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Fabricating Fish & Seafood: A Primer

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Forum Name: Meats, Fish and Eggs
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URL: http://foodsoftheworld.ActiveBoards.net/forum_posts.asp?TID=3202
Printed Date: 19 November 2019 at 16:15


Topic: Fabricating Fish & Seafood: A Primer
Posted By: HistoricFoodie
Subject: Fabricating Fish & Seafood: A Primer
Date Posted: 16 February 2013 at 11:37

Part 1: Tools of the Trade:

 
Do you watch cooking competitions? I do. And it always astounds me how few young chefs can handle basic fabrication chores.
 

It’s one thing when a contestant on The Worst Cooks in America doesn’t know how to break-down a chicken. Quite another when a professional on Top Chef or Chopped is left scratching his or her head because they don’t know where to begin butchering a primal cut.

This especially shows up with fish and seafood. Faced with a whole fish, contestant after contestant exclaims, “I’ve never fileted a fish before,” or “I have no idea what to do with this,” or words to that effect.

If professionals---who supposedly were trained in these techniques---have trouble, it’s little wonder that home cooks depend on their fish mongers to do the “hard” parts.

The thing is, nothing about fabricating seafood is at all difficult. Ninety percent of the time, or more, only simple cuts are required. You just have to know where and when to make them, and what tool to use.

Thus, a logical place to begin is with the tools. Keep in mind that specialized tools make the job easier and more efficient, but they’re not necessarily required. You can always make do with a substitute. Whenever appropriate, I’ll discuss those alternatives.

Let’s start with knives. Most of the time, when breaking down a fish, what you need is a thin, fairly flexible, extremely sharp knife.  A chef’s knife is actually the worst choice for this, because it’s too broad and inflexible. Yet, that’s the one most celebrity chefs and contestants automatically reach for.

I remember one show when there were, I believe, eight contestants left, and there was a challenge to test their knife skills. Most have been one of the Next Iron Chef episodes, because Morimoto was the judge. To be sure, that alone is intimidating, given his knife skills.

At any rate, they each were provided the same selection of knives, and had to break down a chicken, filet a fish, and do something with vegetables. Part of the criteria was that they choose the correct knife for the job.

Almost all of them just reached for the chef’s knife. The result: they pretty much redefined the word “butcher” as it applies to fabricating food.

If you’re a fisherman, or have access to fresh-landed fish you can buy off the boat, then a filet knife is an essential part of your kit. If you buy whole fish from the market, it will already be gutted. This actually makes fileting more difficult, and a filet knife is even more crucial to do the job correctly.

If you cook fish frequently, of different types, several filet knives might come in handy, as they come in different sizes. But, the fact is, a filet knife with a six-inch blade, can work on any reasonably sized fish.

If you don’t want to invest in a filet knife, a slicer makes more sense than a chef’s knife. Indeed, for really large fish---those in excess of, say, 25 pounds, that’s usually what I reach for.

If you’re big on shellfish, then a so-called “oyster knife” should be part of your tool collection. An oyster knife consists of a thick, stubby handle with a relatively large guard, and a short, comparatively dull, blade. “Knife” is a misnomer, here, because it’s used for prying and twisting, rather than cutting. The large guard and rounded tip help minimize cutting yourself on shells should the knife slip---which is a fairly common happenstance. Which is why savvy shellfish shuckers hold the oyster or clam in a heavily gloved hand.

You can use a heavy butter knife to shuck clams and oysters. But, because it has no guard, I’d advice using a glove on both hands. Under no circumstances should you use a sharp or pointed knife. That’s a guaranteed way of hurting yourself.

Trout, salmon, mackerel, and some other fish have very small, tightly adhering scales, which can be left in place. The majority of fish, however, have large, loose, inedible scales. If you’ll be cooking that fish with the skin on, the scales have to be removed first.

Scalers are like guns: you don’t need one until you really need one. So it makes sense to keep one handy.

Scalers come in a diversity of sizes and configurations. Essentially, however, they consist of a toothed blade attached to a handle. Starting at the tail, your scrape the fish towards the head. This causes the scales to let go.

Scales can really fly, so it’s a good idea to do that job out of doors. If you do it in the garden you’ll be adding nutrients as well as cleaning the fish.

In a pinch, a spoon, or the back of a knife, can be used to scale fish. But neither of these does the job nearly as efficiently.

If you buy fish from the market, scaling supposedly has been done. But don’t count on it. You may have to go over the fish yourself, to assure they’ve all been removed.

Boning pliers or boning tweezers can be handy tools to have. Their obvious use is to help remove bones, particularly from filets. Frankly, I’ve never owned a set, because needle nosed pliers do the job just as well. I like keeping a set with smooth jaws, as well as toothed jaws, for that purpose.

For cleaning crabs and other crustations, picks are required. The meat in a crab is found in a set of compartments, each formed by cartilage. To access it, you use the pick to scrape and pull the meat from its little room. In theory other tools, such as cocktail forks, can accomplish this. If nothing else, even a toothpick can do the job. But there’s really nothing that does it as well.

A set of nutcrackers or three really come in handy from cracking the shells of crabs and lobsters. Note that I said "nutcracker." There are tools, virtually the same, marketed as "claw crakers" and "seafood crackers." The only difference is their higher pricetag.

To be sure, there’s a whole slew of specialized tools designed for prepping seafood. Friend Wife has a shrimp peeler, for instance, that she swears by. To me, that gets us into the realm of gadgets. But the top five, in my opinion, are the only essentials.

Nor are any of them particularly expensive. A really good filet knife, an oyster knife, boning pliers, and a half dozen picks probably won’t set you back fifty bucks.

edited to reflect the fact I had forgotten to include nutcrackers. So sue me!


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But we hae meat and we can eat
And sae the Lord be thanket



Replies:
Posted By: Rod Franklin
Date Posted: 16 February 2013 at 14:19
First, thanks for what I'm sure will be another awesome addition to this little corner of the internet. I look forward to these primers more than you might know.

To answer your question; I don't watch those cook off type shows. I want to see teaching shows which are hard to come by.
  

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Hungry


Posted By: AK1
Date Posted: 16 February 2013 at 16:46
Thanks again for a wonderful primer.


Posted By: Hoser
Date Posted: 17 February 2013 at 02:26
LOL...I can still remember Grandpa on Sunday afternoon nailing pop bottle caps to short pieces of lath so we kids could scale a mountain of fresh yellow perch with them. They worked darned well by the way....Every summertime Sunday was fish fry at Grandpa'sSmile

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Go ahead...play with your food!


Posted By: HistoricFoodie
Date Posted: 17 February 2013 at 05:35
I remember those, Dave. To this day they probably are the best scalers ever made. Unfortunately, crown caps have all but gone the way of the doodoo bird.


Posted By: HistoricFoodie
Date Posted: 17 February 2013 at 19:39

Part 2: Fish In The Round

Whole fish are referred to as “in the round.”

Unless you catch your own, or buy them directly from a fisherman, it’s rare that you’ll truly see a complete in-the-round fish. Those you purchase from a fish monger or seafood counter have, if nothing else, been gutted.

Gutting a whole fish is actually the simplest fabrication task. You merely slit the belly of the fish, from the vent (near the tail) to the collar (a ring of bone just behind the gills). Grab the entrails as close to the gills as you can, and pull downwards. Everything will drop out.

Fish you buy already gutted will still have the gills in place. That’s merely because one way of judging fresh fish is the color and texture of the gills. But they should be removed before cooking. If you’re starting with a complete fish, you remove them the same time the entrails come out. This process is called “gut and gilling.”

If you intend stuffing the fish, one advantage of starting with a whole one is that you can gut and gill it backwards. Start by making a cut along the dorsal (back) line of the fish, working down to the backbone. Cut out the spine and continue cutting as if you were going to butterfly the fish. Once you reach the belly cavity you can remove the entrails and gills.  For the ultimate in this, remove the ribs and other bones while you're at it.

What this does is leave a body cavity enclosed by the belly skin, which helps hold the stuffing in place.

You don’t see this done too often, even in upscale restaurants, because it is very time consuming. But there’s no reason not to do it at home, particularly when having guests. It makes a fantastic presentation.

Back to fish gut and gilled the conventional way. There is a blood channel lying along the backbone of the fish, inside the rib cage. Commercial processors are sometimes remiss cleaning that out. So you want to check it.

On smaller fish, such as perch and trout, you can do that with a thumbnail. Larger fish might need the help of a spoon. Either way, scrape the channel from head to tail. It sometimes helps to do that under running water.

You’re now ready to start prepping the fish.

First step is to remove any fins remaining on the fish, particularly the dorsal fin. It is unsightly, to begin with, and is potentially dangerous because it’s easy to prick a finger on the spines.

Many authorities and celebrity chefs perform this step with shears. The fins are trimmed away even with the skin of the fish. Quick and easy.

The trouble is, the spines that form the “ribs” of a fin extend down to the backbone. Leaving them behind creates the danger of eating them. Well, danger is too strong a word. But a mouthful of those spines, even after being softened by the cooking process, is not the most pleasant dining experience you’re likely to have. So it’s better to remove them.

Using your filet knife, make two cuts, flanking the fin and as close to it as possible. Extend these cuts down to the spine. Grab the fin with your fingers or a pair of pliers and pull. The whole thing will pop right out.

Once the fins are removed, scale the fish. Work from the tail towards the head, and make sure to get all of them. As mentioned earlier, scaling can be a messy job, best done outside.

The last step to prepping whole fish is to trim the tail so it is even and pleasing. You might not think this is necessary, but tails are readily subject to damage, both while the fish is alive and after it is killed. Why go to all the trouble of prepping a whole fish, and then serve it with a ragged, unappealing tail?

Washing fish is a controversial topic, with good arguments, pro and con, on both sides. Personally, I do wash fish. What I don’t do is let it soak in standing water. Instead the fish is rinsed, inside and out, under cool, running water, and dried immediately with paper towels.

Basically, your whole fish is ready to cook. Further fabrication depends on the method you’ll be using, and your aesthetic tastes.

Many people, for instance, find fish served with the head on to be off-putting. If that’s the case, remove it.

Best way of doing this is to use the collar as a guide. Follow the curve of the collar bone, from the belly towards the back, continuing the forward movement as you clear the collar and enter the back of the head.  Be sure an save the head for making fish stock.

Very thick fish are often scored before cooking. This speeds up the cooking process, and creates channels for adding flavoring ingredients. From a presentation point of view, it is better to cut the scores at an angle, thus  > /  /  /  /  ), rather than straight up and down.

Whole fish can be prepared using just about any cooking method. To my mind, nothing is as impressive as a poached salmon, served whole with appropriate garnishes. But, realistically, grilling, broiling, and baking seem to be the more popular approaches.

Here’s one version:

Red Snapper with Fennel Butter

6 whole snapper, heads and tails attached

¾ cup butter, softened

1 tsp crushed fennel seed

1 tsp lemon juice

1/8 tsp crushed garlic

Salt and pepper to taste

¼ cup olive oil

1 tbls lemon zest

¼ tsp thyme

Fennel fronds for garnish (optional)

Lemon halves for garnish (optional)

 

In a bowl combine the butter, fennel seeds, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper. Spread the interiors of the fish with half this mixture.

 

In a large zipper bag combine the olive oil, zest, thyme, salt and pepper. Add the fish and let them marinate, turning once, for one hour.

 

Drain the fish and put them on the rack of a broiler pan. Broil under a preheated broiler, basting them frequently with the marinade, for five minutes on each side.

 

Arrange the fish on a serving platter and decorate with fennel fronds, if available, and lemon halves. Serve the remaining fennel butter separately.

 

 

 

 



Posted By: gonefishin
Date Posted: 18 February 2013 at 09:14
   Oh man, Brook...thanks! 

  This is a very timely post for me.  While I do cook fish and seafood, I've really wanted to "up" my game in this category. 

   After reading the two parts of your primer so far, I can't wait for the next one to arrive!  But please, do not push yourself.  You do such a good job with your thought, and your writing that I would hope it doesn't become a chore to you.  I will see how it goes, but I may cook my way through this series as I read it.

    Some questions.  Thanks so much for starting with various techniques for preparing our fish, I love the suggestion about pulling the dorsal fin out.  I think each species of fish can come with it's own set of "issues" when prepping.  Do you have any suggestions on filleting walleye or northern.  For Walleye I use the "zipper method" and the Y bones in Northern I just kind of go by feel (not sure how else to describe it).  I'd love to hear any tricks or techniques you may have when prepping a fish that presents some unique issues.

   Thanks again Brook!

  Dan


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Enjoy The Food!


Posted By: Margi Cintrano
Date Posted: 18 February 2013 at 09:20

Brook,

 
Your red snapper recipe is eloquent ... We do not have Red Snapper in the Mediterranean, however, it is a member of the Bream family and resembles a sea bream with a rose pink scaling ...
 
So, it can work with gilt bream or sea bream or even sea bass or any Mediterranean in season fish ...
 
These whole fish are comparative in size to a red snapper ... 
 
Thanks for posting ... When, I prepare I shall post a mini pictorial and fotos of the fresh fish ... Since I only need 2 or 4, I shall have to reduce your seasoning a bit ...
 
Best regards.
Nice Primer.  
Margaux.
 
 
 
 
 


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Volamos a Mediterraneo, un paraiso que conquista su gente u su cocina.


