Tag Archives: seafood

The Responsibilities of Stewardship

1 May

Merriam-Webster defines stewardship as ” the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care”

Well. if you like Gulf shrimp, Blue Crab, Snapper, Marlin, Swordfish, Grouper, Stone Crab, Oysters  and a host of other culinary delicacies from these waters, we aren’t doing a great job of managing our natural resources.  I am saddened and angry that our thirst for oil has once again threatened the perilous balance of nature.  I believe that in our quest for black gold, we time and time again trash the environment. You know what folks? It may take weeks or month before we cap off the pipeline that is spilling between 5,000 barrels a day in some reports, to 25,000 barrels a day in other reports.

And meanwhile, we are killing the wildlife and destroying miles and miles of fragile wetlands that support the fishing industries in this area and impacting the livelihoods of thousands of people who depend on fishing for a living. I can’t fathom why we would allow drilling without a way to stop leaks when and if they occur.

I’m not a mental giant. I’m just a person who likes the environment and had made an indirect living from it.  I don’t have answers; I just have questions.  I just want us to act like the stewards that God, Buddha, Jehovah or Allah or the Flying Spaghetti Monster made us.

We have to. It’s our home.

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In Search of Fresh Fish

30 Apr

Lately, I have had a strong craving for fresh fish. You know the type of craving I mean; the type of deep, down need for a particular taste or smell that not even a facsimile thereof can satisfy. In other words, canned tuna and salmon ain’t cutting it any more. I wanted something grilled or pan-seared that came from something that looked like it lived in water at some point. My problem is simple: I am so picky when it comes to fish that I just stopped buying it.

So, why did I stop buying fish?  Everywhere I went to go buy salmon, tuna, trout or flounder I would see these words: Previously Frozen.

Sigh.

My experience has shown me that some fish fare better frozen than others. Domestic IQF catfish is an example of how well fish can be frozen if handled and stored responsibly. I can’t recall the last time I’ve seen fresh shrimp in the seafood case. Even tuna does well if frozen on the boat.  I have an issue with thawing fish to sell as fresh with the words “previously frozen” in small lettering on the advertisement.  Why is the availability of fresh fish so scarce these days?

So, my quest for fresh fish drove me to Whole Foods. Admittedly; it was my first time in the uber-organic haven, so I was a bit mystified and exited to see so many organic offerings in one setting.  Side note: There was two kids begging their mom for rice cakes. Yeah, times have changed.  It was a huge culture shock for me, but I digress.

I arrived at the fresh fish counter and it was like I had died and gone to heaven. I knew I was going to void my wallet of anything resembling money.  I bought trout fillets, two pieces of bright red tuna loin steaks, a pound of certified Atlantic Salmon and turbot. I was just giddy with excitement at all of the possibilities. I was going to have a fish orgy. Mmmmm!

When I arrived home and unpacked my goodies, I became aware that the certified Atlantic salmon and the turbot was previously frozen. There it was, as plain as day on the label. I was bamboozled and hornswoggled! I fell for the okey-doke. I was so enamored with the sights and smells of  a gourmand’s paradise that I completely forgot to scrutinize the labels before I bought my fish. I scolded myself and cooked a piece of the salmon. It was really good, and not rubbery like all of the frozen salmon I’d bought countless times before my self-imposed fish embargo.  When I tried the turbot however, I was disappointed because it was mushy after I cooked it. The turbot proved to be the perfect example of how fish can be corrupted by freezing: typically, the flesh of turbot is way too delicate to be frozen. The tuna and the trout were both great and I learned a lesson:

Trust, but verify.

Thanks to antiagingtreatments.blogspot.com for the grilled fish photo

Whole Foods issues recall of frozen tuna steaks

7 Apr

Whole Foods  has issued a recall of their 12-ounce packages of Whole Catch Yellowfin Tuna Steaks because of possible toxic level of  histamine, PRNews Channel reported today.

The packages have a use by date of December 5, 2010 and lot number 4853309157A  on its label.

The recall affects 28 states and the District of Columbia. Eating fish containing toxic levels of histamine can cause scombroid poisoning, a result of fish not properly cooled or poorly preserved after being caught.Typical Scombroid poisoning symptoms include a burning sensation in and around the mouth;  hives, flushing of the face, nausea and vomiting according to FamilyDoctor.org. Persons who have purchased this fish shouldn’t consume it, but call your  local Whole Foods to see what actions you should take.

For a list of states, go here

Thanks to FamilyDoctor.org, FreshFishDaily.com.au,   Whole Foods and PRNewswire.com

Risotto 101

3 Feb

Hey Kids!

Ye olde Culinary Chick is having guests over this weekend, barring any shenanigans from the weather this weekend.

On the menu are braised lamb shanks with dried cherry and rosemary demi-glace,  saffron risotto and roasted broccoli.   One of my guests, a childhood friend, loves potatoes and I serve them every time she comes over. However, this time I wanted to make something a bit different and dust off some of the skills I acquired over the years. One of them was how to make risotto. And believe it or not, you can too. If you follow my directions, you will have a great side dish to dazzle your friends with.

Risotto is an Italian dish made with arborio rice, a short grain rice prized for its al dente  texture and creaminess when cooked.  The version we will cook is Risotto ala Milanese. C’mon, its easy!

