Scallops are one of those ingredients that seem intimidating but are actually shockingly simple to make. In this video, chef Taylor Boudreaux of Napa Valley Grille teaches us how easy it is to pan-sear scallops. The key to perfect doneness and plenty of flavor? Keeping a close watch and basting them in browned butter sauce. With a crisp, seared exterior and a soft, moist interior, this mild seafood dish pairs perfectly with a parsnip purée and a glass of white wine. Watch our video to learn how to make this elegant dish at home.
Oysters can be daunting to eat and prepare, but at their freshest, their sweet-saline taste is worth the effort. Scott Garrett, executive chef at Blue Plate Oysterette in Santa Monica, CA, gives us the lowdown on selection, storing, shucking, and — the best part — eating. Watch this tutorial and never be daunted by oysters again.
While much of the festivities are celebrated with friends, the eve of the Lunar New Year always involves a dinner at home with family. We enjoy a range of dishes — everything from goat to shrimp — that come from both the land and the sea. Every holiday, my mother makes this dish, which only takes a few minutes to prepare. Served with their shells still on, the shrimp are coated in a quick fragrant sauce.
Seafood cookery can seem a bit intimidating, but it's often a relatively simple process, with much of the dish's success relying on sourcing excellent fresh product. With a few guidelines and handy tricks in mind, these briny beauties need no longer be relegated to restaurant fare. Keep reading for the breakdown on purchasing guidelines for everything from fish fillets to caviar.
Want to wow your party guests without spending hours in the kitchen? Then turn to a party classic, shrimp cocktail: elevate the shellfish dish with a trio of flavorful dipping sauces that are so addictive, your guests will want to double-dip.
The dish may sound involved, but thanks to a few pantry staples — think barbecue sauce, coconut milk, garlic chili paste, and the like — pulling off this elegant hors d'oeuvre is easier than you think. Keep reading for the shrimp cocktail recipe.
Seeking out the highest-quality ingredients one can afford is always important, but never more so than when it comes to crustacean cookery. Here are some of our best practices for getting your money's worth.
First and foremost, look for a shop with high turnover of these critters. This applies whether you're looking to buy live crab and lobster, precooked lobster tails, crab claws, or even lump crab meat. While seeking out the freshest precooked meat may seem obvious, even creatures sold live are highly perishable; once they're plucked from the sea, they'll stop eating, and a starved crustacean will have less meat on its shell.
What to Keep in Mind When Buying Live Crab or Lobster
- Buy these in season, and from local waters. A cross-country journey means more time has lapsed from catch to plate, and the critter is likely less robust and less meaty. Plus, purchases made at the source will cost less than those coming from thousands of miles away.
- Look for active, wriggly live crab and lobster, taking care to avoid any that appear lethargic. They should feel heavy for their size when handled; this indicates a juicy, meaty find, rather than one that is nearly all shell.
- Avoid any seafood coming from a less-than-spotless tank.
- Make sure to either kill them in the cooking process or cook them immediately after dispatch. Even the lapse of one hour between killing and cooking can effect the quality of the meat, leaving you with a pile of mushy meat.
Shrimp's briny-sweet flavor, satisfyingly snappy texture, and ease of preparation (few foods cook up faster) make it a perennial favorite. Whether the crustacean's final destination is an easy appetizer or expedited étouffée, keep these crucial guidelines in mind the next time you hit the seafood counter.
What to Know About Shrimp
- Avoid purchasing shrimp from Southeast Asia, as the regulations on shrimp farming and harvesting are far less stringent than American standards. Look for sustainably farmed US shrimp or those that are wild caught using traps in Canada or the US. For an in-depth look at the sustainability of different shrimp options, consult the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch guide.
- Like all seafood, shrimp should smell of the ocean — briny and sweet, like seaweed — and not off-putting or "fishy" in any way. Particularly avoid any that smell of ammonia.
- Eschew labels such as "jumbo" and "large," as these are often inconsistent. Instead, refer to the count number: this is presented as two numbers that indicate the range of how many shrimp of this size will make up one pound. For example: 16/20 indicates that there are 16 to 20 shrimp in one pound. Keep in mind that the smaller the count number is, the larger the shrimp will be (16/20s are among the largest).
