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Published: Tuesday, 10/12/2004

Getting smart about seafood

BY KATHIE SMITH
BLADE FOOD EDITOR

The number of cooking classes offered this fall at area cooking

schools is surely a measure of seafood s popularity among area

cooks and diners.

Whether it s fresh fish, shellfish, or canned or smoked fish, home

cooks want to know the secrets of making the best seafood dishes.

When it comes to fresh fish and shellfish, there s one secret: freshness.

Buy the very freshest seafood you can, advises Mike Rosendaul,

executive chef at the Real Seafood Co. at The Docks. It should have no smell. If it does, don t buy it.

(Often fresh fish is packaged in cellophane, which makes it hard for

the consumer to measure freshness.)

If the fish is whole, choose one that smells clean and has clear

eyes, red gills, and flesh that springs back after being pressed.

Mr. Rosendaul recommends frozen fish as long as it is not treated.

Read the labels. If water is added or it is treated with a salinelike solution, look for another package that says one ingredient: the name of the fish, such as salmon or perch.

A saline solution results in a bland, soggy, mushy flavor, says

Mr. Rosendaul, who is popular on the cooking-class circuit, especially at Gourmet Curiosities at 5700 Monroe St. in the Starlite Plaza in Sylvania. In September, he featured recipes for the

most asked for menu items, including crab cakes, chowder, sauteed white fish, and flounder. On Nov. 10 (repeated on Nov. 11), he ll teach Starters and Appetizers, featuring favorite seafood appetizers. (Tom Chipps of Rohr s Seafood will teach

Fall for Fish with fresh catch of the week varieties on Oct. 20 at Gourmet Curiosities.)

Seafood appetizers will be the subject of a class that Jeff McKahan

of Rohr Fish at the Erie Street Market will teach Nov. 17 at Essential

Gourmet at 5650 Mayberry Square in Sylvania. He ll include garnishing with seafood, and will feature shellfish such as clams and mussels. People are amazed when they taste some

of the dishes with mussels, he says. They say How can I do that?

Mussels are extremely versatile in appetizers, soups, stews, entrees,

and salads. They are fast-cooking; in five minutes, home cooks can have a quick and elegant meal.

Mr. McKahan is also teaching back-to-back classes called Seafood

Oktoberfest: Oct. 20 at Kitchen Tools & Skills at 26597 North Dixie Hwy. in Perrysburg, and Oct. 21 at Essential Gourmet. This class is about the fall harvest and German foods, he says. I ll feature skate wings, which are German, baked, and the consistency

of chicken.

He will also make a cod dish and he will feature the popularity in Germany and France of seafood sausage.

Seafoods such as cod, salmon, and scallops will be combined with

sausage spices.

Seafood sausage is sold by the pound at Rohr s Fish at the Erie Street Market. Our most popular contains shrimp, cod, and salmon. It can be frozen. I tell everyone it s like fresh fish and use in 72 hours, says Mr. McKahan. It averages $8.95 per pound. Shrimp and crab sausage is shipped from Louisiana and averages

$6.95 to $9.95 per pound.

Last year we had crab boudin, which is more a finely ground consistency as compared to the other seafood sausages, which have chunks of seafood, he said. He also occasionally

carries a smoked whitefish sausage from a supplier in Mackinaw

City, Mich.

When grilling seafood sausage, which takes eight minutes to cook,

turn every 90 seconds, says Mr. McKahan. Seafood sausage can also be cooked with homemade linguine: Lightly brown it and cook it with red clam sauce.

Mr. Rosendaul and Mr. McKahan have given seafood cooking

demonstrations at heartandsoul, Fitness for Life Center, at 4444

Heatherdowns Blvd.

Fish can be cooked in a variety of ways. Firm-fleshed fish are great

sauteed in a skillet, poached, broiled, or grilled, according to the National Fisheries Institute in McLean, Va. A delicate fi sh is great fried, poached, or sauteed. An oily fish is better on the grill.

To avoid overcooking, prepare fish based on the thickness and

type of fl esh. A thin, white, fresh fish can be dusted with fl our

and cooked on the stovetop for several minutes at a high temperature.

For a thicker, firmer fish, cook at a moderate heat and allow 70 percent of the fish to become opaque; then turn it over and allow to cook before removing from the pan.

To grill fish, use a hot grill.

Score the fish on both sides and move it to the side of the grill for

a few minutes to ensure the fish is cooked through. Be careful not

to overcook fish or it will be dry.

For Pan-Seared Scallops with Plum and Basil Sauce, scallops

are seared in a skillet until caramelized, then served with a

plum sauce laced with chopped basil. Bay scallops are found

on the East Coast and are tiny plan on eight to nine scallops

per person. Sea scallops are larger and less tender than

smaller varieties, but the meat is still sweet and moist plan on

fi ve per serving. Because scallops perish out of water, they are

sold shucked and should have a sweet smell and a fresh, moist

sheen.

Mussels Steamed in Wine (Moules Mariniere) is the most

common preparation for mussels.

Buy mussels that have tightly closed shells or shells that

snap shut when tapped. Avoid those with broken shells or that

feel light and loose when shaken.

Shucked mussels should be plump with clear liquid. Smaller

mussels are more tender than larger ones.

The National Fisheries Institute says consumers can save

money by using canned and frozen fi sh and shellfi sh as well

as seafood specials at the supermarket.

Less-familiar types of fi sh are often less expensive.

Make fi sh cakes (like crab cakes) using canned salmon,

tuna, or mackerel. Brown them in a nonstick skillet.

Potato with Smoked Salmon, Chives, and Sour Cream makes

a wonderful appetizer for any special dinner or dinner party.

Made with smoked salmon, this is one recipe that requires special

equipment: For best results, use individual 3-inch baking ramekins.

The recipe was created by executive chef Brooke Vosika for the Four Seasons Hotel New York for the Idaho Potato Commission.

We also considered it a side dish for a holiday brunch or to be served with a salad for a light lunch, says Lisa Tumminello,

commission spokesman.



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