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Online Extra
June 2004

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Sustainable Seafood Recipes

My Seven Online Extra
Photograph by Brian Skerry

Unsound fishing and farming practices are straining the seas' resources. But what can you do about it? Plenty, says Carole Baldwin, co-author of One Fish, Two Fish, Crawfish, Bluefish: The Smithsonian Sustainable Seafood Cookbook. The right choice at a market or restaurant can make for a safer, less wasteful harvest. Below are four of Carole's favorite recipes.

Mussels with Lime and Basil
Caesar Salad with Spicy Fried Oysters
Grilled-Sardine and White-Bean Crostini
Spicy Tuna Tartare with Japanese Flavors

Recipes by Carole Baldwin

Chef David Waltuck's Mussels with Lime and Basil

Serves 6

I prefer to use the farm-raised mussels such as Great Eastern or Prince Edward Island mussels. They are cleaner and more uniform than wild mussels. The combination of lime and basil brings to mind Thai cooking, but it is something I have always liked and used. This dish may also be made with an assortment of shellfish: clams, mussels, oysters, and/or shrimp.

2 pounds mussels, washed and debearded
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup cream
Juice of 3 limes (approximately 3 tablespoons)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup basil leaves, sliced into thin strips

Place the mussels, shallots, and white wine in a large, nonreactive saucepot with a tight-fitting lid. Cover and steam over high heat until mussels are all open. Remove the mussels as they open and keep them warm. Discard any that fail to open. Over high heat, reduce the liquid that remains in the pot by half. Add the cream, lime juice, and butter and boil until slightly thickened. Add the basil and taste. Adjust the seasoning with lime, salt, or cream if necessary. Divide the mussels among 6 soup plates. Ladle the sauce over the mussels and serve.

David Waltuck is Chef/Owner of Chanterelle in New York City and author (with Melicia Phillips) of Staff Meals from Chanterelle (Workman Publishing Company, 2000).


Chef Louis Osteen's Caesar Salad with Spicy Fried Oysters

Serves 6 as a first course, or 4 as an entrée

This salad is fairly easy to do, but it does require last-minute preparation, as the oysters must be fried and served immediately. Parmesan shards are very thin triangular slices carefully shaved from a large wedge of Parmesan cheese. Their size and shape give a sense of drama to the salad's presentation. If this is not practical for you, grated fresh Parmesan works as well taste-wise, but use a fine Parmigiano-Reggiano.

1/2 gallon select shucked oysters (about 40 oysters)
1/3 cup salt
2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
4 teaspoons filé powder (available in grocery stores)
1 tablespoon onion powder   
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon ground white pepper
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups all-purpose flour
6 cups peanut oil
8 cups (about 3/4 pound) romaine lettuce, washed, dried, and cut into
1/2-inch-wide ribbons
1/4 cup Parmesan shards
*Caesar Dressing

Combine the salt, cayenne pepper, filé powder, onion powder, garlic powder, white pepper, paprika, and black pepper. Stir to mix well. Add 2 tablespoons of this spice mixture to the 2 cups of flour. Stir to mix well. (Stored in a tightly covered container in a cool place, the remaining spice mixture will keep for 2 months. If you fry oysters often, having the spice mixture already made will be handy.)

Pour the peanut oil into a heavy skillet that is large enough for the oil to be 1-1/2 inches deep but not more than halfway up the sides. Heat the oil to 350ºF on a frying thermometer. Working with a dozen oysters at a time, sprinkle them with 1/2 teaspoon spice mixture and toss to coat evenly. Then toss the oysters quickly in the spice-flour mixture, coating them well but shaking to remove any excess flour. Do not leave the oysters sitting in the flour or they will get soggy.

