• Wednesday, October 31, 2007

    Two-Minute Calamari , Plus Three More Recipes from Chef Silvia Bianco

    Food411's Chef Silvia Bianco sent us four recipes for the "Teach a Man to Fish" sustainable seafood event.

    Scroll down for other recipes including:
    • Two-Minute Calamari with Pine Nuts, Tomatoes, and Scallions
    • Salmon and Wild Mushrooms in a Roasted Red Pepper Sauce over Fettuccine
    • Seafood Risotto
    • Tilapia Pomodoro (This is a low-fat recipe)

    Two-Minute Calamari with Pine Nuts, Tomatoes, and Scallions

    I love fried calamari, so I usually order it in restaurants, even though I’m often disappointed with what I get. Calamari must be cooked at a high temperature for a short time or at medium temperature for a longer time. Unfortunately, local fire codes won’t allow my restaurant (a wooden building of 1830s vintage) to have a deep fryer. So what’s a chef to do when she can’t put her own favorite on her restaurant menu? That’s right: I sauté it. Sauté is fast and can be done over high heat, so it’s a perfect way to cook calamari. Frankly, this combination of calamari, sweet scallions, crunchy pine nuts, and fresh tomatoes makes fried calamari look, well, boring. Here’s calamari like you’ve never had it before.

    • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
    • Pinch of red pepper flakes1
    • 1 small clove garlic, minced
    • 1 pound calamari tubes, cut in 1/2-inch rings
    • 2 plum tomatoes, coarsely diced
    • 1/4 cup dry white wine
    • 1/4 cup fish broth
    • 1/4 cup White Wine Sauce (see below)
    • 2 fresh scallions, halved lengthwise and coarsely diced
    • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
    • 1/4 cup pine nuts
    • 1 tablespoon Italian (flat-leaf) parsley, stems removed and chopped
    Put the olive oil, red pepper flakes, and garlic in a medium sauté pan over high heat for about 30 seconds, or just until the garlic begins to brown. Sauté the calamari for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, wine, fish broth, White Wine Sauce, and scallions, and cook for 1 minute more, or until the sauce begins to boil. Remove from the heat, and test a piece of calamari for doneness. It should be opaque and tender. If not, cook it a little longer. Season with salt and pepper, transfer to a large bowl, add the pine nuts, sprinkle with the parsley, and adjust the seasonings if desired.
    White Wine Sauce
    Makes 5 to 6 cups

    • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
    • 1/2 cup unbleached white flour
    • 1 cup dry white wine
    • 4 cups lightly flavored fish broth
    • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste (see note)

    Pour the olive oil into a 4- to 5-quart saucepan over medium heat, then add the flour and stir with a wire whisk until all the flour is dissolved and the mixture looks like a paste. Reduce the heat and slowly add the wine; the mixture will start to thicken quickly. Continue to stir and remove from the heat, if necessary, until all the wine has been mixed in. Slowly pour in the broth while you continue to stir. Simmer, uncovered, for approximately 1 hour, or until the taste of alcohol is no longer present in the sauce. Freeze in containers of various sizes, including some in an ice-cube tray to allow easy small additions to sauces. It can stay in the freezer for 6 months or more.

    NOTE: Be sparing with the salt and pepper. It’s better to under-season this sauce, because you will season it again in the sauté pan.

    NOTE: If this (or any) sauce ever has lumps caused by undissolved flour, just pass the sauce through a sieve or a mesh strainer. It will come out lump-free.

    Salmon and Wild Mushrooms in a Roasted Red Pepper Sauce over Fettuccine

    If you like mushrooms and salmon, this dish will astound you. The roasted red pepper sauce is easy to prepare, even though it is somewhat time-consuming to roast and peel the red bell peppers. You can buy roasted peppers in the supermarket, but I assure you that once you learn how to roast your own, you’ll never go back to store-bought ones. You’ll love serving roasted peppers tossed with a bit of oil, garlic, salt, pepper, and parsley or basil as an accompaniment to many meals.
    Makes 4 servings
    • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, approximately
    • 1/2 pound wild mushrooms (shiitake, crimini, portobello, or other favorite), stems removed, cleaned, and sliced
    • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 pound fettuccine (or other favorite pasta, except small, shaped pasta)
    • Red pepper flakes to taste
    • 1 pound salmon fillet (wild Alaskan) skinned and cut into 1-inch pieces
    • 2 tablespoons sherry
    • 1 cup Marinara Sauce (see below)
    • 3 large red bell peppers, roasted and puréed
    • 1/4 cup dry-packed sun-dried tomatoes, sliced
    • 1/2 cup fish broth
    • 2 tablespoons heavy cream (optional)
    • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
    • 1 tablespoon Italian (flat-leaf) parsley, stems removed and chopped
    Heat about half the olive oil, enough to cover the pan, in a large skillet over high heat for about 30 seconds, until the oil is hot but not smoking. Add the mushroom slices and half the garlic and cook until the mushrooms are soft but still firm, about 3 to 4 minutes. Set aside.

    Cook the pasta according to package directions in a large pot of boiling, salted water.

