Takoyaki, An Osaka Street Food Staple, Fried Octopus Dumplings from Otsumami by Atsuko Ikeda

For a 3rd and last helping from Otsumami by Atsuko Ikeda (published by Ryland Peters & Small, 2022), here is Takoyaki, an Osaka street food staple.

TAKOYAKI, 

FRIED ROUND DUMPLINGS STUFFED WITH OCTOPUS

Along with okonomiyaki, takoyaki are probably one of the most famous Osakan street foods, but you can also find them everywhere across Japan. They are little round balls of batter, crispy on the outside, soft on the inside and stuff ed with little nuggets of octopus. You’ll need to buy a special pan (widely available online) to make takoyaki, but they’re definitely worth it as they are such a perfect party food.

Takoyaki

Ingredients:

450 ml/scant 2 cups Dashi* of your choice

1 UK large/US extra-large egg

2 tsp light soy sauce

150 g/1 cup plus 2 tbsp plain/all-purpose flour, sifted

3½ tbsp vegetable oil, for frying

FILLING

200 g/7 oz. octopus tentacles

20 g/¾ oz. pickled ginger, finely chopped

2 spring onions/scallions, finely chopped

TO SERVE

120 g/4¼ oz. takoyaki sauce

60 g/2 oz. Japanese mayonnaise

10 g/⅓ oz. bonito flakes (katsuobushi)

2 tsp aonori seaweed flakes

iron takoyaki pan with 16 holes (each hole 4 cm/1½ inches wide)

MAKES 32

Directions:

Whisk the dashi, egg and light soy sauce together in a large jug/pitcher. Sprinkle over the flour in two additions and gently whisk into the dashi mixture until incorporated into a smooth batter. Do not overmix.

Before you start cooking, make a simple but useful tool: scrunch some good-quality, thick kitchen paper tightly into a ball. Place the ball in the middle of another sheet of kitchen paper then wrap it around and twist the loose ends together to make a lollipop/candy on a stick shape.

Heat the takoyaki pan over high heat. When the pan is hot, dip the paper ball of the lollipop into the vegetable oil, then use it to oil each hole. Dip the paper in the oil again, then use it to coat the flat surface of the pan. You’ll need to cover the whole surface of the pan in oil to avoid the batter sticking. There should be some oil pooling at the bottom of the holes. 

Pour a quarter of the batter into each hole in the pan. Put half of the octopus pieces in each hole, then scatter half the pickled ginger and spring onions/scallions over the entire pan. Finally, pour over another quarter of the batter so it spreads across the flat surface of the pan. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook without touching for 5 minutes.

Use bamboo skewers or chopsticks to push one side of the batter away from the rim of a hole. It will move easily if it’s set underneath, if not then wait a little longer before trying again. Once the bottom is crispy, use chopsticks to rotate the balls 90 degrees so that any uncooked batter is underneath. Stuff any of the surrounding dough on the flat part of the pan inside the balls as you turn them. When the bottom becomes crispy again (after a minute or so), repeat the 90-degree rotation and stuffing process three more times in the same direction. At this point, turn the takoyaki around every which way, until the surface is golden all over and they are perfectly round! Using bamboo skewers, remove the takoyaki from the pan to serving plates or bamboo boats. Repeat the cooking process with the remaining ingredients to make a second batch.

Drizzle over the takoyaki sauce and mayonnaise, then sprinkle with bonito flakes and aonori before serving.

Otsumami cover (1)

(* Excerpted from Otsumami: Japanese Small Bites & Appetizers: Over 70 Recipes to Enjoy with Drinks by Atsuko Ikeda, published by Ryland Peters & Small 2022 / Photography by Yuki Sugiura (c) Ryland Peters & Small 2022)


Rub the Fish, Bengali Fish Curry Recipe via 50 Easy Indian Curries from Smith Street Books by Penny Chawla

Rub the fish!

Here are second dibs from 50 Easy Indian Curries (Smith Street Books, March 22) by Penny Chawla, the self styled 'curry queen' of Sydney.

