia squid are eaten grilled and stuffed with pršut and cheese, with blitva (Swiss chard).
* In Chinese and Southeast Asian cuisine, squid is used in stir-fries, rice, and noodle dishes. It may be heavily spiced.
* In China, Thailand, Japan and Taiwan, squid is grilled whole and sold in food stalls.
Pre-packaged dried shredded squid or cuttlefish are snack items in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, China, Russia, often shredded to reduce chewiness.
* In Russia, a lightly boiled julienned squid with onion rings, garnished with mayonnaise, makes a salad. Another dish is a squidstuffed with rice and vegetables and then roasted. Squid is a sushi, sashimi and tempura item.

Cantabrian Rabas - deep fried squid body rings and tentacles

Cantabrian Rabas – deep fried squid body rings and tentacles

 

* In Japan and Korea, squid (usually sparkling enope (firefly) squid or spear squid) is made into shiokara (in Japanese) or jeotgal (in Korean). Heavily salted squid, sometimes with innards, ferments for as long as a month, and is preserved in small jars. This salty, strong flavored item is served in small quantities as banchan, or as an accompaniment to white rice or alcoholic beverages.
* In Iran squid is baked in date and water and since it fried in onion, tomato Puree, salt, pepper, garlic, cinnamon, turmeric, and some endemic vegetables.
* In India and Sri Lanka, squid or cuttlefish is eaten in coastal areas for example, in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Squid are eaten deep fried (Koonthal Fry) or as squid gravy (koonthal varattiyathu/Roast). In Kerala and Tamil Nadu, squid are called koonthal, kanava or kadamba.
* In the United States, in an attempt to popularize squid as a protein source in the 1970s, researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology developed a squid-gutting machine, and submitted squid cocktail, rings, and chowder to a 70-person tasting panel for market research. Despite a general lack of popularity of squid in the United States, aside from the internal “ethnic market”, polling had shown a negative public perception of squid foods, the tasting panel gave the dishes “high marks”.

 

 

Seafood of the Week – Sushi

March 11, 2014 at 5:41 AM | Posted in seafood, Seafood of the Week | 1 Comment
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Different types of nigiri-zushi and a temaki

Different types of nigiri-zushi and a temaki

Sushi is a Japanese food consisting of cooked vinegared rice combined with other ingredients , usually raw fish or other seafood. Ingredients and forms of sushi presentation vary widely, but the ingredient which all sushi have in common is vinegared rice or sumeshi. Raw fish (or occasionally meat) sliced and served without rice is called sashimi.

 

 

 
The original type of sushi, known today as nare-zushi was first made in Southeast Asia, possibly along what is now known as the Mekong River. The term sushi comes from an archaic grammatical form no longer used in other contexts; literally, sushi means “sour-tasting”, a reflection of its historic fermented roots. The oldest form of sushi in Japan, narezushi, still very closely resembles this process, wherein fish is fermented via being wrapped in soured fermenting rice. The fish proteins break down via fermentation into their constituent amino acids. The fermenting rice and fish results in a sour taste and also one of the five basic tastes, called umami in Japanese. Contemporary Japanese sushi has little resemblance to the traditional lacto-fermented rice dish. Originally, when the fermented fish was taken out of the rice, only the fish was consumed while the fermented rice was discarded. The strong-tasting and smelling funazushi, a kind of narezushi made near Lake Biwa in Japan, resembles the traditional fermented dish. Beginning in the Muromachi period (1336–1573) of Japan, vinegar was added to the mixture for better taste and preservation. The vinegar accentuated the rice’s sourness and was known to increase its shelf life, allowing the fermentation process to be shortened and eventually abandoned. In the following centuries, sushi in Osaka evolved into oshi-zushi. The seafood and rice were pressed using wooden (usually bamboo) molds. By the mid 18th century, this form of sushi had reached Edo (contemporary Tokyo).
The contemporary version, internationally known as “sushi”, was created by Hanaya Yohei (1799–1858) at the end of the Edo period in Edo. Sushi invented by Hanaya was an early form of fast food that was not fermented (therefore prepared quickly) and could be conveniently eaten with one’s hands. Originally, this sushi was known as Edomae zushi because it used freshly caught fish in the Edo-mae (Edo Bay or Tokyo Bay). Though the fish used in modern sushi no longer usually comes from Tokyo Bay, it is still formally known as Edomae nigirizushi.
The Oxford English Dictionary notes the earliest written mention of sushi in English in an 1893 book, A Japanese Interior, where it mentions sushi as “a roll of cold rice with fish, sea-weed, or some other flavoring”. However, there is also mention of sushi in a Japanese-English dictionary from 1873, and an 1879 article on Japanese cookery in the journal Notes and Queries.

