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Archive for Fish-Seafood-Caviar

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.
  •  
     
    15 USES FOR CANNED SMOKED FISH

    Breakfast

  • Bagel with cream cheese and onion.
  • Scrambled eggs or Eggs Benedict.
  •  
    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).
  •  
    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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    PRODUCTS: 5 More Favorite Specialty Foods

    Another batch of favorites from THE NIBBLE.

    What makes it a favorite? We would buy it again…and again. In alphabetical order, we recommend:

    1. LOVE THE WILD: FROZEN FISH FILLET ENTRÉES

    Only one in five Americans meet the USDA recommendation for fish intake, a vital high protein dietary component that’s high in protein and healthy fats.

    LoveTheWild is on a mission to make it easy for you to enjoy delicious, traceable fish dinners—in fact, we can’t recall an easier preparation. Add the fillet to the piece of parchment paper, top with the cubes of sauce, fold and bake. It tastes like it was prepared at a [good] restaurant.

    Aside from a moist and tasty piece of fish, there’s no pan to clean: The parchment goes from pan to plate (or, you can remove it before plating).

    In the process, the company uses the greener technique of aquaculture, which they call “the least environmentally impactful form of animal protein production in the world.”

    The frozen entrées, nicely packaged, pair sustainably-sourced fish filets with regional, butter-based sauces that complement each species’ unique taste.

    The company hand-selects seafood from the most well-managed farms in the world, providing you with the highest quality sustainable seafood. There are currently four varieties, each of which was a hit with us:

  • Barramundi with Mango Sriracha Chutney
  • Catfish with Cajun Creme
  • Rainbow Trout with Salsa Verde
  • Striped Bass with Roasted Pepper Almond Sauce
  •  
    We received these as samples, but we’re headed out to load up!

    LoveTheWild products are sold at major retailers across the U.S., including Whole Foods Markets, Wegmans, Sprouts, and Mom’s. Find a store locator and more information at LoveTheWild.com.
     
     
    2. MEMBER’S MARK SEA SALT CARAMELS

    Sam’s Club, a division of Wal-Mart Stores, is increasing its foothold in the specialty food space. It has revamped its private label Member’s Mark brand to include more premium products.

    Items span many categories, from sea salt caramels and honey sourced from a U.S. bee cooperative to all-natural pulled pork created with help from pit masters at the Kansas City Barbeque Society.

    The brand will add 300 new items this year and plans to add another 300 next year. In addition to food, the Maker’s Makrk merchandise includes health and wellness and apparel.

    We received samples of the sea salt caramels, honey, and olive mix. The honey and olives hit the spot; but there are good honeys and olives around.

    The hands-down winner were the delicious sea salt caramels, notable for their generous size (about 1-1/4 inches square by 7/8 inch high—a long, chewy mouthful.

    The centers are soft, handcrafted caramel, the exterior quality milk chocolate. There’s a light sprinkle of sea salt; even if you don’t see it, you’ll taste it.

    Caveat: We couldn’t stop eating them.

    If you’re not near a Sam’s Club, we also found them on Amazon, and are trying to restrain ourselves from ordering the six-pack.
     
     
    3. PEPPERIDGE FARM FARMHOUSE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

       
    Love The Wild Striped Bass

    Members Mark Sea Salt Caramels

    Sea Salt Caramels

    Pepperidge Farm Farmhouse Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

    [1] Love The Wild has four terrific frozen fish entrées (photo courtesy Love The Wild). [2] Member’s Mark from Sam’s Club has great salted caramels (photo courtesy Sam’s Club). [3] The caramels look like this, with tiny grains of salt. You can make these at home with this recipe from Inspired Taste. [4] Pepperidge Farm Farmhouse is perhaps the best mass-market chocolate cookie (photo courtesy Pepperidge Farm).

     
    We wouldn’t have called these cookies “farmhouse.” They’re sophisticated, thin and crispy. We think they’re Pepperidge Farm’s best cookies yet.

