Tag Archives: Seafood

Salmon & Carpe Diem

Is there any fish more maligned than carp or more loved than salmon?  Right after our Go Fish blog went up yesterday –  with Andy’s Corner devoted to musings on his dad and fishing – Gayle and Bob C, friends from grad school days at Colorado State U more than 46 years ago, rolled in for a visit. When the subject of carp came up, Bob talked about his army days in Germany in the early 1960’s where he was shocked to see little Bavarian restaurants whose specialty was – ta-da – CARP or “Karpfen.”  Bob had apparently been brought up with the notion that carp was a fish no civilized person would eat. I did a little research and discovered that in Germany and a few other European countries serving carp at Christmas is a special tradition…and (mind you – I’m only repeating what I read; I don’t know this for a fact) – the carp may be “housed” in the family’s bathtub for awhile before it meets its demise.  What a tradition.  Loving and hating carp reminds me a little of the relationship Scandinavian-Americans have with lutefisk.

Carp Illustratio

But on to a much-loved fish:  Bob and Gayle, who focus on eating healthy foods, routinely buy frozen salmon at Costco.  That shows how important it is to have friends.  I hadn’t even thought about frozen salmon, especially frozen wild Alaskan salmon, which Bob and Gayle buy in quantity and defrost pieces as needed.

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Slow-Roasted Salmon from Picnics by Sara Deseran

Here’s our all-time favorite AND Super Simple salmon recipe from Sara’s 2004 Picnics cookbook:

Super Simple Slow-Roasted Salmon

  • Servings: 4
  • Print
Adapted from Sara Deseran and Picnics

Ingredients

  • 1 filleted side of salmon, skin on, 2-3 pounds, about 1 1/2″ thick with the pinbones removed – or use 4 fillets that are about 5-6 oz each and reduce the roasting time.
  • 2 T extra virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees.  Rub both sides of the salmon with the olive oil.  Place the salmon skin-side down in a roasting pan.  Generously sprinkle salt and pepper over the flesh side (figure about 1 tsp kosher salt/pound).  Roast uncovered 30-40 minutes for the whole fillet or around 15-18 minutes for the 5-6 oz fillets.  The salmon will look undercooked on the top, but if it flakes when gently pulled apart with a fork, it’s done. Remove from the oven and serve, either warm or room temperature, adding a topping such as lemon and capers if desired.

Our friends suggest sprinkling pepper- based Jamaica-Me-Crazy seasoning on top and grilling the salmon for 8 minutes on a medium hot grill, without turning.  Sara suggests a Cucumber Raita to go with this, and we second that.  Recipe brought to you by Sara Deseran and BigLittleMeals.com.

 

Go Fish

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Fishing for trout, crappie, and blue gill: Andy with his dad, Gus, his sister, and her friend – Big Bear, California around 1953

Have you been bemoaning the fact that BigLittleMeals hasn’t blogged about any (ZILCH) recipe with seafood? There are several good reasons. We’ve been trying to give you recipes that freeze well and reheat well, and most recipes with fish or shellfish don’t do that. And really good, not-frozen seafood is both hard to find (unless you’re on a coast somewhere) and expensive. Also, given the complexity of trying to eat what doesn’t greatly harm the planet, it’s tricky knowing what seafood to enjoy and what to avoid – and whether to eat “farmed” seafood – or not.

In thinking about all of this, we realize how much we miss Louisiana and its readily-available crawfish and oysters and shrimp. I wouldn’t even begin to try to make my own Oyster Po-Boy here in California, nor would I order one out. You just can’t replicate that N’awlins’ favorite anywhere else….not even in Baton Rouge.  A shrimp and sausage gumbo is undeniably delicious but is awfully time-consuming for our keep-it-short-and-simple goals.  And every spring we think about having crawfish shipped to us, but we know it wouldn’t be the same.

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Loving our crawfish dinner on Centenary Drive, Baton Rouge, LA – around 1985

Without further adieu and without breaking the bank, or ruining the planet, or planting yourself in the kitchen for hours, here are a few suggestions for a simple fish dinner.

With Louisiana still on my mind, I’ll start with catfish.  Fresh, farm-raised USA catfish. Out of the three grocery stores we frequent (Whole Foods, Olivers, and the Sonoma Market, for those of you in our area),  two of the three regularly have fresh catfish filets on hand and Whole Foods often gets some in on Tuesday (don’t ask me why Tuesdays; weird). Our recipe for Summery Baked Fish can be made with catfish, cod, tilapia, or any nice firm fish filet.  The recipe is made in a nano-second and can be grilled or baked, depending upon your druthers.  It’s “summery” because fresh, juicy tomatoes are essential.

My Bestie in Los Altos, Diane, provided the Best of the Besties: Honey Garlic Shrimp. Diane is known for whipping up appetizers for 100 or so folks without batting an eye, doing cooking classes on hors d’oeuvres, and is offering to cook a Provencal French dinner for 10 – to be bid on at a charity auction to help abused women.   Diane knows and appreciates easy, delicious food…..plus, she’s pretty amazing.

For the Honey Garlic Shrimp use frozen shrimp that are NOT farm-raised and ARE peeled and deveined.  Better yet, buy fresh shrimp in the shell (not farmed) and peel and devein them; it’ll take a little time.  Read more about what to look for in purchasing shrimp in Consumer Report’s article in Food for Thought.

And if canned seafood is your best option, you’re going to love “Mom’s Tuna Noodle Casserole.” A trip down Memory Lane, if you’re of our generation.  It’s a little time-consuming to make, but unlike most fish dishes, it freezes well and reheats well.

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Crawfish by the Pound

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From our Louisiana experience….

So – this is really BIG (i.e., lots and lots of crawfish – 12 pounds to be exact), and maybe you can say the crawfish are a LITTLE-bite size), but this really isn’t a Big Little Meals meal.  We just had to share it with you since it comes from such a fun recent experience.  I HAD to get back to Baton Rouge during crawfish season (spring).  We’d been away too many years.  Plus, we wanted to see our most special 87-year-old neighbor from the old University Hills neighborhood.  How many of you have seen a food truck dealing exclusively in boiled crawfish?  Yup, that’s where we bought them.  The great name of the truck: Crawfish on the Geaux. 🙂  And, FYI, the three of us easily ate all 12 pounds.

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