Saturday, April 17, 2010

Atlantic Seafood

Ever since eating in Chef Michael Howell's wonderful restaurant, The Tempest in Wolfville Nova Scotia, I've been drooling over his tasty seafood dishes. Good thing it's only an hour from our home in Halifax, so we can head over easily for a lunch or dinner.

But sometimes that's not so easy, even for us. Which is why I was so excited to see his cookbook Atlantic Seafood: Recipes from Chef Michael Howell . In case you don't know Michael, here's a little background: native Nova Scotian, professional chef career - 20 years in places like Chicago, Staten Island, Boston and the Bahamas, and current president of Nova Scotia's Slow Food Convivium. In other words, he's a man who loves to cook, loves to use local produce and is extremely concerned with the sustainability of our food- especially seafood.

Now let me tell you a bit about the book, before I share a recipe or two. There's a chapter on the basic cooking of seafood - fantastic for those who are a little intimidated by the thought of ruining the perfect looking scallops or mussels or...well, you get the idea. There's a section on stocks and sauces...I love his fish stock recipe - he uses fennel root, leeks and white wine with a bouquet garni of fresh thyme, peppercorns, parsley and bay leaves. Then there are the fantastic salsas, condiments and chutneys to accompany the perfectly prepared fish & seafood recipes....avocado salsa or tropical fruit salsa, anyone?

The book gets right to the heart of it...chapters divided by type of fish in alphabetical order- from Char to Tuna and everything in between. I'll be spending a lot of time with scallops, shrimp, salmon and mussels. But I will be experimenting with tuna and swordfish (caught very close to Halifax, in fact) whenever I see some at Mike's Fish Shop at the Halifax Farmers Market.
Every chapter has a lovely intro about the particular fish, particularly, cooking techniques. Here's a sample ...
"Halibut is perhaps my favourite fish. It holds up well to most cooking methods, has a great firm texture, and flakes perfectly when cooked properly. Its flavour is rich yet somehow subtle, and both assertive flavours (like miso or soy) and delicate ones (like rosewater or shrimp broth) can be used to scent this wonder of the sea."
I have lots of pages bookmarked, but I started with the difficult decision of which wonderful mussel dish to prepare. Iberian, Provencale, Brussels or Tapas?
Having some chorizo on hand..I went to Spain (at least my kitchen did) and made these glorious Iberian Mussels.

Next up...perhaps the Grilled Halibut Fllets with Fingerling Potatoes, Baby Spinach & Roasted Red Peppers, or Linguini with Littleneck Clams and Garlic, or Seared Scallops with Chive Vin Blanc Sauce, or Smoked Salmon and Goat Cheese Terrine, or....

See my problem...a wealth of wonderful fish and seafood dishes to prepare.

No comments: