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TIP OF THE DAY: How To Ensure The Tastiest Lobster

Live Lobster
[1] Fresh from the trap, freshly arrived at the restaurant (photo courtesy I Love Blue Sea).

Lobster Dinner
[2] No matter the original color of the lobster shell, it will cook up bright red (photo courtesy Sydney Fish Market).

Lobster Dinner

[3] Dining alfresco at Cliff House in Maine (photo courtesy Destination Hotels).

 

Have you had your fill of lobster this summer?

(Does anyone ever have his or her fill of lobster?)

We’ve previously written about how to buy a lobster from the tank, if you’re taking it home to cook.

If you’re planning to enjoy a lobster dinner at a restaurant, here are tips from a restaurant chef who specializes in lobster.

When we first heard about Chef Shell, we thought it was a nickname complimenting his expertise with shellfish.

However, he actually is Executive Chef Rick Shell, who oversees all culinary operations at Cliff House in Maine.

If you’ve ever sprung for a pricey restaurant lobster, only to have it not live up to your expectations—not sweet, not tender—here is his advice.

Lobster can evoke both casual and sophisticated dining memories. You can be at a picnic table, cracking lobster claws while sipping a cold microbrew; or at the most expensive restaurant in town, dining on lobster risotto with shaved black truffles.

“There is no right or wrong way to enjoy this gift from the ocean,” says Chef Shell.

But there are ways to ensure your lobster is memorable when you dine at a restaurant, he advises:

Weight. Always choose 1-pound lobsters. The meat is the sweetest. Do not venture past the 1.5-pound mark. It’s better to have two smaller lobsters than a larger one. And those big lobsters, that look so impressive and portend a great experience? The least sweet, with the toughest meat.

Preparation. Chef Shell boils the lobster, then places it on a wood fire to roast in the shell. Ask your server how the lobsters are prepared to compare techniques at different establishments.

Chewiness. Lobster should be like velvet, not chewy or tough. Chef shell advises that the usual culprit is overcooking. You can’t tell if the lobster is overcooked until you take a bite, so tell your server to relay that the kitchen should err on the side of undercooking instead of overcooking. In other words: You want soft, succulent meat.

Venue. Pick a place that sells a lot of lobsters: a good seafood restaurant. Even a steak house may be iffy. Look around: If you don’t see lobsters at many tables, it isn’t a fast-mover. It is more likely to be overcooked if the kitchen doesn’t turn them out in numbers; and if it’s a lobster tail instead of a whole lobster, it may come from the freezer.

HOW TO EAT A WHOLE LOBSTER

More tips from Chef Shell:

  • First twist the tail off over a bowl, to catch all of the sweet rich goodness of tomalley (the soft, green substance found in the body cavity of lobsters, that fulfills the functions of both the liver and the pancreas). It is a delicacy that lobster-lovers adore.
  • Flip the tail over and slide the meat out. Eat the tail meat first and let the claws stay intact. This helps to keep them warmer until you’re ready for them. Ready for the claws? Then…
  • Gently twist the claws away from the body. First take the smaller part of the claw and break it off. This will also drain away any extra water, so be ready for that.
  •  

  • Use a knife to crack open the claws a instead of a lobster cracker (nut cracker). It does a more efficient and clean job. Take the back of a knife and stand the claw lengthwise. Hit the back of it to split it in two and gently remove the tail meat. Remove the cartilage gently: Simply wiggle back and forth and it will come out.
  • On to the knuckles. This is the hardest part, and where lobster crackers are most useful. Squeeze the knuckle and try to push out the meat.
  •  
    Voilà!

    WINE & BEER PAIRINGS

    From beverage manager Caitlin Hula:

  • “Farmhouse saison beer is a fun pairing. Being from Maine, I highly recommend Allagash Saison or Peak Organic’s Ginger Saison. Both beers have tropical fruit, citrus and a peppery spice that pairs well with lobster.”
  • “If one wanted to go with wine, I suggest a full-bodied, fruit-forward white wine such as viognier.”
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    NIBBLE TIP: Viognier (vee-ohn-YAY), from the Rhône Valley of France, is becoming much better known in white wine circles. It is now grown in California, Argentina and Chile, Australia and New Zealand. It is delicious with all fish and shellfish, including sushi.

     

    ABOUT CLIFF HOUSE

    Cliff House is a luxury oceanfront destination that looks out over the southern coast of Maine, just over an hour north of Boston and minutes from the famed sandy beaches of Ogunquit.