    While the pasta cooks, put the remaining olive oil and the red pepper flakes in the same skillet over high heat for about 30 seconds, or until the oil is hot but not smoking. Brown the salmon in the hot oil for about 1 minute on all sides, add the remaining garlic, and cook briefly, until the garlic begins to turn golden brown. Add the sherry, return the mushrooms to the pan, cook for 1 minute, and add the Marinara Sauce, puréed peppers, sun-dried tomato slices, and fish broth. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the sauce starts to boil. Reduce the heat to low, stir in the cream, and simmer for 1 minute more, until the sauce thickens. Add a bit more broth if the sauce is too thick, and season with salt and pepper.

    To serve, drain the pasta and toss it in a large serving bowl with the liquid portion of the sauce. Transfer the pasta to individual serving plates and top each serving with the sautéed ingredients. Adjust seasoning, and sprinkle with parsley.

    Seafood Risotto
    Seafood risotto is usually made with the seafood cooked right into the risotto, as you stir. Although it makes a wonderful dish, I find that the seafood can easily become overcooked and get lost in the risotto, or that some diners can get lots while others get cheated. I find that flavoring the risotto with a seafood broth and then topping it with sautéed seafood is an unbeatable combination.
    Makes 4 to 6 servings

    • 1 pound risotto, made from Arborio rice prepared according to package directions and kept warm (see note)
    • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
    • Red pepper flakes to taste
    • 2 dozen small clams, rinsed
    • 2 dozen small mussels, cleaned and debearded
    • 12 large sea scallops (wild or bay farmed)
    • 12 medium to large shrimp, shelled, cleaned, and deveined
    • 1/2 medium clove garlic, minced
    • 3 plum tomatoes, diced
    • 2 to 3 tablespoons dry white wine
    • 1/4 cup White Wine Sauce (see below)
    • 1/4 cup clam juice or fish broth
    • 2 tablespoons heavy cream (optional)
    • 1 tablespoon butter (optional)
    • 1 tablespoon Italian (flat-leaf) parsley, stems removed and chopped
    • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
    • 4 to 6 lemon wedges, for garnish
    Prepare the risotto. Either keep the finished risotto warm in a 200ºF. oven or cook it while you prepare the rest of this recipe.

    Put the olive oil and red pepper flakes in a large sauté pan over high heat for about 30 seconds, or until the oil is hot but not smoking. Cook the clams, mussels, and scallops (on both sides) for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the clams begin to open and the scallops begin to turn opaque. Add the shrimp and cook everything for 1 minute more, until the shrimp turn pink on one side. Turn the shrimp, add the garlic, and cook for a few seconds, until the garlic begins to turn golden.

    Cook the tomatoes for another 30 seconds. Add the wine, White Wine Sauce, and clam juice or fish broth, and cook for about 1 minute more, just until the sauce begins to boil. Reduce the heat to low, add the butter and cream if desired, simmer for about a minute until the sauce thickens, remove from the heat, and season with salt and pepper.

    To serve, stir some of the liquid part of the sauce into the risotto, then spoon the risotto onto individual serving plates. Top each serving with the remainder of the sauce and the seafood. If desired, arrange the mussels all along the rim of the platter or plate, then add the seafood in the center. Sprinkle with the parsley, salt and pepper, and garnish each serving plate with a lemon wedge.

    Note: Arborio rice, for making risotto, is sold in 1-kilogram boxes (2.2 pounds) and comes in two packages. The cooking time is about 15 minutes, but it’s best prepared slightly underdone because it will continue cooking after it’s removed from the heat.

    Quick Marinara Sauce

    • 2 to 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 small yellow onion, diced
    • 1 anchovy fillet, chopped (optional)
    • 1 medium clove garlic, minced
    • 1 can (28 ounce) crushed tomatoes
    • 2 or 3 whole basil leaves (on stalk)
    • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
    Heat the olive oil in a 4- to S-quart saucepan over medium heat for about 30 seconds. Cook the onion and anchovy in the hot oil for about 2 minutes, until they are soft. Sauté the garlic for about 30 seconds, or until it begins to brown. Remove the pan from the heat and add the tomatoes and basil leaves. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to low. Cook for about 45 minutes until you have a thick, rich sauce (Add a bit of water if too thick). Stir occasionally to prevent bits of the tomatoes from sinking to the bottom of the pan and burning. Season with salt and pepper.

    Tilapia Pomodoro (This is a low-fat recipe)

    Tilapia, a Central American white fish, comes from Costa Rica but most today, is farmed. Its taste is mild, but its most important attribute is its firmness, which helps it maintain its shape regardless of cooking method. Delicate fillets, such as flounder or sole, will fall apart in the cooking process. If you don’t want to use tilapia, choose among the many other varieties of firm, meaty fillets, such as catfish (farmed), halibut (pacific) salmon (wild Alaskan), etc. As long as the fish is not overly delicate, it will work fine in this recipe.

    Makes 2 servings

    • 3/4 cup fish broth
    • 1/2 medium clove garlic, minced
    • Red pepper flakes to taste
    • 2 tilapia fillets, (farmed) about 8 ounces each
    • 1/4 cup medium-bodied red wine
    • 2 cups plum tomatoes, cut in medium dice
    • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
    • 2 tablespoons basil leaves, sliced, plus 2 whole leaves, for garnish
    • 2 cups rice or risotto, cooked according to package directions (see note)

    Put 1/4 cup of the fish broth in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat for 30 seconds. Sauté the garlic and pepper flakes in the hot broth for 30 seconds. Put the fish fillets and another 1/4 cup of the fish broth in the skillet and cook for about 2 minutes, or until the liquid has almost evaporated and the bottom of the fish begins to brown slightly. Brown the second side of the fish for about 30 seconds more.