Bengali Fish Curry

Serves 4

Bengalis love their fish. Whether it’s served for lunch or dinner, at an engagement or wedding, fish will always appear on the menu. This recipe is one of the simplest to make. The mustard paste gives the dish a slight wasabi-like kick, without overpowering the delicate fish. The best way to eat it is to ditch that cutlery and use your fingers.

Ingredients:

4 x 150 g–200 g (5 1/2 oz–7 oz) mackerel steaks

sea salt

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

3/4 teaspoon black mustard seeds

1/2 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds

1 small onion, roughly chopped

6 small green chillies or 4 long green chillies

60 ml (1/4 cup) mustard oil or vegetable oil

4 fresh or dried bay leaves

lemon wedges, to serve

Steamed basmati rice to serve

Bengali Fish Curry

Directions:

Rub the fish with a sprinkling of salt and half the turmeric.

Grind the mustard seeds in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle. Blend the ground mustard seeds, onion and half the chillies in the small bowl of a food processor or blender to a smooth paste. Add a small amount of water to get the mixture moving, if necessary.

Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium–high heat. Cook the fish for 1–2 minutes each side or until lightly browned. Transfer to a plate.

Add the onion paste, remaining turmeric, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and the bay leaves to the pan, then reduce the heat to medium and cook for 3 minutes or until fragrant. Add 375 ml (11/2 cups) of water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 5 minutes, then return the fish to the pan and add the remaining chillies. Reduce the heat to medium–low and simmer, covered, for 5–6 minutes, until the fish is just cooked through. Season with a little more salt, if necessary.

Serve with lemon wedges and steamed basmati rice.

(* Reproduced with permission from 50 Easy Indian Curries (Smith Street Books, March 22) by Penny Chawla, the self styled 'curry queen' of Sydney. Photo copyright: Emily Weaving)


Blooming Flower of a Dim Sum Dumpling, Ika Shumai, Squid Bites We Serve from Otsumami by Atsuko Ikeda

Blooming flower of a dim sum dumpling, Ika Shumai, squid bites we serve from Otsumami by Atsuko Ikeda (published by Ryland Peters & Small, 2022)

IKA SHUMAI

SQUID DUMPLINGS

Shumai are the steamed dumpling favorites at dim sum restaurants. They are traditionally Chinese, but this particular version is definitely Japanese and actually comes from my hometown, Yobuko in Kyushu. This town is known for its fish market and particularly for the translucent squid or ika you can get there. Ika Shumai are steamed squid and white fish dumplings, which are beautifully wrapped in thin strips of gyoza wrappers to emulate a blooming flower. The squid gives a natural sweetness to the dumplings, while the strips of gyoza wrapper add an airy, fluff y texture to your mouthful.

Ingredients:

10 gyoza wrappers

6 large lettuce leaves

English mustard, to serve

Squid dumpling

Ingredients, Filling: 

200 g/7 oz. cod, skinned and roughly diced

120 g/4½ oz. fresh squid, roughly chopped

1 egg white

1 shallot, finely chopped

½ tsp peeled and finely grated fresh ginger

¼ tsp fine salt

1 tsp golden caster/granulated sugar

1 tbsp sake

1 tbsp toasted sesame oil

2 tsp fish sauce

3 tbsp katakuriko (potato starch)

SU JOYU DIPPING SAUCE

2 tbsp rice vinegar

2 tbsp mirin 

2 tbsp soy sauce

20-cm/8-inch steamer

MAKES 12

Directions:

To make the su joyu dipping sauce, combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

For the dumpling filling, put the cod and half of the squid in a food processor. Pulse to make a paste. Add the egg white and pulse again to combine with the  fish paste – this will help give it an airy texture.

Tip the fish mixture out into a mixing bowl, then add the remaining chopped squid, shallot, ginger, salt, sugar, sake, sesame oil, fish sauce and katakuriko. Mix until well combined, then chill the dumpling filling in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make two separate piles with five gyoza wrappers each on a chopping board. Slice both piles of the gyoza wrappers into fine strips, as thin as matchsticks, then separate the layers so that they don’t stick together. Place the gyoza strips in a sealed container until ready to use.

Bring a steamer to the boil.

Wet your hands a little to stop the fish mixture from sticking, then divide the mixture into twelve 35-g/1¼-oz. portions. Shape each one into a ball. Mix the gyoza strips to a give a messy texture (rather than having them all neatly positioned). Cover each fish ball with a nest of gyoza strips. 

