Tag Archives: seafood

unagi-don (unagi sushi rice bowl)

If you had told me 15 years ago that one of my absolute favorite foods was eel, I would have laughed and told you you were out of your mind. I mean, who eats eel? That’s just craziness. today, freshwater eel, or unagi, is absolutely one of my favorite things. When we go out for sushi, I always save a piece of unagi nagiri for last so that I can end my meal with that perfect bite.

I’m a sucker for sauces and condiments and I just can’t get enough kabayaki sauce, the salty/sweet barbecue-like sauce it’s basted in. After your tongue gets a hit of the kabayaki sauce, you bite through the crunchy exterior to find that it’s melt-in-your-mouth succulent and smokey on the inside. It’s a wonderland of flavor and texture and once I finally tried it, I knew that unagi and I were going to have a very strong lifelong relationship.

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springtime sampler

We finally had some decent weather this past weekend and I was absolutely desperate to get out of the house. We’d never been to New Bedford, a town hailed for being one of the most important whaling ports in the 19th Century, so we made the one hour drive down from Boston and checked out some sites that Joseph had picked out.

The highlight was definitely Margaret’s (actually across the river in Fairhaven), a small, unpretentious seafood restaurant that we picked based on strong Yelp reviews. It was packed but turnover was fast enough that it seemed that no one ever had to wait. They had yummy focaccia at the table waiting for us before we even sat down which is both delightful and dangerous for someone who loves bread as much as I do. We both got seafood plates that had slightly different content, but pretty much the same sauce. The food – especially the huge, sweet, and plump mussels – was delicious and the prices were friendly on the wallet. Simple food done well, amazing prices, awesome service. If you’re ever in the area, I definitely recommend stopping by.

We also stopped by Lydia’s, a Portuguese Bakery, for some somewhat unmemorable pastries.  We knew nothing about Portuguese pastries and had no idea what to get, so that may have been the problem.  Next we headed to Sid Wainer & Son, a specialty food wholesaler with a retail store open to the public where you can get a $300 jar of winter truffles and enough free food samples to constitute a small lunch. Make sure to bring a jacket if you want to peruse their well-stocked cheese room.

Next was Travessia Winery, an urban winery that sources most of their grapes from a vineyard in Massachusetts. The Pinot Grigio and the Chardonnay are well worth skipping, while the Vidal Blanc and especially the red blend Jester, whose grapes are sourced from California, are tastier. Mostly I was just glad that you saved $2 off the tasting by opting out of getting the “free” glass.  Anyone want any winery wine glasses?  We have enough to stock a small restaurant.

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chipotle shrimp

chipotle shrimp on rice

This is a Rick Bayless week for us.  On Sunday we sat down to figure out what we wanted to make for the week before heading to the grocery and we surrounded ourselves with a bunch of cookbooks. Somehow every single recipe we decided on ended up being from Bayless.  I guess because it’s been freezing cold and snowy here in Boston and some nice hot, spicy food just sounds really appealing, not to mention the fact that we haven’t made a Rick Bayless recipe that we haven’t loved.

wild maine shrimp

While I had seen this shrimp recipe (and drooled over the succulent shrimp in the picture), it didn’t make our list and I forgot all about it.  But when we got to the store and saw that they had a great deal on wild Maine shrimp, we couldn’t pass it up, though we didn’t have any plans for it.  When Joseph picked me up from work on Monday, he said he already had a plan for the shrimp and we already had all of the ingredients.  He had found the recipe in Everyday Mexican and it just so happened to be the very recipe for the picture that I had been drooling over the night before.  It was meant to be!  That’s my husband — knowing what I want even when I’ve already forgotten all about it!

chipotle in adobo, cilantro, garlic, and broth

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ginger-miso halibut in shiitake and edamame broth with soba noodles

While we were in DC celebrating my Dad’s, Joseph’s and my birthdays, my mom wanted to cook a meal together (well, my dad’s very helpful participation was on the cleaning up side of things).  Joseph found a striped bass recipe on epicurious.com that looked pretty good.  My mom had some beautiful halibut already, so we trooped off to the new Whole Foods in their neighborhood for the rest of the ingredients.  And what a Whole Foods it was!  For the most part, it was just a nice grocery store and not really that different from the one we go to in Cambridge.  But in the center of the store lays a total trap for suckers like me: salt, honey, and olive oil bars.  I got small samples of a merlot salt and another, very fine, powdery salt (I forgot the name!) that we got to use as a finishing salt for the halibut, but totally forgot all about. Oops.  Anyway, the bags were so small that when they tried to weigh them at the checkout, the weight didn’t register so we got them for free.  Score!

I really wish we had a salt bar at our Whole Foods because I keep looking at this $20 bottle of Himalayan pink salt that comes with its own little salt grater and oh, I want it so much.  Like I said, I’m a total sucker for that kind of thing and I would be much better off with a little .5 oz bag of it than a whole jar just because I want the salt grater!  Why would I need a salt grinder?  For the Himalayan pink salt!  When would I use it?  I don’t know! Continue reading


rhode island calamari

Calamari is one of those foods that garners all kinds of reactions from people.  Some people are appalled by the mere idea of it (“it’s squid!!”), some people are only ok with it if it’s deep fried, some people are only ok when it’s cut into rings and they do no want to see the tentacles, and some people love it in all its forms.  I used to be of the second persuasion: only ok with it as long as it was deep fried.  It just seemed safer and more unrecognizable in that form.  I mean, it’s breaded and deep fried.  Of course it’s good!