    Add the wine and cook for another 30 seconds, until the wine begins to evaporate. Cook the tomatoes, salt, and pepper for about 30 seconds until the tomatoes begin to soften. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of broth and cook for about 2 minutes more, until the fish turns opaque. Add a bit more broth, if needed, then the sliced basil. Remove from the heat.

    To serve, spoon 1 cup of rice or risotto on each serving plate. Using a large spatula, place a fish fillet over each mound of rice or risotto, top with the tomato sauce, and garnish each plate with a basil leaf. Serve immediately.

    Note: Risotto is made from a package of Arborio rice.


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    Siverado Resort Chef Peter Pahk's Tempura-Fried Cayucos Abalone

    With a Dashi-Mirin & Sake Dipping Sauce

    Serves 6

    This recipe comes to us from Chef Peter Pahk from the Silverado Resort in Napa Valley. Silverado Resort has a strong commitment to sustainability. Chef Pahk offered for our "Teach a Man to Fish" Sustainable Seafood event.

    Abalone is a sustainability success story, and a warning. At one point in time, abalone stocks were so depleted, all harvesting was stopped. Now responsible farming in the US has enabled the stocks to rebound. Buy only Red, Pink or Green abalone responsibly farmed in the US. Chef Pahk uses Cayucos Abalone.

    To see the round up of the other recipe submissions, click here.


    • 12 – 1 oz. piece Abalone steaks
    • 1-cup Tempura batter
    • 2 cups Panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
    • ¼ cup Sesame seeds
    • ¼ cup Chopped parsley, washed & squeezed dry
    • ½ gallon Peanut oil for frying
    • Assorted Micro greens for garnish
    • 2 cups Dipping sauce

    For the Batter:

    • 2 egg Yolks
    • 2 cups Ice cold soda water
    • 2 cups Sifted cake flour
    • Pinch Baking soda
    • Pinch Salt & Pepper


    Combine egg yolks and soda water until just combined. Add flour, soda, salt and pepper all at once. Stir until just combined – should be very lumpy. Keep chilled until ready to use (make right before service and keep on ice).

    For the Dipping Sauce:

    • 1 cup Dashi stock
    • 1/3 cup Mirin
    • 1/3-cup Soy sauce
    • ¼ cup Saké
    • ½ cup Grated Daikon radish
    • 3 tsp. Grated ginger
    Combine & serve in 2 – 3 oz. portions.

    For the Dashi Stock:

    • 1 qt. Cold water
    • 1 oz. Konbu (dried kelp)
    • 1 oz. Dried Bonito flakes

    Bring Konbu and water to a quick boil. Remove Konbu and shock with ¼ cup ice. Add Bonito flakes and bring to boil. Remove from heat immediately, let flakes settle (about 1 minute) and strain through cheesecloth. Chill.

    For the Abalone:

    Heat oil to 375º. Combine Panko, sesame seeds and parsley in a bowl wide enough to accommodate the abalone steaks.

    Set up batter and breadcrumbs next to each other. Dip abalone into batter, drain and pass through breadcrumbs (do not pound or press – a light pass is all you need). Place on sheet paper on top of a sheet pan.

    Deep fry for 30 – 40 seconds, turning very gently until golden brown. Drain on elevated meat rack on sheet pan. Assemble two to a plate with a bit of micro greens and dipping sauce.

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    Eats, Shoots and Leaves

    Here's a little word-geek joke...

    A panda walks into a library and eats a sandwich, then draws his bow and shoots two arrows. "Why'd you do that?" asks the librarian as he heads toward the door.

    The panda shows her a badly punctuated book. "I'm a panda," he says. "That's what it says we do."

    The librarian looks at the page:

    PANDA - large black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China. Eats, shoots and leaves.

    So begins the book, entitled: "Eats, Shoots and Leaves" by Lynne Truss, subtitled: "Why, commas really DO make a difference!"It's a great book and a fun writers' reference.

    The phrase also describes a Panda's diet of which I believe consists entirely of bamboo shoots and leaves.

    Bamboo is a hot topic in the sustainability dialog. If harvested properly, bamboo can be considered a miracle baby of the sustainability world. Everything from cashmere-soft baby clothes to indestructable flooring, cutting boards, non-plastic "disposable" silverware...so many things can be made from this crop.

    Bamboo might have been one of the first Chinese vegetables you ever saw. The canned varieties taste more like the preservatives they're packed in than the actual vegetable. Ah, but the real thing...it is a delicious treat.

    At another meal taken at Gourmet Dumpling, we had our own little bamboo discovery.

    Doeng sun or winter bamboo shoots are slender and much smaller and more tender than the typical spring bamboo shoots I was familiar with. But here's a good rule of thumb for Chinatown (any Chinatown): if you see staff at the back table with a big pile of something they're all snipping, cleaning or peeling - order it. My assumption is that it is something that is either seasonal, or rare, or just extremely fresh.

    My third time at the new fave, Gourmet Dumpling, proves the rule. We'd ordered our XLB, our pan fried beef and celery dumplings as well as ma po tofu for me and wonton mein for Doc. Then, I went to the back table to ask what it was the staff were working on. When I found out it was something I'd never seen, I quickly grabbed our server on his way into the kitchen. We added an order of the doeng sun to our already large list of items. No worries, tofu travels well and it was my breakfast today over ramen.

