Archive for the ‘seafood’ Category

A delicious one-pot meal: Paella

A few years ago, my mother-in-law gave me for Christmas a wonderful gift for a foodie like me – a paella kit. It included a paella pan, Spanish rice and olive oil, and some saffron.

Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world, because harvesting it is so labor-intensive. Saffron threads are the stamens of a variety of crocus. There are three stamens per flower and each must be picked individually by hand. It has a delicate flavor; liquids are generally infused with saffron and then used in recipes.

Paella is a classic Spanish dish of saffron-flavored rice with seafood, chicken and sometimes chorizo, or Spanish sausage. I made this dish for a dinner party and it was a big hit. Serve with a nice green salad and a vinaigrette made with sherry vinegar.

Seafood, Chicken and Chorizo Paella

Ultimate Paella with Seafood, Chicken and Chorizo

The term comes from the Latin patella, a flat plate on which offerings were made to the gods. The prepared dish is placed in the middle of the dining table, as it is traditionally eaten straight from the pan.

1/2 tsp. sweet paprika (preferably Spanish smoked paprika)
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. kosher salt
3 chicken thighs, cut in half
5 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 Spanish chorizo sausage, thickly sliced (about ½ cup)
1/3 cup coarsely chopped roasted red peppers
1/2 cup Spanish onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped (reserve some for garnish)
2 medium ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and finely chopped
3 cups short-grain Spanish rice, preferably Calasparra
5 1/2 cups strong chicken broth
Generous pinch saffron threads (about 1/2 tsp.)
1 dozen littleneck clams, scrubbed
1 dozen mussels, scrubbed
1 pound jumbo shrimp, peeled and de-veined
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
2 lemons, cut into wedges

Combine paprika, oregano and salt. Rub spice mixture all over the chicken, cover and refrigerate for one hour. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 325*.

Warm chicken broth in a saucepan to just below a simmer. Crush saffron slightly and stir into broth; keep warm.

Heat the oil in a 14-inch paella pan or large skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté the chorizo until lightly browned; remove from pan and set aside. Add chicken skin-side down and brown well on all sides; remove from pan and set aside. Sauté onions in the same pan; when the onions start to brown, add red peppers, garlic and half of parsley. Cook for 3 minutes over medium heat. Add tomatoes; cook until mixture caramelizes a bit, stirring occasionally.

Fold in the rice and stir-fry to coat the grains with the onion mixture. Pour in the chicken broth and stir gently to loosen browned bits from the bottom of the pan. The broth will almost fill the pan. Bring the mixture to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring the mixture a couple of times.

Press the clams into the rice. Simmer for 5 minutes more, occasionally moving the pan on top of the flame so the rice cooks evenly and starts to absorb the liquid. You should still have a lot of liquid in the pan.

Press the chicken (with any accumulated juices), chorizo, mussels and shrimp into the rice. Place the pan into the oven and bake, uncovered, for 25 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven. Place the pan on the stovetop and sprinkle with peas and parsley. Cover with foil and let rest, covered, for 10 minutes. Garnish with lemon wedges and serve.

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Dinner: A.W. Shucks

On Tuesday, Barbara and I went to dinner at A.W. Shucks, a local seafood restaurant we had not been to before. We think it’s a great value – good food at good prices with good service. It seemed to be very popular, too. They don’t have a Web site, though. But here’s what we had:

  • Barbara: fish ‘n chips. The fish was tilapia; looked good and the fries were great 😉 You get two sides – the other one she ordered (as did I) was the tomato-feta salad. What a great idea! It was a hit with both of us.
  • Kim: fried shrimp, with mashed potatoes and tomato-feta salad. The shrimp were a bit overdone, and I would have preferred a traditional cocktail sauce. It came with a slightly spicy, thin sauce that was okay, but I guess I’m a bit of a traditionalist about some things 🙂
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A new place for dinner: 21st Street Fish House & Oyster Bar

Last Wednesday, my dinner group went to the new 21st Street Fish House & Oyster Bar at 123 21st Street in Norfolk. It’s in the space that used to house Cafe Rosso before it burned, and Fellini’s prior to that.

The food was quite good, and the prices were very reasonable for a seafood place – mid to upper teens for a fish dinner, higher for a few specialties. There were 7 or 8 catch-of-the-day options; you could choose one of those and then decide how you wanted it cooked – pan-seared, baked, grilled, blackened or broiled – and select a sauce to be served with it. The dinners are served with a choice of two sides. There were also some specials. Here’s what we chose:

  • I had the grouper, pan-seared with lemon beurre blanc sauce. It was excellent, although the fish wasn’t browned as I would have expected from pan-searing.
  • Barbara had the special – monk fish topped with lump crab meat and Hollandaise sauce. She enjoyed it very much.
  • And Keith also had grouper, but his was grilled and he chose the peach (I think) chutney as a topping. He thoroughly enjoyed his as well.

The only thing I found odd was that the mashed potatoes I selected as a side were served with a red wine-mushroom sauce, which I thought was a bit heavy for a seafood accompaniment. It was good, just not a good companion for fish.

I would definitely recommend the 21st Street Fish House, though. Give it a try 🙂

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