Tagged With: fish
The first of the season Alaskan halibut has arrived, and we are thrilled! Considered the world’s premium whitefish, first of the season halibut are the best quality because the fat content of the fish is at its absolute peak. To celebrate the arrival of this delicacy from the icy north, we created an escabeche using our Pacific Seafood. This simple preparation is a luscious showcase of some of spring’s first fresh flavors.
The first time I ever had a crab cake, I was thirteen and accompanying my dad on a business trip to San Francisco. We dined in the fanciest restaurant I’d ever been to, and I ordered the crab cake appetizer. It was tender, moist, perfectly seasoned, and it blew me away. I’ve attempted many times since to recreate it, with varying degrees of success. These beauties, however, elegantly spiced with our Classic Crab seasoning and a generous handful of tarragon, put that first memorable cake to shame! Do be sure to use Panko, the Japanese bread crumbs, for this recipe to get that lighter-than-air crust.
Spice merchant Christmas is coming a little late this year, but it is well worth the wait! The current crop of Piment d’Espelette has arrived at our doorstep, ready to transform our soups, stews, rice pilafs, and most especially egg and fish dishes with its mild heat, and fruity, almost tomato-like flavor. A single sampling of this precious spice leaves no question as to why we are so excited by its arrival!
Piment d’Espelette (pepper of Espelette) originates in the area that joins the southwestern-most corner of France with northeastern Spain, a region historically known as Basque country. Piment d’ Espelette bears the distinction of being the only spice recognized by the AOC, or Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée. The AOC guarantees that products which bear its seal will be produced in traditional manners, and originate only from their traditional region (Champagne is a classic example). Therefore, only the superior pepper grown in the ten, tiny approved Basque villages may be labeled “Piment d’Espelette.”
Visits to this picturesque region in late summer and early fall yield visions of festoons of peppers, drying against white stucco houses as they have for centuries. Each October, the end of the Piment d’Espelette harvest is marked by a vibrant festival, complete with parade, that draws upwards of 20,000 tourists. There, the peppers are sold fresh, pickled, or dried and ground, as we carry it. At only 4,000 on the Scoville scale (as compared to 40,000 for Indian Cayenne), Piment d’Espelette’s mild flavor is the cornerstone of the traditional Basque stew piperade, a piquant concoction of peppers, tomatoes, onions, and on occasion, ham and eggs.
In keeping with Basque tradition, we consume our Piment d’Espelette seasonally; making way for the new crop when it comes. The Basque have another tradition worth imitating- that of the txoko, or gastronomical society. Generations of Basques have gotten together to cook, sing, and experiment with food in thousands of private clubs. Pick up some of the freshest and most flavorful flakes of Piment d’Espelette available in the United States by the ounce, or sweetly packaged in a 1/2 ounce jar for your next txoko, or meeting of your foodie friends. On egin!
We’re excited to announce we have a new blend! We’ve reformulated our Pacific Seafood blend, using bright notes of citrus and lemongrass; this Pacific Seafood blend incorporates flavors from the Pacific Northwest all the way to Thailand. Using a delicious process of trial-and-error, while taking into account staff and customer feedback, our fearless leader and accomplished blend artist Amanda created this blend for a wide variety of seafood. We all agree that using it as a rub for seared scallops is where it really shines. The versatility of the Pacific Seafood blend lets these scallops be the shinning star of a huge number of varying meals. Start with the recipe below and see where your culinary creativity takes you!
My first taste of romesco was not, sadly, in Catalonia. I first encountered this crimson sauce in Walla Walla, Washington at a going away party for a dear foodie friend. I prepped ribs, halibut, and vegetables while my compatriot raced around the kitchen preparing “the sauce”. He toasted almonds, blistered heirloom tomatoes, roasted peppers and garlic, and (after several stops in the Cuisinart) it came out like ruby velvet. We served it with the halibut, where the rich sauce found its perfect match in the clean taste of the firm white fish.
That meal was my inspiration for this recipe. I’m embarrassed to admit it, but Seattle is my first city. I grew up in northeast Wisconsin, deep in the Northwoods, on the banks of the Wolf River. My home lies on Rocky Rips Road, a dead end named for the Class II whitewater that flows not 50 feet from my back porch. The rushing water was my lullaby as an infant, my playground as a child, and when I found my love for food the river continued to provide. Smallmouth bass hid out in the deep holes at the bottoms of rapids. I pulled gallons of crayfish out of the water with a pair of diving goggles and my bare hands (they’re amazing boiled like lobster and served over linguine with a spicy sauce of diced tomatoes, lemon, chiles, and heaps of garlic). My favorite, though, was the trout. It’s delicious, simple to prepare, and environmentally sustainable. You can pick up Idaho-farmed rainbow trout at many grocery stores for $5-$6/lb and they only take a few minutes to prepare. We grilled ours and served it with our very own romesco. We bumped up the sauce’s heat by adding some Pimenton Picante, spicy Spanish smoked paprika, while reducing the prep time by using jarred peppers and canned tomatoes. You wind up with a dish that’s impressive enough for date night and simple enough for any week night. It even gets Delilah’s paw of approval!
The best part of being a spice merchant is the taste-testing process… We’re pretty serious about only putting our name on things we love, so every now and again we’ll make a really over-the-top staff meal, mostly test out new blends and spices, but also not-so-secretly because we’re all gluttons. Our one spice merchant with a seafood allergy is off today, so of course, it was the day for homemade SUSHI with Real Wasabi®!
Real Wasabi® is a new offering for us. Wasabi is notoriously difficult to cultivate. This special product is grown in the traditional Japanese “Sawa” method, using constantly circulating spring water. This manner makes the rhizomes take longer until they’re mature enough to harvest- up to two or three years- but produces the cleanest, purest taste. When fresh, wasabi can be grated with ceramic or shark-skin graters to produce a paste, or sold dried as we carry it, and rehydrated in equal parts with water.
The flavor is grassy and vegetal; milder in heat than “faux” wasabi (the mix of horseradish, mustard, and food coloring that you know so well), and without the tear-inducing burn, either. The dried form is closer to army green than the neon-hued stuff you’re used to, and creamier in texture as well. Letting the paste stand covered for at least ten minutes allows the flavors to develop, so be sure to give it some time.
We enjoyed it as a condiment on these spicy tuna and scallop rolls, veggie rolls, black cod hand rolls, seared ahi and ahi sushi, Japanese barbequed black cod, flash-salt-cured and seared diver scallops, and yes, even some on this mango we salt cured on a Himalayan Salt Plate! We mixed a little in with some Japanese mayonnaise, too, and used it as a dipping sauce for those sugar peas. We might have to roll home from the shop today…