    The XLB, the ngao-yook dumplings: both great. The ma po tofu, spicy hot, delicious.
    The bamboo shoots were to die for. A Hunan style brown gravy, bit of garlic, bit of black bean, little pork...mmm...it, alone, is worth the trip.

    Now back to fish....

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    Tuesday, October 30, 2007

    How do you say Thank You?

    - Jacoby Ellsbury! (first Navajo in MLB; not even officially enough games to be a rookie yet!) Dine Bizaad (Navajo Language)

    Domo Arigato Gozai Masu - Daisuke Matsuzaka (first Red Sox Rookie to win WS game and tied w/Babe Ruth for 2 RBIs) and Hideki dig deep Okajima - Japanese (and gokuro-sama!)

    Obrigado - Dustin Pedroia - for proving to the world that it's not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog - Portuguese

    Muchas Gracias - Manny Ramirez, Manny DelCarmen, Coco Crisp, David Ortiz, Alex Cora, Mike Lowell - Spanish

    Merci beaucoup - Eric Gagne - this is better than hockey, eh? French

    Mult'umesc - Kevin Youkilis - Romanian &

    Toda - Youk again - from one (honorary) M.o.T. to another. I'm a "two-fer" too - Hebrew

    Mille Grazie -
    Terry Francona - Italian

    Go raibh maith agaibh - Boston thanks you all (Gaelic)

    To every guy on the team - you made us proud!

    Next we'll return to our regularly scheduled programming - the exciting conclusion of "Teach a Man to Fish."

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    Monday, October 29, 2007

    Teach a Man to Fish Update - Second Course

    Pop quiz answers, as promised:

    1) Which NASCAR driver cares about conservation and has an award-winning recipe in our Sustainable Seafood event?
    Ryan Newman. That's right. His award winning beer battered catfish recipe is part of our roundup! Click here to see what other great things he's doing for conservation, for animal shelters, and more.

    2) Which entry comes from furthest away from Boston?
    Let's see, Croatia wins (roughly 4,178 miles) unless you count the origin of the Kerala, India recipe (8,271 miles....)

    3) Which newspaper was first to carry our story?
    The Herald, here.

    And although these guys have nothing to do with sustainable seafood, except maybe that they were not killed through bad fishing practices...here's one of my favorites from the Aquarium....I just love these guys!

    Final roundup nearly done...


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    Sunday, October 28, 2007

    Wooo Hoooo!

    'Nuff Said?

    From top to bottom our line up did it. Rookies and veterans. The Sox made us proud once again! To a man, everyone contributed. Everyone. The smart plays, the training and player development... it all showed through and paid off. Hats off to all in the organization!


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    Bobby with Orange Fingers*

    Sometimes junk is okay. Like Cheetos. I love Cheetos. They're light and airy and cheesy. They are a color not found in nature and only found occasionally in unnatural items such as Bears throwback jerseys.

    Last night, after the Sox beat the Rox in Game 3 (did you know that our pitcher Matsuzaka now has a .500 batting average?! At least until he bats again...) but after we replayed all the highlights and went to bed, I was still too jacked up to sleep.

    So I picked up a book: Anthony Bourdain's

    I finished it in one read. As an excruciatingly slow reader, this is not common for me. But here is what I was left with. No beautiful turns of phrase. No nuances. No epiphanies or insights. No characters that will remain with me, like someone I just met at a party.

    But, when you have a junk food craving sometimes a half bag of Cheetos will do. Salty, cheesy, no high expectations, but a little something. Just a fix.

    At about 5 AM I realized that was what Bobby Gold was. And no orange fingers after.

    * Each chapter is entitled: "Bobby in Color," "Bobby at Work," "Bobby the Diplomat."
    Straightforward aspiring-to-Elmore prose.

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    Thursday, October 25, 2007

    Love and Life One Half-shell at a Time

    My love for oysters is legend. In The Big O, I wrote about my first shucking lesson. One of the great joys of my life has been watching my "little sister" Jesse turn into an inspiring young woman. Turns out to be a damn good shucker, too.

    We've seen a profusion of oyster bars and offerings in Boston of late and to that I say "bout time!" Boston Oyster Bars noted in this Boston Globe article include Neptune Oyster and B&G. There are far more venues offering a greater variety than used to be the case.

    The article includes an interview with Rowan Jacobsen author of an important new book: "A Geography of Oysters: The Connoisseur's Guide to Oyster Eating in North America," (Bloomsbury USA). This link will take you to Jacobsen's terrific website (careful if you're hungry and it's too late to go grab some oysters!)

    Good news for all of us: sustainability of the oyster.
    Oysters are filter feeders, they actually clean the water they're growing in. Oyster farms actually improve their surrounds unlike some aquaculture which can harm their environment by adding waste and antibiotics to the water.

    In The Big Oyster, Author Mark Kurlansky traces the history of our love affair with the oyster. The book is an homage to the mollusk and a fascinating history of New York City as intertwined as it is with these tasty little guys. They weren't always little, of course. They used to be harvested so late and so large that one writer complained that eating a foot-long oyster was rather like eating a baby. Baby-eating aside, Kurlansky's book is a gem. One might say a pearl. No really. If history classes were this interesting I wouldn't have cut them so often!

    Stay tuned for the roundup of the "Teach a Man to Fish" blog event.

    Sustainable seafood recipes, links to info from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program and participants' websites and blogs will be included.

    It's a Wrap - click here to see the results!