Posted By: gonefishin
Date Posted: 18 February 2013 at 09:32
   Brook...Margi brings up an interesting point about substituting fish.  While I don't think any of us will be surprised that this is perfectly acceptable, we may not be particularly familiar enough with a specific fish (or dish) to be able to come up with our own substitution.  Do you think it would be a good idea to give the recipe out naming the intended fish to be used, then some common substitutions?

  Thanks...Dan


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Enjoy The Food!


Posted By: Margi Cintrano
Date Posted: 18 February 2013 at 09:42

Dan,

Last year, I had typed an International Fish Guide in the Meats and Fish Section which is also translated into 6 languages: English, Spanish, Catalan, Basque, Portuguese, French, German and Italian ...
 
Your idea is great, however, Brook does not know the seasonal Iberian Fish, as I do living here since 1996 and thus, it would require alot of research in Spanish or Italian or French to provide subs.
 
I have a great book in my Library, listing all the names of all the European based Atlantic varieties and both eastern and western Medit. varieties; with their history and Latin names ...
 
The Latin background provides us with the family members ...
 
I shall provide name of book tomorrow as it is in the antique chest ( trunk ) and I would have to go digging ... However, u can look at the Feature, and I am sure, you shall find it quite useful; and it also lists the designation waters of each variety too .
 
Hope this assists.
Margi.


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Volamos a Mediterraneo, un paraiso que conquista su gente u su cocina.


Posted By: gonefishin
Date Posted: 18 February 2013 at 09:48
   Thanks Margi! 

http://foodsoftheworld.activeboards.net/global-guide-fish-shellish-seafood_topic1973.html?KW=International+Fish+Guide" rel="nofollow -



Posted By: Margi Cintrano
Date Posted: 18 February 2013 at 09:52
 
Dan;
 
GLOBAL FISH GUIDE - PAGE 3
 
 
After all the translating; I had forgotten to post all the photos, I have ... Shall do this coming wkend.  Also, adding several other varieties: crabs, clams, mussels, rock fish, the blues, and the British Isles and Canadian varieties ... the cray fish, the river fish, the lake varieties ...
 
It is alot of work ... However, I shall re.embark on it ...
 
 
 


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Volamos a Mediterraneo, un paraiso que conquista su gente u su cocina.


Posted By: HistoricFoodie
Date Posted: 18 February 2013 at 15:05
I'm not sure that anything would be served by looking at each species, Dan. But each type certainly makes sense.
 
What I might do, as an installment, is list fishes that can sub for each other. Just need to come up with a method of doing that.
 
I fully intend doing an installment on fileting. But real quick, with fish in the pike family (i.e., Northerns and Musky, primarily) you start differently. Essentially, filet the top of the fish first, using the backbone as a guide. Then set the fish on it's belly and look down at that back cut. The  tips of the Y bones will form a line, flanking the backbone on each side. Use those lines as a guide to cut a filet off each side, outboard of the Ys.
 
The Y bones only extend to the point where the fish starts to narrow down, leading to the tail. At that point, treat it as any other fish, and remove the two filets.
 
When you're done you'll have five pieces of fish. On larger ones you might want to split the back filet, lengthwise, especially if you're going to skin it.
 
It really sounds more complicated than it is. Just takes a fish or three to get the feel of it.
 
You can't help but leave a lot of flesh behind, when fileting pikes. But if you partially cook the carcass you can slip the meat off the bones, and use the flakes for fish cakes, chowders, etc.
 
Although commonly classed with the pikes, walleye are actually not related, and do not have the Y bones. They're fileted like any other normal fish.  FWIW, the preferred size of walleye, for commercial purposes, is 14 inches. The filets from fish that size make perfect portions.


Posted By: TasunkaWitko
Date Posted: 18 February 2013 at 16:17
Another great primer, Brook, and in perfect time for spring, which will arrive before too long, even up here!
 
I've been reading with interest and have already learned some important things. Can't wait for more, and I think the fish-type substitution is a great idea.
 
Let me know when you're finished, and I'll sticky it up ~ thanks again!
 
Dan - I've got a pretty good visual on filleting pike and other Esocids; hope it helps:
 
 
 


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Posted By: HistoricFoodie
Date Posted: 18 February 2013 at 18:50
A picture is worth a thousand words, Ron. Thanks for posting these, as they illustrate how to carve up the pikes better than any verbal description.
 
BTW, I've been told more than once that pickeral and small Northerns can be scored and deep fried. This will melt most of the Y bones. I have never actually done this, but it might be worth an experiment.
 
 


Posted By: HistoricFoodie
Date Posted: 18 February 2013 at 18:51

Part 3: Breaking Down Round Fish

 

Generally speaking, food fish break down into two types: round fish and flat fish. While they do, in many respects, break down similarly, the methods of doing so differ. Initially we’ll talk about round fish, because they are the most commonly fabricated at home.

 

Fish are amazing creatures, if you think about it. Although there are differences in configuration, they are bodies aerodynamically designed to move efficiently through a thick medium. To do this they are streamlined, and have fins for navigating. Like airplanes, they cannot back up. But unlike aircraft, they have flexible bodies; which means they are much more maneuverable than any aircraft ever built.

 

Putting aside minor differences such as body depth, length-to-width ratios, and so forth, they are, for our purposes, all designed the same. What you have is a body that narrows at the head, tapering down from the gills, followed by a longer section that is more or less the same width and thickness until it tapers down again moving towards the tail. Keep that in mind as we discuss breaking them down into usable parts.

 

Many of these sections are defined by the fish’s skeletal structure. The front taper, for instance, starts just in front of the collar. The tail taper usually begins at the end of the belly cavity, and is identified by how the ribs lay. In practical terms, the vent actually marks the end of the uniform center section. On most species, particularly if you buy it gutted and gilled, you can use the anal fin as the marker.

 

On species that have pin bones, they end at that point. For example, trout and salmon have pin bones that lay every which way in the fish’s “chest.” But they are absent in the tail section. This  means the tail provides clean meat, used to make filets or mock whole fish on larger specimens.

 

The center is further divided, top and bottom, by the ribs and backbone. The top section is the loin and the bottom is the belly. On larger species, such as cod and haddock, the belly is separated from the loins and identified as “flaps” or “lugs.”

 

So, let’s look at the various cuts.

 

A filet is a flat piece of fish, cut from the sides, with all bones removed. The entire side, from collar to tail, is removed in one piece if that’s the only way the fish will be fabricated. Otherwise, only the tail section is fileted, and the balance broken down in other ways.

 

You may have noticed that many filets sold at supermarket fish counters are sort of triangular, with a radical taper that gets thinner as it narrows. That’s because they come from the tail sections. From a quality standpoint there’s nothing wrong with these filets. Cooking them, however, can often present a challenge, because the thinner triangle cooks faster than the thicker part. For most applications, therefore, if you have a choice it’s better to buy a center-cut filet, which tends to be more evenly thick.

 

The loin or loin filet is a solid piece of flesh removed from each side of the backbone. Although the belly flap is sometimes included in this cut, it usually isn’t because that presents problems in even cooking. If you buy just the loin, and the flap is included, I advise cutting it away and using it for other purposes. Because the belly flesh tends to be the oiliest part of any fish, poaching it is, in my opinion, the best use for it. Once poached, remove the skin and any bones, and use the flesh for fish cakes, soups, spreads, or fish pies.

 

Nowadays there is some confusion because the loin chunks are often marketed as steaks. Technically, a steak is a specialized cut, which we’ll discuss later. Reason for the confusion is that the loin is often broken down further into thick slices, resembling beef steaks. Swordfish, for example, is often sold that way.

 

Cheeks, as the name implies, are nuggets of flesh taken from the check. You can locate them by gently pressing down on the head, just under and behind the eyes. The cheeks are found in a cavity surrounded by bone, and you can feel them as a soft spot.

 

Cheeks are considered the most succulent part of any fish, and are a great delicacy. But, frankly, it’s hardly worth recovering them from anything but large fish. You might take the trouble with a whole salmon, for instance. But not with a panfish.

 

True fish steaks used to be more popular than they are, and most fish mongers in the United States no longer carry them. You can ask the monger to cut a whole fish into steaks, or just do it yourself. Steaks are usually cut from larger, oily species, such as salmon, bluefish, king mackerel, and similar varieties.

 

To steak one, lay a gut and gilled fish on its side, with the back away from you. Cut the head away, making that first cut immediately behind the collar. If you discard the collar, shame on you. It’s one of the best tasting parts of the fish, although yielding little in the way of edible flesh. For that reason, collars are often used as an element in a fish dish using other parts as well.

 

After clearing the head, make a series of cuts, straight up and down, through the fish, spacing the cuts an inch to an inch and a half apart. Continue making these cuts until the entire middle section has been divided.

 

There’s no reason you can’t cut the tail into steak-like pieces. Just keep in mind that, because of the taper, each of them will be a different size, which makes portion control something of a problem.

 

If you lay a center-cut steak flat it will appear to be an inverted horseshoe shape, with most of the shoe filled with flesh, and two legs extending downwards.

 

Most recipes for fish steaks use them in that form. This worked ok in the ‘50s and ‘60s, when most fish were overcooked anyway. But for modern tastes that doesn’t work, because the legs get overcooked, particularly when grilling or broiling the steaks. To avoid that, savvy fish fabricators truss them into what are called noisettes.

 

It’s unlikely you’ll ever see a noisette at a fishmonger or seafood counter, because they are a labor-intensive pain in the butt to form. But the advantages, both in cooking and presentation, make the effort worthwhile at home.

 

To make a noisette, extend the opening between the legs up to the backbone. Then start working the flesh off of it, removing all the other bones as you go along. At this point the flesh will look kind of ragged, but don’t worry about it.

 

Next, cut the skin away from the flesh, starting about evenly with where the backbone was, but leaving it attached. Roll one leg up, spiraling it to fill the cavity. Wrap the other leg around it. Then use the flaps of skin to wrap the package. Tie this into an evenly round or oval shape with butchers twine. Don’t pull the string too tightly, as that will distort the fish. You just want enough pressure to hold everything in place.

 

What you now have is a sold disk of fish that will cook evenly. If you’ve cut the tail section into steaks they already will look that way.

 

Curried Halibut Loin

 

2 lbs halibut or other firm-fleshed white fish loin

½ cup butter

4 tsp curry powder

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp pepper

¼ cup lemon juice

½ tsp Worcestershire + extra for sprinkling

 

Divide the fish into four equal pieces.

 

Melt the butter in a skillet large enough to hold the fish in one layer. Stir in the curry powder, salt, and pepper. Gradually add the lemon juice and Worcestershire and simmer ten minutes over low heat.

 

Put the fish pieces in the skillet and cook them two minutes. Turn the pieces, sprinkle them lightly with additional Worcestershire, and cook them, covered, for 4-5 minutes (more if pieces are more than ¾ inch thick), until they flake easily when tested with a fork.

 

Serves four.

 



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But we hae meat and we can eat
And sae the Lord be thanket


Posted By: gonefishin
Date Posted: 18 February 2013 at 20:57
   Nice piece, Brook. The Curried Halibut sounds simple...and amazing.  Thanks!

   On the subject of Steaks, specifically Salmon Steaks.  I wanted to start smoking some thick salmon steaks.  I was thinking about starting very simple...and then branch out with the flavors after I get the procedure down well.  I'm thinking basic brine then smoke with alder or oak.  Starting the temp at 100f for an hour, then bumping the temp in steps...up to 180f...making the total time around 6 hours...and an internal temp of 140f.  Hmmm...maybe I'll smoke some of these and some shell on shrimp at home.  Then bring them to work for lunch and have the Gumbo Z'herbs for dinner.


   Any tips advice on smoking some salmon steaks?

(here's some pics from http://www.calumetfisheries.com/" rel="nofollow - Calumet Fisheries, Chicago )

   

    Thanks Brook.  Thanks Tas for the pics...that's essentially how I do it.  Although I don't separate the tail piece...this may be an idea that works well.  Thanks!


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Enjoy The Food!


Posted By: HistoricFoodie
Date Posted: 19 February 2013 at 06:24
I've smoked whole sides of salmon, Dan, but never steaks. So anything I say would be a guess. 
 
That said, your procedure sounds about right. Six hours might be a bit long, but you won't know until you give it a try. Make sure you let them dry enough, after brining, for a good pelicle to form and you should be OK.
 
If there are leftover (yeah, right!) try this:
 
Smoked Salmon Spread
 
2 cups flaked smoked salmon
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup red onion, minced
1 tbls sweet Sherry
2 tbls minced fresh parsley
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/4 tsp white pepper
 1/2 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp lime juice
Salt to taste
 
Combine the ingredients well and chill it. Serve with crostinia, black bread, or pita triangles.


Posted By: TasunkaWitko
Date Posted: 19 February 2013 at 09:37
Dan - I've got some good info, and photos, from the same source as the pike-filleting procedure posted above. It outlines the process very thoroughly and easily - the photos are very nice, too!
 
Give me a day or three to get the book and scan the photo. If I don't get it posted in the next week or so, please do remind me, because I tend to get distracted and absent-minded....


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Posted By: gonefishin
Date Posted: 19 February 2013 at 11:38
   http://www.foodsubs.com/FGFish.html" rel="nofollow -


Posted By: Margi Cintrano
Date Posted: 19 February 2013 at 13:05
Brook. Nice salmon spread. Thanks for posting. I am allergic to soy; hoever it is lovely & does not need it. I wouldmake my own mayo as well ..

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Volamos a Mediterraneo, un paraiso que conquista su gente u su cocina.


