Pan Fried Soft Shell Crabs

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4 soft-shell blue crabs
About 2 cups buttermilk, or just enough to cover the crabs
A few shakes of Tabasco
All-purpose flour seasoned with salt and black pepper
3 tablespoons unsalted butter

Place the soft-shell crabs in a shallow dish. In a bowl, combine the buttermilk and Tabasco. Pour the combination over the crabs and let sit for at least 5 minutes. Place the seasoned flour in another shallow dish. Remove the crabs from the buttermilk. Allow the excess buttermilk to drip off. Dredge the crabs in the seasoned flour.

Place a frying pan over medium heat and add the butter. When the butter has melted, slip in the crabs. Fry them for a few minutes until the undersides are lightly browned, then turn them over and fry the other side. Serve warm.

 

Conch Fritters

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1 quart vegetable oil, for frying
¾ cup all-purpose flour
1 sprig fresh thyme leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup chopped conch meat
½ onion, chopped
½ green bell pepper, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1 cup water

Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, Dutch oven, or deep fryer to 365 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, thyme, salt, and pepper. Mix in the conch meat, onion, bell pepper, celery, tomato paste, and water.

In batches, drop the batter by rounded tablespoons into the hot oil and fry until golden brown. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the fritters to a baking sheet lined with paper towels to absorb any excess oil.

 

Salt Baked Shrimp

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3 pounds rock salt
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
4 bay leaves
10 sprigs fresh thyme
1 head garlic, cloves smashed and skin removed
1 jalapeño, sliced, with seeds
2 lemon wedges
2 pounds large head-on shrimp
Mississippi Comeback Sauce for dipping

Preheat the oven to 475˚F.

Combine the rock salt, coriander, peppercorns, bay leaves, thyme, garlic, jalapeño, and lemon wedges in a large bowl  and mix well.

Pour half of the salt-spice mixture into a large, oven-safe baking dish and place it in the oven to preheat for 10 to 12 minutes, until the salt becomes hot. Remove from the oven, lay the shrimp in the salt, and add the remaining salt to cover the shrimp.

Return the pan to the oven and bake for an additional 8 to 12 minutes, until the shrimp are just cooked through. Using tongs, remove the shrimp from the salt and transfer to a plate. Serve with a bowl of Comeback Sauce for dipping.

 

 

Nodaiwa: Unagi Restaurant

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Nodaiwa is a traditional unagi restaurant (grilled freshwater eel) established during the late 18th century in Tokyo. This michelin-star restaurant has 4 locations in Tokyo and one in Paris. Its main location is in Azabu, near Tokyo Tower. The 5th generation chef, KANEMOTO Kanejiro, is running the restaurant.

The building in Kamiyacho is an old style kura (storehouse) brought to Tokyo from Takayama in Gifu Prefecture. the restaurant stands out juxtaposed to the tall office buildings around it. The shop in Azabu dates from the 1970s, but the history of the restaurant goes back 200 years with the first chef opening a restaurant called “Nodaya” in Azabu during the Kansei years (1789-1801). Many articles throw around the year 1850 around as the year of establishment.  The Japanese articles just state late Edo period (1603-1868) or the Kansei years (1789-1801).

Niboshi Dashi

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This Dashi is a much stronger flavored version than the bonito and konbu dashi.  Excellent for Miso Soup and Ramen.

Pluck off and discard the fish heads, open up the fish stomachs and remove and discard the insides. Place the prepared fish in a pan with the measured water and konbu, or with the Traditional Fish Based Dashi, and leave to soak for one hour.

Bring the water quickly to a boil, skim off any scum that rises to the surface and simmer very gently for 6–10 minutes.

Remove from the heat and pass through a very fine muslin-lined sieve.

The dashi will keep in the fridge for a few days and in the freezer for up to 3 months.

 

Salsa Tinta (Basque Squid Ink Sauce)

 

Considered by many to be the Basque national sauce whether it’s used in risotto, a vinaigrette or squid in their own ink.

5 Spanish onions, halved and thinly sliced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and cut into small dice
1½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
2 cups water
½ cup canned whole plum tomatoes, crushed by hand
1½ tablespoons squid ink
Pinch of sugar

In a heavy saucepan, combine the onions, bell pepper, oil, and a little salt, cover, place over medium-low heat, and sweat the onions, stirring occasionally until the onions are soft and melty but not caramelized beyond a light blond. Raise the heat to medium, add the tomatoes, then bring to a boil and cook for about 5 minutes, until the tomato has lost some of its acidity.

Turn down the heat to a simmer and add the squid ink, cooking for a couple of minutes. Add the water and continue to cook for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions and pepper have almost entirely melted out and the sauce is sweet and complex.

Taste the sauce and adjust the salt. The sauce should have a very light hint of sweetness, so add sugar only if necessary. Blend in a blender until completely smooth. Use immediately or freeze for up to 3 months.