Use tongs or chopsticks to place three lettuce leaves at the bottom of the steamer to stop the dumplings from sticking to the surface. Place six dumplings into the steamer (spaced apart as they will swell up when cooking). Cover with a lid and steam over medium heat for 7 minutes.

Take the dumplings and the lettuce leaves out of the steamer, then repeat the cooking process with the remaining lettuce leaves and dumplings.

Serve the dumplings hot, with dots of English mustard on top and the su joyu dipping sauce.

Otsumami cover

(* Excerpted from Otsumami: Japanese Small Bites & Appetizers: Over 70 Recipes to Enjoy with Drinks by Atsuko Ikeda, published by Ryland Peters & Small 2022 / Photography by Yuki Sugiura (c) Ryland Peters & Small 2022)


British Italian Bridge, Kani Zosui, Cross between Risotto and Porridge, Recipe from Otsumami by Atsuko Ikeda

A British Italian bridge, Kani Zosui is sort of a cross between risotto and porridge. This Crab Meat Rice Recipe is the first taste we share from Otsumami by Atsuko Ikeda (published by Ryland Peters & Small, 2022)

KANI ZOSUI 

CRAB MEAT RICE

Zosui is something between a risotto and a porridge. It is usually enjoyed at the end of a nomikai or work drinks party to finish the meal. There are various types of zosui, some being soupy and others a thicker consistency. I prefer the latter, which I’m sharing with you in this recipe. This dish is enjoyed at the end of the meal because of its digestive properties. The rice is simmered longer than usual and is very delicate in flavor. Especially prepared in winter, it will warm up your body at the end of a cold day. This is proper, healthy comfort food.

400 ml/1⅔ cups Kombu & Katsuobushi Dashi* 

250 g/9 oz. cooked rice (next-day rice is even better for this)

1 tbsp sake

1 tbsp light soy sauce

2 tsp mirin

150 g/5½ oz. white and brown crab meat

1 egg, beaten

salt

TO SERVE

50 g/1¾ oz. salmon roe s

mall handful of coriander/cilantro leaves

Serves 4

Kani Zosui

Bring the katsuobushi dashi to the boil in a large saucepan or Japanese donabe hot pot.

Add the cooked rice, sake, light soy sauce and mirin. Cover with the lid and simmer for 5 minutes over low heat.

Add the crab meat, stir and cover with the lid again. Simmer over low heat for a further 5 minutes. The consistency should be getting towards something like a thick porridge.

Towards the end of the simmering time, pour the beaten egg over the top of the rice, then replace the lid and simmer for a final 2 minutes.

Stir gently to mix the egg with the rice and season with a little salt if necessary. Serve in individual serving bowls, topped with salmon roe and coriander/cilantro leaves.

*DASHI

Dashi is an ingredient at the heart of Japanese cuisine, and is used as the base of many traditional dishes in this book. I have either specifed which type of dashi to use, or I’ve left it up to you to choose your favorite for the recipe.

NOTE I wouldn’t recommend freezing any dashi, it is easy to make and the flavors would not survive.

NOTE The quality of water is as important for dashi as it is for brewing tea, so a soft or filtered water is ideal.

KOMBU DASHI

Kombu dashi is the favored type of stock in shojin ryori (Buddhist vegan cuisine). Different varieties of kombu are available, each with slightly different flavours – Rishiri, Hidaka, Rausu and Makombu are the most common. There are two ways of making kombu dashi. Simply soak the kombu in cold water overnight to draw out its elegant flavour, or soak it quickly in heated water for a richer, deeper flavor. The recipe below is for the latter method:

1 litre/quart cold water

10 g/¼ oz. (5 x 10-cm/2 x 4-inch) piece of kombu

MAKES 1 LITRE/QUART

Place the water and kombu in a large saucepan and let it soak for at least 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, start to gently bring the water to the boil over medium-high heat. Just before it reaches boiling point – when small bubbles appear at the bottom of the pan – remove the kombu and take the pan off the heat. The temperature should reach no more than about 60°C (140°F). Do not let the kombu boil; if you do the flavor will be spoilt. The kombu dashi is now ready to use. It will keep in the fridge in a sealed container for up to 3 days. You can use the same piece of kombu again to make another dashi, or dice and add it to soups or salads.