    Made from classic ingredients—butter, flour, vanilla and chocolate chips—the cookies are made in three varieties:

    Choose a product:Pepperidge Farm FarmhouseTM Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • Pepperidge Farm Farmhouse Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Pepperidge Farm Farmhouse Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Pepperidge Farm Farmhouse Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies
  •  
    It’s hard to choose a favorite, but you don’t have to: Try them all.

    The’re available last retailers nationwide; SRP is $3.49. The line is certified kosher by OU.
    ________________

    *Traceability is the ability to verify the history, location aor application of an item by means of documented recorded identification. Consumers and retailers can follow if a product meets regulatory, environmental and ethical standards.Here’s more.

     

    Wholey Cheese Crackers

    Terra Plantain Chips

    [5] One of three flavors of gluten-free cheese crackers, from Snyder’s Of Hanover. [6] Plantain Chips from Terra Chips.

     

    4. SNYDER’S OF HANOVER: WHOLEY CHEESE! CRACKERS

    Does America need another cheese cracker?

    Yes, when they’re as light and tasty as Wholey Cheese, the new brand from Snyders Of Hanover. And gluten free, to boot.

    Potato starch is used instead of wheat flour, an advantage over Cheez-It and Goldfish:

  • Mild Cheddar
  • Smoked Gouda
  • Swiss & Black Pepper
  •  
    The only issue is the high proportion of broken crackers. But in the end, it didn’t affect us as we ate every crumb: from the bag and sprinkled onto salads, soups and potatoes.

    Find them at retailers nationwide.
     
     
    5. TERRA CHIPS: PLANTAIN CHIPS

    We have loved Terra Chips long before they were a store product. They began as a specialty of a Manhattan caterer, who sliced his way to famed and fortune (and we thank him for it).

    The company has just introduced two varieties of plantain chips:

  • Plantains, a savory chip
  • Sweet Plantains
  •  
    Plantains are members of the banana family, but are more dense and less sweet (and can’t be eaten raw). They grow in tropical climates, where they are treated as root vegetables (but they aren’t), and typically served in savory preparations.

    Plantains ripen, like bananas. The Sweet Plantains are made from the ripe fruit, at the point that natural browning occurs. There is no sugar added.

    We actually preferred the more savory chip.

    Discover more at TerraChips.com. The line is certified kosher by KOF-K.

     

      

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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Bela Sardines & Mackerel

    School Of Sardines

    Bela Olhao Sardines

    Bela Olhao Sardines Open Can

    Bela Olhao

    Sardine Tapas

    Sardine Tapas

    [1] Close-up on a school of sardines (photo courtesy AP | Ventura County Star). [2] Cleaned, cooked and canned by BELA Brands (photos #2 and #3 courtesy BELA). [3] Open the can and… [4] Dig in (photo courtesy Food52). [5] Easy tapas, with tomato or pimento on a baguette slice (photo Wikipedia Commons). [6] Not-much-more-difficult sardine tapas at Nomad in New York City.

     

    Earlier in our life, we did not care at all for sardines. We turned up our nose at this “cat food.” That’s because what was available in supermarkets then was of pretty low quality. Many Americans grew up eschewing sardines.

    Often, those undesirables weren’t even sardines, but sprats—a different genus, Sprattus in the same family as sardines. They are less tasty cousins of sardines.

    To add to the confusion, sprats are sometimes called brisling sardines, after a canned variety from Norway.

    The sought-after European sardine, also called the pilchard sardine (photo #1), is species Sardina pilchardus Walbaum. You won’t find those words on a can: You have to know the best brands.

    Now we’ve become a foodie nation, and grocers are offering the world’s best. In sardines, that’s the BELA brand. They’re a boon for Mediterranean and Paleo Diet followers, as well as for anyone wanting a quick meal with quality protein.

    Check out the way we enjoy them, below.

    And did we mention they’re just $3 a can?

    BELA SARDINES

    The premium quality “gourmet” sardines from Bela Brands (photos #2, #3 and #4) have found their way into many foodie homes.

    The company also sells premium canned mackerel fillets and skipjack tuna in jars; but given the number of words in this article alone, we’ll have to feature them another time.

    BELA Brand Seafood is a family-owned business which has been sustainably fishing the southern coast of Portugal, the Algarve, for generations.

