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Tuesday, March 4, 2008

escargots a la bourguignonne

escargots

I have often joked about how a key to a great tasting meal is one simple ingredient – butter. Well, I think if anything proves me right, it’s escargots – where I think about 60% of the dish is melted, herb butter. And while my parents shudder at the idea of people eating snails, KS and I are quite content not only consuming the snail part of this dish, but also the garlicky butter that remains thereafter. For that, plenty of baguette slices are perfect sponges – they sop up the fragrant, golden “sauce” perfectly!

We wanted to make this dish for so long, but lacked those fancy escargots dishes. The mere fact that we purchased them, tells you of our immense love for these snails. We have a rule in the kitchen – most items that serve one purpose only are banned. Thus, no bagel slicers or egg cookers – with the humble apple slicer being one exception. But escargots dishes – we were powerless against their draw. And yet, having now made the escargots at home, I’d like to save you all the expense and tell you a less refined, but no less effective or delicious way to make this dish at home.

Okay, ready? [The proportions of things are below based on a recipe from 1949(!!!), a time before the evils of cholesterol were discovered, and butter was revered. The paragraph below is just my layman's instructions.]

Get a oven-proof bowl. Put some snails in it. Put enough of the garlicky mixture to cover the snails and so that when the butter melts, the snails are sort of swimming, or luxuriating, if you will, in the buttery pool. Place dish in the oven for 5-7 minutes according to the instructions below. There, this is the un-fancy, cheap, i-don’t-need-no-fancy-dish-to-make-escargots way. In fact, I have a feeling that the very first escargots were probably made this way. I mean, who had the foresight to design those fancy dishes? There, I just saved you $40 or so on the cookware, though the escargots themselves will run you about $18 a can, but there’s like 60 of them in there – and they don’t keep long.

So run along and throw an escargots party already (you know you want to!)- and be sure to invite KS and me!

shamefully easy...

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Sunday, January 21, 2007

gravlax

Gravlax

Call me a purist, but I recoil in horror whenever I’m offered anything to dress an oyster. Few things are so perfect and precious as oysters are and to add anything to a quality oyster is just plain wrong, people. As for mediocre oysters, I say why bother?

It has generally thus been with me and salmon. I know that the world is divided into salmon lovers and salmon haters (well, maybe it’s a bit more complicated than people who love or hate a fish, but humor me for a minute here). I’ve always been a fan of the fish for its sheer ability to transform a bagel from ordinary into a feast. But I’ve always felt that lox has unfairly claimed center stage to its less known, but tastier cousin – gravlax.

Nothing more illustrious than just salt-cured fish, gravlax possesses the kind of pure, clean taste a fresh oyster does. It’s delicate to the palate, unmistakably raw, caressed by a blend of sea salt and dill. Put that on a bagel and you have an exotic, celebratory breakfast. And on poached eggs with hollandaise, it’s simply breathtaking.

And the best part of all – making it is a cinch. A third-grader could do it. Someone who’ve never cooked, never mind never cooked fish could do it. All you need is a little bit of patience, for gravlax is a thing of a few days in the making, and a few ingredients.

I must admit though that while I thought my gravlax was redefining sublime, the BF tried it with trepidation, worrying that the fishy might have gone bad and I was en route to giving us both food poisoning. Thus, after having a few pieces, unable to consume a pound or raw, salt-cured fish, the whole issue was put to rest, and then eventually, to trash. Still, had I been home more to consume food, and not stuck in the office (can you see how I haven’t posted in ages?) eating take-out dinners, this salmon wouldn’t have met its maker via the trash bin route.

Continue reading gravlax.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

boiled crawfish, russian style

As if it had read my mind, the New York Times’ Dining & Wine section prominently features an article on the langoustine. I’ve been meaning to write on them – I’ve had a craving as of late. However, the intrepid food writers at the NYT beat me to the punch. Figures. They, unlike ahem, say, me, get paid to write about food. I just have stolen moments.

Looking like little lobsters, langoustines have a pristeen and delicate taste, far superior to the flavor of their larger cousin. The meat is more delicate, balanced. Though hardly of noble existence, langoustines, as well as lobsters, and other who’s who on the fruits de mer platter, scavengers that they are, langoustines are a delicacy, appearing at high-end restaurants for a memorable price.

Its delicate flavor yielding itself to many a dish, I agree with Mr. Apple in that the flavors of langoustines are best displayed in their most simple preparations. But while Mr. Apple suggests that you add some hot sauce or mayonnaise to a heaping pot of freshly-boiled langoustines, I raise his suggestion and give you an even simpler one.

  • Boil langoustines in a pot of salted water – make sure you can taste the saltiness, as this isn’t just to raise the boiling point. Cook your langoustines much in the same way you would boil a lobster. Their bodies will turn delicately pink, indicating to you their doneness.
  • Drain the pot, sprinkle with coarse salt. I like Maldon Sea Salt for these endeavours.
  • Eat.
  • A few pointers, I think that oil or butter messes with the fine tasting notes of langoustines. Which is why I don’t recommend a condiment. You wouldn’t ruin a good oyster with any mignonette, why would you mess with the most naturally delicious meat?

    While most people will give you wine pairings, I’ll suggest that you forgo wine here altogether. In fact, to better taste the sweetness of langoustines, you should pair it with a light beer. A Sapporo goes perfectly with the flavors.

    If, however, you find yourself somewhere in France, say, La Rochelle, for example, be sure to order yourself the biggest platter of fruits de mer the menu offers – and taste the freshest, most delicious seafood ever.

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