KOMBU & SHIITAKE DASHI

This stock is useful in any vegetarian dish. The dried shiitake mushrooms add an extra earthy depth of flavor to the broth. The magic, umami-rich combination of both kombu and shiitake really enhances the flavor of any ingredient it pairs with. You can keep both the rehydrated shiitake mushrooms and kombu for use in other recipes.

1 litre/quart cold water

10 g/¼ oz. (5 x 10-cm/2 x 4-inch) piece of kombu

20 g/¾ oz. dried shiitake mushrooms

MAKES 800 ML/3⅓ CUPS

Place the water, kombu and shiitake mushrooms in a large saucepan and leave them to soak for at least 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, start to gently bring the water to the boil over medium-high heat. Just before it reaches boiling point – when small bubbles appear at the bottom of the pan – remove the kombu. Do not let the kombu boil; if you do the flavor will be spoilt. Continue heating to bring the water and mushrooms to the boil.

Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Skim any scum off the surface of the dashi as it cooks.

Turn the heat off and strain the dashi through a muslin/cheesecloth or fine-mesh sieve/strainer. The dashi is now ready to use. It will keep in the fridge in a sealed container for up to 3 days.

** KOMBU & KATSUOBUSHI DASHI

This is the most common dashi for non-vegetarians. It uses both kombu and bonito flakes (katsuobushi) together for an umami-rich dashi with a complex, deep flavor. It is perfect for clear soups, egg dishes or noodles in broth where the dashi shines through as the primary flavor.

1 litre/quart cold water

10 g/¼ oz. (5 x 10-cm/2 x 4-inch) piece of kombu

20 g/¾ oz. bonito flakes (katsuobushi)

MAKES 800 ML/3⅓ CUPS

Place the water and kombu in a large saucepan and leave to soak for at least 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, start to gently bring the water to the boil over a medium-high heat. Just before it reaches boiling point – when small bubbles appear at the bottom of the pan – remove the kombu and continue heating. Once boiling, turn the heat off and sprinkle the katsuobushi (bonito flakes) into the kombu dashi. Leave to brew for 2 minutes, letting the flakes sink to the bottom of the pan.

Strain the dashi through a muslin/cheesecloth or  fine-mesh sieve/strainer, letting it drip through. The finished dashi is now ready to use. It will keep in the fridge in a sealed container for up to 3 days.

Otsumami cover

(* Excerpted from Otsumami: Japanese Small Bites & Appetizers: Over 70 Recipes to Enjoy with Drinks by Atsuko Ikeda, published by Ryland Peters & Small 2022 / Photography by Yuki Sugiura (c) Ryland Peters & Small 2022)


Summer up North, Smoked Mackerel Rillettes With Rye Crisps Recipe from ScandiKitchen Midsommar by Bronte Aurell

Summer lunch up North (meaning Scandinavia) has seafood rillettes on the menu.

Like this Smoked Mackerel Rillettes With Rye Crisps recipe from ScandiKitchen: Midsommar: Simply Delicious Food for Summer Days (Ryland Peters & Small, 2018, 2021) by Brontë Aurell, co-owner of ScandiKitchen in West London.

Smoked Mackerel Rillettes With Rye Crisps

This is a super-easy way to prepare an appetizer or light lunch. Rillettes are a coarse, potted meat similar to pâté that are stirred together and spread on toast. They’re usually made with fatty pork (or duck) leftovers, but I love making rillettes with fish. This recipe works well with both smoked mackerel and smoked salmon.