Posted By: HistoricFoodie
Date Posted: 19 February 2013 at 14:12
Great link, Dan! And it will save me the bother of creating a post.
 
Margi, you might want to substitute either fish sauce or Worcestershire to bring that hint of umami to the spread. With fish sauce you likely won't need any additional salt.


Posted By: HistoricFoodie
Date Posted: 19 February 2013 at 14:15

Part 4: Fileting Fish

Worldwide, filets are probably the most common fish cut used. Certainly this is true for North America. Whether full fish sides or pieces of the loin, they all start out as filets.

I’m always amazed at the mess many people---even professional cooks---make out of fileting fish. It’s actually a simple job, that uses the same techniques whether you’re fileting a four inch bluegill or a four foot cobia. The only major exception is the pikes, which, because of their Y bones, have to be handled differently. We’ve already detailed how pikes are handled above.

To be sure, there is a radical difference between round fish and flat fish. The technique is the same, but the direction of the cuts changes. Mark has already posted a pictorial on fileting flatfish ( http://www.foodsoftheworld.activeboards.net/flounder-101-fresh_topic3081.html" rel="nofollow - If you’re having trouble following his instructions (and I don’t see why you would, as they’re pretty clear) just ask and we’ll fill in any blanks.

Round fish have three types of skeletal structure. Fish like sea bass and walleye have all their bones, except the rib cage, aligned up and down in a single plane. Others, such as trout, salmon, catfish, and many salt water fish, have additional “pin” bones, which align in various directions. This will only matter when you have to remove them. The fileting process is the same.

Just as an aside, I’ve often wondered if the term “pin bone” refers to the fact they seem to pin the flesh in place. One of these days I’m going to look that up.

The third type of fish are merely described as being boney. Among these are mullet, suckers, eels, smelt and so forth. These have such a plethora of bones, often small, sharp, and running in every imaginable direction, that they are rarely, if ever, fileted, except as the first stage of further processing.

In the following directions, we’ll assume you are right handed. It doesn’t really matter, except to follow what I mean by left and right.

If you’re going to leave the skin on, first scale the fish, if necessary, and remove the fins. If the filet will be skinless, neither of those steps is necessary. If you’ve caught the fish yourself, or bought it off the boat, do not gut and gill it. That, too, is unnecessary when fileting. In fact, a whole fish actually makes the job easier. Whether right or left handed, you’ll be reversing direction anyway when you turn the fish.

Start by laying the fish in front of you with the head on your left, the tail on your right, and the back towards you. Make the first cut by angling the knife along the line of the collar, and on the tail side of it. Slice downwards, with the blade itself slightly angled towards the tail. Cut all the way down to the backbone.

Turn the blade so it lies flat along the backbone. Holding it that way, and using the backbone as a guide, use long, sawing strokes to cut the filet off the fish. When you feel the ribs, just cut right through them.

If you’re leaving the skin on, cut through the skin at the tail. Repeat on the other side.

If you’re making skinless filets there’s a much easier way than is usually shown. Most instructions have you cut the filet off the fish, then lay it, skin side down on the work surface. You then start by cutting a small slice to separate the skin and flesh at the tail end, then,  , while holding that flap down with your left thumb, slice forward, lifting the flesh away from the skin.

Other than the awkwardness of holding down the skin flap, and making the initial cut, you should wind up with a clean filet, and no waste. That is if the skin doesn’t slip out from under your thumb.

The simpler way is this. When you make your main filet cut do not cut through the skin at the tail. Instead, use that as a hinge. Flip the filet over so it lies flat to the right of the tail. Then use your knife to lift the flesh off the skin, using the weight of the fish to stabilize the filet and hold it in place.

After removing the filet, flip the fish over, and cut the filet off the other side. At that point you might want to cut the first skin flap away, because it sometimes gets in the way.

Using the tip of the filet knife, cut the rib cage away from the filet, leaving as much of the belly meat in place as possible..

Next, check for bones. Pin bones can be anywhere in the mid-section of the filet. But, in addition, you’ll often find bones, or parts of bones, along the border where the backbone had been. Just run your finger along the fish, from heat to tail, and you’ll feel them. Use your boning pliers or tweezers to remove those bones.

The easiest way to do that, particularly with fish that have pin bones, is to lay the filet, skin side down, on a round bowl. That will cause the bones to stand up straighter, and expose their tips, so you can grab them more easily.

Store-bought filets often have these bones left in, so you might want to go through this step with them.

Rinse the filets under cool, running water, dry them, and you’re good to go.

You can use the filets just as they are. But, because the belly meat is so much thinner than the loin this could lead to uneven cooking. So you might want to separate them, and use the lugs for another purpose. Same goes for the very thin part of the tail meat.

If you prefer, you can use an electric knife instead of a filet knife. Personally I’ve never been comfortable with electric knives for any purpose. But I have friends who are fileting fools with one of them. Charter boat captains find them especially appealing because of their speed, and the fact they do not need frequent sharpening.

While these basic steps work for any fish in the round, you may have to modify them slightly for some species. Trigger fish, for example, because of their tough, leathery skin, require that you first make a lengthwise cut along the fish’s back. Otherwise you won’t be able to cut through it cleaning.

Once the fish is fileted, clean away the entrails and gills, and use the bones and head to make stock.

Filets can be cooked by virtually any method you like, but they are especially good for deep frying, pan frying, grilling, and baking.

Black Bass with Port Wine

When Eric Ripart took over Le Bernardin Restaurant he almost immediately earned four stars from the New York Times, a distinction he’s held for more than twenty years---the only restaurant ever to do that. This was, for many of the early years, his signature dish. Note that the sauce is made with a double reduction. Don’t try and shortcut this step, as it doesn’t work as well if the port and vinegar are reduced at the same time.

1 cup ruby port

½ cup Sherry vinegar

1 stick butter, softened

Salt and pepper to taste

¼ cup vegetable oil

4 sea bass filets, about 6-ounces each (or use fresh-water black bass)

¼ cup five-spice powder

2-3 tbls peanut oil

1 ½ cups mushrooms, sliced

2 large shallots, finely chopped

1 tbls minced fresh parsley

1 tbls fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped

 

Reduce the port in a heavy saucepan over moderately high heat until thick and syrupy; there should be just enough liquid to thinly coat the bottom of the pan. Stir in the vinegar and boil until syrupy. Remove from heat and whisk in the butter. Season with salt & pepper. Set sauce aside

 

In a large skillet heat the vegetable oil over moderately high heat. Season the fish filets lightly with salt and pepper. Coat each filet on both sides with the five-spice powder. Sauté the filets in the hot pan, turning once, until crusty on the outside and opaque throughout. Transfer to a platter and keep warm.

 

In a large skillet, heat the peanut oil over moderately high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, until softened and browned. Add the shallots, parsley, ad thyme and cook until the shallots are translucent. Season with salt and pepper.

 

Arrange each filet on a bed of the mushrooms. Top with some of the sauce.

 

The lugs and thin tail sections can be used in, literally, hundreds of recipes. Such dishes usually call for cooked, flaked fish. So you may want to poach the pieces first, and then either use them immediately or freeze them for later use. This provides a nice supply, btw, for any recipe calling for leftover fish.

 

The following recipe calls for white fish. But I’ve made it with salmon, as well. It’s all good!

 

Kedgeree Covington

 

1 ½ cups cooked rice

1 ½ cups cooked and flaked white fish such as flounder, sole, or halibut

1 cup grated Gruyere cheese

2 eggs, lightly beaten

3 tbls minced onion

2 tbls butter

2 tsp curry powder, or to taste

¼ tsp Worcestershire

Cayenne, salt, and black pepper to taste

Butter

3 slightly under-ripe bananas, sliced on the bias

Home-made or store-bought chutney

 

Sweat the onion in the 2 tablespoons butter until soft. Combine it well with the rice, fish, cheese, eggs, curry powder, Worcestershire, cayenne, salt, and pepper. Transfer the mixture to a buttered gratin or casserole dish and bake in a preheated 350F oven for 34-40 minutes, or until it is golden and slightly crisp on top.

 

Sauté the banana slices in butter until slightly colored.

 

Cut the Kedgeree in thick slices, and serve on a bed of the banana slices, with chutney on the side.



Posted By: Margi Cintrano
Date Posted: 19 February 2013 at 14:21
Brook. I have Lea & Perrins ... I truly like the tamarind and anchoy aromas .. Yes thanks. I shall go buy some Ntwegian salmon tomorrow. I shall photograh spread. I also want to prepare ur fish with fennel ... That is awesome. I can use fresh Cod or Seabass. I had called my fish monger.

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Volamos a Mediterraneo, un paraiso que conquista su gente u su cocina.


Posted By: HistoricFoodie
Date Posted: 19 February 2013 at 14:42
I would go with small, whole seabass rather than cod for that dish. I'm thinking, too, it might work well with branzini.


Posted By: Margi Cintrano
Date Posted: 20 February 2013 at 02:21
Brook. I like your fennel red snapper & shall prepare Saturday. The Salmon spread as a Tapa dip ... Thanks; shall take photos if not too busy. We have Pompei exhibition we want to see. Have nice day.
The fresh cod abundance for lent season is heaven ... And cod is extraordinairely versatile ... Seabass is lovely too. Though we do love fresh cod in season ! It is divine and has a true northern sea cleanliness ... Refreshing taste ... Neither one of us are fans of halibut or flonder or Hake ... or Plaice.

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Volamos a Mediterraneo, un paraiso que conquista su gente u su cocina.


Posted By: HistoricFoodie
Date Posted: 20 February 2013 at 18:54

Part 5: Special cuts and forms

 

To me there is nothing more boring than a flat piece of fish laying on a plate. The flavor of the dish might be suburb, but the eye appeal just isn’t there.

That’s one of the reasons whole fish and sushi look so appetizing. In both cases, the textural break provides food for the eye as much as the mouth.

Typical would be Dan’s take on my curried fish loin recipe, which can be seen at http://www.foodsoftheworld.activeboards.net/cooking-through-historicfoodies-fish-seafprimer_topic3217.html?SID=19413411zcec8bz48d5781688f5e69028240741" rel="nofollow - To be sure, fabricating fish into special shapes can be time consuming. But the results are well worthwhile, particularly if you have guests you want to impress.

Keep in mind that fish work the opposite of red meat. Red meat starts out firm, then softens as it cooks. Fish start soft and become firm. Which simply means that forming it into fancy shapes becomes part of the prep work. When they’re cooked they retain the shape you formed them into.

In some cases, as we’ll see, there is more waste than usual as well. Keep that in mind, so that you buy enough for your purposes, and plan another use for the trimmings.

The cooking methods are almost irrelevant in that regard. In Dan’s case, for instance, he butter-poached the filets. But he could have just as easily baked them, broiled them, or even poached them.

Here are some of the ways you can fancy up your presentations:

Folds and turbans: I figure it only fitting to start with these, as we have such a good example. Turbans are formed simply by rolling an uneven filet, so the edges do not line up. This can be done free-standing, of course. Another way is to start with a filet eight inches long and about 1 ½ inches wide, and spiral it into a pudding cup or ramekin. I first learned that technique with a Musky recipe. The fish goes into a well-buttered pudding cup, and is topped with a duxelle-enriched white sauce. They’re baked, then unmolded and sprinkled with paprika.

     A simpler presentation, though still appealing, is to just fold a filet. Here, again, you want the two halves to be slightly off-set for greater eye appeal.

 

Roulades and pinwheels: Fish roulades (literally, roll-ups) are made like any others. Start with a filet trimmed into a rectangle. Roll it from one of the long edges. Unlike beef, fish usually do not require tying so long as you keep them seam side down.

     Although there’s nothing wrong with a plain log, roulades usually are used with a filling of some sort.

     Pinwheels are nothing more nor less than a roulade that’s been cut into slices, so the swirling filling shows. If I intend serving the fish as a pinwheel, I prefer rolling from a short edge, making a wheel with a wider diameter.

 

 Fried fingers and balls: Everybody loves deep-fried fish. But too often this means breading and frying a filet or loin section and laying it on a plate. Maybe a wedge or two of lemon is included to perk up the dish.

     A simple change can go a long way, however. Try cutting the fish into fingers, before you bread and fry them. In other words, a variation of fish sticks. These can be arranged piled up and crisscrossing, which makes them much more interesting.

     BTW, these differ from the frozen fish sticks your kids love in one important detail. As with chicken McNuggets, fish sticks are made from ground fish which is molded to shape. They start life as scraps and lesser quality fish, rather than from whole cuts.

     Fish balls are made by chopping the fish first, mixing it with other ingredients, breading, and deep frying. In addition to bringing different flavor profiles to the table, the balls can be arranged in a myriad of ways. For example, start with a puddle of sauce. Then arrange three balls in a triangle in the puddle, and top them with a fourth ball to form a pyramid. Or you can form string the breaded balls on skewers, then deep-fry the whole kebab.

     These and similar techniques are much more exciting that simply laying a flat filet on a plate.

 

Kebabs: Speaking of kebabs, they are one of the more delightful ways of preparing fish. Typically they’re made with cubes of fish, or cube-like pieces, separated by other ingredients. Nothing wrong with that. But you can up the eye appeal even more.

     As noted above, fish balls make good kebabs. Or you can take the same ground-fish mixture and mold it right onto the skewer, in the form of a finger.