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    Tuesday, October 23, 2007

    La Verdad - Otra Vez

    We decided to celebrate our friend's birthday at La Verdad. She introduced me to fish tacos. She shares a Southern Califronia history with my husband. When I introduced them to each other they were fast and instant friends. It was she who married us. Linda ("beautiful" en Español, and in person) is her name.

    Now, neither Linda nor Caleb are too easily impressed by stars. I guess it's the SoCal thing. I have never been, either, but for different reasons. More times than I can count, I've walked right past someone only to have a companion say incredulously, "Don't you know who that was?!" Oh? So? I never was a gawker.

    So I might be forgiven if I had a mini-star-struck moment tonight. I was, as we say, verklempt. We were seated right near two of my heroes of the season, Dustin Pedroia (an incredible rookie year and near perfect fielding, never mind clutch big hits) and Mike Lowell (RBI record for 3B franchise history; and a calming presence for the team, that sly twinkle in the eye...)

    I love the way both these guys play, their professionalism, their passion. I discovered the joy of baseball through my husband and it's been an absolute thrill for me these past few years. I could not be more excited about this Red Sox team, though the team that won World Series on my honeymoon three years ago will always be special.

    While Linda laughed at me, we debated what body part I might ask them to sign, I tried not to stare intrusively or idiotically. I think my mouth was closed. My poor husband tried to hide behind his menu and begged me to get a grip. Alas, no sharpie. Signature would wash away. What's plan B...?!

    Linda suggested I walk over and say thanks for the great season. But I didn't want to impose on their dinner. I asked our server (a lean, mean, yoga machine) over. We'll call her "Cupcake." Maybe we could send them a round of drinks? But what to send? They didn't seem to be drinking anything. We decided on a round of shots for their table, good Tequila. Alas, the drinks were declined with gracious thanks. "No Tequila before a game."

    That left us with shots untouched. We drank to the birthday girls (Linda and Cupcake) and the boys of summer (Mike and Dustin). So Cupcake, next time you see Mike and Dustin, tell them thanks for me, won't you?

    And my thanks to you Linda for being such a good friend all these years. Thank you Caleb for putting up with me and teaching me about baseball (and for dinner!) Thank you to all the Red Sox for so many great games and for working so hard to give us this much fun.

    To tomorrow!

    [Ed. Dustin wins AL Rookie of the Year. Read about it here.]

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    Giant Jellies and Delicate Dumplings

    I like Jellies and I love diving. Still, there's something quite unsettling about this photo, non? It seems the currents have been affected by global warming and the waters around Japan are now filled with these enormous jellies.

    They are ruining Japanese fishermen's nets, they're poisoning or killing the catch. They're getting tracking devices attached to them by divers....

    So what's the solution?
    My Asian brothers and sisters out there, you know what the answer is, right? All together now.....

    "EAT THEM!"

    That's right...like any enterprising Asian, a Japanese man by the name of Kaneo Fukuda decided to turn lemons into lemonade. For rising to the challenge he's been featured on NPR, and elsewhere. He even made a beverage out of them. It's just too weird, if you ask me.

    A little closer to home...
    that would be Boston, we took a break from celebrating our most excellent Red Sox, Patriots (and dare we hope, Celtics???? ) to get out of the house and breathe fresh air. It also gave us a chance to sport our new Red Sox AL Champions shirts.

    Buried in deadlines at the same time the Sox are moving into the World Series is a nice problem to have. I'm not complaining. But, one really does need to feel fresh air on one's face now and again. Thanks for the reminder, Linda!

    A Great New Find In Chinatown
    Welcome to the neighborhood, Gourmet Dumpling House! This shop has been open about two weeks according to the woman up front. It offers "A Taste of Northern and Southern Chinese Cuisine." We were on our way to our favorite noodle shop, and saw this sign and made a beeline for their door.

    The menu is extensive. It includes over 50 "Lunch Specials" (served 11-4 M-F); nearly 40 "Appetizers Dumplings/Buns All Kinds", over 50 "Lunch Box, Rice & Noodles" dishes. (For Noodles there are choices of Shanghai, Taiwan, Rice, Flat, Rice Cake, Yee Mein, and Udon.)

    Fourteen different Soups; two dozen+ Entrees including "Braised and Sweet and Sour" selections. In fine Chinese diner fashion, the "Vegetables" selections include many dishes that contain eggs, pork or shrimp along with the vegetables.

    There are set meals and Chef's specials, too. There's also a "Special Weever Set Meal." All I can think of is the Anthony Bourdain show where an Asian host is asked what animal chef Tony is consuming. He answers: "I think you call it a Squeezel." We asked about a couple of the dishes and didn't get around to the Weever question.

    Our Meal
    Tonight we ordered four "Appetizer" dishes. Though the menu says "All Kinds" there were a few that were not available tonight. That either means they're still ramping up or they don't serve what isn't fresh. Either way, it's okay.

    We had:
    • Pork and Leeks dumplings - "leeks" in Chinatown usually means garlic chives and this was the case here.
    • Taiwanese Style Pan Fried Dumplings - similar to gyoza but bigger and meatier with more garlic; pan-fried then steamed.
    • Scallion Pancake - not too heavy; had the desired layers achieved through multiple foldings of good dough (think puff pastry)
    • Mini steamed buns with Pork and Crabmeat - xiao lung bao or soup dumplings; delicious.
    As you can see, there is quite a selection of styles from North and South. We'd considered getting another dish to share but after seeing the sizes of the first couple dishes held back. Good thing. A couple near by made the "mistake" we almost did and wound up with too many dishes for their table to hold. Been there. Done That.