    It welcomed its first guests in 1872, long before there was a need for garages for automobiles. The property stretches across 70 oceanfront acres atop Bald Head Cliff, overlooking the ocean’s edge and Nubble Lighthouse.

    The beauty and serenity of the location offer a get-away-from-it-all escape. And then there’s the food.

    The Tiller restaurant is suspended above the ocean. With panoramic views, spectacular sunrises, romantic sunsets, and the Atlantic horizon, it offers the perfect Maine oceanfront dining experience.

    With lots of lobster, of course.

     

    Full Lobster Trap

    [4] Hauling the trap onto the lobster boat (photo courtesy Catch A Piece Of Maine).

    Cliff House

    [5] Cliff House in Maine, just an hour and a few minutes north of Boston (photo courtesy Destination Hotels).

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Affordable Caviar

    Kazunoko Herring Roe
    [1] This golden herring caviar (kazunoko) is not particularly flavorful, but is served with seasonings for the Japanese new year (photo courtesy Just One Cookbook).

    Salmon Roe
    [2] Salmon caviar is much less pricey than sturgeon caviar, but if you want to eat a lot of it, prepare to open your wallet (photo courtesy Petrossian).

    Avruga Herring Caviar

    [3] Avruga, herring “caviar,” is not caviar at all, but made from different ingredients (including herring meat and squid ink) to resemble black caviar (photo courtesy Pescaviar).

     

    July 18th is National Caviar Day. When we looked into our purse, we decided we could not afford the “good stuff”: sturgeon caviar (prices* range from $123 to $349 for the rareat; prices per 30g/1.06 ounce).

    We couldn’t even afford sturgeon’s relatives, hackleback (a.k.a. shovelnose, $76/ounce) and paddlefish caviar ($32/ounce).

    What is caviar? When the term is used by itself, “caviar” refers to unfertilized eggs (roe) harvested from any species of sturgeon.

    Fifty years ago and in the centuries prior, that meant Beluga, Osetra, and Sevruga caviar from sturgeon that swam in the Caspian and Black Seas, in Russia and Iran. Caspian caviar was considered the world’s most luxurious and expensive caviar. There was enough stock so that anyone who could afford it could have it—and if you had to ask, you couldn’t afford it.

    Beginning in the 1990s, the stocks were reduced by shameful poaching, pollution and river dams that cut off the beluga’s spawning grounds. The beluga sturgeon became an endangered species, and the other two were on the critical list.

    Laws were passed in 2001 by The United Nations Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species to halt the caviar trade in Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkmenistan. It then proposed a ban on exporting Caspian caviar by the Russian states that border the Caspian Sea (i.e., it could be sold to locals, but not exported to Europe, the U.S., or anywhere else (more).

    This spawned an international frenzy on how to replace that fine sturgeon caviar. Farming of other species of sturgeon began all over the world, resulting in access to whomever could afford it (farmed caviar is less expensive than wild, but still $70 an ounce, compared to $200 an ounce for wild sevruga).

    The good news is, there is a lot of local, sustainable caviar produced right here in the United States. According to the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Guide, your best choice for caviar is produced by U.S. farmed white sturgeon and paddlefish.

    Hence, a brief history of caviar.
     
    THE HISTORY OF CAVIAR

    Caviar was first prepared by the ancient Chinese, from carp roe. The Persians learned the technique from the Chinese, and were the first to use the technique on sturgeon from the Caspian Sea.

    The word “caviar” comes from the Persian khavyar, from khayah, egg. It came into the English language in the 16th century.

    While “Russian caviar” has a global reputation as “the best” (some might vote for the lesser-known Iranian caviar), the Russians themselves do not call any fish roe caviar. They use the Russian word for egg, ikroj (pronounced EEK-ruh with a rolled “r”).

    In Japan, the Russian ikroj was transformed into ikura—the name by which it is ordered at sushi bars the world over.

    In the trade, the eggs of a fish are also called berries, grains and pearls. Once the roe has been salted it becomes caviar.

    However, the rising popularity of other types of fish roe in modern cuisine and the growth of the American hackleback and white sturgeon farming, have caused the definition of “caviar” to broaden.

    Today, the terms caviar and roe are interchangeable for consumers. Basically any fish egg is referred to as caviar; although in the U.S. only sturgeon caviar can be labeled simply “caviar.” Non-sturgeon caviars must be modified with the name of the fish (salmon caviar, whitefish caviar, etc.).