If you think oyster, mussel, clam, and scallop cookery seem best left to the experts, then think again. In reality, much of the onus of prep work comes down to choosing exceptionally fresh shellfish — after that, the effort to reward ratio is high. With that in mind, we've rounded up crucial guidelines for shopping for shellfish, starting with one of our favorite categories of mollusks, the humble bivalve.
Generally speaking, bivalves should be purchased alive, since these creatures decompose exceptionally quickly once dead, even when properly stored on ice and refrigerated. Most of the qualities listed below indicate whether or not the animal inside the shell is still living.
Things to Bear in Mind When Buying Clams, Oysters, or Mussels
- In their raw state, these bivalves should feel heavy for their size.
- Like all seafood, these should smell of the ocean — briny and sweet, like seaweed — and not off-putting or "fishy" in any way.
- If shellfish are prepackaged in mesh bags, ask to open up the bag to get a better look, as it's tougher to tell the condition of the shells when bagged.
- Shells should be tightly closed, with no chips or cracks present. An open shell indicates that the creature is already dead (and will have begun to decompose). Once ready to prep or eat raw, sharply tap any that are slightly ajar; if alive, shells should close — and if any don't, make sure to discard. Likewise, once cooked, the shells should open up slightly — this indicates that the shellfish was alive when cooked — any that stay closed should be discarded.
Our tasty and easy Dinnertime Crunch series continues with celebrity chefs and restaurateurs sharing their favorite 30-minute weeknight dinners that help Mom and Dad spend more time with the kids each night. Today's recipe comes from Kelsey Banfield, The Naptime Chef.
A harried schoolnight dinner routine can easily be likened to life with a newborn — everybody's hungry and fussy and there's no food on the table. That's why I've always loved the premise around The Naptime Chef. What started out as Kelsey Banfield's blog about meals she could prepare during baby Daphne's naptime and just pop into the oven at dinnertime has morphed into Kelsey's first cookbook. Complete with stopwatch precision to help moms figure out how much they can prepare depending on their own tot's nap length, it can easily be incorporated into any busy parent's life. Simply do the prep work in the morning while everyone's getting dressed or during homework time, and a meal can be ready when you are. Kelsey's sharing her spicy citrus grilled shrimp with us, which she says "can easily be prepared at any time during the day and grilled up in no time for dinner."
From The Naptime Chef by Kelsey Banfield
Spicy Citrus Grilled Shrimp
20 large shrimp, shelled and deveined with tails left on
3/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
6 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- Prepare 4 skewers: If using wooden skewers, be sure to soak them in water for 5 minutes before adding the shrimp so that they do not burn on the grill. Place 5 shrimp on each skewer so that they are just touching, but not too close together.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, minced garlic, cayenne pepper, and salt. Pour the mixture into a large plastic freezer bag (1 gallon size) and add the shrimp skewers. Swish the mixture around the shrimp in the bag so that they are totally covered. Seal and place the bag inside a second bag or on a dish in the refrigerator and marinate the shrimp for at least 4 hours.
- Heat the grill or a stovetop grill pan to medium heat and add the marinated shrimp skewers. Grill the skewers for about 3 minutes per side, or until the shrimp are pink and cooked through.
Makes 4 servings
Make-Ahead Tips: This recipe doubles or triples easily. If making a large batch, pour the marinade into a large baking dish and submerge the shrimp to marinate on the skewers. Then cover it with plastic and refrigerate them until right before grilling.
In honor of Julia Child's birthday — la grande dame turns 100 tomorrow! — we're cooking up a bunch of the recipes with which she staked her claim to fame.
Perhaps one of the recipes Julia's best known for is her moules à la marinière, but flipping through Mastering the Art of French Cooking, I spotted another mussels recipe that deserves equal acknowledgement: JC's moules à la Provençal.
The first step to making this recipe is to split open the mussels: one can shuck them raw, but I prefer to steam them gently, then save the broth to add a saline flavor to my next seafood dish.
From there, the bivalves are stuffed with butter, breadcrumbs, butter, garlic, onions, and more butter, then put under the broiler. Mere minutes later, they emerge rust-brown and bubbling on the half shell, ready to be consumed immediately.
glass mussel to Julia when you make this gratinéed mussels recipe.