Drop the oysters gently into the hot oil. Do not crowd the skillet by adding too many at once. The oysters should not touch each other. If you put in too many, the temperature of the oil will drop and the finished oysters may be greasy. Move them around with a slotted spoon so that they don't stick to the skillet or each other. Fry the oysters for 45 to 60 seconds. When they are done, they should be golden brown. It is important not to overcook them, because they will lose their delectable juices. If you suddenly hear popping and sputtering from the skillet, remove the oysters immediately—that's a sign that they're beginning to overcook. Otherwise, remove the oysters with a slotted spoon when they are golden brown and place them on a paper towel to drain, changing the towel if it begins to get saturated with oil. (Oysters actually need no cooking to be eaten, as on the half shell. When frying, they are ready when they float to the top; however, most people like to cook them a little longer so that they get extra crispy and more golden brown.)

To serve, toss the lettuce and 3/4 cup Caesar Dressing in a large bowl. Divide the lettuce among 6 or 4 plates, depending on whether the salad is a first course or an entrée. Sprinkle the Croutons, oysters, and Parmesan shards over the lettuce.

Caesar Dressing
1/3 cup red-wine vinegar
1 large egg yolk
3 anchovy fillets, crushed
2 tablespoons minced garlic  
1 tablespoon finely minced onion
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

In a bowl, blender, or food processor, combine the vinegar, egg yolk, anchovies, garlic, onion, lemon juice, and mustard. Whisk or process these ingredients together. Slowly whisk in the peanut oil and olive oil or very slowly pour them into the blender or food processor, spoonful by spoonful. Be careful not to add the oil too quickly, which could break the emulsion. Add the salt and pepper. Tightly covered, the dressing will keep in the refrigerator for 1 week. If it separates, whisk to bring it back together.

1 baguette
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Slice the baguette into 2 dozen 1/2-inch-wide slices, leaving the crust on; toss with the olive oil and salt and pepper. Spread the croutons on a baking sheet and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until they are browned and crisp. Toss them once or twice while baking so that they brown evenly. Remove from the oven and reserve.

Louis Osteen is Chef/Owner of Louis's at Pawleys in Pawley's Island, South Carolina. He is the author of Charleston Cuisine (Algonquin Books, 1999), from which this recipe was adapted.


Chef Craig Stoll's Grilled-Sardine and White-Bean Crostini

Serves 4

Fish with beans is a recurring theme on our menus. This particular combination is rich and satisfying. The creamy, understated bean purée is a great foil for the intense flavor of grilled sardines. The slight acidity in the shallot oil helps balance the dish.

Cook's strategy: The White-Bean Purée and the Shallot Oil can be made a day in advance.

4 large, whole fresh sardines
Olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley
Radishes, halved or quartered, sprinkled with salt
Oil-cured olives
*White-Bean Purée
*Shallot Oil

If you can convince your fishmonger to fillet the sardines for you, have him do it! Ask him to butterfly them, leaving the two sides attached along the back.

If you are filleting your own sardines, here's how to do it: Place a cutting board in the sink or span the top of the sink. Lay a sardine on the cutting board under gently running cold water. Using a sharp paring knife, scrape each side of the sardine from tail to head to loosen any scales. Cut off the head and then cut open the belly. Pull out the innards and rinse. Hold the fish belly-up and head pointing away from you. Slit the belly open the rest of the way to the tail, using your thumb. Then, run your thumb from the head to the tail along one side of the backbone, loosening it from the flesh. Do the same along the other side of the backbone. Grasp the backbone at the head and pull free from the body all the way to the tail. Cut the backbone at the tail, leaving the tail still attached. Lay the sardine open and trim off the edges of the belly. Rinse very gently. Lay fillets on a paper towel and blot dry.

On a plate or in a shallow pan, drizzle olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Lay the sardines flesh-side down in the pan. Brush the skin side with more oil and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Preheat a grill to high and then brush the grates with oil. Lay the sardine fillets on the grill, skin-side down. When you can see that they are cooking, after about 3 minutes, gently slide an oiled spatula under the fillet, loosen from the grill, and turn 90°. Allow fish to finish cooking, another 1 or 2 minutes: the skin should caramelize. Flip the fish over and cook for 30 seconds more. Remove to a fresh plate or shallow pan, skin-side down. Spoon the Shallot Oil, including the solids, over the sardines and allow to sit for up to half an hour.