    A number of these more recently popular roes come from fish that are plentiful, like flying fish, trout and whitefish. This means affordable caviar.

     
    Their roe was not mainstream for decades. In many cases they were tiny, colorless, and/or marginally flavorful.

    But faced with the demands of the American palate, which has grown steadily since the rise of California cuisine in the 1980s, producers have rose to the occasion, to present caviar options that were both affordable and sustainable.

    Today there’s a broad choice of attractive and delicious roes. They taste like sturgeon roe as much as a meatball tastes like filet mignon. But most are very palate-worthy, and will expand your horizons.

    How much caviar should you buy? Well, you can get between 8 to 10 (1/2 teaspoon) servings per ounce of caviar. Figure at least 1/2 to 1 ounce of caviar per person.

    While this is a small amount, it’s enough for a tasting of different caviars. Buy what your pocketbook can afford. When we treat ourselves, we can eat a 7-ounce jar of salmon caviar or truffled whitefish roe as a garnish with dinner (yes, the whole jar).

    ________________

    *Prices vary widely, depending on supply and demand, as well as the graded quality. For example, Tsar Nicoulai offers six different grades of American white sturgeon caviar alone, with prices ranging from $40 to $210, and everything in between. The highest-regarded retailers also charge more than other stores and e-tailers. You can find less expensive caviar online, but unless it is from a truly reputable vendor, you may be getting caviar that is old (there is no expiration date on caviar tins) or not what it is purported to be.

    Prices are stated in ounces, although European-based vendors like Petrossian use the European weight, grams. Since 30 grams equals 1.06 ounces, think of it as a wash.

    †Prices are provided for relative comparison. They were obtained from different websites, because we could not find one vendor who offered all or most of the options. Note that the price will also vary based on the amount purchased: A single ounce costs more than an eight-ounce jar or tin.

     

    AFFORDABLE CAVIAR

    If you can’t afford $70 an ounce and up for sturgeon caviar, what are your choices? They’re on this list. We’ve provided Japanese names to reference the types most often found in sushi bars.

  • Avruga, Spanish herring roe. It looks like large, glossy black caviar pearls, but it isn’t caviar at all! Avruga is a roe-free caviar substitute made by a Spanish company, Pescaviar, from herring in Spanish waters. It comprises 40% local Spanish herring plus squid ink, salt, corn starch, lemon juice, citric acid and stabilizers (about $7/ounce; (more).
  • Bottarga is cured, dried fish roe: no longer in the form of caviar, but pressed into a block that can be sliced or grated (and is sold as the whole roe (about $6/ounce) or a grated in a jar (about $9/ounce). It is typically made from the roe of the grey mullet, and is very popular in Italy, for grating over pasta, rice, salads and other dishes (more). Also see mullet.
  • Bowfin caviar comes from a fish in the southern U.S. that is not related to the sturgeon. Its eggs visually resemble sturgeon roe, but taste entirely different (muddy, some call it, and it lives on mud river bottoms). That’s why it’s also called mudfish, swampfish, cypress trout, and by the Cajun name “choupique.” It was considered a trash fish, the flesh used to make fish cakes, until the ban of imported Caspian caviar led to a search for alternatives ($4.75/ounce; more).
  • Capelin roe or smelt roe, called masago at sushi bars (more).
  • Herruga caviar (another brand name is stromluga) is a version of avruga, a product made from herring meat to look like caviar. The herring comes from the North Atlantic and Baltic seas. The color of the beads ranges from dark gray to black, and they have a light smokey character ($5/ounce†).
  • Kazunoko comes from the golden herring, and is available during the holiday season, eaten for the Japanese new year by those hoping for children (gold color symbolizes fertility). Its bright roe sac (the ovary) contains thousands of tiny eggs, which crunch like tobiko. While the roe is not particularly flavorful, it is marinated in a dashi-soy seasoning. its golden beauty makes it a popular New Year’s dish in Japan. The name is made up: kazu means number and ko means child. Here’s more (about $2/ounce).
  • Lumpfish roe from the North Atlantic lumpfish. If your family used Romanoff caviar as as garnish back in the day, you’ve had it. The pale, crunchy eggs are dyed black, red or golden, but the food coloring runs. It is used mostly as a garnish on hors d’oeuvre (about $4/ounce; more).
  • Mentaiko and tarako are roe of the Alaskan cod or pollock. Mentaiko is spiced with powdered red pepper, which makes it pink to dark red in color. Tarako is not spiced, but is salted instead.
  • Mullet roe (karasumi in Japanese) is the Japanese equivalent of Italian bottarga. The the roe sac of the mullet is cured and vacuum packed. The whole roe sac is sold, to be sliced for hors d’oeuvre served with saké, sliced on top of rice, or grated as a garnish. It’s considered a delicacy, .
  • Pollock roe, called tarako in Japanese. Not widely available in the U.S., we couldn’t even find it on Amazon!
  • Salmon caviar, called ikura at sushi bars, is popular in the U.S. as a colorful, tasty garnish. As with any product, prices and quality vary (and start at about $7 to $10/ounce). The imported roe from the keta salmon of Russia has larger eggs, which are considered more desirable.
  • Smelt roe, called masago in Japanese, looks like the pricer, higher-quality flying fish roe (tobiko); but is crunchy rather than flavorful like tobiko. California rolls are often coated with a splash of masago; while the gunkan maki are filled with tobiko. You can use a few beads of garnish to add color to canapés (about $2/ounce).
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    Affordable Caviar
    [4] No sturgeon need apply for this caviar sampler from Firebird in New York City.