Smoked Mackerel Rillettes from ScandiKitchen Midsommar

Ingredients:

8–12 thin slices of rye bread or store-bought rye crisps (available in supermarkets) 

200 ml/3⁄4 cup crème fraîche

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

3 tablespoons chopped chives

squeeze of fresh lime juice

1⁄2 teaspoon horseradish sauce

300 g/10 1⁄2 oz. smoked mackerel

freshly ground black pepper (hold the salt until you taste it, some mackerel is very salty)

TO SERVE

1⁄4 small fennel bulb

1⁄2 apple

freshly squeezed lemon juice

fresh pea shoots

4 individual serving glasses

Serves 4 as a generous appetizer or light lunch

Directions:

If using rye bread, preheat the oven to 140°C (275°F) Gas 1. Slice the rye bread very thinly and place on a baking tray. If the bread is too thick it will be hard to eat as crispy bread, so do make sure it is thinly sliced. Bake in the preheated oven for about 10–20 minutes (depending on your bread) until completely dry. You can make it several days ahead and store in an airtight container.

Mix the crème fraîche with the mustard, chives, lime juice and horseradish (if using). Remove the skin from the mackerel and add the fish to the crème fraîche mixture. Stir just until mixed – I like my rillettes with a few chunky bits, but some people prefer it smoother. If you like yours smoother, simply mix a while longer. Check for seasoning and add black pepper to taste. Spoon the mixture into the serving glasses. Chill until ready to serve.

When ready to serve, slice the fennel and apple very thinly, ideally using a mandoline. Add a squeeze of lemon juice to stop the apple going brown and mix well. Serve the apple and fennel salad with pea shoots, the glasses of mackerel and the rye toast on the side. You may need extra toast as the mackerel makes a generous portion.

( Reproduced with permission from ScandiKitchen: Midsommar: Simply Delicious Food for Summer Days By Brontë AurellRyland Peters & Small, 2021 / photography by Peter Cassidy © Ryland Peters & Small, 2018, 2021)

P.S: Please note that the recipes in ScandiKitchen: Midsommar are the same as in ScandiKitchen Summer, which was published in 2018.


Crustacean Eating Red Mullet Makes for Smooth Pink Whole Thai Fish Skewers, from Skewered by Marcus Bawdon

Crustacean eating red mullet makes for smooth pink Whole Thai Fish Skewers, a recipe from Skewered: Recipes for Fire Food on Sticks from Around the World by Marcus Bawdon (© Dog ‘n’ Bone, April 27, 2021)

WHOLE THAI FISH SKEWERS

I’m a lover of red mullet and I think it’s much under-rated by a lot of folk. It’s a lovely pink, smooth-skinned fish, and the flesh is delicate with a shellfish flavor from all the prawns/shrimp and crustaceans it eats.
I figured it would work well with a red Thai curry coating and a nice crispy, slightly charred skin. This is a lovely way to cook fish as you get a crisp skin, without fear of the fish sticking because it’s not in contact with the grill grates.

Skewered p 128

Feeds 2

RECOMMENDED HEAT: Moderate coals

Ingredients:

2 red mullet, gutted and scaled
2 tbsp Thai red curry paste
coarse sea salt
lime wedges, to serve

CHOOSE YOUR SKEWER
long flat metal skewers

Directions:

Set up a narrow grill so that the skewers go across both sides so that the fish can be supported just above the coals.

Skewer the fish through the head, body and out through the tail end. Make a couple of slashes in the thick part of the body to help even cooking, and to allow the curry paste to penetrate the flesh. Season lightly with the salt, and then brush on the Thai red curry paste. Make sure the fish has a nice even coating of the paste.

Place the fish skewers over the coals and turn occasionally, making sure the char on the skin doesn’t get too dark. Total cooking time should be 10–12 minutes or until the thickest part of the fish has an internal temperature of 55°C/130°F on a digital probe thermometer.
Finish with a squeeze of lime juice and serve with some fragrant jasmine rice, if liked.

Skewered cover

(* Excerpted from Skewered: Recipes from Around the World for Fire Food on Sticks by Marcus Bawdon - © Dog ‘n’ Bone, 2021- Photography by Marcus Bawdon)


Don't Drop the Ball, Lache Pas La Boulette, Shrimp Boulettes Recipe from Mosquito Supper Club Cookbook

Don't drop the ball, lache pas la boulette, with this Shrimp Boulettes recipe from Mosquito Supper Club (Artisan Books, April 2020) by Melissa Martin.

