SEPTEMBER 2020 MONTHLY CHALLENGE - SHELLFISH

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Nice! I've already got 3 - 4 dishes in mind, no doubt plenty of ideas for others. One of my favorite watering holes before this pestilence cast its dark shadow upon these lands occasionally had a mussels special, where they were cooked in a zingy Cajun style broth. I'd always order them when available, perhaps this challenge will be a good excuse to try making them myself at home.

Time to peruse some recipes on line....

mjb.
 
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Sounds like a fun challenge - I'm looking forward to indulging on shellfish this month.
 
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Remember back in the day when pretty much every large grocery store had a live lobster tank by the meat counter?

mjb.
 
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Seafood is probably my favorite thing to cook with, eat, to be around

been having much less of it though since the lockdown, i need a local fishmonger
 
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Remember back in the day when pretty much every large grocery store had a live lobster tank by the meat counter? mjb.
All of ours do and for the past two months it's been below $6/lb for gulf of Maine lobsters. PEI muscles are @ $2/lb., sea scallops average $10 - 12/lb and wild caught 16-20 red shrimp from Argentina were $6.99/lb. last week and I bought two pounds. I really like these and the shells make fantastic stock, or fumet depending on what you're making. Whole head on shrimp are really my favorite, but we can only get them a couple times a year, but when I can I do a "Low Country Boil" for the compound.
 
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King Tiger prawns infused with fennel olive oil resting on a waldorf salad, finished with horseradish crème fraiche and herb oil topped with snow pea tendrils and violet flowers

" Very light and clean, seafood came through not tp pungent"

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Buck a Shuck Friday at Whole Foods. 6 Blue Points for 6 bucks.

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One popped right open. It had died days ago. Yuck.

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The other five were just fine, with a little squeeze of lemon and some hot sauce.

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Yep, delicious!

mjb.
 
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I picked up some PEI mussels today and because I made roasted tomato sauce this week (again) I thought Mussels Marinara would be perfect for such a nice end of Summer day. Bacon dripins' and evoo, small dice of red onion and celery tops, anchovy paste, roasted garlic, peperoncino, a little salt and black pepper, parsley, white wine, tomato sauce and of course mussels. Served with a really nice bronze die pasta and topped with chiffonade of basil & fried breadcrumbs - it was delicious and the leftover will make a nice lunch, or two modest soups.



These mussels were organic certified PEI and on the smallish side, but had a very nice flavor and texture.
 
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Buck a Shuck Friday at Whole Foods. 6 Blue Points for 6 bucks.

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One popped right open. It had died days ago. Yuck.

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The other five were just fine, with a little squeeze of lemon and some hot sauce.

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Yep, delicious!

mjb.
looks good! I got some oysters the other day, found 4 pea crabs in 4 different oysters. They didn't smell too good, and they looked like they were still developing. 🤢
 
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Yikes! I've done maybe 100 or so fresh oysters in the last year or so, found only 1 pea crab inside. And no pearl earrings for my wife yet.

mjb.
 

phatch

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XO Sauce

This is all about image and prestige. That it tastes good is probably secondary. This sauce developed in the 1980s in Hong Kong around the image of fine brandy that was often marketed XO. I don't drink so you fine brandy types can clarify that for me.

So XO sauce is based around prestige ingredients.

Dried Scallops These can run 100s/lb for larger specimens. My small bay size scallops were about 30/lb



Dried Shrimp Same goes for the shrimp though they're a bit cheaper per pound.


XinHua (or Hunan) air cured ham


I've got more of a mixed bag of OLD larger scallops and some newer small bay scallops. Same with the shrimp. For ham, I'm using some prosciutto. This was a mistake, use all scallops the same size, and all shrimp the same size.

Shred the ham. Put in a steaming vessel. Put the scallops in their own steaming vessel and the shrimp in one as well. I'm using the same weight pre-steaming for each item, 150 grams each.

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Sprinkle the scallops and shrimp with a little brown sugar. One of my sources claims that the sugar helped in formation of glutamates. I have no idea if that's true. Add a couple of tablespoons of Shao Hsing wine to each vessel. I also added some water to scallops and shrimp. They'll all collect some liquid during steaming as well.

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Steam for 20-25 minutes. At that point I took some water from the boiling part of the steamer and topped off the shrimp and scallops. They were drier than I thought they should be. You want everything to be about equally moist for simplest procedure as you'll see. I let the scallops and shrimp stand in the liquid for another 20 minutes.

Some recipes I've seen "dry steamed" the ingredients meaning they were in a screen vessel of some sort so they can drain away. I never encountered a discussion of why this was desirable and they still used some of the base water later on which would have water /flavor dripped off the food while steaming.

During the steaming, finely chop a medium onion and about 25-25 cloves of garlic. I used about 30 as i had a fair amount of trimmed bits it turned out. You'll see some versions that just use shallots and that sounds worth trying at some other point. Some versions also use some large ingredients for flavor that are then easily removed later like ginger, whole scallions, cilantro stems--no leaves.

I neglected photos, or screwed up on my phone and didn't save them for this next part. Drain the liquid from all three and reserve. Shred the ingredients in the food processor, separately by item as they all shred differently. I pre-shredded the ham before steaming and just gave it a few pulses to break up clumps and such.

Heat 3 cups of oil gently. I opted for grapeseed. I've seen canola used. If I could get it, it would be fun to try the virgin rapeseed oil popular in Sichuan. Add the wettest item first, for me that was ham. Slowly and gently fry it. This is more about drying the food rather than truly frying it. Dryness is how the food safety of this sauce is maintained. Add the other two items by moisture level. They were about the same and then let them all slowly fry, stirring just about continuosly for 35-45 minutes. Keept he heat low, prevent burning or scorching and dry those things out. They'll slowly take on some color as well.

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Both the steaming and the frying put out a distinct smell. It bothered some members of my family and others liked it.

Meanwhile, reduce the reserved steaming liquid by half.
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Drain out the oil from your meat, and reserve the oil
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Return the oil to low heat and start cooking the onions, with frequent turning. Add the garlic after a bit, about 5 minutes. Keep going for about 20 minutes.
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Meanwhile, in a large skillet heat the drained meat on low. Add in about half of the reserved reduced liquid and stir everything together. Add 2-4 Tablespoons Soy Sauce. Same for Oyster Sauce. Up to a tablespoon of fish sauce. Keep stirring and working the moisture through the product. Season it but dry it out. Don't forget your onions, They need stirring too.
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The onions should be taking on some color after 20 minutes but not really crisp. They should be noticeably smaller. Now season with black pepper and chile flakes. Most versions of XO sauce are quite spicy. I cut way back for my preferences and this is a prime reason I wanted to make my own.

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Return the seasoned meat to the onion mix and combine. Taste.

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This is a condiment and you don't use it heavily so it should be strongly flavored, savory and perhaps hotter than you might like straight. Any correction you make has to be cooked out dry.

Ladle into clean/sterilized jars.There should be enough oil to cover. Add some if needed. Keep refrigerated. I've read it keeps as long as 8 months. I plan on a more accelerated usage and giving some away as I'm a bit leery of it's long term food safety. I'd be more confident if I had more even size and moisture level of my product by using all the same sized and thus hydrated items.

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I hear good things about XO fried rice, XO Shrimp and other seafood dishes. Also noodles....

There are lots of variations of this out there and you're likely to find one that stirs your interest.
 
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