 

 

 

The common ingredient across all kinds of sushi is vinegared sushi rice. Variety arises from fillings, toppings, condiments, and preparation. Traditional versus contemporary methods of assembly may create very different results from very similar ingredients.[10] In spelling sushi, its first letter s is replaced with z when a prefix is attached, as in nigirizushi, due to consonant mutation called rendaku in Japanese.

 

 

 

The increasing popularity of sushi around the world has resulted in variations typically found in the Western world, but rarely in Japan (a notable exception to this is the use of salmon which was introduced by the Norwegians in the early 1980s. Such creations to suit the Western palate were initially fueled by the invention of the California roll (a norimaki with crab (later, imitation crab), cucumber, and avocado). A wide variety of popular rolls (norimaki and uramaki) has evolved since.

 

 

 

Futomaki

Futomaki

Other rolls may include pretty much anything, including chopped scallops, spicy tuna, beef or chicken teriyaki roll, okra, and assorted vegetables such as cucumber and avocado. Since rolls are usually made to-order, it is not unusual for the customer to specify the exact ingredients desired. Sometimes, rolls are made with brown rice or black rice, which appear in Japanese cuisine as well. An uramaki (inside-out roll) allows draping ingredients on the outside of the roll in addition to the inside. Examples include the rainbow roll (an inside-out topped with thinly sliced maguro, hamachi, ebi, sake and avocado) and the caterpillar roll (an inside-out topped with thinly sliced avocado). Also commonly found is the “rock and roll” (an inside-out roll with barbecued freshwater eel and avocado with toasted sesame seeds on the outside) and the “tempura roll”, where shrimp tempura is inside the roll or the entire roll is battered and fried tempura-style. In the Southern United States, many sushi restaurants prepare rolls using crawfish. Futomaki roll is found widely within Japan. Other types of Western-style sushi are also rarely seen in Japan.

 

 

 
All sushi has a base of specially prepared rice, complemented with other ingredients.

 

 

 

Sushi-meshi is a preparation of white, short-grained, Japanese rice mixed with a dressing consisting of rice vinegar, sugar, salt, and occasionally kombu and sake. It has to be cooled to room temperature before being used for a filling in a sushi or else it will get too sticky while being seasoned. Traditionally, the mixing is done with a hangiri, which is a round, flat-bottom wooden tub or barrel, and a wooden paddle (shamoji).
Sushi rice is prepared with short-grain Japanese rice, which has a consistency that differs from long-grain strains such as those from India, Pakistan, Thailand, and Vietnam. The essential quality is its stickiness or glutinousness, although the type of rice used for sushi is different from glutinous rice. Freshly harvested rice (shinmai) typically contains too much water, and requires extra time to drain the rice cooker after washing. In some fusion cuisine restaurants, short grain brown rice and wild rice are also used.
There are regional variations in sushi rice and, of course, individual chefs have their individual methods. Most of the variations are in the rice vinegar dressing: the Kantō region (or East Japan) version of the dressing commonly uses more salt; in Kansai region (or West Japan), the dressing has more sugar.

 

Sushi rolls

Sushi rolls

The black seaweed wrappers used in makimono are called nori. Nori is a type of algae, traditionally cultivated in the harbors of Japan. Originally, algae was scraped from dock pilings, rolled out into thin, edible sheets, and dried in the sun, in a process similar to making rice paper. Today, the commercial product is farmed, processed, toasted, packaged, and sold in sheets.
The size of a nori sheet influences the size of makimono. A full-size sheet produces futomaki, and a half produces hosomaki and temaki. To produce gunkan and some other makimono, an appropriately-sized piece of nori is cut from a whole sheet.
Nori by itself is an edible snack and is available with salt or flavored with teriyaki sauce. The flavored variety, however, tends to be of lesser quality and is not suitable for sushi.
When making fukusazushi, a paper-thin omelette may replace a sheet of nori as the wrapping. The omelette is traditionally made on a rectangular omelette pan (makiyakinabe), and used to form the pouch for the rice and fillings.