    One of the best things tonight was the first batch of dumplings the (Pork and Leeks). While the menu says 8 to a serving, we counted 12. They were reminiscent of the terrific dumplings we had in Toronto. This plate of dumplings made us miss that terrific place, the terrific city of Toronto and our good friends there: Mary Luz and Mario.

    Can't wait to go back. The fish tanks were small but very clean. Tables all full. Counting me there were maybe 5.5 Caucasians but language wasn't a big problem ordering. We watched all the food coming out and the dishes included deep/flash fried salt and pepper style squid, braised casserole style dishes, whole fried fish, noodles, pork and bitter melon.

    We'll be heading back soon! Anyone who finds out what a "Weever" is gets a plate of dumplings on me.

    Gourmet Dumpling House
    52 Beach Street
    Visa/MC accepted 20 min.
    Appears to beer/wine license

    Photo credit: Yomiuri Shimbun/AFP/Getty Images

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    Monday, October 22, 2007

    Crazy Japanese Imports

    Those "Japanese imports." Yeah, that's what Joe Buck called Daisuke Matsuzaka and Hideki Okajima. Like they were cars...

    As far as I'm concerned Matsuzaka and Okajima both earned their keep this evening. AL Champs, baby. I wonder if he was wearing his toe-sox tonight? Whatever it takes. And I have to add, it was heart-warming to see all the Boston fans turned out with Japanese headbands, flags and signs in support of Daisuke's start tonight. I just loved it!

    Meanwhile, back in Tokyo...
    An import that I wouldn't recommend...did you see this invention in the NYTimes? You think a mugger will be fooled by the vending machine disguise? He'd have to be drunk not to notice the feet, but let's just hope he's not thirsty. Worse, what if he's drunk and thirsty?

    Curry rice is a home-style Japanese dish that is really satisfying. Reminded the other day at Mentai Noodle House on Hereford Street how happy a roughly $6.00 bowl can make you feel. Maybe the paranoid inventor of the vending machine camouflage should settle down to some comfort food.

    Ken's Ramen at the Super88 gets thumbs up in Chow, I'll have to check that out and report back. Predictably, Wagamama is 0 for 2 in the curry rice and ramen recommendations that I've heard. Skip 'em. Head to Super 88, Porter Square or Mentai Noodle house.

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    The passage of time does little to fade love for an institution and its founding father. This piece in the NYT about the Second Avenue Deli and Abe Lebewohl is a poignant reminder of the connections that are solidified through food.

    Amplified by, explained by, grounded in...you could really use so many adjectives. This family's story will feel familiar to many immigrants' children, because the belief in education as a way up and out, to a better life is central to this family's history. So too, is their love of food and their embrace of hard work - both are also central.

    Last week I also learned of the passing of Joe Marzilli of the Old Canteen in Providence. I'm glad I got to eat there while Joe was still in residence at the register, taking phone calls, watching over the place. I won't forget the Saltimbocca or Joe.

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    Sunday, October 21, 2007

    October Rocks

    Go Daisuke! Go Sox!

    Our rookies are looking cool and focused, including the first ever Navajo in the MLB. Our veterans are hitting insane with runners in scoring position. We've got our Daisuke shirts on...Red Sox Nation is making some noise at Fenway...and we've just scored the first run.


    Oh, yeah, and the Pats are 7-0. Not too shabby.
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    Friday, October 19, 2007

    Sustainable Seafood Amuse Bouche

    Jellies at the Monterey Bay Aquarium

    Amuse Bouche - a complimentary appetizer offered to give diners an enticing glimpse of the meal to come...

    Pop quiz:
    1) Which NASCAR driver cares about conservation and has an award-winning recipe in our Sustainable Seafood event?

    2) Which entry comes from furthest away from Boston?

    3) Which newspaper was first to carry our story?

    Answers to follow...

    To date, submissions come from far and wide; from Executive Chefs to home cooks.

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    Thursday, October 18, 2007

    Schadenfreude - My Lunch in the Clink

    A little history and etymology to begin...

    1851 - The Charles Street Jail is opened in Boston.

    1895 - The word “Schadenfreude” is coined from two others: Damage + Joy. Merriam-Webster defines it as “enjoyment obtained from the troubles of others.” Gotta love those Germans!

    1973 – The Charles Street Jail is closed. For those unfamiliar with Boston history, the Charles Street Jail was notorious for such inhumane conditions that prisoners filed suit and a judge promptly agreed and ordered it shut. It was a common occurrence for guys to plead guilty to heavier crimes just to get transferred out of Charles Street. They might've been tough guys, but they didn't care for the legendary, prehistoric-sized rodents and bugs.

    2007Clink, the penitentiary-themed restaurant, and the Liberty Hotel property are opened. (Get it? Liberty? Clink? The bar is "Alibi".)

    Admittedly, I used to be a defense attorney, now a “recovering attorney.” I may be tainted by some of those really un-fun "houses of correction" where I went to meet my clients.

    But I can be fun. Really, I can. Then, over my heirloom tomatoes and fried Ipswich clams, I looked at the busboys (Latino) with numbered shirts (how clever!) and my spirit fell. I guess my face did, too as my friend quickly told me that she heard there was a staff meeting where employees were allowed to vote on whether or not to go with the prison number theme shirts.