    Clear Roe
    [5] Clear roe from different species of fish are colored and flavored into tasty garnishes (photo courtesy Nutra Ingredients).

    Affordable Caviar

    [6] The results: colored and flavored roe like these whitefish caviars (photo courtesy Tsar Nicoulai).

  • Tarama, the tiny roe of carp, cod or mullet (more). Pale orange in color, they are most often found blended into taramosalata but also available in their original form from Krinos (an 8-ounce jar is about $5.00). Tarama means fish roe in Greek and Turkish.
  • Tobiko, roe from the Icelandic flying fish (a superior product to the similar-looking masago—more). It is typically dyed orange, but can be found in red, green (with wasabi flavor) and black (about $2/ounce).
  • Trout roe, pale yellow in color, has become a popular garnish, especially when colored red-orange to resemble the pricier salmon roe, which it resembles (about $6/ounce).
  • Whitefish roe, also pale, has been colored and flavored into delights such as beet (red), ginger (yellow), mango (orange), truffle (brown), wasabi (green), even black (about $4/ounce).
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    CAVIAR TIPS

    Take care of the eggs. Caviar is very fragile and must be handled with care to keep the eggs from bursting.

    Caviar hates metal. Never touch a metal utensil of any kind to caviar: Metal oxidizes the roe and will make it taste metallic. Use a caviar spoon made of bone, tortoise shell, or mother of pearl. A plastic spoon works, too.

    Keep it cold. Caviar that is not shelf-stable (i.e., pasteurized) should be kept in the coldest part of the refrigerator (between 28 to 32°F.) Don’t freeze it! The caviar can last 15 to 20 days, unopened, in the fridge. Don’t open the caviar jar or tin until it’s ready to serve.

    Cover and refrigerate any leftovers promptly and use within a day or two. If caviar is left in the tin, the surface should be smoothed and a sheet of plastic wrap pressed directly onto the surface. Turn the tin over each day so the oil reaches all of the eggs.

    More caviar tips.

     
    FIND MUCH MORE ABOUT CAVIAR IN OUR CAVIAR GLOSSARY

      

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    FOOD FUN: Deconstructed Ceviche & The Different Types Of Raw Fish Dishes

    Deconstructed Ceviche
    [1] Deconstructed ceviche at Seviche | Louisville.

    Ceviche Trio
    [2] A trio of ceviches with different mixes of seafood and vegetables, from Chef Ingrid Hoffmann.

    Sea Bass Ceviche
    [3] Sea bass ceviche with traditional ingredients from Coya | London.

    White Fish Tiradito

    [4] Tiradito: a fusion preparation with sashimi-cut fish and a non-traditional garnish (fried capers), at Raymi | NYC.

     

    June 28th is National Ceviche Day, so let’s have some fun with it.

    Ceviche is delicious “health food.”

  • Fish and seafood are high in protein.
  • Citrus juice is high in antioxidants including vitamin C; and is a good source of potassium and folate.
  • There’s no sugar or added fat.
  • Ceviche is low in calories. Most fish have 30-40 calories per ounce; shrimp and lobster have 30 calories, bay scallops 25 calories and octopus 35 calories per ounce. Other ingredients such as chile, cucumber, herbs, onion and tomato add negligible calories.
  •  
    And perhaps most important to some:

  • Ceviche is not raw fish. The fish is cured by marinating in citrus juice.
  •  
     
    DECONSTRUCTED CEVICHE

    Seviche Restaurant in Louisville, Kentucky serves a different ceviche any day. While there are traditional presentations, they’ve also served it deconstructed (photo #1).

