Inspired by the Middle Eastern flavors that chefs Ori Menashe and Genevieve Gergis wield so deftly at Bavel in LA, we created this quick-preserved citrus gremolata using thin-skinned clementines and tangerines. It adds a fragrant, briny flavor this snapper, and is the perfect way to wake up your winter palate.
But it's a good thing.
I have somehow lucked into a Christmas tradition that mirrors itself in gatherings with both my family and my husband’s: the oyster roast. With the Taylor clan (my family), it’s a relatively new custom that’s going on its fourth year. We rent a beach house in Navarre Beach, Florida, and my parents, my brother and his family, and my family of four get together. On my husband’s side, the large extended family convenes at my brother-in-law’s house in Wiggins, Mississippi, about a half-hour north of the coast. Jamie, my husband’s younger brother, has an amazing party setup in his backyard, where an old Argosy RV (that was reportedly once Grandpa Jones’ touring bus) is surrounded by a gravel yard, fire pit, and string lights. The much-anticipated highlight of both assemblies is the oyster roast, which takes place over a grill for convenience.At either place, we’ll get a sack of Gulf oysters and set out a bunch of oyster knives and gloves, and everyone will roll up their sleeves and start shucking. Any political or philosophical differences melt away as we pry open oyster after oyster. It’s a great bonding experience where everyone works together on a shared (and delicious) goal, the grownups laughing, sharing shucking tips, drinking bourbon, and telling stories to the soundtrack of Christmas tunes, while the kids run around and make fun of us. We definitely slurp down our fair share of bivalves before they make it to the grill (kids included—or, rather, especially the kids), but then the ones that do get a kiss of heat are raved over.We prefer grilling just until the oysters are warmed, keeping the texture more in line with the buttery nature of raw ones. And they’re always, mandatorily, slathered with garlic butter. This version is, I must say, just insanely delicious because the garlic butter includes a good splash of sherry, which imparts nutty depth that takes the oysters over the top. Round after round of half shells will come off the grill, and people will throw their heads back in ecstasy as they half die of happiness.My recipe here is for a manageable two dozen, though in reality our celebrations involve far more than that. You can easily double, triple, or quadruple the sherried garlic butter to accommodate however many hungry cousins, aunts, uncles, or friends you want to make happy. And don’t be afraid to put people to work shucking. At this time of year, especially, everyone wants to pitch in, to get involved in a hands-on way, to put their hearts and their effort into experiences that bring joy to the ones they love.
Simmering soaked salt cod in a tomato sauce filled with peppers, onions, and olives infuses the fish with flavor and leaves it flaky and tender. Sweet and creamy polenta, enriched with lightly tangy mascarpone, sops up the sauce and balances the brightly flavored fish.
We serve this on Boxing Day, and though it seems like a complicated recipe, once you get the hang of butchering the lobsters the rest is easy. Be sure to serve the lobsters on a warmed large platter so the beurre blanc stays hot. I love to line the platter with hot cooked linguine before topping it with the roasted lobsters and lemony sauce. While you could certainly opt for crusty bread or hot jasmine rice alongside, the pasta soaks up some of the sauce and makes for a decadent second course once all the lobsters have been eaten.
Originally served at Seattle’s Hotel Sorrento by chef David Pisegna (and published in The Best of Food & Wine collection from 1988), this throwback salmon dish stands the test of time. We simplified the original recipe, but didn’t change a thing about the velvety, wine-blushed beurre blanc; keep it warm and serve it immediately for the best results.
Seafood is good for your body, wallet, and if that's not enough for you, the Earth.
A sweet and spicy take on Bordeaux-style red wine sauce makes this tender, flaky fish extra flavorful. Store-bought veal demiglace is the secret to the sauce’s depth; look for it in specialty stores or online. Mushrooms and onions add unctuous texture.
Tender, quick-blanched vegetables and perfectly cooked fish are served with sautéed alliums and dressed in a creamy white wine sauce in this classic bistro dish you’ll crave.
Rosemary is not a classic pairing with delicate white fish, but here it is balanced by sweet and nutty hazelnuts and bright, acidic lemon to add a savory, herbal note to this dish.
Here’s how to decode a vague recipe.
With a light and airy batter studded with sesame seeds and a vibrant, herbal dipping sauce, Chef Ludo Lefebvre’s take on fish and chips is fresh-tasting and crispy. Any firm white fish will work well here, black cod is Lefebvre’s preference since it’s oil-rich and has a lovely mild flavor.
Broiling the fillets hot and fast delivers tender, flaky fish and browns the smoky chile compound butter with zero effort. Use cultured butter here; typically higher in butterfat, it has a greater depth of flavor and browns more quickly.
Infused with intense aromatics that are tamed with a hint of coconut oil, this whole-fish showstopper is swimming in bright Thai flavor. Rockfish are native to the Pacific; substitute sustainably caught red snapper, if needed.
The first time I visited Jamaica was in 2012. Close friends who had been going there on vacation for years invited my husband and me to the cliffs of Negril, in the westernmost corner of the island. Among the many features of the area they extolled was a local jerk shack just down the road from the small hotel where we were staying. But, they cautioned us, don’t go too hungry, and be prepared to wait. After all, great jerk cannot be hurried, nor can island time. I was familiar with jerk seasoning from my childhood, when walks home from my public school in Toronto would take me through a Caribbean neighborhood where I devoured beef patties and jerk chicken thighs as an after-school snack. But that was the extent of my knowledge of Jamaica’s distinctive cuisine. The chance to get to know it better while sitting on the beach, eating chicken and seafood laced with Scotch bonnet peppers, allspice, and garlic, and washing it all down with an ice-cold Red Stripe was one I could not pass up.That first jerk shack did not disappoint, nor have any of the others we’ve frequented on our many subsequent visits. In the years since our first foray we have mastered our timing to arrive midafternoon, still full from a late lunch and happy to linger for a few hours sipping cold drinks while our dinner is prepared. After trying every item that can be basted or drizzled in the flavors of jerk, from shrimp to chicken to whole fish and even cocktails, hands down my favorite incarnation is lobster, where the jerk paste is stirred into butter and used to baste the crustacean while it cooks over the flames. My streamlined version is one that you can make all year round, but grilling the lobsters outside, beer in hand, is always encouraged.
