Cheese with seafood is a NO-NO?

Joined Feb 1, 2007
Could you imagine going on Chopped without being aware of Conant's dislikes of raw red onion, and cheese with fish, and not having some plan to avoid or deal with them up front? It's just as important as resolving to not get defensive, lie, or just say something stupid to Alex Guarneschelli. Conant at least can dislike one dish from a contestant, but like another. Irritate Guarnaschelli, and "the end."

You don't want a judge who likes everything, do you? To me, anyway, Conant seems picky but not too picky, and think he'd be fun to cook for. Guarnaschelli is not only more intimidating, but to my eye she favors the female chefs.

Based on the few times I've seen it, yeah, I could imagine just about anything, because from where I sat none of the contestents had done any preparation---including watching the show.

I mean, does a vegetarian, who only cooks vegetarian dishes, really expect to do well on that show? Or a pastry chef who doesn't recognize half the ingredients? Talk about ego.

As to the two judges you single out, I couldn't disagree more. I'm fully aware of Conant's rep. But, frankly, he leaves me cold. Anyone who comes in with the idea that his personal biases are universal laws of nature just doesn't belong as a judge. The fact that he often contradicts himself, one dish to the next, just makes him a worse judge.

And then there's darling Alex. Maybe if she removed the maize core from her nether regions I would be more willing to pay attention to her. And the fact that she has obviously made her decisions before even tasting a dish couldn't be plainer. I wonder, too, between her TV shows and being a judge on every competition that comes down the pike, when she has time to run the restaurant she's supposedly so famous for.

But I guess that sort of judging should be expected on something as contrived and unrealistic as Chopped is. Let's face it, if there are no rules to begin with, why should it matter how the judges behave?
Joined Jan 27, 2010
Well, I agree that the nice thing about cooking is experiment and try to find a new version or a total new way of cooking a certain food.
But everyone knows that these brings in high percentage to a disaster, that small point of percentage that is good, it's a triunph.
So far, the recepies brought up against the "rule" of no cheese with fish, are, as we said, the exceptions confirming the rule.
I will explain, if you cook fish in a very spicy way, or deep fry or whatever brings you more into "not tasting like fish", then cheese is fine, from a taste point of view.
The core of cooking fish, and here the regional cuisine plays a role, is to maintian the seafood taste and it's freshness, therefore the "rule" of no cheese with fish, should read, when cooking fish, if your target is to maintain the freshenss and the flavour of the fish, don't use whatever fights with it. That means not only cheese, which overcomes the flavour of anything, especially seasoned cheese like parmisan. It also means, spices and herbs with a distinctive taste.
So, to give the example of barramundi parmigiana, you are enhancing a low flavored fish with something else. In terms of taste, parmisan kills the fish, but that is what you aim. That is why you are not doing a sea bass parmigiana (you can do it, try to get my point).
There is a better explanation with pairing wines. The "rule" is white wine with fish, with the exception of fish that is cooked in a way that goes more into the meat tradition. In that case, and this happened to me in Venice in a very famous fish restaurant, the sommelier indicated match barolo with a spicy red (tomato) fried cod sort of soup, similar to what we call a Livornese.
So the new algoritm about cheese and fish is "thou shall not cook fish with cheese unless that fish has a good pairing with red wine".
Joined Mar 2, 2009
Tuscan Chef..

If we could only buy fish here as fresh as in the Mercado's of Italy, we wouldn't have to cover it with cheese!! :)

At the morning markets, the only time I've seen seafood that fresh is when I unhook it from my line!!

I couldn't agree with you more regarding cooking with cheese. Yes, it adds flavor but it overpowers everything you're doing. Tuscan cooking uses lots of herbs for it's flavorings and it was after a trip to Toscana that my skills jumped dramatically with all new taste sensations.
Joined Aug 13, 2006
Personally i see cheese - at least most cow cheese with the exception of the moldy types - gorgonzola and taleggio, for instance - as a mild flavor, as compared to most fish. It can be salty, yes, but not what i'd call strong.

And were it that we shouldn't pair mild flavors with cheese, then why cheese in bechamel? Bechamel is a mild flavor, buttery, milky - cheese alters it completely - (and in a great way). We should also not put cheese on potatoes, which have a mild flavor (yet italian puree, that is mashed potatoes, always has parmigiano) or on plain pasta with butter, or on zucchine, which taste practically of nothing, or... i could go on.

Also what is stronger than garlic and hot red pepper? Yet the number of italian fish dishes using garlic and pepperoncino are countless!

No, it isn't that cheese is too strong for fish. Certainly not ALL cheese too strong for ALL fish (and in that case, please don't put garlic on fish either!) I find many kinds of fish to be quite strong and distinctive, as i think many people do. I think it is another sort of prejudice. The kind that becomes a badge of superiority. Those in the know, and those who are not in the know.
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Joined Apr 3, 2008
Actually, this isn't all that unheard of anymore. The health issues involved depend on the chicken and iirc the blackfoot chicken does not have the issues that others do. in Japan and other Southeast Asian countries raw chicken and pork are on the menus and people are doing just fine.