    Instead of serving it traditionally—in a bowl or other container, resting in its marinade/curing liquid and topped with garnishes—the deconstruction in Photo #1 comprises:

  • Slices of cured fish set directly on a plate.
  • Topped with minced vegetables, instead of diced vegetables mixed in with the fish.
  • The marinade becomes a sauce, artistically place on the plate.
  • The plate is garnished with non-traditional garnishes—herbs, edible flowers, jicama, radishes, etc.—instead of cilantro or parsley, diced avocado, lime wedge or sliced onions.
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    THE DIFFERENCES AMONG RAW FISH DISHES

  • Carpaccio is Italian for raw fillet of beef, not fish. Crudo is the term for raw fish or seafood. You will find fish “crudo” on restaurant menus, but that doesn’t make it correct. While raw fish consumption is ancient, beef carpaccio was based on the Piedmont speciality, carne cruda all’albese (raw beef Alba-style), created by Giuseppe Cipriani, founder of Harry’s Bar in Venice. Using fine Piedmontese beef, he originally prepared it for a countess whose doctors had recommended that she eat raw meat. At the time, there was a local exhibition of the 15th-century Venetian painter Vittore Carpaccio; hence the name of the dish.
  • Ceviche, seviche or sebiche, from South America, is a marinated raw fish dish that date to pre-Colombian times. Then, seafood was “cooked” (acid-cured) with a fruit called tumbo (Passiflora tarminina, a relative of passionfruit). The Incas cured fish in salt and fermented corn. The Spanish brought onions limes, which are essential to today’s ceviche.
  • Crudo is analogous to sashimi—plain raw fish, although the fish is cut differently.
  • Escabeche is not raw, but seared fish (or meat) that is then marinated it in a vinegar-based sauce redolent of herbs and spices. As with ceviche, there is always an acidic marinade. It is served cold or at room temperature.
  • Poke is a Hawaiian dish that recently has made its way from coast to coast. A mix of raw fish and vegetables are served as an appetizer or salad course. It is different from tiradito or ceviche in that the fish is cubed with a soy sauce and sesame oil dressing, and Hawaiian garnishes like roasted crushed candlenut and limu seaweed, along with chopped chiles. It is pronounced poe-KEH. Here’s more about it.
  • Sashimi is Japanese-style sliced raw fish, generally served with a bowl of plain, steamed rice (not sushi rice, which is prepared with vinegar and sugar). The word literally means “pierced body.” No one is certain of the origin, but it may have come from the former practice of sticking the tail and fin of the fish on the slices, to let it be known which fish one was eating.
  • Tataki is a fillet of fish that is lightly seared: Just the surface is cooked, with the majority of the fish eaten in its raw state.
  • Tiradito is a more recent dish, fusing the concepts of ceviche and sashimi. Fish is sliced in pieces that are longer and thinner than sashimi. They are artfully arranged on a plate on top of a light sauce, and garnished (with cilantro, fresh corn kernels, thin slices of hot chile, etc.). The name derives from the Spanish verb tirar, which means to throw (i.e., throwing together raw fish with a sauce). Here’s a recipe.
  •  
    Don’t worry if you can’t keep these straight: We saw a dish called carpaccio at New York City’s top seafood restaurant, that was clearly tiradito (with sauce and chile garnishes).
     

     

    A BRIEF HISTORY OF CEVICHE & TIRADITO

    In South America, marinated raw fish dishes date to pre-Colombian times, when seafood was “cooked” (acid-cured) with a fruit called tumbo (Passiflora tarminina, a relative of passionfruit). The Incas cured fish in salt and fermented corn.

    In the 16th century, the Spaniards arrived with limes, onions and bell peppers, three essential ingredients in basic modern ceviche. Lime juice cured the fish, and marinating the sliced/diced onions and bell peppers mixed in with the seafood. Large kernels of roasted Inca corn are a common garnish.

    Ceviche is found in almost all restaurants on the coast of Peru, typically served with camote (sweet potato, which originated in Peru). It has been called “the flagship dish of coastal cuisine,” and is one of the most popular dishes in Peru [source].

    Over time, fruits were incorporated; most popularly, tomatoes (native to Peru) and mango.