    I can just see the chipper HR gal and her buddy corporate marketing chick (both Ivy-educated, of course) eagerly explaining how terrific this whole theme will be to the staff.

    I'm a bus boy, I need work, what am I gonna say: “I'm sorry that kind of offends me...” Oh yea, that'd work out just fine.

    I kept thinking how uncomfortable it would be to be working all day looking through actual prison cell bars (they left them on, how cool!) in that numbered shirt. How many of the staff have family or friends for whom this theme is too close for comfort? How many people, like me, picked up one of the serving bowls and thought, looks like a stainless steel cell toilet. Maybe none. Maybe.

    I had lunch there about a week ago and despite catching up with my girl friend, running into another old friend, having some good food (small portions), a nice glass of wine (prices quite dear), I just feel depressed over the memory of the meal. Not what you want guests to remember.

    Schadenfreude all around

    Given the prevalence of lowest-common denominator entertainment, or “reality TV”, I shouldn't be surprised. The suffering, or at least the anxiety, of others is offered up for our regular viewing pleasure. This has been true ever since entertainment execs found that schadenfreude sells, and even better, they don't have to pay writers.

    Sleek as it is, this jail-themed restaurant leaves me cold. It's kind of like rich celebrities wearing trucker hats and t-shirts proclaiming their “white trash” status. Just not sure that we're laughing with, rather than at, those less fortunate.

    The utterly dead flower arrangement at the hostess stand did nothing to put me in a more lively or carefree mood, either.

    I used to think I was a cool hipster. Now, I think I'd rather stay home and have a Spam sandwich in front of the TV. Just hope there's something good on...

    For an interesting perspective on the Jail, see Kevin Cullen's piece in the Globe.

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    It's Halloween - Time for Scary Movies and Ghost Stories

    You heard the one about the turn of the century mass murdering family restauranteurs, right? No?

    Talk about going 'round the bend. I saw a link to this site one night, bookmarked it and forgot about it...I just stumbled over it like a body in the basement.

    This script was apparently real. A family restaurant where, a la Hotel California, people stopped in, but never left. Maybe they were really bad tippers.

    Check this interesting site
    if for no other reason than to have a fun little mass murder tidbit to share at your next cocktail hour. What, you don't talk about heinous and gory crimes over drinks? Interesting...

    Here's a Halloween snack you can prepare for the occasion: kicked up caramel corn.

    Favorite scary movies?
    Saw; those zombie ones (28 Days, Shaun of the Dead); Oh, Remember Paper House? I usually scream and punch whoever is next to me, by the way. You have been warned.

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    Monday, October 15, 2007

    Caramel Sushi

    Okay - I know this isn't seafood but I'm sitting here working my little fingers to the bone sending out reminders about my Sustainable Seafood Blog Event and the only thing sustaining me are the chocolates from my new favorite chocolate store: Beacon Hill Chocolates.

    Just now I am talking to myself with my mouth full of a chocolate covered cherry which is wonderful enough to elicit moans. And I don't even really care for these, generally. Then there are the caramels. Tiramisu caramels.

    They carry a startling array of chocolates for such a tiny boite of a spot...and they do carry artisanal chocolates from producers working on sustainable and heirloom varieties.

    In addition, there is the helpful presence of staff and beautiful little hand-painted boxes with Boston scenes. Perfect for a little gift of chocolate.

    But do check out our seafood event and pass the word about the event. And the chocolate.

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    Friday, October 12, 2007

    Pregnancy Cravings - No, Not mine! Don't worry.

    A great new entry in a great new blog, Cookthink. Check out the post on a new baby who was possibly induced to come into the world by a Bittman recipe. (Does anyone else think his show's theme song sounds like a bad bar mitzvah band? I love it.)

    It'll be interesting to see if the little one has an affinity for those flavors his Mommy ate before his birth. I always thought my love of blueberry pie had some connection to blueberry pie cravings my Mom had while I was in utero. She doesn't even like sweets and they were in Tokyo...

    If Mom ate oysters would she have a nymphomaniac? For you wise guys out there, who know how much I love oysters and well...the answer is, I have no idea whether my Mom ate them while preggers with me.

    • I recall someone doing something with an egg over my Mom's belly and pronouncing that my brother would in fact be a boy.
    • I've heard craving bland foods means a boy, spicy means a girl.
    • Dominicans say not to walk under a guanabana tree. Chinese say no squid or crab as it will make the baby cling, making delivery difficult.

    What are some pregnancy cravings, food affinities, food-birth stories or myths you've heard?

    And in honor of Sustainable Seafood Month, did you all catch the headline that caught my eye? After all the warnings about mercury in seafood, I saw some coalition called "Healthy Babies, Healthy Mothers" announcing that it is now safe for pregnant and nursing mothers to consume seafood.

    Apparently, they neglected to tell NIH, FDA or Health and Human Services that they were making this announcement, even though those government watchdog agencies are coalition members.

    Read carefully and you'll find they just received a $60,000 grant from the National Fisheries Institute.

    Does this stink like old fish or what?

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    Wednesday, October 10, 2007

    Smart Fish - Let Me School Ya

    Check out the Sustainable Seafood Quiz by clicking here. Then, be sure to enter a recipe into our "Teach a Man to Fish" blog event. (I did not get a perfect score, but wasn't a floundering flounder, either. More to learn, miles to swim before I sleep...)

    Thanks to our friends at the Monterey Bay Aquarium for the fun facts and the shout out in the newsletter! Cool fish cartoons by Jim Toomey and the Sherman's Lagoon.

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    Friday, October 05, 2007

    Truthiness and Tacos

    It's been hard to order a meal anywhere in Boston without thinking about the state of Inspectional Services and supposed "high end" eateries lately. I can't help it. I keep looking to see if there's a mouse dining on leftovers on a nearby table (Figs) or wondering about the chicken salad left out, the mice in the cooler next to outdated burgers (Aquitaine), the can of Raid on the bar (Smith & Wollensky.)

    Bugs, mice, poorly trained or uncaring managers and employees. Here's some truthiness for you my dining friends: it happens all the time.

    The next time your meal goes racing through you faster than Julio Lugo stealing second base*, remember this: 76 million people contract food borne illnesses each year but only about 5 million die.

    The Mayor's Inspectional Services team is several years late making good on his promise to post violations and give us the info we need to vote with our feet. Good job Mumbles! I know budget shortfalls, tough fiscal times, but guess what, other cities and states do it. We can too.

    Ken Oringer as Scarlett O'Hara

    He was the Scarlett O'Hara of the code violators we visited in August's post: Menace in the Kitchen Claiming that he "wasn't interested in discussing" the six serious code violations and that "we're very friendly with the Board of Health, we've never have any problems". I don't know about you, but I would call six serious violations issued by friends (how many did they let slide?) "a problem." He then invites us "make of them what you will." Well, fiddle-dee-dee.

    La Verdad? The Truth?
    Scarlett - I mean - Ken's new place is really good. These tacos are some of the most authentic I've had outside of Southern California. This bar-cum-taqueria on Landsdowne Street would be a little frightening for me packed with drunken Sox fans. A recent weekday when the only people near Fenway were TV crews and fans buying ALEast Championship shirts, it was invitingly empty.

    Three fish tacos, three beef tongue tacos, some Oaxacan wings and two margaritas with fresh lime only set us back about $45.00. The food was fresh, pretty authentic and only a little too fancy (special "mayonesa" I have not seen in SoCal.)

    Bottom line: Scarlett has better hair, Ken has better tacos. Eat at your own risk and just be sure there's a potty near by. I'd say the risk is worth it. Sad to say that may be a ringing endorsement in Hub these days. Truthiness.

    (*photo Getty Images)

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    Tuesday, October 02, 2007

    October is Sustainable Seafood Month - Teach a Man a Fish

    In the US it is actually but since I'm Queen here at the Leather District Gourmet Blog - I get to change the holidays as I wish. It is good being Queen.

    And, to celebrate I am hosting my first (dare I add "annual"?) BLOG EVENT!

    What is a blog event? You probably have a lot of questions, so here is a handy FAQ I prepared just for you.

    1. What is a blog event? Do I have to dress up for it? Buy a ticket? Find a date?
    A blog event takes place in the blogosphere only. You may participate completely nude if you like, or in chef's whites, sweats, goofy shorts. No tickets needed.

    Dates, well, that's up to you.

    2. What does a blog event look like?
    Essentially, it's a contest for food bloggers/ home cooks/ chefs/ food writers / whomever to enter a recipe on a theme and a photo of the dish.

    Here is a beautiful example of a roundup on a Sugar High Friday blog event (theme: figs) from our friends at Cream Puffs in Venice.

    3. Why this, why now?
    October is National Seafood Month and I thought it would be an ideal time (especially given my other deadlines and projects) to host my first ever Sustainable Seafood Blog Event.

    4. Do you have a snappy name for this event? And what is Sustainable Seafood anyway?
    Give a man a fish and you'll feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you'll feed him for a lifetime. Teach a man to fish/cook sustainably and we'll all eat better, longer.

    Maybe not so snappy but you get the idea, right?

    For a great sense of how sustainability affects our food/fish supply see this Op-Ed piece from Chef Justin North or see Chef Barton Seaver's restaurant site for Hook in DC.

    Also check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Program site for info and a free pocket card. Read below about how you can get the sustainable choices guide for your cell phone and how it can bring money to you.*

    5. I'm in! Now, what do I have to do?

    1. Prepare a recipe using sustainable seafood.
    2. Send a photo (100 x 100 pixels) in an email to me.
    3. Subject line should read: "Teach a Man to Fish"
    4. Include your blog or website; URL of blog/website; your name; country.

    Also - be sure to tell your friends about this chance at fame, fortune and fabulous prizes.*

    Now, to paraphrase the wise sage, Cartman:

    "Get in the kitchen and cook me some fish!"

    Other details:
    - You can add your email address (see sidebar sign up) to ensure you get updated info on this event.
    - I'll be collecting entries for about 10 days to two weeks.
    - The "round-up" (where I post all the entries , edit info submitted with them on this blog) will take more or less time depending on how many entries there are and how many other jobs (read: paid jobs) appear in the roundup phase. Sorry, just being honest.
    - No, I'm not shilling for a product, a particular aquarium, or sustainable program or chef or restaurant.
    - Yes, there are some that are near and dear to my heart. Just ask.
    - Statements with asterisk* are not necessarily completely, verifiable. Therefore you cannot sue me if they don't come true for you. Other examples of asterisks that are unprovable: *"This home run ball was hit by the one person who may have been on steroids in the MLB." See what I mean?

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