Tuesday, July 20, 2010

King Crab: The Seafood of Legends


It turns out that seafood is far more than food from the sea. It is food for thought as well, and apparently legends. 
 
I discovered this recently as I was fixing one of the family’s favorite seafood, King Crab Legs
. My youngest was playing with one of the legs and peppering me with questions about where it came from, if the females are called “Queen Crabs,” how big they get, etc.
 
So with the help of his big sister, they did a little internet research which they then shared at the table. While we cracked the steaming succulent crab legs and dipped them in butter, here is some of what we learned about King Crabs:
 
·         Alaska King Crab is known as “The Deadliest Catch.”
 A popular Discovery Channel series of the same chronicles the harsh reality of those who endanger their lives to bring us crabs. (So now we will look forward to the reruns of what we’ve missed!)
·         In Alaska, king crab fishing is limited to a short period each year, making it a sustainable catch, so you can enjoy those King Crab Legs
for years to come.
·         King crabs
, which can reach 15 pounds and live over 20 years, are the largest members of a “superfamily”of decapods crustaceans.   
·         Most harvested are the males, and generally between 4 and 9 pounds.
·         The tail of one female can hold thousands of embryos for the 11 months until they hatch. (And snow crabs, not female king crabs, get called queens by some.)
·         Surprisingly, the king crab is generally believed to be derived from the hermit crab.
·         Its predators include cod, halibut, other king crabs, and us!
·         They are a great source of low-fat protein. A 3 -ounce (84 gram) serving boasts 16.45 grams of protein and only 1.31 of total fat (and only 0.113 of that is saturated).
·         None other than Rudyard Kipling immortalized a King Crab in “The Crab that Played with the Sea
,” one of his Just So Stories. (Click for a treasure chest of bedtime stories!)
 
An amazing thing happened as the children were sharing this with us at the table. They started eating slower, clearly savoring the food more. They even expressed appreciation for all the hard work that it took to bring these delicious King Crab Legs
to our table. (They thanked me too, by the way!)
 
Now let’s see what happens when I order some fresh King salmon! This could be the start of a really enjoyable family tradition: sharing delicious seafood, stories, facts, and appreciation!

Monday, July 5, 2010

6 Easy Steps To Sizzling Fish Kebabs

With summer in its full glory, it’s time to jazz those barbecues up with something a little more surprising than dogs and burgers. How about some sizzling fresh salmon kebabs on a platter heaped with garden fresh veggies?
 
Grilled fresh seafood provides a tasty and healthy option. Alas, many home chefs shy away from trying it because they’ve had a bad experience with fish fillets that stick to the grill, fall apart, or end up just plain dry and overcooked.
 
If that’s happened to you, try something new! Instead of cooking whole fillets, go for chunks on skewers. Kebabs make everyone feel special, and as the grill master, you’ll find controlling the outcome a whole lot easier. You’ll serve your dish with pride instead of excuses. A basic recipe follows, and you can find more at great recipe sites such as Epicurious.
 
As renowned chef and New York Times food columnist Mark Bittman notes, any fish thick enough to cut into steaks can be cut into chunks. Go for the freshest seafood you can find. While thin flounder filets are obviously out, you can find others at your seafood markets, including fresh salmon, halibut, swordfish, bluefish, striped bass, monkfish and even cod.
 
Since supermarket fish is usually precut, you are generally better off ordering your own fish direct from seafood markets. A good seafood market can easily help you find fish pieces that are at least an inch thick (and preferably thicker). You can never go wrong when you buy fresh salmon. You can even have it delivered overnight anywhere in the United States.
  
For best results, skip the marinating and go for a quick brush of olive oil, salt and pepper right before grilling. As Bittman notes, “More important is to finish the fish with something like the traditional Mediterranean combination of oil, garlic, oregano -- or any other herb you have handy -- and lemon. Brushing this mixture lightly on the fish after it's done cooking will add more flavor than any marinade ever could, and in infinitely less time.”
  
Here are the simple steps to fabulous fish kabobs, following Bittman’s expert advice:
  1. Prepare the grill to very hot and set the rack about 3 inches from heat source. While waiting, prepare the fish kebabs. (Have the rest of your meal ready before you start to grill as fish cook quickly.)
  2. Meanwhile, cut fish into large chunks (at least one inch cubes). Plan on about ½ pound of fish per serving.
  3. Thread them onto skewers, using two skewers per kebab for ease in turning. Baste with good olive oil; add salt and pepper.
  4. Prepare the finishing sauce in a food processor by combining 1/3 cup of good olive oil, the juice of one lemon, and 2 minced garlic cloves, adding salt, pepper and oregano to taste. (This will serve four.)
  5. Grill the kebabs until golden brown, at least 2 minutes per side, and turn. Check for doneness by inserting a thin-bladed knife into the center of a chunk; if there’s no resistance, it’s done. Don't overcook!
  6. Brush with the above sauce, add a sprig of parsley, and serve with pride!  
What’s great is that you can experiment with different kinds of fish all summer long. Fresh salmon is always a winner with any crowd! 
  
Note: You can also cook these in the broiler which means rain does not need to spoil your meal plans ever! Since it is as easy as a phone call to get fresh seafood delivered to your door overnight all year round, you can enjoy great fish kebabs even when summer is just a memory.
 
 Bon app├ętit!