     My preference is to use strips of fish that will be woven around the other ingredients. To do that, start with a strip about ½-3/4 inch wide. Push the skewer through the end of the strip, centering it as best as possible. Then add another ingredient; a square of bell pepper, perhaps, or a pearl onion or a cherry tomato. Move this down on the skewer just enough so you can catch the fish again, which is looped around the other ingredient on one side. Add another ingredient, and wrap the fish from the other side, so that the loops alternate. Continue in that manner until the whole strip has been used.

     One thing to keep in mind, when making fish kebabs, is that they cook very quickly. So you want to choose other ingredients that also cook quickly, or which have been precooked for that reason.

     An example would be to make potato balls, with a small disher or melon baller. Par boil them until just short of tender. Then skewer them and they’ll cook in the same time as the fish.

 

Butterflying: While any fish can be butterflied, this technique works best for small fish, such as sprats, smelt, and anchovies.

     Start by gut and gilling the fish, and cutting off the head. Then split the ribs on either side of the backbone. Clip the backbone, front and back---shears work best for that. Spread the fish apart, and remove the ribs and any other bones. Stand the fish upright, flesh-side down. It should stand by itself, with the tail in a vertical or almost vertical position. If not, use a toothpick to lock it in that position.

     When cooking, start with the fish flesh-side down in the pan.

     For service, arrange the fish on a serving dish, tails upright. This makes an especially nice presentation if you arrange the butterflied fish around a dipping sauce.

     Butterflying works best when pan frying or deep frying, but they can be grilled, baked, or even poached, as well.

    

 Braids: If you really want to impress guests, take the time and trouble to make fish braids. To be honest, they are a royal PITA to construct, and there can be a lot of wastage. But if you’re really looking for that Wow! factor, this is the way to go.

     Start by cutting the “cords” using either thick filets or a loin section. You want the pieces to be eight to ten inches long. First plank the fish, converting it into ribbons ¼ to 3/8 inch thick. Lay a ribbon flat, and cut it into strips the same thickness. What you now have are squared cords. You’ll need three of them for each braid.

     Lay the cords side by side. Starting in the middle, fold the left-hand cord over the middle. Then fold the right hand cord over what had been the left, but is now the middle. Continue to the end. Reverse the started braid, and complete the other side. Tuck in the ends and cook.

     Reason for braiding from the center is to keep everything neat and even.

     For the ultimate in presentation, use two different colored fish. For instance, you might use salmon and striped bass. For each braid use two cords of one color and one of the other. I like serving two of these, mixing up the colors. That is, one braid will have two whites and one red, the other will have two reds.

     Braids are usually baked or broiled.

 

 

 

 



Posted By: TasunkaWitko
Date Posted: 20 February 2013 at 19:38
Some great information there, Brook - thanks!
 
I've got these photos of part of the butterflying process that might be helpful, from The Hunting and Fishing Library:
 
Quote Some fish recipes for cooking larger fish call for the fish to be "butterflied." This procedure keeps the fish whole while making it boneless. To do this, use the instructions and pictures below as a guide. Start with a whole, drawn fish such as a lake trout or walleye.

Cut from inside cavity along each side of backbone to release bone from fish (Left). Do not cut through skin.

Discard bone and spread out two sides of fish so it lies flat (Right). Trim fat and discard belly meat. Remove rib bones.

 Here's another presentation fromthe same source that can be practical as well as attractive:

Quote "Butterflying" [can also refer to] to a preparation method that is a fast and appealing alternative to steaking larger, smooth-skinned fish such as large trout, salmon or catfish.

Normally, these fish are "steaked," which means that they are cut into sections through the backbone along the ribs. When butterflying them, however, you don’t cut through the heavy backbone, so your knife stays sharp. The finished cut is also easier to eat than a steak because it has no bones. Finally, butterflied fillets are more appealing because the meat is on the outside, with the skin and fat tucked away on the inside. To butterfly fillets:

Cut a (1) fillet from the fish. Remove the rib bones, but don’t skin the fillet. (2) Slice across the fillet, about an inch from the end, cutting through the meat but not the skin. (3) Make a second cut, parallel to the first and about an inch farther from the end; slice completely through both the meat and the skin. (4) Fold the piece of fish backwards along the first cut so the meat is on the outside and the skin is on the inside. Butterfly the rest of the fillet, except the tail section.



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Posted By: gonefishin
Date Posted: 20 February 2013 at 21:26
    Thanks Brook & Tas...another great piece.  I learned a lot...thanks!

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Enjoy The Food!


Posted By: HistoricFoodie
Date Posted: 21 February 2013 at 05:46
Thanks for the pix, Ron. They always add something.
 
That second butterflying technique is something I've only seen in books. Looks good, though, providing you have a thick filet.
 
The technique reminds me of a similar method used for cutting steaks from a tenderloin. When you get down to the thinner, tapered end you cut it just as above, to form a steak equally sized to the others.
 
Butterflying larger fish is a great way to prep them for stuffing, and is certainly easier to do than cleaning them from the back, as I'd discussed earlier. It's also become the default way of commercially preparing trout. Nowadays they are primarily sold whole, or butterflied.


Posted By: Daikon
Date Posted: 21 February 2013 at 17:02
Originally posted by Margi Cintrano Margi Cintrano wrote:

We do not have Red Snapper in the Mediterranean


Regardless of what the label says, http://oceana.org/en/news-media/publications/reports/oceana-study-reveals-seafood-fraud-nationwide" rel="nofollow - 94% of the time, we don't have it here, either.



Posted By: HistoricFoodie
Date Posted: 21 February 2013 at 20:57

Part 6: Shellfish

It’s often been said that it was a brave man, indeed, who first ate an oyster. Maybe so. Me, I’ve always wondered how the first oyster-eater figured out how to open one without smashing the shell.

 

However it was done, shellfish have been eaten with relish since time out of mind. Virtually every culture with a seacoast enjoys them, as well as inland cultures who harvested the fresh-water analogs of clams, mussels, and so forth.

 

Generally speaking, there are two large classifications of shellfish: bivalves and univalves.

 

Bivalves are the more common table fare. As a group they are similarly constructed, having two hard shells hinged at the back. Among them are oysters, clams, mussels, scallops, and cockles. That last name can be confusing. In America, small clams are often referred to as cockles. But they actually are a different creature, and are recognized as such in Europe. Most bivalves anchor themselves to the ocean floor or other structures, with clams and scallops being the notable exceptions.

 

Univalves have only one shell, which they seal either, like abalone and limpets, by attaching themselves to hard surfaces, or, as with snails and barnacles, by a leathery flap that covers the shell opening. Although the univalves that fasten to surfaces are stationary, many are mobile. This includes snails, whelks, and conk, sea urchins, and some others.

 

Bivalves and univalves are cleaned and processed differently. So let’s look at them in order.

 

Whether you harvest them yourself or purchase them, all bivalves should be scrubbed with a stiff brush, under running water, to remove as much sand, grit, and foreign bodies as possible. In addition, the “beards” on mussels should be removed. You do this by clasping the beard with your fingers, close to the shell, and pulling sharply.

 

As you clean them, discard any whose shells remain open. Just tapping on one of the shells is enough to cause the animal to close up tightly. If the shells remain open, it’s a sign that the critter is dead.

 

With the exception of mussels, shellfish are opened by inserting the blade of an “oyster knife” between the shells and prying them apart. “Knife” is sort of a misnomer, because an oyster knife is more of a prying tool than a cutting tool. This is almost always done with oysters and scallops. The exception is when oysters are “roasted,” either on the grill or in special ovens. In that case, they are put on the heat whole.

 

Clams can be opened by prying, or heated (usually by steaming) to both open them and cook the edible part.

 

Caution should be exercised when opening bivalves because the edges of the shells are sharp, and it’s easy to cut yourself on them. In addition, especially when you’re new to “shucking” them, the knife can slip. Even though it’s dull, compared to kitchen knives, you can still get a nasty wound from one of them.

 

The easiest way of protecting yourself is with a heavy glove. Usually you only need one on your off hand, that is, the one actually holding the bivalve. The large guard on the oyster knife will protect your working hand.

 

Alternatively, some people use a towel in their off hands, wrapping it around the shells. I’ve always found that to be awkward and slow. But if you’re more comfortable that way, then that’s the method to use. Either way, please do protect yourself, because shellfish cuts are not only painful, they can be slow to heal.

 

There are two important muscles involved with bivalves. One is the muscle that forms the hinge. The other, the so-called adipose muscle, anchors the animal to one of the shells. In addition, you want to conserve the liquid found inside the shells.

 

All this affects how you separate them.

 

Oysters and scallops have cupped top shells and flattish bottom shells. So, when you are shucking them, you want to have the top shell downwards, to hold the liquid. Clams have two cupped shells, with one of them more deeply dished than the other. If possible, the deeper dish should be held downwards. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to tell them apart. Once you gain some experience you can tell by looking at the hinge. The top shell, at the point, has a slight overhang. This is difficult to describe, but you can’t miss it once you learn to recognize it.

 

There’s another difference in configuration to be aware of. With oysters, the bottom shell is often recessed slightly into the top shell. To open them, therefore, you insert the tip of the oyster knife in the dimple next to the valve, and pry upwards. You’ll feel resistance from the hinge muscle, but it will give way to the pressure, and the shells will separate. Discard the flat shell, and slide the edge of the knife under the oyster to loosen it from the top shell.

 

Clams and scallops, on the other hand, are opened from the front.  Insert the blade between the shells, and pry them apart. Then separate the clam from the shell, as you do with oysters. With a little practice, you can pry the shells apart and cut the clam free, all in one motion.

 

As with so many things, there are nuances. For instance, scallops have a tough, leathery muscle on the side, which should be cut away.  Clam meat is divided into legs and bellies, which have different textures so they are sometimes separated and used in different recipes. Razor clams have a dark intestine that should be cut away from the white meat and discarded. If you do a lot of shellfish shucking you’ll soon learn these nuances, and handle them automatically.

 

Why go to so much trouble? In all three cases, the shells are often used as vessels to both cook and serve the shellfish. If you’re making a dish that doesn’t require the shells, just shuck them and their liquids into a bowl.

 
Mussels, it should be noted, are not shucked. Instead they are cooked whole, and the heat coth cooks them and causes the shells to open. 
 

Size of the mollusk sometimes matters, too. This could simply be a matter of taste; for instance, for raw eating, and from chowders and similar usage, I prefer smaller oysters. The meat of larger sea scallops is sometimes divided into smaller pieces, often being sliced into two or three coins. Your filet knife is the best tool for that, as it happens. With clams, the larger the mollusk the tougher the meat can be. So, while you might use littlenecks for a pasta dish, where the whole clam is included, you’ll find that larger clams are better used in chowders and stews. When it comes to geoducks you can really run into tough meat.

 
Be leary, too, of overcooking shellfish. They do not require a lot of cooking time, and can easily toughen if you cook them too long. Mussels, for instance, should be removed from the heat as soon as they open. Whole clams the same. Shucked shellfish used in a dish are generally added late in the game, and only cooked for a few minutes.  
 

Hearty Oyster Stew

 

Classic oyster stew is made simply with the oysters, butter, and cream. That’s good, as far as it goes. But I wanted something with more body, and developed this one after a fall day tonging oysters in the Outer Banks years ago. If was just the thing after facing cold sea spray and wet hands all day.

 

2 cups shucked small to medium oysters, with their liquid

6 slices bacon

1 quart water

2 medium potatoes, diced

1 medium onion, chopped

½ red or green bell pepper, minced

Cayenne, salt, and black pepper to taste

1 cup cream

 

Cook the potatoes in the water until tender.

 

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, fry the bacon until crisp. Remove from heat and crumble. Sauté the onions and pepper in the bacon grease. Add the potatoes and their cooking liquid to the pot and bring to a simmer.

 

Add the oysters, along with their liquid, and let poach for a minute or two to cook through. Slowly add the cream. Season with the cayenne, salt, and pepper. Bring slowly back up to simmer, but do not let it boil. Serve hot.



Posted By: Hoser
Date Posted: 22 February 2013 at 04:13
When it come to shellfish...especially Quahogs like we get out here, this is my weapon of choice. 

It has a cradle to nestle the clam in while you apply pressure and work the knife into it...very effective clam "knife"



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Go ahead...play with your food!


Posted By: HistoricFoodie
Date Posted: 22 February 2013 at 05:51
Wow! That's really impressive.
 
Strange that I've never seen one before. Are they common in your part of the world?


Posted By: gonefishin
Date Posted: 22 February 2013 at 10:51
   Brook, do you have any advice for keeping the shellfish until you're ready to start the prep?


   shucking oysters is something I've never gotten the hang of Ouch

   Thanks, Dan


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Enjoy The Food!


Posted By: MarkR
Date Posted: 22 February 2013 at 12:38
Originally posted by gonefishin gonefishin wrote:




   Nice piece, Brook. The Curried Halibut sounds simple...and amazing.  Thanks!

   On the subject of Steaks, specifically Salmon Steaks.  I wanted to start smoking some thick salmon steaks.  I was thinking about starting very simple...and then branch out with the flavors after I get the procedure down well.  I'm thinking basic brine then smoke with alder or oak.  Starting the temp at 100f for an hour, then bumping the temp in steps...up to 180f...making the total time around 6 hours...and an internal temp of 140f.  Hmmm...maybe I'll smoke some of these and some shell on shrimp at home.  Then bring them to work for lunch and have the Gumbo Z'herbs for dinner.


   Any tips advice on smoking some salmon steaks?

