Southern Seafood Chowder

Seafood Chowder

Not many things better on a cold day than a hot cup of coffee.  Unless you are hungry, then a nice hot cup of stew or soup is a go-to for me.  I love seafood so of course, I make a seafood chowder that is a crowd-pleaser. There is a lot of variation to this recipe depending on your preferences or dietary restrictions. Enjoy!

What’s in it:

2 pounds of fish fillets, fresh or frozen
1 pound peeled, deveined, fresh local shrimp
2 cans (6-1/2 ounces each) minced clams with juices
¼ cup olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
2 minced garlic cloves
2 cans (28 ounces each) stewed petite tomatoes with liquid
½ cup white wine
¼ cup fresh chopped parsley
2 ½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon thyme
1 bay leaf
1/8 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

Step 1)  Thaw fish and shrimp, if frozen.  Skin fish and cut into ½ inch cubes. Cut shrimp in half or ½ inch pieces.

 

Step 2)  In a large saucepan, cook onion, celery, and garlic in the olive oil until tender but not brown.  Add the tomatoes, wine, parsley, salt, sugar, thyme, bay leaf and hot sauce. Simmer 15 minutes.

Step 3) Add the fish, shrimp, and clams and cook 8 to 10 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.  Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Serving:

This can be served over sliced, toasted French Bread or Rice.  Chowders and soups, if allowed to sit overnight in the refrigerator, are always better.

Grilled Shrimp with Mango

Grilled Shrimp with Mango

Grilled shrimp is delicious!  Picking the right shrimp is critical when grilling. You’ll want them large enough they don’t cook so fast they turn to rubber. Nothing worse than rubber shrimp, am I right?  Typically the bigger the shrimp the better you can judge their grill time. I like the 21-25 size which means there are 21-25 shrimp in a pound.  Since we’re here in Jacksonville I like to choose Mayport Shrimp from The Fishermans Dock. These grill up perfect as a main dish or as a side dish and if you are making something else like steak these are great as a surf and turf.

What’s in it:

1-pound large, local fresh shrimp, 21 – 25 count
2 large mangos, peeled and cut into ½ inch cubes
1 cup sweet chili sauce (store-bought sauce is perfect)
½ lime, juiced
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
¼ cup finely sliced scallions
Small bamboo skewers
Cooking oil spray for grilling
Salt and fresh ground pepper

 

Soak the bamboo skewers in water one hour before use.  Combine the sweet chili sauce, lime juice, sugar, ginger, and mint in a small bowl.  Slice the scallions and set aside.  On a clean surface place a mango cube in between the tail and top of a shrimp.  Insert the bamboo skewer through the shrimp and mango.  Repeat the process until all the shrimp are skewered, store in the refrigerator until ready to grill.  Grill about 1 ½ minute on each side.  When the shrimp is close to being cooked through, glaze with the sweet chili sauce. Salt and pepper to taste then sprinkle with the sliced scallions, serving with remaining sauce.

Credit:  FreshFromFlorida.com

 

Blue Crab Cakes

Blue Crab Cakes

I love these simple crab cakes.  With fresh simple ingredients, these are one of my go-to dishes for entertaining a small group of friends. As an alternative, they can be made into small slider shapes and served as appetizers.  Also trust me when I say you will love this tangy butter sauce.

What’s In It?

1 pound fresh or pasteurized lump blue crabmeat drained; shell pieces removed.
1 ½ cup panko crumbs, divided
¼ cup finely chopped red onion
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
¾ teaspoon seafood seasoning, Old Bay
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons olive oil

Combine onion, parsley, mayonnaise, mustard, Old Bay, Worcestershire sauce, and egg.  Gently fold in the crabmeat along with ¾ cup of panko crumbs (set aside remaining).  Cover and chill 30 minutes. Shape the crab mixture into 8 patties about ¾ inches thick.  In a shallow dish, roll the patties in the remaining ¾ cup of Panko crumbs, coating evenly.  In a non-stick skillet over medium heat, heat the olive oil and cook 4 crab cakes at a time for 5 to 7 minutes, turning once 2 ½ to 3 ½ minutes per side or until golden brown.

(For a more impressive crab cake use 8 ounces of lump and 8 ounces of jumbo lump crabmeat)

Tangy Butter Sauce

What’s in it?

¾ cup chicken broth

3 tablespoons shallots (finely chopped)

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

2 ½ tablespoons butter

Combine broth, shallots, and vinegar in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil and cook until reduced to ¼ cup.  Remove from heat and stir in butter.  Serve with crab cakes.

 

Recipe courtesy of Florida Agriculture Bureau of Seafood and Aquaculture

Are Oysters in Season?

The question of whether oysters are “in season” or not requires a rather long answer.

We’ll try and keep it as short as possible!

Simply stated there is no such thing as an oyster season to the extent that there is not a time of year when fresh oysters are unavailable as is the case with something like Florida Stone Crabs which have a CLOSED season.

This said it is possible that on almost any day of the year oysters from one or another area may be CLOSED TO HARVEST. The apparent contradiction arises because while Stone Crab season is based on a calendar date ( October 15th is the yearly opening date. ) oyster harvesting is controlled by a combination of calendar date closures and closures due to water conditions.

As it now stands oyster beds in the US are carefully monitored by various governmental health agencies to assure that no harvesting takes place when water quality standards are not sufficiently good to where the oysters are unsafe safe to eat raw.

Generally closures are triggered by rain events in or upriver from an oyster harvesting area. This is because it is well understood by health officials that lower salinities associated with an influx of freshwater often lead to increased bacteria counts that can lead to an increased chance of someone eating raw oysters becoming ill.

Typically areas closed for this reason are reopened by the public health agencies once testing of the waters to assure safety is done.

The takeaway from the foregoing is that so long as oysters are harvested from an open and approved area, regardless of the time of year, they have been judged safe.

But…and this is a BIG but…being safe and being good are not the same thing. Let’s face it, if an oyster does not have a good hint of salt to it it’s not really worth eating…and it’s even better if it has a good bit of “fat” to it.

And this is where things get really confusing because the best “season” to find oysters with a combination of “salt & fat” is in the late fall through early spring, which of course corresponds to the traditional time when oysters are in big demand.

The point is that there is two consideration as to oysters, safety and quality…and they are not the same. Safe can taste bad and what tastes bad ( bland is the usual description ) can be safe.

You, as an informed consumer need to know the difference and buy accordingly. Know too that we will not sell oysters unless they come from an approved oyster house and that you are very welcome to taste the oysters we have to be sure their flavor is to your liking. We’re oyster lovers ourselves so we understand.

And that is about as concise as we can keep it…