Monday, July 5, 2010

Had The Day Off Today And Killed The Last Few Hours Cooking A Nice Seafood Dish... own version of seafood whatchyamacallit. I was going to do this Saturday night or early yesterday and then bring it to the BBQ at Uncle Hans' house but it didn't work out. That was probably a good thing. Today was just the better day especially since I was alone (except for the 4 dogs) because I can get temperamental when I cook and no one else needs to be here when I do - it is just easier on the nerves. Didn't get that way today though for more than about 4 or 5 seconds so I must be getting better. So, as it turned out, I got one of my favorite seafood dishes done in about 3 hours and the kitchen came out looking pretty much just as clean (maybe cleaner) as before I started (which keeps the wife happy).

The dish itself is a conglomeration of several types of seafood and other ingredients. It changes a bit each time but is basically the same in its base. It contains no finned fishes or has not up through and including this time. Today's had baby octopus, squid, clams, and shrimp. I have also used cuttlefish in the past (none available this weekend). It would have also had lobster this time but the lobsters that were available on Friday both in Chinatown in NYC and at a local Korean market near my home looked poorly. It also had pork belly (cut up to about 3/4" cubes) and would also have had beef except the prices at the market where I got the seafood were out of this world for the beef. Thought I would get to the supermarket for the beef but never did. In addition to the seafood and pork, small white potatoes (and I do mean the really small ones about 1 1/2 to 3" long at most), scallions, tomato paste, a beer and a half (I used Pilsner Urquell this time), olive oil, butter, fresh parsley and fresh basil from our garden, some really-really hot pepper & garlic sauce, some Tabasco sauce, garlic powder, dried onion flakes, a lot of black pepper (freshly ground and pre-ground), salt, and Cinnamon all went into the mix at one time or another.

As for getting it from the raw to the cooked: I steam the clams open after first allowing them to sit a night or two in cool salt water, after steamed I remove them from the shells and cut into halves, I brown the meat in the butter after sprinkling well with salt, saute the octopus and squid in olive oil after liberally dousing them with some of the spices and salt, put all that into a good sized pot with almost all the other ingredients except the potatoes and shrimp, bring it to a simmer and allow it to go like that for more or less about 1 1/2 hours, then add the potatoes and keep simmering another 1 to 1 1/2 hours, then add the shrimp and allow to simmer another few to several minutes. As for the beer, a bottle of it or at least half of one goes in right away and I add more over the course of cooking as I think I need to do. I also add more spices along the way to add some more zing. I add to taste. Today I added enough of the spicy stuff, the hot pepper sauce, black pepper and Cinnamon to give it a very nice amount of heat and lasting zing without having anyone rolling there eyes, sucking it air, and grabbing for water as soon as it goes down. Zingy and hot indeed but not too hot, most of that achieved not with the hot pepper but with the black pepper (and I sometimes also add white pepper which I forgot today). Good stuff - absolutely delicious if you like seafood and well worth the effort with cleaning the clams, the squid and the octopus.

I heard recently that Octopi are smart and that within about 100,000 years they may evolve to the point where their intelligences matches that of humans today. Not if I can help prevent it, they won't. I say eat em now and stay at the top of the food chain. This is one deliciously one good way to do it. Don't take my word for it just ask my son and my wife. They both gobbled it down. Of course that could be due to the thing about the intelligence of the octopus and evolution but I tend to think it was due much more so to the flavor of it all based on the gusto with which they finished it up. My daughter was out to dinner with her beau but I am certain she will like it too - you see - while it was cooking, she was my taste tester to see if there was enough of a spicy bite to it. She tried it and I am pretty confident she liked it.

If you like your seafood in a nice spicy sauce and if you don't want to see the octopi rule the world then this is the dish for you (note it takes care of their cousins the squid too - just in case). Oh, if you have been wondering what happened to any of the left over beer, let me just say silly you for wondering.

All the best,
Glenn B