Now, health issues aside, would I serve med-rare chicken to a panel of judges on national TV? Not on your life, might as well give them burnt toast with a raw egg in the middle. they are not looking for cutting edge they are looking for food they know and like.
Joined Feb 1, 2007
One thing nobody seems to be mentioning is that many of these "rules" grew out of the classic French approach, which, in turn, sprang from the classic Italian.

In that tradition, strict adherence to rules and procedures is the norm, the expected.

And that, seems to me, is what we find with the fish & cheese rule. Somewhere down the line it became codified as a hard and fast commandment. And those into classic cooking just keep passing it down.

Then come all us iconoclasts who say to heck with the rules. There are only two culinary combinations that count: those that work and those that don't. All else is talk.

Same with wine. The cast-in-concrete rule has always been, whites with fish and poultry, reds with red meat. But the fact is, there are only two kinds of wine in the world: those you like and those you don't.

All of which is at the crux of the controversy. It isn't about rules, per se. It's about one's culinary orientation.
Joined Feb 7, 2010
I recently had Salmon stuffed with crabmeat and brie at Mccormick and Schmick in Las Vegas and it was really deliciousy! Not something that I would have ever tried at home...I think the problem is that cheese and fish have such different cooking times--it takes longer to melt cheese than it does to cook a filet so I guess the problem is that unless you sauce the fish, you could end up with dried fish flakes instead of a delicate piece of fish, especially if you are new to cooking fish...but you folks are right..."hard and fast rules" have more exceptions than proofs!
Joined Apr 17, 2006
Well, I'll stand with the "no cheese" snobs. After all, McDonalds can't be wrong can they? I will always come down on the side of eat what you like and don't let anyone tell you what you like. However, a lot of the dishes mentioned here as being made successfully with cheese contain shellfish, which isn't technically fish even though it lives in the water. Lumping it all together would be like saying anything you do with one kind of meat can be done with any other.
To my taste mornay overwhelms and ruins the taste of some perfectly good scallops. (My opinion only.) Many of us feel that cheese paired with fish make both items taste not very fresh. I mentioned in a different post a dish made by a well respected local restaurant that contains pan-seared halibut with gruyere cheese, portabella mushrooms and a chardonnay sauce. So you have fish, fungus from the mushrooms, fungus from the cheese and fungus from the wine. It would have to taste like somebody's foot.
Joined Aug 13, 2006
However, a lot of the dishes mentioned here as being made successfully with cheese contain shellfish, which isn't technically fish even though it lives in the water. Lumping it all together would be like saying anything you do with one kind of meat can be done with any other. [/QUOTE]
Yeah, but the food snobs say that just as much for seafood as for fish. Just try and ask for cheese on your pasta with vongole!

It would have to. But does it?
or is that your guess? I don;t think fungus or wine tastes like feet, and only certain cheeses do.
Joined Feb 1, 2007
However, a lot of the dishes mentioned here as being made successfully with cheese contain shellfish, which isn't technically fish even though it lives in the water.

Pick me no nits, Grayeaglem.

For starters, the original poster specified "seafood," which in my world includes shellfish.

More to the point, if you look at the posts that specifically mention combinations, those with finned fish actually outnumber those using shellfish. There are 14 posts that specifically talk about a finned fish used with cheese---15 if we include your own mention of halibut with gruyere. These include salmon, tuna, anchovy, halibut, barramundi, swordfish and mahi mahi.

I find it interesting, too, that you can tell us all about the flavor profile of a dish you've never tasted. Have to wonder, too, how many feet you've eaten that you know what they taste like.

It's these kinds of preconcieved notions, and codified "rules" that go to the heart of this discussion. If that's how you want to live your culinary life, that's fine. Me, I want to remain as I've always been; open to new approaches, new tastes, and unconventional flavor profiles.

A case could be made that one reason Spain is in the forefront of creative cuisine is precisely because cooks were so restricted under Franco. Even local specialties and what we call artisan foods were outlawed.

As a result, there are no codified rules in Spanish cuisine, leaving chefs free to experiment.
Joined Apr 17, 2006
No, I didn't want to waste $25 on something I knew would taste like, (in the interest of splitting hairs) feet smell. My assumption was verified as correct by one of the cooks from the place who said it was a very accurate description of what that fish entree tastes like. Laughed so hard he almost fell off his bar stool and said he couldn't describe the taste better. It was a case of the chef putting together a bunch of hot-button ingredients without thinking through what the combination would actually taste like. However, they do have customers who like it, which touches back on what I said in the first place. To each their own, eat what you like. You just won't find it on my menu. Doesn't make anyone right or wrong. Political discussion, anyone? Or maybe religion would be more fun. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/biggrin.gif
Joined Jan 10, 2010
The one dish I take to parties that disappears the fastest is my seafood quiche. Lots of shrimp, scallops, crab, sometimes lobster, sometimes octopus, with gruyere and parm.

That is beautiful - gorgeous - a real work of art!
Joined Jan 27, 2010
I hadn't check this post for a while. So where we stand about the cheese with seafood?.
It seems that the defense of the pros is relativism (what is good for one can be bad for another but no one coult tell). The one against are in a absolutistic view, but mellowed down by exceptions.
Philosophists have been debating this about 2400 years ago, Protagora vs Plato for example. It seems that the relativistic lost, although they get rehashed everyonce in a while.
So let's get to the higher level. Ready?




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