(here's some pics from http://www.calumetfisheries.com/" rel="nofollow - Calumet Fisheries, Chicago )

    

    Thanks Brook.  Thanks Tas for the pics...that's essentially how I do it.  Although I don't separate the tail piece...this may be an idea that works well.  Thanks!

Dan I think going to an internal temp of 140°F is going to over cook your salmon. I would look for 125-130° at most. I aim for 125°.

-------------
Mark R


Posted By: Margi Cintrano
Date Posted: 22 February 2013 at 12:59

Brook,

 
Just wanted to let you know, that your feature on Fish is extraordinairely informative, and well written.
 
Thank you for contributing to Fotw ... I have to re-read parts ... once it is finished ...
 
Exemplary work ...
 
Margaux Cintrano.


-------------
Volamos a Mediterraneo, un paraiso que conquista su gente u su cocina.


Posted By: gonefishin
Date Posted: 22 February 2013 at 18:21
Originally posted by MarkR MarkR wrote:


Dan I think going to an internal temp of 140°F is going to over cook your salmon. I would look for 125-130° at most. I aim for 125°.


  Thanks Mark!  I'll certainly keep that in mind.  Perhaps the first time I smoke these I'll buy a couple of them and stagger the internal temperature...let them all completely cool and then try them side by side.  Thanks for the suggestions!

Dan


-------------
Enjoy The Food!


Posted By: Margi Cintrano
Date Posted: 23 February 2013 at 01:28

Daikon,

 
Good morning. Have not seen you online in several months ... Hope all is going well.
 
Red Snapper: this is a North American fish variety ... Though its family is the Bream, a Mediterranean and Bay of Biscay / northern European Atlantic variety; and the name is Sea Bream, which has a slight resemblance to Red Snapper with its lovely rose silver exterior ... It is a very delicate white fish predominately used in oven baking by the Basques, for Christmas Eve. It is quite a delicacy ...
 
 
There are several types of North American Bream varieties too; Alfonsismo from Hawaii.
 
If you come across this Bream family member; buy it ! It is absolutely lovely.
 
Have lovely wkend,
Margaux.


-------------
Volamos a Mediterraneo, un paraiso que conquista su gente u su cocina.


Posted By: Hoser
Date Posted: 23 February 2013 at 04:06
Originally posted by HistoricFoodie HistoricFoodie wrote:

Wow! That's really impressive.
 
Strange that I've never seen one before. Are they common in your part of the world?

Not all that common Brook...I looked long and hard when I first purchased it.

It sure is a time saver, especially if you're working with medium to large clams.


-------------
Go ahead...play with your food!


Posted By: HistoricFoodie
Date Posted: 23 February 2013 at 06:06

Well, if you come across another one, Dave, keep me in mind. I'd love to have one in my seafood kit.



Posted By: HistoricFoodie
Date Posted: 28 February 2013 at 21:53



<p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 10pt" =msonormal=""><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal"><span style="LINE-HEIGHT: 115%; FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif'; FONT-SIZE: 12pt">Part 7: Crustaceans<o:p></o:p></span>


<p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 10pt" =msonormal=""><span style="LINE-HEIGHT: 115%; FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif'; FONT-SIZE: 12pt">For the sake of discussion, crustaceans are sea creatures, other than shellfish, which have their hard skeletons on the outside. Most often this means crabs, lobsters, and crayfish. But for ease of classification, we’ll include shrimp and sea urchins as well. <o:p></o:p></span>


<p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt" =msonormal=""><span style="LINE-HEIGHT: 115%; FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif'; FONT-SIZE: 12pt">Shrimp. Taken as a group, it’s likely that shrimp are the most popular seafood eaten in America. Short of those unfortunates who suffer allergies, most people eat them in one form or another.<o:p></o:p></span>


<p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt" =msonormal=""><span style="LINE-HEIGHT: 115%; FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif'; FONT-SIZE: 12pt"><span style="mso-spacerun: yes">     </span>There are six species of shrimp, but they are all similar in appearance. Shrimp are found in both fresh and salt water, in a bewildering array of sizes from almost microscopic to a whopping 12 inches long. Other than size, shrimp and prawns are virtually indistinguishable, from a culinary viewpoint, so are treated as one group.<o:p></o:p></span>


<p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt" =msonormal=""><span style="LINE-HEIGHT: 115%; FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif'; FONT-SIZE: 12pt"><span style="mso-spacerun: yes">     </span>At market, shrimp are sold by a numeric scale, with the numbers referring to how many shrimp make up a pound. Thus, 31-35 would mean there are between 31 and 35 shrimp per pound. Obviously, the lowerr the number the lower the number of shrimp. Those tiny, so-called “salad” shrimp are usually rated as 100, to give you an idea. <o:p></o:p></span>


<p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt" =msonormal=""><span style="LINE-HEIGHT: 115%; FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif'; FONT-SIZE: 12pt"><span style="mso-spacerun: yes">     </span>Large shrimp that weigh-in less than 15 per pound will have a “U” in front of the number. That stands for “under.” U-12, for example, means there are less than (i.e., under) 12 of them per pound.<o:p></o:p></span>


<p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt" =msonormal=""><span style="LINE-HEIGHT: 115%; FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif'; FONT-SIZE: 12pt"><span style="mso-spacerun: yes">     </span>Words like “large” “jumbo” and so forth are marketing terms. Unless they are accompanied by the number scale such terms are meaningless, because each processor uses arbitrarily, as there are no standards. Thus, one processors “medium” can just easily be called “jumbo” by another. <o:p></o:p></span>


<p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt" =msonormal=""><span style="LINE-HEIGHT: 115%; FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif'; FONT-SIZE: 12pt"><span style="mso-spacerun: yes">     </span>Fresh shrimp should be clean looking, firm to the touch, and have no off odors. Frozen shrimp should be defrosted slowly, in the fridge. Defrosting them in cold water, as is sometimes recommended, will result in a loss of quality, often turning them mushy. <o:p></o:p></span>


<p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt" =msonormal=""><span style="LINE-HEIGHT: 115%; FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif'; FONT-SIZE: 12pt"><span style="mso-spacerun: yes">     </span>How you prep shrimp depends on the end use. For grilling and broiling, and sometimes poaching/boiling, the shells are left in place for cooking. Other times, the shells are removed ahead of time.<o:p></o:p></span>


<p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt" =msonormal=""><span style="LINE-HEIGHT: 115%; FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif'; FONT-SIZE: 12pt"><span style="mso-spacerun: yes">     </span>All wild shrimp have a dark “mud” vein running the length of their backs. This is actually the intestinal tract, and must be removed, because its content can add an off taste to the meat. Farmed shrimp often have the intestine empty of all matter, and, in fact, it often can’t be seen. Personally, I remove the veins from them anyway, even though it’s considered unnecessary. <o:p></o:p></span>


<p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt" =msonormal=""><span style="LINE-HEIGHT: 115%; FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif'; FONT-SIZE: 12pt"><span style="mso-spacerun: yes">     </span>There’s been a big push on the part of celebrity chefs to use head-on shrimp, supposedly because they have more flavor that way. Maybe so. But it terms of availability, most shrimp sold in America have been beheaded before going to market.<o:p></o:p></span>


<p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt" =msonormal=""><span style="LINE-HEIGHT: 115%; FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif'; FONT-SIZE: 12pt"><span style="mso-spacerun: yes">     </span>Many people struggle to both devein and peel shrimp. But it’s really kind of simple. First off, put your knife away. Using one is the slowest way of prepping shrimp.<o:p></o:p></span>


<p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt" =msonormal=""><span style="LINE-HEIGHT: 115%; FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif'; FONT-SIZE: 12pt"><span style="mso-spacerun: yes">     </span>I remember once, visiting my folks in Florida, and Mom had decided to make shrimp. She’d gotten three pounds of them, and had maybe half a pound peeled and deveined by the time we got there. I kicked her out of her own kitchen (which, in the culinary world, is known as having more balls than brains) and took over, finishing the balance in the same time it had taken her to do the first batch.<o:p></o:p></span>


<p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt" =msonormal=""><span style="LINE-HEIGHT: 115%; FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif'; FONT-SIZE: 12pt"><span style="mso-spacerun: yes">     </span>The difference? Mom was using a knife to cut the shells. Then, after peeling them, she’d cut down the backs to expose the veins, and remove them.<o:p></o:p></span>


<p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt" =msonormal=""><span style="LINE-HEIGHT: 115%; FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif'; FONT-SIZE: 12pt"><span style="mso-spacerun: yes">     </span>It’s much faster, and easier, to do all of that in one motion. Although there are tools made for this purpose (Friend Wife swears by hers), it’s just as easy to use the tine of a fork.<o:p></o:p></span>


<p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt" =msonormal=""><span style="LINE-HEIGHT: 115%; FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif'; FONT-SIZE: 12pt"><span style="mso-spacerun: yes">     </span>If you look at the face of the shrimp, where the head has been removed, you’ll see where the vein lies. Once you know the location you can proceed without even looking at it.<o:p></o:p></span>


<p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt" =msonormal=""><span style="LINE-HEIGHT: 115%; FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif'; FONT-SIZE: 12pt"><span style="mso-spacerun: yes">     </span>Put the point of the tine or deveining tool against the vein, and, holding the shrimp back towards the tail, push hard. As the tool moves forward it simultaneously lifts the vein and splits the shell. Most of the time the shell comes off at once as well. If not, peel any that remains away with your fingers. <o:p></o:p></span>


<p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt" =msonormal=""><span style="LINE-HEIGHT: 115%; FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif'; FONT-SIZE: 12pt"><span style="mso-spacerun: yes">     </span>It’s really that simple.<o:p></o:p></span>


<p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt" =msonormal=""><span style="LINE-HEIGHT: 115%; FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif'; FONT-SIZE: 12pt"><span style="mso-spacerun: yes">     </span>More difficult is to devein shrimp without cutting or tearing their backs. But many people prefer them that way.<o:p></o:p></span>


<p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt" =msonormal=""><span style="LINE-HEIGHT: 115%; FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif'; FONT-SIZE: 12pt"><span style="mso-spacerun: yes">     </span>Using a toothpick, stab the vein, crosswise, where it emerges from the front (where the head used to be). Then gently pull the vein out, being careful not to exert too much pressure or it will break off, leaving part of it in the shrimp.<o:p></o:p></span>


<p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt" =msonormal=""><span style="LINE-HEIGHT: 115%; FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif'; FONT-SIZE: 12pt"><span style="mso-spacerun: yes">     </span>Caution: This is all but impossible to achieve with previously frozen and defrosted shrimp because the veins often turn soft and mushy. <o:p></o:p></span>


<p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt" =msonormal=""><span style="LINE-HEIGHT: 115%; FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif'; FONT-SIZE: 12pt"><span style="mso-spacerun: yes">     </span>Many dishes, such as coconut shrimp, call for butterflying the prawns. While this can be time consuming it’s not difficult; certainly not as hard as many seem to think.<o:p></o:p></span>


<p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt" =msonormal=""><span style="LINE-HEIGHT: 115%; FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif'; FONT-SIZE: 12pt"><span style="mso-spacerun: yes">     </span>Butterflying works best with a small, sharp knife. Lay a shelled and deveined shrimp on its side, with the tail towards your left (assuming you are right handed). Then, following the line of the vein, slice the shrimp about ¾ the way through, opening it flat. That’s all she takes.<o:p></o:p></span>


<p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt" =msonormal=""><span style="LINE-HEIGHT: 115%; FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif'; FONT-SIZE: 12pt"><span style="mso-spacerun: yes">     </span>It should be obvious, but, the larger the shrimp the easier it is to butterfly. <o:p></o:p></span>


<p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt" =msonormal=""><span style="LINE-HEIGHT: 115%; FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif'; FONT-SIZE: 12pt"><span style="mso-spacerun: yes">     </span>For a really nice presentation, butterfly the shrimp with their tails left on and standing upwards. Cook them so they remain in that position and arrange them on a plate the same way. <o:p></o:p></span>


<p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt" =msonormal=""><span style="LINE-HEIGHT: 115%; FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif'; FONT-SIZE: 12pt"><span style="mso-spacerun: yes">     </span>It’s easy to overcook shrimp, particularly when using high-heat methods such as grilling and broiling. This often happens because you take too much time chasing them all over the grill or broiler pan. To avoid that try skewering them. That way, four or five shrimp form a group that is quickly and easily manipulated with tongs.<o:p></o:p></span>


<p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt" =msonormal=""><span style="LINE-HEIGHT: 115%; FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif'; FONT-SIZE: 12pt"><span style="mso-spacerun: yes">     </span>I like to use two skewers for each group. This assures that they all remain aligned, and that they don’t spin and twist when you move them. <o:p></o:p></span>


<p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt" =msonormal=""><span style="LINE-HEIGHT: 115%; FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif'; FONT-SIZE: 12pt"><o:p> </o:p></span>


<p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt" =msonormal=""><span style="LINE-HEIGHT: 115%; FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif'; FONT-SIZE: 12pt">Sea Urchins. Once all but unknown in the United States, sea urchins---the hedgehogs of the ocean---have been steadily gaining in popularity the past ten years or so. You can’t mistake them for anything else; they look like purple-colored balls covered with sharp spines. <o:p></o:p></span>


<p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt" =msonormal=""><span style="LINE-HEIGHT: 115%; FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif'; FONT-SIZE: 12pt"><span style="mso-spacerun: yes">     </span>While fabricating them is easy, handling them can be dangerous because of those spines. For that reason, and to make them more aesthetically pleasing, many people first trim the points with shears. On larger ones, that’s close to necessary. You can skip it on smaller ones, unless, as is often done, the shell is uses as a serving bowl for the final dish. If that’s the case, definitely trip the points. You don’t want your guests impaling themselves.<o:p></o:p></span>