    The large, juicy, delicious Portuguese sardines have been the main crop in this region for centuries. BELA lays claim to be the best canned sardine there is:

  • They’re the only Portuguese sardines packed within 8 hours of catch, for the finest flavor.
  • The fish are carefully washed and cleaned by hand and then cooked—one of the few brands of sardines that are cooked prior to canning.
  • In fact, they’re twice-cooked, which increases the proteins. One low-calorie serving delivers 11g of protein, omega-3s, vitamin D and calcium.
  • Full, premium fillets are packed fresh in organic extra virgin olive oil and organic sauces.
  • Sustainably wild-caught in nets, certified kosher (OU), gluten free and certified by the Marine Stewardship Council.
  •  
    And, you get to choose your flavorings, except in the spring water option. Otherwise, the sardines nestle in seasoned organic olive oil:

  • BELA Lightly Smoked Portuguese Sardines in Olive Oil.
  • BELA Lightly Smoked Portuguese Sardines in Lemon Flavored Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
  • BELA Lightly Smoked Portuguese Sardines in Tomato Sauce.
  • BELA Lightly Smoked Portuguese Sardines in Spring Water.
  •  
     
    HOW WE ENJOY BELA SARDINES

    You can eat them at every meal of the day.

  • Breakfast
    _Eggs Benedict à la Portugal.
    _On buttered toast or avocado toast.
  • Lunch
  • _On a grilled vegetable sandwich, with optional mozzarella.
    _A sardine Cobb salad, in addition to, or replacing, the chicken.
    _A Niçoise salad, in addition to or replacing the tuna; spinach salad with hard-boiled egg.
    _Chirashi-style, on a bed of sushi rice or regular rice, with an assortment of vegetables (raw, cooked or pickled, sliced radishes, seaweed or what you feel like. Photo #7, below, adds an egg for a super-protein bowl.

  • Lunch
    _Place the fillets on top of the salad, or the salad on top of the fillets—for example, under a crown of arugula, mesclun or watercress.
  • _On pizza: Who needs anchovies?

  • Tapas
    _With a glass of wine at brunch or cocktails (see photos #5 and #6).
    _We top Finn Crisp flatbread with sardines and pickled onions.
  • Happy Hour
    _Place pieces on toothpicks and serve with beer and wine.
  • Hors d’Oeuvre
    _Add a piece to a cucumber slice, cracker or toast point.
  • Dinner
    _First course: on an individual crudité plate, like a Greek mezze plate, along with pita, olives and optionally, hummus or babaganoush.
    _Salad: Toss pieces with a green salad, or create a sophisticated plating with endive and/or radicchio.
    _Main course: on pasta, with good olive oil as the sauce (add olives, scallions, parsley—anything else you like—and top with toasted breadcrumbs).
  •  
    A can of sardines is also a grab-and-go protein boost for backpacking and other energy-sapping pursuits.

     

    SARDINES HISTORY

    Sardines are small, oily fish within the herring family of Clupeidae, ray-finned fishes, important, nutrient-rich food fishes comprising, among others, herrings, sardines, shads and whitebait.

    They are also important for fish oil and fish meal—and as food for larger marine denizens.

    Sardines are found around the globe today, although all sardines originally came from somewhere in Europe.

    The name “sardine” first appears in English in the early 15th century. Some historians say it may be named for the Mediterranean island of Sardinia, around which sardines were once abundant.

    There are four genera of sardines, the two most important of which are:

  • Sardina, the European pilchard, Sardina pilchardus Walbaum, the only species in the genus.
  • Sardinops, with four species including the Californian, Japanese, South American and Southern African sardines.
  •  
    They are commonly found canned, tightly packed in—leading to their metaphorical use to describe a space where people or objects are crowded together.

    Canned sardines were a staple of millions of soldiers fighting both world wars. They sustained thousands of workers—the fishermen and packers of Cannery Row in Monterey, California, during the worst years of the Depression [source]. Similarly, they provided important fish protein to ravaged parts of Europe.

    Canning is a relatively recent innovation.