Carla Hall’s take on Bahamian cracked conch yields tender, extra-crispy shrimp with the help of a rolling pin to flatten and tenderize the flesh. Hold the shrimp by the tail when “cracking” them to make sure the tail doesn’t separate from the rest of the meat.
An intensely concentrated broth pairs with delicate white fish and rich shiitake mushrooms. Gently steaming the fish gives it light and flaky texture. The citrus zest added just before serving brightens the whole dish.
Creamy, soft, and slightly sweet, scallops remain one of our favorite seafoods to cook. The best part? They happen to be incredibly quick-cooking. Whether we’re grilling outside or heating up a pan come winter, we like to buy scallops when we want something that’s fast, but still tastes indulgent. We love to sear them, grill them, steam them, and serve them raw in a carpaccio—they even make for a luxurious pizza topping, paired with bacon and a garlicky béchamel. (Trust us on this one.) Read on for more scallop recipes we love.
They’re NOT the same.
When you grow up close to the water, be it by an ocean, lake, or river, you develop a natural affinity for fish. You start to appreciate the subtle differences in flavor and texture between various types of fish and learn to cook and eat them in a thousand different ways.In India, where I grew up, fish was steamed, fried, or cooked in curries and served over beds of warm scented rice or bread—and it was always on the menu for weekends. These days, although I live on the other side of the world, seafood is still a mainstay in my Bay Area kitchen, and pan-seared and fried fish are popular options at my home when guests visit. What I like about serving dishes like this Rechad with Trout is the convenience it offers; the spice blend can be made ahead of time, and fish cooks rather quickly, so I’m not trapped at the stove when I want to be spending time with my guests.I lean on rechad masala quite often; it’s a bright red paste that’s prepared by grinding down Kashmiri chiles with vinegar and a few spices. It’s a staple in many kitchens in Goa, a region located on the west coast of India. Goan cuisine is renowned for its use of chiles, but that wasn’t always the case. When the Portuguese arrived in the 16th century, they introduced chiles from South America, which quickly became an integral part of the local cuisine. In Portuguese the word “recheado” means stuffed and in Goa, you’ll see it spelled as either “recheado” or “rechad” on restaurant menus.In this recipe, I lean on Kashmiri chiles for their bright red lycopenic color. These chiles are mild in their heat level and are only sold dry. They’re readily available at Indian grocery stores and spice markets; if you can’t find them, use any dried red chile that you like.The classic choices of fish for this recipe are usually pomfret or mackerel, but I’ve found trout to work exceptionally well. Once it’s fried, serve this fish with warm rice and a light salad and a few wedges of fresh lime or lemon to squeeze over the top.
A funny thing happens when you marry a pata salada (Spanish for salty foot—the endearing nickname given to people who are raised on the beaches of Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco): You become a mariscos snob.Since meeting my wife Paola, my seafood consumption has spiked to near-ridiculous levels. Fortunately, I’ve been able to keep up with her Neptune-like appetite for anything from the sea. As a result, I can tell you if a shrimp cocktail is made properly or not. Meaning, if the broth is made from scratch with shrimp shells and aromatics versus just throwing a bunch of tomato cocktail mix, ketchup, and hot sauces together in a bowl.Coctél de camarón (you may know it as Mexican shrimp cocktail) has a special place in our life. It has become our welcome meal as soon as we land in Puerto Vallarta, usually famished. We arrive at Paola’s family’s home where a bowl of her mother’s replenishing coctél awaits. It always starts off our trip to paradise on the right foot.One day back home in Los Angeles, I called my mother-in-law and asked her to coach me through her coctél process to surprise Paola. (She was mad at me that day, and I needed all the help I could get to get out of the doghouse!) The idea was to surprise her with one of our favorite dishes that we associate with so many great memories. While the shrimp shells were simmering away to make the broth, I spotted our Spanish saffron container out of the corner of my eye and figured, what the hell? I grabbed a fat pinch of the stuff and added it to the broth.As the broth chilled to room temperature—the way to properly eat a Mexican coctél de camarón, so you can taste all of the delicate flavors and fresh shrimp—I took a sip, and my eyes grew big. It was so good. Her mother’s coctél is perfect as-is, but with a pinch of Spanish saffron, it became a revelatory experience. It did the trick and we forgot what we argued about after a couple of big spoonfuls.In this recipe, Paola amplifies the flavor even more by charring the vegetables a bit before using them to build an umami-filled stock. Combined with the saucy shrimp and all the cucumber, tomato, onion, cilantro, and avocado, this dish is suitable for a complete lunch. Eat it with some good tostadas or saltine crackers to complete the Puerto Vallarta experience.
Stop making these fish mistakes ASAP.
OK, so the ingredient list is long, but this recipe is full of make-ahead moments that make it extra-easy to prep in advance, like the Furikake Granola (a total flavor explosion!) and the effortless quick-pickled veggies. If you’re missing a few items on this list, take a field trip to your local Asian market to stock your pantry; there’s a world of exciting ingredients waiting that will revive your weeknight cooking routine.