<p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt" =msonormal=""><span style="LINE-HEIGHT: 115%; FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif'; FONT-SIZE: 12pt"><span style="mso-spacerun: yes">     </span>To clean them, hold the urchin in a towel or heavy glove, with the spines downwards. You’ll see a small hole in the bottom center. Insert one point of your shears in that hole and cut completely around the underside of the shell. Discard that piece.<o:p></o:p></span>


<p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt" =msonormal=""><span style="LINE-HEIGHT: 115%; FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif'; FONT-SIZE: 12pt"><span style="mso-spacerun: yes">     </span>Carefully spoon out the orange-colored roe sacks and transfer them to a bowl. Go easy with this, as they’re very fragile, and you usually want to keep them whole.<o:p></o:p></span>


<p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt" =msonormal=""><span style="LINE-HEIGHT: 115%; FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif'; FONT-SIZE: 12pt"><span style="mso-spacerun: yes">     </span>Scrape out and discard everything else inside the shell.<o:p></o:p></span>


<p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt" =msonormal=""><span style="LINE-HEIGHT: 115%; FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif'; FONT-SIZE: 12pt"><span style="mso-spacerun: yes">    </span>To me, sea urchin defines what the sea tastes like, and should be eaten raw. But the roe, or “uni” can be poached, or even pureed and added to sauces. <o:p></o:p></span>


<p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt" =msonormal=""><span style="LINE-HEIGHT: 115%; FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif'; FONT-SIZE: 12pt"><o:p> </o:p></span>


<p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt" =msonormal=""><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal"><span style="LINE-HEIGHT: 115%; FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif'; FONT-SIZE: 12pt">Coconut Shrimp with Sweet & Sour Sauce<o:p></o:p></span>


<p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt" =msonormal=""><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal"><span style="LINE-HEIGHT: 115%; FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif'; FONT-SIZE: 12pt"><o:p> </o:p></span>


<p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt" =msonormal=""><span style="LINE-HEIGHT: 115%; FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif'; FONT-SIZE: 12pt">1 lb large (16-20) shrimp<o:p></o:p></span>


<p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt" =msonormal=""><span style="LINE-HEIGHT: 115%; FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif'; FONT-SIZE: 12pt">Flour<o:p></o:p></span>


<p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt" =msonormal=""><span style="LINE-HEIGHT: 115%; FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif'; FONT-SIZE: 12pt">3 eggs<o:p></o:p></span>


<p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt" =msonormal=""><span style="LINE-HEIGHT: 115%; FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif'; FONT-SIZE: 12pt">2 tbls cream<o:p></o:p></span>


<p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt" =msonormal=""><span style="LINE-HEIGHT: 115%; FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif'; FONT-SIZE: 12pt">½ lb shredded, unsweetened coconut<o:p></o:p></span>


<p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt" =msonormal=""><span style="LINE-HEIGHT: 115%; FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif'; FONT-SIZE: 12pt">¼ cup flour<o:p></o:p></span>


<p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt" =msonormal=""><span style="LINE-HEIGHT: 115%; FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif'; FONT-SIZE: 12pt"><o:p> </o:p></span>


<p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt" =msonormal=""><span style="LINE-HEIGHT: 115%; FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif'; FONT-SIZE: 12pt">Peel the shrimp, leaving tails on. Butterfly them.<o:p></o:p></span>


<p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt" =msonormal=""><span style="LINE-HEIGHT: 115%; FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif'; FONT-SIZE: 12pt"><o:p> </o:p></span>


<p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt" =msonormal=""><span style="LINE-HEIGHT: 115%; FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif'; FONT-SIZE: 12pt">Set up a three-stand breading station. Put some flour in the first bowl. In the second beat the eggs and cream. In the third put the coconut, tossed with the quarter cup of flour.<o:p></o:p></span>


<p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt" =msonormal=""><span style="LINE-HEIGHT: 115%; FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif'; FONT-SIZE: 12pt"><o:p> </o:p></span>


<p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt" =msonormal=""><span style="LINE-HEIGHT: 115%; FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif'; FONT-SIZE: 12pt">Dredge the shrimp in flour, brushing off any excess. Dip them in the egg wash. Press them into the coconut, with the tails upwards, and sprinkle the tops with more coconut. You want a fairly heavy coat on each side of the shrimp.<o:p></o:p></span>


<p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt" =msonormal=""><span style="LINE-HEIGHT: 115%; FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif'; FONT-SIZE: 12pt"><o:p> </o:p></span>


<p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt" =msonormal=""><span style="LINE-HEIGHT: 115%; FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif'; FONT-SIZE: 12pt">Deep fry at 375F, 2-3 minutes, until brown and crispy.<o:p></o:p></span>


<p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt" =msonormal=""><span style="LINE-HEIGHT: 115%; FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif'; FONT-SIZE: 12pt"><o:p> </o:p></span>


<p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt" =msonormal=""><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal"><span style="LINE-HEIGHT: 115%; FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif'; FONT-SIZE: 12pt">Sweet & Sour Sauce<o:p></o:p></span>


<p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt" =msonormal=""><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal"><span style="LINE-HEIGHT: 115%; FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif'; FONT-SIZE: 12pt"><o:p> </o:p></span>


<p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt" =msonormal=""><span style="LINE-HEIGHT: 115%; FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif'; FONT-SIZE: 12pt">1 red bell pepper, chopped fine<o:p></o:p></span>


<p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt" =msonormal=""><span style="LINE-HEIGHT: 115%; FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif'; FONT-SIZE: 12pt">1 medium onion, chopped fine<o:p></o:p></span>


<p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt" =msonormal=""><span style="LINE-HEIGHT: 115%; FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif'; FONT-SIZE: 12pt">1 tomato, chopped fine<o:p></o:p></span>


<p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt" =msonormal=""><span style="LINE-HEIGHT: 115%; FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif'; FONT-SIZE: 12pt">1 cup tomato or V-8 juice<o:p></o:p></span>


<p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt" =msonormal=""><span style="LINE-HEIGHT: 115%; FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif'; FONT-SIZE: 12pt">1 ½ cups simple syrup or 1 cup light corn syrup<o:p></o:p></span>


<p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt" =msonormal=""><span style="LINE-HEIGHT: 115%; FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif'; FONT-SIZE: 12pt">¼ cup molasses<o:p></o:p></span>


<p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt" =msonormal=""><span style="LINE-HEIGHT: 115%; FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif'; FONT-SIZE: 12pt">1 tbls vinegar<o:p></o:p></span>


<p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt" =msonormal=""><span style="LINE-HEIGHT: 115%; FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif'; FONT-SIZE: 12pt">1 orange peeled and chopped fine<o:p></o:p></span>


<p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt" =msonormal=""><span style="LINE-HEIGHT: 115%; FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif'; FONT-SIZE: 12pt"><o:p> </o:p></span>


<p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt" =msonormal=""><span style="LINE-HEIGHT: 115%; FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif'; FONT-SIZE: 12pt">Steam pepper and onion in a little water until soft. Transfer to a saucepan. Add the other ingredients and bring to a simmer. Reduce the sauce to desired degree of thickness.<o:p></o:p></span>


<p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt" =msonormal=""><span style="LINE-HEIGHT: 115%; FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif'; FONT-SIZE: 12pt"><o:p> </o:p></span>


<p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt" =msonormal=""><span style="LINE-HEIGHT: 115%; FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif'; FONT-SIZE: 12pt">Spoon some of the sauce onto a serving plate. Arrange shrimp on the sauce, with their tails sticking upwards. <o:p></o:p></span>


<p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt" =msonormal=""><span style="LINE-HEIGHT: 115%; FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif'; FONT-SIZE: 12pt"><o:p> </o:p></span>


<p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt" =msonormal=""><span style="LINE-HEIGHT: 115%; FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif'; FONT-SIZE: 12pt"><o:p> </o:p></span>


<p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 10pt" =msonormal=""><span style="LINE-HEIGHT: 115%; FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif'; FONT-SIZE: 12pt"><span style="mso-spacerun: yes"> </span><o:p></o:p></span>


<p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt" =msonormal=""><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal"><span style="LINE-HEIGHT: 115%; FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif'; FONT-SIZE: 12pt"><o:p> </o:p></span>






-------------
But we hae meat and we can eat
And sae the Lord be thanket


Posted By: Hoser
Date Posted: 01 March 2013 at 01:47
Originally posted by HistoricFoodie HistoricFoodie wrote:

Well, if you come across another one, Dave, keep me in mind. I'd love to have one in my seafood kit.


These openers are now being treated somewhat as an antique Brook...they were imported by Hoffritz and most were made in Italy as I recall. I've had mine since around 1976 or so and have not seen many since then. 

I do know that they are available on ebay  http://www.ebay.com/itm/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=121071114787" rel="nofollow - http://www.ebay.com/itm/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=121071114787
I'll certainly keep my eyes open for one Brook! Thumbs Up


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Go ahead...play with your food!


Posted By: HistoricFoodie
Date Posted: 01 March 2013 at 09:42

Part 8: Crustaceans Continued

Crabs: Crabs are found all over the world, in a diversity of sizes from the tiny oyster- and sand-crabs, to the monsters of the northern seas; spider- and king crabs.

 With minor differences in appearance, crabs generally follow the same body structure, consisting of a hard top shell, called a carapace, a softer (but still hard) belly shell, a tail that folds under the bottom shell, called an apron, and eight legs, two of which have been modified into claws with most species. There also are a pair of swim fins in the back.

     Crabs grow by shedding their shells. When they do that they are particularly vulnerable for a few days until the new shell hardens. For that period after the moult they are called “softies,” or, more correctly, soft-shelled crabs.

     Hard shell and soft shell crabs are prepped differently. Let’s start with the hard shelled versions, because those are the more commonly available.

     Rule one: Always start with live crabs. Dead ones spoil very quickly, and eating them can cause illnesses.

     Most of the time crabs are cooked whole. They’re then just eaten that way, or the meat is picked out and used in other dishes, such as crab cakes. Some recipes, particularly seafood stews, do call for raw crabs as an ingredient.

     Whether alive of pre-cooked, the fabricating process is the same. You might want to put the live ones in the freezer for about an hour, first, as it makes them more docile and easier to handle.

     If serving them whole, leave the claws in place. If not, break them off where they emerge from the shells. To remove the meat, crack the pinchers with a nutcracker, and pick out the meat with a seafood pick or cocktail fork. Don’t forget the nugget found at the knuckle. And there’s good meat in the balance of the leg as well.

     Of the three types of meat found in a crab (claw, backfin, and lump), claw meat is considered the least desirable because of its coarse texture. But all that is relative; the meat is still good. And is sometimes the required part, as when making crab fingers.

     Snap off the remaining legs. Turn the crab on its back. You’ll see the apron, centered between the swimming fins, lying flat against the bottom shell. Lift it up, and break it off.

     By the way, if you care about such things, you can sex the crabs by the shape of the apron. Broad, shield-shaped aprons indicate females, whereas long, thin, pointed aprons identify males.

     Once the apron is removed there’s a sort of slit between the two shells. Using your thumbs in the slit, and your fingers on either side, sharply snap the shells apart. The top shell will come away clean. Unless you intend using it as a serving dish, discard it.

     Set the bottom half down with the innards exposed. What you’ll see immediately are the straining gills; a set of slightly curved fingers, overlapping the intestinal tract from each side. Colloquially these are called “dead man’s fingers.” And for good reason. Toxins collect in them, and if you eat them you can become incredibly sick; to the point of dying. So be sure and discard them.

     Once they’re out of the way you’ll see the rest of the innards, including the liver. That’s considered a delicacy in some cuisines, and you can reserve it if you wish. Most people discard it, along with everything else in the body cavity.

     What’s left is an empty central cavity, flanked on each side by a series of compartments, each of which contains the crab meat.

     If you’re using the crab uncooked, at this stage give the shell a rinse, and cut it in half, tail to head.

     With cooked crab you’re now going to recover the meat. This requires a seafood pick and patience. Basically you’re going to use the pick to draw the meat out of those compartments. The walls of the compartments are cartilage, incidentally, which sometimes breaks off and gets mixed with the meat. If you see any, pick it out and discard it. It’s inedible, and has an off-putting mouth feel. One sign of good crabmeat, in fact, is that it is cartilage free.

     As you remove the meat you’ll notice different textures. The first one or two compartments towards the back will have meat that’s flaky and stringy. That’s called “backfin,” because it’s located next to the swim fins. As you move further forward the meat comes out in big pieces. This is the preferred “lump” crabmeat. On larger crabs, the central compartment will yield a really nice chunk. This is the “jumbo lump.” Because there’s so little of it, you can understand why it commands such high prices at the fish monger.

     Although it’s a pain in the fingers to recover, the legs do contain meat. Using the nutcracker and picks you can recover it. Most people do not bother, except with the larger varieties of crab.

     If you’re reserving the top shells as serving dishes, wash them well with soap, hot water, and a scouring brush to assure no bits of flesh are left behind. I doesn’t hurt to dip them in a sanitizer while you’re at it. Let them air dry completely, then store away.

     These crab-shell dishes are often used when making things like deviled crab and crab imperial.