My very first date with Joseph was at a tapas restaurant and as we were selecting dishes to share, he suggested a sauteed calamari dish.  I was faced with a dilemma.  Do I present myself as a picky eater who’s somehow willing to eat (and enjoy) fried calamari on our first date, or just suck it up and eat something that sounds, frankly, kind of disgusting.  I went with option number one and openly admitted that I was a little nervous, but of course I would try it.  I loved it.  After one bite I didn’t want to share the rest with him. Continue reading


Thomas Keller’s Caramelized Sea Scallops

Joseph insisted that instead of going out for his birthday, he wanted to make a nice meal at home and break open a bottle of wine that we brought back from our honeymoon in Napa last year.  One of the restaurants that we went to on our honeymoon was Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc (French Laundry wasn’t quite in our budget, not to mention it’s really hard to get reservations) and I gave Joseph Keller’s new cookbook, Ad Hoc at Home for Christmas.  Now, Thomas Keller’s cooking at home isn’t quite what we do at home on an average weekday night (I wish).  In fact, we hadn’t made anything from it yet, although Joseph has found the book to have really helpful tips, for example, how long to let meat rest before serving.  I mostly like to look at all the pretty pictures.

Anyway, while many of the recipes are bit more involved, Joseph found a very simple recipe that he wanted to make and oh my goodness, you need to do yourself a favor and try it in your home right away.  It’s very, very simple, and very, very tasty.  A perfectly caramelized scallop is pure perfection – a sweet little treat from the sea. We served them with roasted broccoli and some rice, threw in a cheese course (Camembert that we brought back from the French airport highrollers that we are), all served with Joseph Phelps’ 2007 Sauvignon Blanc. The result was a meal that tasted so good it felt like we’d spent a small fortune at a great restaurant and the cleanup was pretty minimal so we weren’t left with a mess wishing that we had gone out. Continue reading


shrimp tacos with tomato, radish, and habañero

Ok, it’s been a while since I’ve shared a recipe and here I am sharing another Rick Bayless recipe, also from Mexican Everyday.  This is the perfect summer meal — nice and light, crisp, and refreshing.

These tacos do pack a bit of heat from the habeñero, which is considerably spicier than jalepeños, but nothing too serious and the citrusy radish salad helps soften the heat level. Rick’s directions don’t specify whether you are to seed and de-rib the pepper and Joseph nearly didn’t which I believe would result in something nearly inedible for most people.  The ribs (the white part running the length of the inside of the chile) and the seeds pack the biggest punch of peppers, and like I said, habeñeros are up there on the heat charts. Check out cookthink.com for great tips on how to cut chiles.  Please also remember not to handle the seeds or ribs with your bare hands because the oils will remain long after and then you’ll go to take out your contacts and you will be very sorry. You can always use a plastic bag or something if you’re worried about it.

There’s really nothing else to say about about this dish, other than to make sure you make these before summer slips away and also make sure you check out his tips on how to reheat store-bought corn tortillas.  Failure to do so will result in lots of ripped up tortillas and that’s a promise.

Shrimp Tacos with Tomato, Radish, and Habañero
Adapted from Rick Bayless

Serves 4

1 to 1 1/4 lb medium-small shrimp, cooked and peeled*
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 small white onion, finely chopped
6 radishes, thinly sliced
1 fresh habeñero (or jalepeño), stemmed and finely chopped
2 large ripe tomatoes, cored and chopped in 1/4 inch pieces
1/2 cup (loosely packed) chopped cilantro
salt
12 warm corn tortillas (reheat using Rick’s technique if you get store-bought)

Combine the shrimp, lime juice, onion, radishes, chile, tomatoes, and cilantro in a bowl. Season to taste with salt, probably close to a teaspoon.

Serve with warm corn tortillas.

* These can also be made with fish or shellfish if you prefer


Fisherman’s Catch

We may have just gotten back from our trip to Europe, but we decided it was time for another vacation (if only life could always be like this).  We started our trip to Maine right after work on Thursday and worked our way up to Greenville where we were staying the night before heading to West Branch Pond early the next morning.  We were eager to start the Maine experience and followed glowing Yelp reviews to Fisherman’s Catch in Wells, ME on the way up.  There was a 70 minute wait, but we figured it would be worth it, in part because people people kept telling us just that as they exited the restaurant patting their bellies. A Bar Harbor Blueberry Ale with wild Maine blueberries bobbing about made the wait easy.  The beer itself is tasty, but the berries, which explode with fresh blueberry sweetness and the the subtly fruity ale they’d been soaking in, were the real highlight.

blueberry ale

The meal itself was less satisfying.  So many of the Yelp reviewers raved about the fried clams and the menu alerts readers to the fact that the clams make it into the book 1001 Things to do Before You Die.  Or so I thought…. I found out later that it actually said 1001 Things to do Before You Diet.  I find this considerably less exciting because the first is not limited to food. Regardless, when we ordered the Captains Platter for 2, which was loaded with fried scallops, clams, shrimp, and haddock on top of french fries and hey, why not throw in some rolls because there’s not enough white/yellow food, we found that it pretty much all tasted the same.  Maybe it’s because we don’t eat much fried food?  I don’t know.  It really all just tasted like the batter, which I would say was only so-so.  But maybe it’s just Joseph and me, because everyone else just loved it.  Next time I think I’ll just stick to the lobster.

mountain of fried seafood