    In 1795, Nicolas Appert, a Parisian chef and confectioner, began to experiment with conserving foods, without altering their flavor or texture. He ultimately developed a process using a glass jar, similar to boiling the contents in a Mason jar.

    In 1810, British inventor and merchant Peter Durand patented his own method, using a tin can [source]. So, canned sardines have been available to export for a bit more than 200 years—and they very high quality and expensive: “gourmet” fare.

    But with the Industrial Revolution (from the mid-18th to the mid-19th centuries) things began to change. Fishing grounds became polluted, and some business practices—like labeling sprats as sardines—transpired to create those less-than-pleasing cans of sardines.

    Good news: The Portuguese Algarve has no industry, and the ocean waters are clean. That’s another reason BELA sardines taste so good.

    Here’s more on the history of sardines.

    WHERE TO GET BELA SARDINES

    Check our local markets, or head online to:

  • Amazon
  • Food 52
  •  

    Sardines On Wilted Greens

    Sardine Chirashi

    Spaghetti & Sardines

    [7] Sardines top a green salad (photo Emily Chang | THE NIBBLE). [8] Sardines in tomato sauce, chirashi style, from Kitchen Gidget. [9] Spaghetti and sardines (photo courtesy Taste Australia).

     
    FRESH SARDINES: IN STORES NOW!

    The Portuguese sardine season runs from May through October (sardines from other waters have their own seasons).

    In season fresh sardines even more wonderful, grilled, pickled or smoked. Grilled sardines fresh sardines with potatoes, bread and a salad are a popular summer meal in Portugal—and will be a revelation to you if you keep an eye out for them.

    Sushi lovers: head to the sushi bar! Raw sardine nigiri is a treat!

      

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    RECIPE: Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp

    May 10th is National Shrimp Day.

    We could easily be happy with plate of boiled jumbo shrimp, a lemon wedge and a bit of seafood sauce.

    But this recipe for bacon-wrapped shrimp, sent to us by Zatarain’s, wins the nostalgia vote.

    It took us back decades to our parent’ cocktail parties, when bacon-wrapped shrimp and bacon-wrapped dates, or a rumkai—were de rigeur.

    Those with more basic tastes drank bourbon or scotch on the rocks. Few people were home mixologists Drinks of whiskey mixed with club soda or ginger ale were served on the rocks in highball (tall) or lowball (short, a.k.a. rocks) glasses.

    There was no American craft beer in those days, or even wine (except for gourmets who drank it as apéritifs and with meals at European restaurants). No one had even had a tequila drink, unless they’d been to Mexico.

    And there was no National Shrimp Day.

    But we have it all now. So, we’re turning on the broiler and making a pile of bacon-wrapped shrimp. Who’s in?

    RECIPE: ZESTY BACON WRAPPED SHRIMP

    In New Orleans, cooks add a Creole spin to this retro shrimp appetizer. You can prepare it in the morning and pop it in the oven later in the day. Find more shrimp at McCormick.com/Zatarains.

    You can have it as an appetizer, or make a dinner of it. Prep time is 10 minutes, cook time is 20 minutes.

    Ingredients For 8 Two-Piece Appetizer Servings
    —Or—
    2-3 Dinner Servings

  • 16 jumbo shrimp, peeled and de-veined, tails left on
  • 16 slices bacon
  • Zatarain’s Creole Seasoning
  •    

    Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp

    Zatarain's Creole Seasoning

    [1] Bacon-wrapped shrimp from Zatarain’s. [2] Zatarain’s Creole Seasoning; photo courtesy Flour On My Face, who uses it in a Crockpot Jambalaya recipe.

     
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 450°F. Line baking pan with foil and place flat baking rack in the pan.

    2. WRAP each shrimp with 1 slice of bacon, lightly sprinkle with Creole seasoning and place the shrimp on the rack, seasoning side down. Sprinkle all the tops with the seasoning as well. Let stand 15 minutes

    3. BAKE 15 to 20 minutes or until the bacon is crisp around the edges and the shrimp turn pink. Serve warm.

     

    Angels On Horseback

    Devils On Horseback

    Rumaki

    The predecessors of bacon-wrapped shrimp: [3] Angels On Horseback, bacon-wrapped oysters. Here’s a recipe from the Wealden Times. [4] Devils On Horseback. Here’s a recipe from Martha Stewart Living. [5] Rumaki, bacon-wrapped water chestnuts. Here’s a recipe from Goldilocks Kitchen.

