Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Seafood and Spice

For a few weeks I was on a major seafood kick. I would stop by the seafood market on my way home from work and cook it up. Now the tourists have invaded and I don't want to drive anywhere. But here are a few of my latest favorite dishes. 

Shrimp and Grits

We visited Tybee Island in February for Kate's birthday and had a great version of shrimp and grits at a restaurant there. I've been making shrimp and grits with okra and tomatoes ever since. First I prepare the grits according to the directions on the package. I love Bob's Red Mill grits. Then I slice a couple of spicy sausages. I use aidell's sausage, the cajun style andouille flavor. Then I peel the shrimp. If you're cooking this dish with a friend and the friend asks if they can help you with anything, look busy and say: "oh, maybe you could peel the shrimp while I'm getting everything else ready." If I'm using large shrimp I de-vein it so it has a nice butterfly shape. Also a good thing for someone other than you to do. 
I cook the sliced sausage while I dice the tomatoes, okra, and garlic. Throw in these three ingredients with the sausage. Add a little butter and white wine. Add a little salt and pepper at some point, but not too much if you're using spicy sausage because it adds lots of flavor. Wait to throw in the shrimp until everything else is almost cooked, because shrimp only need a few minutes. Cook them until they are pink and no longer translucent. Add some green onions just a minute before you turn off the heat under the pan. Serve over grits. Drink the rest of the bottle of white wine with dinner. 

Blackened Trout

This is an easy way to prepare fresh fish. I have experimented with making my own blackening seasoning, but for this dish I just bought pre-mixed seasoning at the seafood market. While I heat up an iron skillet I coat fillets of speckled trout with the seasoning on both sides. I add butter to the pan once it's hot and cook the fillets for a few minutes on each side (for thin fillets like these a few minutes will do; add more time for thicker fillets.) Only turn them once. Top with a pat of butter and sprinkle some chopped cilantro on top. Chris made the potatoes, and I just lightly steamed the sugar snap peas to go along with the fish. 

Lemon caper flounder

I stole this flounder recipe from Back Porch restaurant in Ocracoke. Lightly dredge flounder fillets in a breading of flour, cornmeal, salt, and pepper. Pan fry it a few minutes on each side. For the sauce, melt a little butter (I just did this in the microwave), add some lemon juice and a lot of capers. Pour over the flounder after assembling a plate with flounder and white rice. I used Basmati rice and it was excellent with the sauce. I also made a tomatillo and corn relish to go along with the flounder. I also couldn't resist the softshell crabs at the seafood market, so Chris panfried a couple of those to go along with the flounder. 
The softshells were so fresh they were still alive. They cleaned them for me (removed the lungs and intestines) at the seafood market. The woman came out of the back with the cleaned crabs and was chuckling (in a creepy way, I thought) about how the crabs were still moving. 
"They don't know they're dead yet," she said. 
"Yeah," I said, "I feel kind of bad about that." 
"Just don't name them," she said. 
This meal was awesome with the new Radler beer from the local micro-brewery Weeping Radish

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