    The influx of Japanese immigrants to Peru in the 1970s brought with it chefs who cut and treated the fish in the manner of sashimi. A fusion dish developed called tiradito, with seafood cut sashimi-style (but thinner and longer), a spicy dressing incorporating Peruvian chiles, and more elaborate garnishes.
     
     
    CEVICHE, CEBICHE, SEBICHE, SEVICHE

    Ceviche is variously spelled with a c or an s, with a v or a b.

    In Peru, cebiche is the spelling in Lima; although ceviche is used elsewhere in the country, and is the most common internationally.

    However, seviche was actually declared the proper spelling in 2004, by Peru’s National Institute of Culture.

    Additionally, historical texts refer to the dish as seviche, including those by the Academia Peruana de la Lengua (Peruvian Language Academy), founded in 1887 [source].

    Since even in its homeland, the national dish has multiple spellings, don’t argue with anyone over which one is “correct.”

    Lobster Ceviche recipe
    Make Your Signature Ceviche Recipe
    More History Of Ceviche
    Shrimp Ceviche Recipe
    Trout Ceviche Recipe
    Wasabi Ceviche Recipe

     

    Ceviche MartinI Glass
    [5] Presentation in a Martini glass with plantain chips, at Elegant Affairs Caterers.

    Ceviche Grilled Lime

    [6] A modern update garnished with fresh tarragon, fried Chinese noodles and a grilled lime wheel.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Uses For Smoked Fish

    Soba Noodles With Smoked Trout Recipe
    [1] Soba noodles with smoked trout. Here’s the recipe from Food Network.

    Smoked Trout Canapes Recipe
    [2] Canapes or snacks: Granny Smith apple slices with smoked trout. Here’s the recipe from Cooking Light.

    Smoked Trout Tartines

    [3] Here’s the recipe from Dang That’s Delicious.

     

    Do you have tins of smoked fish in the pantry? Do you need inspiration to use them?

    We opened our cupboard and found a few tins that came in a gift basket two years ago. They were still there because when we need smoked fish, we buy it fresh-smoked at the smoked fish counter (we’re fortunate to live a few blocks from a store with a large supply of smoked fish, hand-sliced to order).

    While canned anchovies, tuna and sardines don’t sit for long on our shelves, canned smoked fish requires some thought. So we thought:

    Rather than come across the same cans in another two years, we’ll make lunch with them until we use them up. The list of options we drew up is below, along with a recipe for avocado toast with smoked trout.
     
     
    SMOKED FISH TRIVIA

  • Types of fish that are sold smoked (although not necessarily canned): bluefish, chubs, cod, herring, mackerel, sable (black cod), salmon, sturgeon, trout, tuna, whitefish and whiting.
  • Napoleon Bonaparte is the indirect father of canning. He is responsible for the initiative that led to the canning of food. Here’s the history of canning.
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    15 USES FOR CANNED SMOKED FISH

    Breakfast

  • Bagel with cream cheese and onion.
  • Scrambled eggs or Eggs Benedict.
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    Lunch

  • Green salad with yogurt-dill dressing (mix yogurt with seasonings and dill; thin with milk or lime juice as desired).
  • Mixed with mayonnaise, like salmon or tuna salad.
  • Sandwich: regular, open-face (a.k.a. tartine—photo #3) or wrap with cream cheese or dill-sour cream/mayo spread and raw vegetables (arugula, sliced radishes, snow peas, whatever).
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    Appetizers & Snacks

  • Canapés, on a base of apple (photo #2), cucumber or toast.
  • Dip with crudités.
  • Mixed with cream cheese, sour cream and dill and and stuffed into celery or endive leaves, or atop cucumber slices, or served with crackers.
  • Rillettes (recipe).
  • Smoked trout mousse (recipe).
  •  
    Dinner

  • Asian broth bowl with noodles and vegetables (photo #1).
  • Brandade, a French dish of smoked fish with mashed potatoes (recipe).
  • Fish tacos or tostadas.
  • Mixed with rice or other grain and vegetables (recipe).
  • Pasta, tossed with olive oil and lots of fresh-cracked pepper. We also threw in vegetables at hand: mushrooms, peas and scallions.
  •  

    RECIPE: AVOCADO BUTTER TOAST WITH SMOKED TROUT

    Here’s a variation for lovers of avocado toast: avocado butter.

    The mashed avocado is mixed with soft butter for a richer spread, that pairs perfectly with smoked or grilled fish.