 

Softies are cleaned in a totally different manner. Due to chemical and hormonal changes, the shell and cartilage become edible at that stage. All you want to do is remove the body organs.

     Hold the crab by sandwiching it between your fingers and thumb by the back. Look at the front. You’ll see the crab’s face, including its eyes and mouth. You’ll only have to do this once, to know how to locate it.

     Using shears, cut off the face, behind the eyes. Then remove the innards.

     I’ve been told you can do this by lifting the apron and pulling outwards. All the guts and body organs will come out in a line. Could be. But I’ve never done it that way, nor do I know anybody who has.

     The more typical method is to hold the crab by the swim fins. Then give it a sharp, downward snap. Inertial will force all the innards out through the cut you made when removing the face.

     Obviously, this is a job best done outdoors, or over a fairly large tub, to prevent making a mess in the house.

     Spider and king crabs are marketed by selling the claws, only. Almost always they are pre-cooked as well. So the only required prep work is to break the shells with a set of nutcrackers.

    

Fried Stuffed Hard Crabs

A perennial problem for crab aficionados is whether to have crab cakes or to just enjoy whole cooked crabs. The folks in Baltimore have a different attitude: why choose, when you can have both? That’s how this dish originated.

     Note that the “breading” for this dish is pancake batter. You can either mix your own or just use a commercial mix.

 

1 lb lump crabmeat

½ cup fresh breadcrumbs

1 large egg

¼ cup mayonnaise

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp pepper

1 tsp Worcestershire

1 tsp dry mustard

1 tbls Old Bay seasoning

12 large Blue Claw crabs

6 cups pancake mix

4 tsp Old Bay seasoning

3-4 cups milk

Oil for frying

 

Remove all cartilage from crabmeat.

 

In a bowl combine the breadcrumbs, eggs, mayo, and seasonings. Add the crabmeat and mix gently but thoroughly, trying to not break up the crab pieces. If mixture is too dry add a bit more mayo.

 

Note: At this point you have the makings of a Maryland style crab cake.

 

Put the pancake mix and Old Bay in a large bowl. Stir in enough milk to make a thick pancake batter.

 

Remove the apron, top shell, and innards of the crabs. Firmly pack about a quarter cup of the crab cake mixture into the body cavity of each crab.

 

Dip crabs in batter, one at a time, making sure to coat all sides. Lift the crab by a large claw and let the excess batter drip back into the bowl.

 

Fry in deep fat, at 375F, until golden brown on all sides, 3-4 minutes.



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But we hae meat and we can eat
And sae the Lord be thanket


Posted By: TasunkaWitko
Date Posted: 01 March 2013 at 10:06
The Beautiful Mrs. Tas LOVES crab, Brook - in fact, I suspect that she loves crab more than she loves me!Shocked 
 
I'll have to put some of this to use for her - our available crab is frozen rather than fresh, and always looks like it's 2 or 3 years old, even if it isn't. The other alternative is the "imitation" crab, which is good, however - it's just not the same.....
 
Many thanks for posting!


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Posted By: HistoricFoodie
Date Posted: 01 March 2013 at 10:53
Something else to put on your list when you visit the big city, Ron.
 
Crab is easily pasturized. When we buy it locally, that's how we get it. It's packed in 1-pound containers, and is available as claw, lump, and jumbo lump. It's likely you'll find it that way at seafood counters down there.
 
It ain't cheap, though. Most recently the lump was $22/pound. Jumbo lump pushed the $30 mark. Even the claw was expensive; something like $17.
 
We don't buy it too often. Instead we make periodic vacation trips to the coast, and catch & process our own.
 
Frozen is exponentially better than the canned stuff, though. OMG! Talk about underqualitied and over priced. One experience with canned crab was two too many.
 
Meanwhile, if the lovely and vivacious Mrs Tas is interested in recipes, let me know. Crab is one of our favorite seafoods, and I have dozens of recipes using it.
 
Another word for the imitation crab is "pollack." We happen to prefer our finned fishes straight, rather than processed into imitation anything. So we never use the faux crab.


Posted By: HistoricFoodie
Date Posted: 02 March 2013 at 09:13

Part 9: Crustations Completed

We’ll complete of conversation about crustations with lobsters, and lobster-shaped critters. In the interests of full disclosure, this will likely be the shortest chapter of this primer because I have never broken down a live lobster. I know how it’s done, in general. But if there are nuances and subtleties they are unknown to me.

Lobsters, in various forms, are found worldwide, ranging from freshwater crayfish, to the clawless spiny and rock lobsters of southern waters, to the royalty among them, the American or Maine lobster.

Visually, langostini could be included in that group. I’m going to ignore them, however, for two reasons: First, most of us here at FotW will never even see one; they are rarely seen any further than the major East Coast cities, and are expensive when they do appear; and, second, culinarily they are treated more like shrimp than like lobsters.

Crayfish: The smallest of the lobsters, crayfish have been gaining in popularity the past decade or so. As a result, they are more available in places you wouldn’t expect to find them.

     Unless you trap your own (which isn’t difficult), it is unlikely that you’ll ever eat a wild crayfish. Those sold in markets are farmed in Louisiana, parts of Arkansas, and China. Markets carry them both live and precooked, or frozen. Personally, unless I really knew the fishmonger well, I would no more buy a precooked crayfish than I’d buy a dead oyster.

     Like all lobsters, the meat is found in the tail and claws. But there are other edible parts as well, including the roe (sometimes called the coral) and the liver (aka tomalley).

     As with crabs, crayfish are almost always cooked. They’re then eaten just like that (in a ceremony called “sucking heads and biting tails,”), or the meat is recovered to use in other dishes. Raw crayfish meat is recovered from the tails only.

     Whether cooked or raw, the process is the same. Break off the head, just behind the thorax. Then use a seafood pick to pull the meat out of the tail. With raw crayfish there’s a blob of fat in there as well. Be sure to recover it, as it’s incredibly flavorful, to begin with, and is necessary for certain classic dishes as well.

     As an alternative to a pick, you can use scissors to cut the under shell of the tail and pick out the meat with your fingers. The preferred method is whichever is faster and easier for you.

     To be sure, there is a little lump of meat in the claw. But most people do not bother recovering it, as it’s hardly worth the effort.

 

Spiny lobsters. Known also as rock lobster and South African lobster, these lack the large claws of the American, so only the tails are used. They are available raw, cooked, and frozen.

     Lobster tails are most often broiled or baked, and it’s very easy to overcook them. For that reason, any fabrication should be done after cooking. The best presentation is to split the under shell with shears. Then work the tail out so it sits on top of the shell, appearing to be attached at the tail end.

     Whole spiny lobsters are sometimes available in the Gulf states. Treat them the same as crayfish.

 

American lobster: The largest of the breed, and the most in demand in North America, lobsters can grow to a hundred pounds if given enough time and forage. The market size is generally 1 ¼-3 pounds. Hallmark of the American lobster is, of course, the large, meat-filled pincher claws.

     There is one difference between American lobsters, in general, and Maine lobsters in particular. And that has to do with size. The U.S. and Canada are the two primary sources of these lobsters. But, because Canadian regulations allow harvesting them much smaller than do U.S. regs, if it’s called a Maine lobster it must, by law, come from New England waters.

     Other than that there is no difference between them.

     Due to fighting or other accidents, lobsters sometimes lose a claw. In the wild it will regenerate over time. But harvested lobsters missing a claw are sold as “culls.” If you’re not interested in the aesthetics, you can save considerable money by buying culls.

     Lobster meat is very delicate, and suffers greatly by overcooking---it which case it turns tough and rubbery. For that reason, lobsters are most often cooked with the shells in place, particularly if high-heat methods, such as broiling and grilling are being used. Probably the most common use of lobster is to boil it whole just until the shell turns red. It is then served like that, with a pick and nutcracker for each diner, or processed further.

     Fabricating a live lobster consists, primarily, by splitting it. Put the lobster in the freezer, first, for about an hour. Doing so makes it go dormant.

     Lay the lobster flat on your work surface, backside up. Holding it by the tail section, split the head down the center from the thorax forward. Turn the lobster around and continue cutting down the tail.

     This, obviously, results in two equal halves. You can cook it like that (usually broiling or grilling), or recover the meat for other uses.

     The advantage to splitting the lobster is that it exposes the roe and tomalley, which many people consider great delicacies.

     Very often, when served that way, the claws are detached and served separately. In that case they should be cracked ahead of time with a nutcracker or seafood mallet.

 

This by no means exhausts the kinds of seafood available. Octopus, squid, and cuttlefish, for instance, or eaten worldwide. So, too, are eels, skates, sharks, and other fishes. But because most of us will never see them except already cleaned and prepped, fabricating them goes beyond the scope of a primer.

 

I’m going to complete this primer with one of my more popular recipes. Seafood types combine readily with each other, and you often see finned fish combined with shellfish, or two or more shellfish combined in a dish. This recipe is, perhaps, the ultimate in that idea.

 

One cautionary note: Although it uses readily available ingredients, there are several techniques involved. So don’t embark on this recipe unless you have the time and patience to devote to it.

 

Some background on how the recipe came about might be interesting.

 

One day I decided to develop a seafood sausage recipe. Essentially you combine various seafoods and other flavorings into a forcemeat, wrap portions of that in plastic wrap to form logs, and poach them in stock.

 

Shortly after I’d finalized my mix I saw Cat Cora make what she called Seafood Corn Dogs. She made a seafood puree, transferred it to a pastry bag with a large tip, and piped the mixture directly into simmering stock, to form the “hotdogs.” She inserted a skewer into each one, batter dipped them, and deep fried the whole thing.

 

“Wow!” I thought. “That would work great with my sausage mix. Instead of logs, however, I poached the mixture in balls, inserted them on sticks, and dipped them in a cornmeal-based beer batter.

 

Later on I realized that there was no need to insert the sticks before frying. Instead, I deep fry the balls first.

 

Seafood Lollipops With Peach Gastrique

 

1 lb raw shrimp, peeled and deveined

½ lb salmon (or other fish of your choice)

6 oz cooked crab meat

12 oz cooked crayfish tails, coarsely chopped

6 oysters, drained (optional)

1 large shallot, minced

1 tsp fennel seed, coarsely ground

1 tbls dry tarragon

2 tbls broad-leaf parsley, minced

¾ tsp white pepper, ground

2 egg whites

2 tbls cream

Fish stock for poaching

Cornstarch for dusting

Beer batter for breading

Oil for deep frying

 

Cut the salmon in small pieces. Toss with the shrimp, crabmeat, oyster if using, tarragon, parsley, fennel seed and white pepper so the spices are evenly distributed. Run mixture through the medium plate of a grinder, or pulse in a food processor.

 

Mix in the crayfish tails as evenly as possible.

 

Lightly beat egg whites with cream. Incorporate into seafood mixture.

 

In a saucepan or deep skillet bring enough stock to cover the balls to a simmer.

 

Using an appropriately sized disher, or a pair of soup spoons, drop balls of the mixture into the simmering stock, rolling them to avoid flat spots as much as possible. Poach for a minute or two, just long enough for the balls to form a skin. Drain the balls and let cool.

 

Dust the balls with cornstarch, shaking off any excess. Dip the balls in beer batter until well coated. Deep fry at 350-375F until golden brown and crispy. Drain well.

 

Insert a stick into each ball. Arrange on a serving plate and drizzle with peach gastrique.

 

Beer Batter

 

1 cup cornmeal

½ cup all-purpose flour

Salt, pepper, and powdered garlic to taste

1 tbls baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tbls sugar

1 cup (approx.) beer

 

Combine the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Slowly whisk in enough beer to form a pancake-like batter.

 

Peach Gastrique

 

1 cup peach nectar or peach cider (preferred)

¼ cup red wine vinegar

1 tbls brown sugar

 

In a saucepan combine the peach nectar and brown sugar. Reduce by half. Add the vinegar and reduce until syrupy.



Posted By: africanmeat
Date Posted: 02 March 2013 at 11:36
I don't have words i am Speechless thanks thanks .
what a great post .




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Ahron


Posted By: gonefishin
Date Posted: 02 March 2013 at 12:08
    Hi Brook, I was away from the house much of the last couple of days...so I haven't had time to properly digest all of the information you have posted recently.  Upon a quick read of ALL the great information you posted on shellfish and crustaceans, it seemed to focus on the varying types and how to clean and prep the little guys for cooking.  The idea you shared for De-veining shell on shrimp is nearly revolutionary!  I am wondering if you have any precautionary advice for cooking any of these lovely little morsels.

   I know when I'm cooking shrimp, scallops, lobster, spiny lobster I always watch so I don't overcook the food.  Good fresh shrimp has such a wonderful texture when you bite into them.  But overcooking them with heat or acid can give you an undesirable texture and loss of flavor (much like overcooking the flavor out of beef, chicken, etc). 

   If sauteing the shrimp/scallops in a pan, to be the star of the dish, I'll start with a decent amount of heat on the pan.  In goes my oil of choice and I cook on one side until I get good color on the side being cooked.  Then I often flip them and remove the pan off of the heat and let the remaining heat in the pan cook the other side of the shrimp/scallop in a more gentle manner.

   This method may not fit all cooking situations, but it allows the shrimp/scallop to be cooked through, without overcooking.  Plus, once you flip the shrimp/scallops and remove the pan from the heat it gives you a nice bit of time to finish another part of the preparation. 