 
For culinary, sanitary, and aesthetic reasons, the minimum quality and freshness of fish to be eaten raw must be superior to that of fish which is to be cooked. Sushi chefs are trained to recognize important attributes, including smell, color, firmness, and freedom from parasites that may go undetected in commercial inspection. Commonly used fish are tuna (maguro, shiro-maguro), Japanese amberjack, yellowtail (hamachi), snapper (kurodai), mackerel (saba), and salmon (sake). The most valued sushi ingredient is toro, the fatty cut of the fish. This comes in a variety of ōtoro (often from the bluefin species of tuna) and chūtoro, meaning “middle toro”, implying that it is halfway into the fattiness between toro and the regular cut. Aburi style refers to nigiri sushi where the fish is partially grilled (topside) and partially raw. Most nigiri sushi will be completely raw.
Other seafoods such as squid (ika), eel (anago and unagi), pike conger (hamo), octopus (tako), shrimp (ebi and amaebi), clam (mirugai, aoyagi and akagai), fish roe (ikura, masago, kazunoko and tobiko), sea urchin (uni), crab (kani), and various kinds of shellfish (abalone, prawn, scallop) are the most popular seafoods in sushi. Oysters, however, are less common, as the taste is not thought to go well with the rice. Kani kama, or imitation crab stick, is commonly substituted for real crab, most notably in California rolls.
Pickled daikon radish (takuan) in shinko maki, pickled vegetables (tsukemono), fermented soybeans (nattō) in nattō maki, avocado, cucumber in kappa maki, asparagus, yam, pickled ume (umeboshi), gourd (kanpyō), burdock (gobo), and sweet corn (possibly mixed with mayonnaise) are also used in sushi.
Tofu and eggs (in the form of slightly sweet, layered omelette called tamagoyaki and raw quail eggs ride as a gunkan-maki topping) are common.

 

 

 

Sushi is commonly eaten with condiments. Sushi may be dipped in shōyu, soy sauce, and is usually flavored with wasabi, a piquant paste made from the grated root of the Wasabia japonica plant. Japanese-style mayonnaise is a common condiment in Japan on salmon, pork and other sushi cuts.
True wasabi has anti-microbial properties and may reduce the risk of food poisoning. The traditional grating tool for wasabi is a sharkskin grater or samegawa oroshi. An imitation wasabi (seiyo-wasabi), made from horseradish, mustard powder and green dye is common. It is found at lower-end kaiten-zushi restaurants, in bento box sushi and at most restaurants outside Japan. If manufactured in Japan, it may be labelled “Japanese Horseradish”.
Gari (sweet, pickled ginger) is eaten in between sushi courses to both cleanse the palate and aid in digestion. In Japan, green tea (ocha) is invariably served together with sushi. Better sushi restaurants often use a distinctive premium tea known as mecha. In sushi vocabulary, green tea is known as agari.
Sushi may be garnished with gobo, grated daikon radish, thinly sliced vegetables, carrots/radishes/cucumbers that have been shaped to look like flowers, real flowers and/or seaweed salad.
When closely arranged on a tray, different pieces are often separated by green strips called baran or kiri-zasa Originally, these were cut leaves from, the Aspidistra elatior and Sasa veitchii plants, respectively, but today, the strips are usually made from green plastic.

 

 

 
The main ingredients of traditional Japanese sushi, raw fish and rice, are naturally low in fat, high in protein, carbohydrates (the rice only), vitamins, and minerals, as are gari and nori. Other vegetables wrapped within the sushi also offer various vitamins and minerals. Many of the seafood ingredients also contain omega-3 fatty acids, which have a variety of health benefits.

 

 

 

Sushi in shops are usually sold in plastic trays.

Sushi in shops are usually sold in plastic trays.

Unlike sashimi, which is almost always eaten with chopsticks, nigirizushi is traditionally eaten with the fingers, even in formal settings. While it is commonly served on a small platter with a side dish for dipping, sushi can also be served in a bento, a box with small compartments that hold the various dishes of the meal.
Soy sauce is the usual condiment, and sushi is normally served with a small sauce dish, or a compartment in the bento. Traditional etiquette suggests that the sushi is turned over so that only the topping is dipped; this is because the soy sauce is for flavoring the topping, not the rice, and because the rice would absorb too much soy sauce and would fall apart. If it is difficult to turn the sushi upside-down, one can baste the sushi in soy sauce using gari (sliced ginger) as a brush. Toppings which have their own sauce (such as eel) should not be eaten with soy sauce.
Traditionally, the sushi chef will add an appropriate amount of wasabi to the sushi while preparing it, and etiquette suggests eating the sushi as is, since the chef is supposed to know the proper amount of wasabi to use. However, today wasabi is more a matter of personal taste, and even restaurants in Japan may serve wasabi on the side for customers to use at their discretion, even when there is wasabi already in the dish.

 

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