    We received this recipe from the California Avocado Commission, developed by Jessica Koslow. “Smoky trout and creamy avocado butter combine perfectly for a delicious breakfast,” she says.

    For lunch, we adapted it with a layer of marinated onions—delicious with both the fish and the avocado.

    Ingredients Per Serving

  • 3 teaspoons shallots, very thinly sliced
  • 1/2 ripe, Fresh California Avocado, seeded and peeled
  • 1/4 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice, divided
  • 1/8 tablespoon salt, divided
  • 1/4 tin (3.9 ounces) oil-packed smoked trout, drained
  • 1 slice 3/4″-thick rye or seeded bread
  • 1/2 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 3 teaspoons Italian (flat leaf) parsley
  • 1/4 tablespoon fried capers (see make-ahead recipe, below)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • Optional: marinated onions
  •  
    For The Fried Capers

  • 1/4 tablespoon capers in brine
  • Canola oil, as needed
  •  
    For The Marinated Onions

     

    Avocado Butter On Toast
    [4] Avocado butter on toast with smoked trout. Photo courtesy California Avocado Commission.

    Halved Avocado

    [5] A ripe, creamy California avocado. Photo courtesy California Avocado Commission.

     
    These onions are a wonderful garnish for just about anything. We suggest making more than what is required here. They’ll keep in the fridge for two weeks or longer.

  • 1 small sweet or red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon minced parsley
  • 1 tablespoon red wine or apple cider vinegar
  • ¾ cup olive oil
  • Pinch of salt
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MARINATE the onion an hour in advance or overnight. Place the slices in a container and top with the oil, vinegar, parsley and salt to taste. Cover and shake to combine; then let sit at room temperature until ready to use (or refrigerate overnight).

    2. MAKE the fried capers. Place the capers on a paper towel and set aside to dry for 30 minutes. Then, add an inch of canola oil to a pot over medium-high heat. When hot, add the capers and fry until no bubbles appear around them. Remove and place on a plate lined with paper towels.

    3. PLACE the shallots on a paper towel to drain, and set aside. (You can do this while waiting for the capers to dry.)

    4. MAKE the avocado butter by thoroughly mashing the avocado, butter, 1/4 tablespoon lemon juice and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Blend until smooth.

    5. DRAIN the liquid from trout and set aside.

    6. BRUSH the bread with the melted butter and lightly toast each side.

    7. SPREAD the avocado mixture onto the toast. Place the trout on top of the avocado; layer the shallots and parsley on top. Sprinkle with the remaining lemon juice and garnish with the fried capers and lemon zest.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Seafood Crudo Or Beef Carpaccio

    Carpaccio (beef) and crudo (seafood) is easy to make, and present themselves as a sophisticated dish that took you a lot longer to prepare. If you eat sushi, sashimi, steak tartare and other raw preparations, it’s a dish you can easily make at home.

    From the earliest times, fishermen have eaten their catch on board, without cooking it.

    Before man learned to make fire, some 350,000 years ago, the catch was de facto eaten raw.

    The tradition continues today. Fishermen bring a bit of salt and/or citrus, and enjoy the rustic version of carpaccio, crudo, poke or sashimi: brethren raw fish dishes.

    While crudo has been eaten for millennia, carpaccio is a modern dish, created in Venice in 1963, at the time of an exhibition dedicated to Venetian painter Vittore Carpaccio (1465-1526).

    Here’s a list of raw fish dishes.
     