Shrimp Boulettes

Shrimp boulettes, or fried shrimp balls, might remind you of Thai fish cakes or Vietnamese shrimp on sugarcane. The shrimp is ground up and fried without any flour or cornmeal (shrimp is sticky enough to bind the vegetables together, so you don’t need to add any filler). Eat the boulettes as a snack with hot sauce, or put some on a roll with bitter greens, cocktail sauce, or spicy mayo to turn them into a sandwich. Either way, they are a great way to eat small fresh shrimp.

Serves 6

Shrimp Boulette Mosquite Supper Club

Ingredients:

¾ cup (110 g) coarsely chopped green bell pepper

2 tablespoons coarsely chopped green onion

¼ cup (25 g) coarsely chopped celery

2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1¼ pounds (565 g) peeled and deveined small or medium shrimp

1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed

⅛ teaspoon cracked black pepper, plus more as needed

⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper, plus more as needed

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon hot sauce, preferably Original Louisiana Hot Sauce, plus more as needed

Peanut oil, for frying

Directions:

In a large bowl, combine the bell pepper, green onion, celery, parsley, shrimp, salt, black pepper, cayenne, and hot sauce and toss to distribute the ingredients evenly. Using an old-fashioned meat grinder or a food processor, grind the mixture together. If using a food processor, work in small batches and pulse until smooth, then transfer to a bowl. In either case, after grinding, you should not see any vegetables; the boulette mix should be a homogenous paste.

Fill a large heavy-bottomed pot with 4 inches (10 cm) of peanut oil and heat the oil over medium-high heat to 375°F (190°C). (Alternatively, use a tabletop fryer; see page 25.)

Using two spoons or a small (#100) cookie scoop, form a ball of the boulette mix no bigger than the diameter of a quarter and carefully drop it into the hot oil. Fry this tester boulette for about 6 minutes, until golden brown on the outside. Transfer the boulette to a paper towel or a brown paper bag to drain excess oil and let it cool. Taste the boulette: Does the mix need more salt? More pepper or more heat? Add salt, black pepper, cayenne, or hot sauce to your liking—I like boulettes to have a slight vinegary taste, and hot sauce gives them that flavor. There is no one perfect formula. You have to taste your mix every time.

Once you have adjusted your mix, drop about 15 balls at a time into the hot oil and fry until golden brown, about 6 minutes. Transfer the boulettes to paper towels or brown paper bags to drain and cool briefly, then serve.

The boulette mix will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for 2 days. If making ahead of time, add the salt right before frying to keep the mix from getting watery.

(“Excerpted from Mosquito Supper Club by Melissa Martin -Artisan Books- Copyright © 2020. Photographs by Denny Culbert")


Feeling Crabby, Think Louisiana Sunshine with Garlic Crabs Recipe from Mosquito Supper Club by Melissa Martin

Feeling crabby! Think Louisiana sunshine with Garlic Crabs recipe from Mosquito Supper Club (Artisan Books, April 2020) by Melissa Martin.

Garlic Crabs with Parsley and Lemon

Serves 2 to 4

In Louisiana, when temperatures start rising to sweltering highs and the brackish water heats up, it’s peak crab season. From June to September, you can open just about any icebox on the bayou and find a tray of boiled crabs. We eat them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There are endless ways to eat leftover boiled crabs. You can eat them cold, stew them, throw them in gumbo, or roast them like this, with garlic and lemon. The crabs are already cooked, so you are just warming them through and creating a delicious sauce that will be partially baked on. You’ll need lots of crusty bread or rice to soak up the buttery, garlicky jus.

Garlic Crabs from MOSQUITO SUPPER CLUB

Ingredients:

Leaves from 1 small bunch flat-leaf parsley

12 garlic cloves, peeled

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

6 boiled large or medium blue crabs, halved and cleaned of their gills and lungs (see Note)

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon cracked black pepper

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 tablespoons hot sauce, preferably Original Louisiana Hot Sauce

3 bay leaves (see Note)

½ cup (120 ml) canola oil

½ cup (1 stick/115 g) unsalted butter

Crusty bread or cooked rice, for serving

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C).

On a cutting board, combine the parsley, 6 of the garlic cloves, and the lemon zest. Finely chop them together, transfer to a bowl, and set aside.

Put the crabs in a large bowl and season with the salt, black pepper, cayenne, and hot sauce. Add the bay leaves.