   (also) On Crawfish - I want to start trapping my own crawfish throughout the year.  We've got plenty of them around in specific rivers and creeks and it seems like a waste not to come home every couple of days with a handful of crawfish to put atop a dish.  I know nothing about trapping crawfish and need to first find out if there is a season for trapping them, I'll check with the DNR.

   Is there anything I should know about wild crawfish that you can think of?


  Thanks
Dan

  

  


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Enjoy The Food!


Posted By: HistoricFoodie
Date Posted: 02 March 2013 at 13:51
Let me start with the last part first, Dan.
 
Although there are specific crawfish traps, I've found that a minnow trap works just as well. Bait it with meat protein---chicken necks and backs work great.
 
Basically, it's no different than trapping crabs. The crayfish enter the conical openings in the minnow trap and can't find their way out.
 
One caution: Water snakes often find their way into the traps. So don't be startled when that happens.
 
I would also transfer the crawdads to a tub of clean water, for a day or two, so they can purge themselves.
 
I don't know about year 'round, though. Crawfish go semi domant in the winter, burying themselves in the mud or in crevices between the rocks. They do little feeding during that period.  So trying to trap them might just be an exercize in futility.


Posted By: HistoricFoodie
Date Posted: 02 March 2013 at 14:00
..... it seemed to focus on the varying types and how to clean and prep the little guys for cooking. 
 
That was the point of the primer, Dan. It's primary focus is on fabricating fish and seafood, in order to get it ready for cooking.
 
If there's interest shown, I can do another on the various ways of cooking fish and seafood.
 
Your point about overcooking cannot be stressed enough. Even chefs and cookbook authors who should know better often provide cooking times that are far too long.
 
Shrimp is a perfect example. There is no reason to ever cook them more than about three minutes. The higher the heat source (i.e., grilling and broiling) the easier it is to over cook them. One of the reasons I like to skewer shrimp being grilled is so that they don't get away from me, timewise, while chasing them all over the grill.
 
For finned fishes, the general rule is ten minutes per inch of thickness at the thickest point. A whole trout, therefore, might require 20 minutes of cooking, while a filet from that same fish might only need six or eight minutes.


Posted By: MarkR
Date Posted: 02 March 2013 at 14:12
The only thing I would add to the shrimp section, if you are catching wild shrimp yourself it is best to freeze them before using them. If you used them straight from the water their shells are murder to remove. We do a lot of wading shrimping on the flats around here.
Even shrimp coming straight from the boat have been on ice (and salt) long enough to do the trick.
Since I can get them I do prefer head on shrimp...if I am going to boil them, otherwise I don't think it matters much.

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Mark R


Posted By: HistoricFoodie
Date Posted: 02 March 2013 at 15:34
Interesting point about fresh shrimp and their shells, Mark. I didn't know that.
 
Only time I've even handled straight-from-the-water shrimp was as bait, and peeling them was not an issue.


Posted By: MarkR
Date Posted: 02 March 2013 at 16:28
Originally posted by HistoricFoodie HistoricFoodie wrote:

Interesting point about fresh shrimp and their shells, Mark. I didn't know that.
Only time I've even handled straight-from-the-water shrimp was as bait, and peeling them was not an issue.

Unless you catch and cook wild shrimp, you would not make the mistake! Lesson learned the hard way, 5lbs of tough love! Then have to listen to my buds laugh....

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Mark R


Posted By: Margi Cintrano
Date Posted: 02 March 2013 at 16:45
 
Gentlemen, Good Evening,
 
 
 
I would like to show you a fresh Jumbo Iberian Shrimp, called a Crevette which is indigenious on the Galician Northwest Coast of the Iberian Peninsula up to the French Brittany Coast in northwest France ...
 
The fishermen place them on top of ice, to transport them; not in ice ...
 
This is one of the most exquisite shrimps in the world ...
 
 


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Volamos a Mediterraneo, un paraiso que conquista su gente u su cocina.


Posted By: gonefishin
Date Posted: 02 March 2013 at 17:57
Originally posted by HistoricFoodie HistoricFoodie wrote:

..... it seemed to focus on the varying types and how to clean and prep the little guys for cooking. 
 
That was the point of the primer, Dan. It's primary focus is on fabricating fish and seafood, in order to get it ready for cooking.
 
If there's interest shown, I can do another on the various ways of cooking fish and seafood.
 


First off, thanks for the crayfish advice...I can't wait to give it a try. 



  Second, You're exactly right about this being a "primer"...You even named it correctly.  I suppose I may have been getting ahead of myself.  I would certainly think there would be enough interest (these primers of yours are incredibly useful!).  But please take your time, the worst thing that could happen is you get burnt out. 

    Thanks a ton!
Dan


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Enjoy The Food!


Posted By: Hoser
Date Posted: 03 March 2013 at 05:31
I'll tell you what....I can hardly wait to try that fork method of deveining those little buggers!
What a great idea.Thumbs Up


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Go ahead...play with your food!


Posted By: HistoricFoodie
Date Posted: 03 March 2013 at 06:15
Just make sure it's a long-tined fork, Dave. Not one of those modern, stylized ones.
 
Wish I could take credit for the idea. But I learned in many years ago from a TV chef. Been so long I can't even remember who it was---Justin Wilson, perhaps? But I've been doing it that way ever since.
 
This marks the first time I've ever shared it in public, though.
 
Wish I'd known it the time I'd bought 16 pounds of rock shrimp in Haymarket Square. The vendor had them packed 4 pounds up, and was down to his last four bags, and it was pushing four PM. So, he said, if I took them all I could have 'em for four bucks---which even in 1969 was a hellova good price.
 
Cleaning 16 pounds of any kind of shrimp would have been a chore. You can imagine what it was like with Rock shrimp.


Posted By: MarkR
Date Posted: 03 March 2013 at 07:03
I use a shrimp deveiner (sp?), Mine is a one piece red plastic tool similar to this

They should be available at a BB&B. They really do make the process much faster!

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Mark R


Posted By: HistoricFoodie
Date Posted: 03 March 2013 at 08:01
That's similar to the one Friend Wife swears by, Mark. Her's is a slightly different configuration, but also red plastic. I wonder if that's a rule? Approve
 
I've nothing against them. But once I learned the fork-tine trick I failed to see their necessity. Essentially they work the same way.


Posted By: MarkR
Date Posted: 03 March 2013 at 08:56
The difference is that there is no stop a the end of the tine. With larger shrimp it works better, faster. I have used a fork though, works just fine.

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Mark R


Posted By: Margi Cintrano
Date Posted: 03 March 2013 at 09:22

Brook,

 
Why don´t you share the beautiful encrusted pistachio crumb sautéed fish recipe you had posted in Turkish section if I recall correctly or Southeast USA ?  
 
I had prepared it with both fresh sea bass and fresh cod, and it was delightful ... The Turkish use almonds, as they are almond producters, and in Napoli they employ walnuts; however, I used pistachios ...
 
It was incredible.
Margaux.
 


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Volamos a Mediterraneo, un paraiso que conquista su gente u su cocina.


Posted By: MarkR
Date Posted: 03 March 2013 at 09:40
Originally posted by HistoricFoodie HistoricFoodie wrote:

That's similar to the one Friend Wife swears by, Mark. Her's is a slightly different configuration, but also red plastic. I wonder if that's a rule? Approve
 

I've nothing against them. But once I learned the fork-tine trick I failed to see their necessity. Essentially they work the same way.

Funny, when my family moved here from Louisiana in 1955, my father brought a wood shrimp deveiner with him that was just like my red one. Of course made of wood, not plastic, but the same shape and size. It broke long ago and he replaced it with a red one that I still have. I bought a new one so I don't have to use his. I have seen metal ones. They (red plastic) are very common here.

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Mark R


Posted By: HistoricFoodie
Date Posted: 10 March 2013 at 20:29
Dan and others have asked if I'd do sort of a companion primer to this one on cooking seafood.
 
Been racking my brains out trying to come up with a format. Trouble is, other than the ease in which fish and seafood can be overcooked, the methods aren't really special most of the time.
 
Pan frying, for instance, is the same technique whether the protein is fish, chicken, or steak. Ditto on all the standards cooking methods.
 
So, if anyone has a suggestion on how to organize such a primer so it pertains just to, or primarily to, seafood cooking techniques, I'd be overjoyed to hear it.
 
Or, if there are specific questions, I'll be happy to take a shot at answering them.


Posted By: Hoser
Date Posted: 11 March 2013 at 01:27
Well, other than "en pappilotte" (sp?) I don't know of any technique that is usually considered to be exclusively for fish or vegetables.

Like you mentioned Brook...once a technique or particular skill has been mastered, it just applies to whatever dish you're trying.

I mean....a braise is a braise and always will be.

I think it would be barking up the wrong tree to try to come up with something like that.
just my 2 cents anyway...I'll think on it a bit more.


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Go ahead...play with your food!


Posted By: HistoricFoodie
Date Posted: 11 March 2013 at 07:10
That's my feeling as well, Dave.
 
Heck, I've even seen chicken done en pappilotte. I don't think there are any exclusive techniques.  In cookery, especially, if it can be done, somebody has done it.
 
Only thing I've never seen done with anything but fish is cooking in a salt dome.
 
I even tried isolating those techniques and methods that are mostly used with seafood. No joy there either. There are too few of them to matter. In fact, we've just mentioned both of them.


Posted By: gonefishin
Date Posted: 11 March 2013 at 09:01
   Hoser, I like your thinking guy at the bottom of the post.


Originally posted by HistoricFoodie HistoricFoodie wrote:

Dan and others have asked if I'd do sort of a companion primer to this one on cooking seafood.
 
Been racking my brains out trying to come up with a format. Trouble is, other than the ease in which fish and seafood can be overcooked, the methods aren't really special most of the time.
 
Pan frying, for instance, is the same technique whether the protein is fish, chicken, or steak. Ditto on all the standards cooking methods.
 
So, if anyone has a suggestion on how to organize such a primer so it pertains just to, or primarily to, seafood cooking techniques, I'd be overjoyed to hear it.
 
Or, if there are specific questions, I'll be happy to take a shot at answering them.


   I don't know Brook...some things that were in my mind were on the line of methods and things to watch for while cooking X (say shrimp).  Shrimp and scallops seem to cook in similar manners.  You don't want to overcook...but can get away with getting good color on one side and gently finishing off heat on the other side.  While there may be other methods to cook them (to get good color on both sides) I think this drives home the idea of finish them gently or watch them carefully if your using an aggressive method on the second side.

   While the shrimp example may be a very simple idea that can be wide known, cooking squid, octopus, cuttlefish is not as common.  Plus, you have two very different options of cooking (short, long) that offer you different things to watch for.

   Proper ceviche methods and why you don't want to take it too far.  How to recognize when enough is enough.  Smoking methods for fish.  Yes, adding smoke flavors are beneficial...but you also want to bring the fish up to certain temperatures not seen in other methods...brine or not when smoking. 

   I do see your point though.  Many of the items I brought up can be dealt with as separate specific questions.  After you posed the question I'm not sure if any entire primer is warranted.

  I'll think on it
   (insert Hosers cool thinker pic here)
   


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Enjoy The Food!


Posted By: HistoricFoodie
Date Posted: 11 March 2013 at 09:11
I think that would be the way to go, Dan, with each question (or related questions) running as separate threads.
 
Your point about the celepods (sp?) is particularly on track. They get cooked for either less than 2 minutes or more than 20. Anything inside that slot produces tough, rubbery food. For many years I used calamari as the test of a restaurant for that reason. If the squid was served tough or rubbery I knew the kitchen needed work.
 
I'm with you on Dave's thinker. What a great emoticon!


Posted By: HistoricFoodie
Date Posted: 17 April 2013 at 18:45
With fishing seasons about to open, thought I'd bump this for new members who might have missed it.


Posted By: TasunkaWitko
Date Posted: 18 April 2013 at 08:35
Perfect timing, Brook ~ my first few trout of the year are usually smoked, and this year I am going to want to dedicate some to attempting http://foodsoftheworld.activeboards.net/trucha-a-la-navarra_topic472.html" rel="nofollow - truchas a Navarra ; however, once I satisfy those cravings, I will be exploring the wold of fish a little more this year, and your primer will be an outstanding source of instruction and inspiration!

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Posted By: HistoricFoodie
Date Posted: 10 May 2015 at 09:03
Just wanted to add a few thoughts regarding shellfish.

Dan had asked, and I somehow missed it, how to hold shellfish until needed.

Keep in mind that shellfish have to breathe and be kept cool. If the fishmonger puts them in a plastic bag, make sure he punches some holes in it. Shaved ice should be in a separate bag.

If you're not using them right away, transfer them to a bowl. Set the bowl on a second bowl filled with ice. Cover the shellfish with a dampened kitchen towel and put the whole thing in the fridge.

I've help clams and mussels this way for as much as three days.

Have you ever watched celebrity chefs steam shellfish? They dump them in a pot and, lo and behold, all of a sudden they've all opened at the same time.

Bzzt! Wrong! Thanks for playing!

The reality is, shellfish open in their own good time. For instance, when I made Thai Clams With Toasted Chili Sauce the other night, some of the clams opened in only 8 minutes. Others took more like 14. That's enough of a difference to overcook the early-opening ones and turn them rubbery.

Shellfish should be removed from the heat as soon as they open. This is especially important with mussels, but applies to all shellfish.

So monitor the steaming shellfish, removing the open ones right away and transferring them to a bowl. When the last ones open you can, if needed, put all the others back in the pot for a minute of so, just to reheat them.

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But we hae meat and we can eat
And sae the Lord be thanket



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