To serve, spread the Crostini with a 1/8-inch cushion of White-Bean Purée. Pull apart the sardines into 2 sides and lay 1 fillet on top of each of the Crostini. Spoon some additional Shallot Oil and a few of the stewed shallot rings over the top. Place briefly in a 375ºF oven until warm but not hot. Sprinkle with a touch of sea salt and chopped parsley. Serve with the olives and radishes.

1 loaf day-old country-style bread 
Extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse sea salt

Cut 8 slices of bread, each slightly thicker than 1/4 inch, on the diagonal so that each slice is long enough to accommodate 1 sardine fillet. Spread the bread out on a baking sheet and brush both sides with olive oil, saturating well. Sprinkle 1 side lightly with coarse sea salt. The bread may be grilled or toasted in a 375ºF oven. Grill or toast until crostini are lightly browned and crispy on the outside but still chewy on the inside.

White-Bean Purée
5 garlic cloves, peeled and lightly smashed
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil 
1 cup white beans, cooked, with their cooking liquid (use water, not stock)

Combine the garlic and oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cover and heat over low heat. Cook for about 20 minutes until the garlic begins to dissolve but do not let it brown. Add the white beans and their cooking liquid and season lightly with salt. Continue cooking over a medium-low flame until the liquid is almost all reduced. Purée in a food processor until smooth. Check and adjust salt if necessary. This can be made a day ahead and brought to room temperature before using.

Shallot Oil
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 sprigs thyme
2 large shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
1 to 2 garlic cloves, peeled and lightly smashed with the side of a knife
1-1/2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Combine the oil, shallots, garlic, and thyme in a saucepan. Keep the flame very low so as not to color the shallots or garlic. Heat the mixture over a low flame for about 20 minutes. Remove from heat, add the vinegar, and season well with salt and pepper. This can be made a day ahead and kept refrigerated. Allow to warm to room temperature before using.

Craig Stoll is Chef/Owner of Delfina in San Francisco, California.

Chef Jeffery Powell's Spicy Tuna Tartare with Japanese Flavors

Serves 4 to 6

The inspiration for this dish is a combination of my fondness for sushi and the flavors of Japan and Southeast Asia. It consists of raw tuna combined with avocado in a spicy Japanese citrus sauce.

1 pound sashimi-grade yellowfin tuna
1 to 2 slightly firm avocados
1/3 cup snipped chives 
1 ounce orange tobiko (flying-fish caviar, available at Japanese markets), optional
1 ounce green tobiko, optional
1 tablespoon chile oil, optional
Fresh cilantro leaves
Sesame crackers
Spicy Citrus Sauce

With a very sharp knife, dice the tuna into tiny (1/8-inch) cubes. Dice the avocados into tiny cubes as well. In a bowl, combine the tuna, avocados, chives, and 1/4 cup of the Spicy Citrus Sauce. Gently stir the ingredients together, being careful not to crush the avocados.

To serve, mound the tuna tartare mixture in the center of a large plate. Garnish the top with the orange and green tobikos, if using. Drizzle the chile oil, if using, and some of the remaining Spicy Citrus Sauce around the plate. Place some cilantro leaves around the base of the tartare. Serve with sesame crackers.

Spicy Citrus Sauce
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed orange juice 
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons minced jalapeño, seeds removed
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon grated fresh horseradish
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon togarashi (Japanese red chile powder)

In a large bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients for the sauce. For best results allow the mixture to sit for an hour to combine and enhance the flavors.

Jeffery Powell is Chef de Cuisine at PlumpJack Squaw Valley Inn, Olympic Valley, California.


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