Warm a large cast-iron skillet or ovenproof sauté pan over medium-high heat for 3 minutes, then add the oil and the remaining 6 garlic cloves. Cook until the garlic becomes fragrant, then use a slotted spoon to transfer it to a plate; set aside.

Working in batches to avoid crowding the skillet, add the crabs to the hot oil and cook until starting to brown on the bottom, about 3 minutes, then flip and cook until starting to brown on the second side, about 3 minutes more. Transfer the crabs to a roasting pan and repeat to brown the remaining crabs.

Add 2 tablespoons of the butter to the skillet and let it melt. Return the crabs to the skillet and turn them to coat evenly with the butter. Transfer the crabs and the reserved garlic to the roasting pan and place the pan in the oven. Roast, flipping once after 3 minutes, until the crabs are golden, about 6 minutes total.

Remove from the oven and add the remaining 6 tablespoons butter and the parsley-garlic mixture to the pan. Toss until the crabs are evenly coated. Season with the lemon juice and serve with crusty bread or rice.

Note: A cleaned crab is a live crab that has had the top shell, gills, and back flap removed. Ask your fish market or seafood purveyor for fresh cleaned crabs, or ask if they’ll clean some crabs for you if they’re not already on hand.

Note: I like to leave the bay leaves in the final recipe. They’re not meant to be eaten, but it makes for a beautiful, rustic presentation.

(“Excerpted from Mosquito Supper Club by Melissa Martin -Artisan Books- Copyright © 2020. Photographs by Denny Culbert")


Galician Way, Oysters en Escabeche from Oysters: Recipes that Bring Home Taste of the Sea by Cynthia Nims

Something I would have liked for lunch, first excerpt from Oysters: Recipes that Bring Home a Taste of the Sea (Sasquatch Books. 2016) by Cynthia Nims.

Oysters en Escabeche

Every escabeche I’d encountered before seemed to have a lot going on: slivered vegetables, chiles, various seasonings in addition to the vinegar-heavy base. But while in Galicia in northwest Spain, I tasted the local mussels en escabeche and the dish was blessedly simple and outrageously delicious: olive oil, a touch of vinegar, paprika. It inspired this approach with oysters, which makes a wonderful appetizer or cocktail snack.

This is a recipe for which the spice’s freshness is paramount, particularly a spice like paprika that is relatively mellow to begin with. This may be the perfect time to invest in some fresh paprika; I buy bulk spices in smaller portions that I’m likely to go through pretty quickly. In place of regular sweet paprika (which means “not spicy” in this case, as for “sweet” bell peppers), you can also use Spanish smoked paprika.

For marinating the oysters, choose a small, squat dish in which the oysters will be fully covered by the marinade, ideally one with a tight-fitting lid so you can just shake gently now and then to ensure even marinating.

Makes 6 to 8 servings

For the marinade:

1 cup olive oil, plus more if needed

1 tablespoon sweet paprika (regular or smoked)

¼ cup red wine vinegar

1 bay leaf, preferably fresh, torn into 3 or 4 pieces

1 teaspoon kosher salt 

24 small oysters in their shells, shells well rinsed, or jarred yearling to extra-small oysters, with their liquor

Crackers or sliced baguette, for serving

Oysters en Eschabeche

  1. In a small saucepan over low heat, stir together the oil and paprika and warm for about 15 minutes to draw the paprika flavor into the oil. Take the pan from the heat and let it cool for 5 to 10 minutes, then stir in the vinegar, bay leaf, and salt. Set the marinade aside.
  2. If using in-shell oysters, steam them open, 5 to 10 minutes. While still warm, but not too hot to handle, remove the oysters from the shells (some shells may not have fully opened, so you will need a shucking knife to help here) and add them to the marinade. Stir to be sure the marinade is evenly coating the oysters and set aside just until cooled to room temperature.
  3. If using jarred oysters, put the oysters and their liquor in a small saucepan and warm, stirring gently now and then, until the oysters plump up and their edges curl, 4 to 5 minutes. Set the pan aside for a few minutes to cool a bit, then lift the oysters from the pan with a slotted spoon and add them to the marinade. Stir to be sure the marinade is evenly coating the oysters and set aside just until cooled to room temperature.
  4. Transfer the cooled oysters and marinade to a medium nonreactive container; the oysters should be fully submerged in the marinade; add a bit more oil if needed. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or longer if the oysters are on the bigger side. The oysters can marinate for up to 3 days before serving. Stir now and then to reblend the seasonings and ensure even marinating.
  5. To serve, allow the oysters to come to room temperature. Discard the bay leaf. Transfer the oysters to a serving dish, drizzle some of the marinade over, and serve with crackers or baguette alongside.