     

    RECIPE: CREOLE SEASONING

    If you don’t have Creole seasoning, it’s easy to make your own. This recipe makes much more than you need for the chicken salad, but you can cut it down or use the extra in other recipes, from eggs to burgers.
     
    Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup paprika
  • 3 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 3 tablespoons ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons dried basil
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon granulated onion
  • 4 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 4 teaspoons granulated garlic
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE all the spices in a bowl, and stir to combine.

    2. STORE in an airtight container away from light and heat, but use as quickly as possible.
     
     
    WHAT ELSE TO MAKE WITH CREOLE SEASONING

  • Use it as a general seasoning for dips, fish, ketchup, mayonnaise, popcorn, poultry, rice, soup, vinaigrette—even spicy yogurt!
  • Andouille Sausage Pizza
  • Cajun Chicken Salad
  • Gumbalaya (a mash-up of gumbo and jambalaya)
  • Gumbo
  • Jambalaya
  • Hazelnut-Crusted Sea Bass
  • Steamed Mussels
  •  
     
    THE HISTORY OF BACON-WRAPPED SHRIMP

    Nineteenth-century Britain saw the rise in popularity of an appetizer called Angels On Horseback: skewered broiled oysters wrapped in bacon and “riding on slivers of toast.” It was also called Oysters And Bacon and yes, Pigs in Blankets, a recipe now known as mini sausages wrapped in pastry.

    “It’s an excellent lesson in how words, like recipes, change meaning over time,” says etymologist John Ayto in An A to Z of Food and Drink [source].

    The recipe is first documented in the 1888 edition of Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management.

    Devils On Horseback, a later recipe, substituted stuffed prunes for the oysters.

    Fast forward to the other side of the pond. Other foods began to be wrapped in bacon: scallops, shrimp, even stuffed olives and pineapple chunks.

    Another variation, bacon-wrapped chicken liver—rumaki—appeared. The first known reference of rumaki is on the 1941 menu of the Don the Beachcomber restaurant in Palm Springs, California.

     
    Rumaki were skewered water chestnuts and chicken livers, wrapped in bacon and marinated in soy sauce and ginger or brown sugar prior to broiling.

    The restaurant was founded in 1934, and was the beginning of the tiki craze in the U.S.

    Tiki restaurants—an American “interpretation” of Polynesian food and decor—featured a selection of different bites as faux-Hawaiian pupu (hors d’oeuvre).

    A flaming pupu platter of mixed “Polynesian” hors d’oeuvres was a sensation that trickled down to home preparations.

    So where’s the bacon-wrapped shrimp? So far, there’s a missing link.

    We did find a reference to shrimp skewered with a chestnut and a piece of green onion. It isn’t a stretch to think that someone added a bacon wrap…and that the recipe devolved to just the shrimp and bacon.

     
    CAJUN VS. CREOLE: THE DIFFERENCE

    Cajun and Creole are not the same, although people removed from Louisiana often use them without distinction.

  • Creole referred to people who were born to settlers in French Colonial Louisiana, specifically in New Orleans. In the 18th century, Creoles were the descendants of the French and Spanish upper class that ruled the city.
  • Cajuns, on the other hand, emigrated from the Acadia region of Canada, which consisted of present-day New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia. They settled in the swampy region of Louisiana that is today known as Acadiana. Their name in French, les Acadians, became shortened in the vernacular to Cajun.
  • Some people think of Creole cuisine as “city food” and Cajun cuisine as “country food.” But to eyeball a dish and tell its provenance, here’s a simple trick: Creole cuisine uses tomatoes and Cajun food typically does not. That’s how to quickly distinguish a Cajun gumbo or jambalaya from a Creole gumbo or jambalaya.

      

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