    CARPACCIO VS. CRUDO & OTHER RAW FISH DISHES

  • Carpaccio is Italian for raw fillet of beef, not fish. Crudo is the term for raw fish or seafood. You will find fish “crudo” on restaurant menus, but that doesn’t make it correct. While raw fish consumption is ancient, beef carpaccio was based on the Piedmont speciality, carne cruda all’albese (raw beef Alba-style), created by Giuseppe Cipriani, founder of Harry’s Bar in Venice. Using fine Piedmontese beef (Piemontese in Italian), he originally prepared it for a countess whose doctors had recommended that she eat raw meat. At the time, there was a local exhibition of the 15th-century Venetian painter Vittore Carpaccio; hence the name of the dish.
  • Ceviche, seviche or sebiche, from South America, is a marinated raw fish dish that date to pre-Colombian times. Then, seafood was “cooked” (acid-cured) with a fruit called tumbo (Passiflora tarminina, a relative of passionfruit). The Incas cured fish in salt and fermented corn. The Spanish brought onions limes, which are essential to today’s ceviche.
  • Crudo is analogous to sashimi—plain raw fish, although the fish is cut differently.
  • Poke is a Hawaiian dish that recently has made its way from coast to coast. A mix of raw fish and vegetables are served as an appetizer or salad course. It is different from tiradito or ceviche in that the fish is cubed with a soy sauce and sesame oil dressing, and Hawaiian garnishes like roasted crushed candlenut and limu seaweed, along with chopped chiles. It is pronounced poe-KEH. Here’s more about it.
  • Sashimi is Japanese-style sliced raw fish, generally served with a bowl of plain, steamed rice (not sushi rice, which is prepared with vinegar and sugar). The word literally means “pierced body.” No one is certain of the origin, but it may have come from the former practice of sticking the tail and fin of the fish on the slices, to let it be known which fish one was eating.
  • Tataki is a fillet of fish that is lightly seared; just the surface is cooked, with the majority of the fish eaten in its raw state.
  • Tiradito is a more recent dish, fusing the concepts of ceviche and sashimi. Fish is sliced in pieces that are longer and thinner than sashimi. They are artfully arranged on a plate on top of a light sauce, and garnished (with cilantro, fresh corn kernels, thin slices of hot chile, etc.). The name derives from the Spanish verb tirar, which means to throw (i.e., throwing together raw fish with a sauce). Here’s a recipe.
  •  
    Don’t worry if you can’t keep these straight: We saw a dish called carpaccio at New York City’s top seafood restaurant, that was clearly tiradito (with sauce and chile garnishes).

    RECIPE: CRUDO OF TUNA, SALMON, OR OTHER SEAFOOD

    Tailor this recipe to your preferences. For example, you can replace the conventional olive oil drizzle with flavored olive oil, add the Italian-style shavings of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, add balsamic vinegar, use a Dijon vinaigrette, etc.

    You can add as much salad on top as you like…or none at all. If adding a mound of salad, dress it very lightly (we like lemon vinaigrette—half vinegar, half lemon [or lime] juice) before topping the fish.

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1 pound sushi-grade fish loin or steaks, sliced as desired
  • Quality extra-virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt, plus peppermill
  • Minced chives
  • 2 cups baby greens, loosely packed: arugula, watercress or mesclun mix (more as desired)
  • Vinagrette as desired
  • Garnishes: capers, microgreens, thinly-sliced hot chile and lemon wedges
  •  
    Preparation

    1. Combine vinegar and mustard in small bowl; whisk in 4 tablespoons olive oil. Season dressing to taste with sea salt and pepper. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; chill.

    2. Place a sheet of plastic wrap on a damp work surface (the moisture prevents the plastic from slipping).

    Arrange the tuna slices on the plastic as you would like them to be on the plate (this makes plating them easy). Cover with a second sheet of plastic wrap.

    3. USING the flat side of a mallet, gently pound the fish slices until they are to your desired thinness. Do this in batches as necessary.

    Refrigerate the fish in the plastic for at least 30 minutes, and up to 4 hours.

    3. ASSEMBLE: Remove the top plastic sheet from each serving of fish and place a plate upside-down on top of the fish.

    Invert the fish onto the plate and peel off the remaining plastic. Drizzle with olive oil, then sprinkle with a bit of sea salt, chives and pepper.

    Toss watercress and 2 tablespoons dressing in medium bowl; season to taste with sea salt and pepper.

    4. MOUND the salad greens on top and serve.
     
     
    WOULD YOU RATHER HAVE BEEF CARPACCIO?

    Take a look at:

  • Filet Mignon Carpaccio
  • “Stonehenge” Beef Carpaccio (fancifully decorated)
  •  

    Bluefin Tuna Carpaccio
    [1] Bluefin tuna crudo at Caviar Russe | NYC.

    Octopus Carpaccio
    [2] Octopus crudo at Katsuya | Los Angeles.

    Salmon Carpaccio
    [3] Salmon crudo from Mihoko’s 21 Grams | NYC.

    Squid Carpaccio
    [4] Squid crudo from Njam! TV.

    Beef Carpacio Salad Topped
    [5] You can top carpaccio or crudo with as much salad as you like (photo of carpaccio courtesy Cooking Channel TAV).

    Wagyu Carpaccio

    [6] Wagyu carpaccio, simply dressed with truffles and garlic potato chips (photo courtesy Catch NYC).

     

      

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