Fresh Bay:

Bay is rarely among the fresh herbs tucked into our window boxes or backyard gardens. But when I needed some fresh bay to test a recipe about twenty years ago, I bought a little four-inch pot of the herb, used what I needed for the recipe, and transplanted it to my patio garden. I still have that same bay—now a small tree—and can’t tell you the last time I used a dried bay leaf. Dried bay has its place in stocks and stews, but fresh bay has a whole different character, with more vivid flavor that is almost reminiscent of nutmeg. Use it as you would dry bay, though it is versatile enough to even use in desserts.

(* Reproduced with permission from Oysters: Recipes that Bring Home a Taste of the Sea -Sasquatch Books. 2016- by Cynthia Nims, Photography by Jim Henkens)


Nettles Galore, April in Whidbey Island, Neah Bay Halibut with Creamed Nettles and Morels from 'Lark'

After Elegance for Dessert with Lacquered Peaches from Lark' Cooking Wild in the Northwest' Cookbook  (Sasquatch Books, August 2016) by chef John Sundstrom, here's a helping of fish as secomd recipe from the book

Nettles Galore, April in Whidbey Island,

Neah Bay Halibut with Creamed Nettles and Morels

For a few weeks in April, we have a lovely convergence of spring delights: fresh halibut, young and tender stinging nettles, and the first true morels of the season. I bring them together in this bright, earthy, and creamy dish. After months of root vegetables and cabbage we Northwesterners are craving something green, and usually the first stinging nettles fill the void. At Lark I have a network of hard-working foragers who bring them right to me, but nettles grow wild all over. Whidbey Island’s bucolic setting is known for having nettles galore, and many a part-time forager takes revenge on this weed. They do sting, so use tongs to move them from the storage container to the pan for cooking. Cooking removes the stinging properties. Nettles are highly nutritious, full of vitamins and minerals, and delicious. And if this is all just too much, spinach is a great substitute.

MAKES 4 SERVINGS

1½ pounds halibut fillets (or cheeks), cut into 6-ounce portions

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided

¼ pound morels, trimmed, washed, dried, and sliced

1 teaspoon minced garlic

½ pound stinging nettles, picked and washed

2 tablespoons dry white wine

¾ cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon minced chives, for finishing

Neah Bay Halibut by Zack Bent (1)

1- Season the halibut on both sides with salt and pepper. 


        2-Heat the oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the halibut fillets and cook on one side until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Turn them over gently and use a spoon to baste the fillets. Continue cooking until they are just cooked through and translucent in the center, 2 to 3 more minutes. Transfer the halibut to a warm plate until ready to serve.

         3-In a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Add the morels with a pinch of salt and pepper and cook them until just soft and tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes until softened but not browned. Using tongs, add the nettles to the pan and stir them into the morels and garlic. Add the wine to deglaze the pan and let it reduce slightly. Stir in the cream and adjust seasoning to taste. Simmer until the cream has reduced to a slightly thickened sauce. Adjust seasoning to taste.

         4-To serve, spoon the creamed nettles and morels onto a serving platter. Place the halibut on top and garnish with the chives.

        CHEF’S NOTE: When cleaning morels, it is best to use a brush or towel to gently remove the dirt. Sometimes they can be especially dirty and hard to clean completely with a brush and need to be washed in water.It is important not to soak them; dunk them in the water, toss them around briefly and then dry immediately in a salad spinner before laying them out on paper towels.

        Be very careful when handling the stinging nettles. At Lark we double up on latex gloves when cleaning them.

(* Recipe (c)2016 by Johnathan Sundstrom. All rights reserved. Excerpted from Lark: Cooking Wild in the Northwest by permission of Sasquatch Books, Photography by Zack Bent)