You will need the following equipment:

heavy-bottomed pan ( cast iron or aluminum [plain or anodized])

a wooden spoon

a ladle

1 – 2 qt. saucepan

Risotto Milanese (serves one as a main dish or two as a side dish)

2 tbl.  olive oil

1/2 c. arborio rice

1/3 c. diced onions

2 c. chicken stock or broth

pinch of saffron*

2 tb. parmesan cheese

1/4 tsp. black pepper

1-2 tbl. butter

1 tbl. chopped fresh parsley

In a 1 – 2 quart saucepan, bring chicken stock and saffron to a simmer. Keep warm.  Heat olive oil over medium heat in heavy-bottomed pan and add onions and saute until clear and soft ( do not brown)

Add rice and saute, making sure all rice grains are coated and center of rice is visible.

Add one ladle of  hot stock to the pan with the rice and onions and stir with wooden spoon until all of the liquid is absorbed.

After all of the liquid is absorbed from the first ladle of stock, add another ladle of stock and stir again with the wooden spoon until absorbed. Repeat these steps until you have used all of the stock and most of the liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes.

By this time your rice will have doubled in size and you should see a  small amount of thickened stock in bottom of pan.

Add butter and stir until incorporated. Add parmesan cheese and pepper. If needed add a scant amount of salt ( taste first).

Add parsley and serve with a side salad as a main dish or as a side dish with seafood or meat.

A note: Saffron can be found in specialty stores and can be pricey. If you do not have saffron, you can still enjoy this dish without it. The addition of some fresh chopped herbs  or seasonings that will compliment your main dish will suffice such as  lemon zest, chopped chives, tarragon or roasted garlic puree  as an example will add flavor and color to your risotto. And, if you are a vegetarian or vegan, you can make this using vegetable stock in place of the chicken stock and omitting the butter and cheese.

Yum.

Restaurant Week tips

21 Jan

Baltimore is currently celebrating its version of Restaurant Week from January 22, 2010 to February 7, 2010. Many restaurants are offering specials on menu items or prix-fixe offerings at reduced prices. If you have the time and money, this is the perfect time to try a new place out. Here are a few tips to remember when going out.

1). Make a reservation and arrive early– Most of these places are busy and making a reservation and arriving at least 15 minutes prior will ensure a pleasant dining experience.

2). Try something new– Now is not the time to order chicken. If scallops are available and you’ve never had them, try them. Don’t forget that glass of wine; ask the server for suggestions and he may find you a gem.

3). Try lunch as an alternative to dinner-Lunch is a great time to try something new. Portions are usually smaller and are great for the health conscious.

4). Be kind to your server– These people work hard, often with no benefits or other compensation. Tip them accordingly ( 15% good service, 18% great service, 20% for exceptional service). Remember that the discounted meal you enjoy during Restaurant Week would normally cost at least twice that amount other times.

5). If you like a place, go back– Restaurants are a business, and use this time to promote their businesses. If you enjoy a place, show them by giving them your return business.  Your dollars pay the salaries of cooks, dishwasher, porters and many vendors who supply everything from forks to the olives in your martini. This helps our economy and save jobs.

6). Say Thank You– You have no idea what this  simple gesture does for your server, especially if they are busy.

Many participating restaurants are offering a three-course lunch from $20.10 and three-course dinners from $35.10 ( excluding tax and gratuity).

Mangia Mangia!!

Atlantic Rockfish and Bluefish Advisory

9 Jun

If you are a fan of rockfish or bluefish ( as I am), then you will be dissapointed and alarmed at the lastest in a string of food contamination news that is prevalent in our pollution-riddled society.

The Maryland Department of the Environment said in a June 3 press released a consumption advisory for striped bass and bluefish caught off the coast  of Maryland and other mid-Atlantic states. MDE said these fish contain harmful PCB levels, and should not be consumed by sensitive populations (pregnant women, children, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems), and the general populus should limit their consumption of rockfish to one serving a month. Consumers of bluefish should limit their consumption to one serving every other month.

The striped bass, or rockfish

The striped bass, or rockfish

This is the eponymous rockfish, the stuff that dreams are made of. Sturdy enough to take a topping of crab imperial, and flavorful and tender enough to stand on its own pan seared or broiled with lemon, garlic, salt, pepper and a bit of white wine.

photo courtesy of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/Department of Commerce

photo courtesy of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/Department of Commerce

This is bluefish. This fish is graduate-level fish eating. If you are scared of bones, don’t eat bluefish. It also has a meaty texture and a very assertive flavor (also not for everyone). This oily fish is best prepared baked, although I’ve eated it fried as a kid and it was really good, but heavy.

I swear, one day I’m going to rant about how we need to really take care of our food supply

Hey, $25 gift card contest extended!!!!

6 May
Hey, win a gift card!

Hey, win a gift card!

Due to the ABSOLUTELY OVERWHELMING RESPONSE ( zero), I’m extending the contest dates to Midnight, May 24th. You have until then to tell me how you make your meals a gourmet experience in thee hard economic times. There will be two winners, each receiving a $25 Shop-Rite gift card.

Contest Rules:

1) No substitutions will be given in lieu of gift cards.

2) Shop-Rite gift cards can only be used at Shop-Rite stores.

3) Contest entries must be in by midnight, May 24.   The winners  will be announced on May 27, 2009.

4) All posts must be limited to 50 words or less.

5) All entries must have a valid e-mail address

6) Only one entry per valid e-mail address

7) Please refrain from using racist, sexist or pornographic comments. Entries which contain theses elements will be disqualified.

Have Fun!