Everything is Craveable at Crave Fishbar

Remember that time that a crane fell and totaled an awesome chef’s  ceviche-centric restaurant restaurant?

Well, Crave Fishbar flips the bird to that crane, proving that a reincarnation can be an improvement over the original.

BARELY avoiding making potentially offensive religious joke here.

 Crave Fishbar is on a busy restaurant crowded street in Midtown East. From the outside, it looks like a casual, nondescript restaurant.

From the inside, it is a dark, sleek space with a long bar, several high tables, and a few seats near the window. It’s narrow but well laid out, and is ideal for a first date – cozy but not cramped, romantic but not stuffy.

Bread and butter

Normally, the bread doesn’t really require a comment. This bread isn’t even anything out of the ordinary – no mysterious infusions or meat-laden butter, or anything like that. Just some soft, tangy bread with creamy whipped butter, ready to be spread. Just, in other words, what you rarely get. The bread is often too crusty or the butter is too hard, or there is only one roll when you really want two. This is a nice serving of bread with some sweet butter, and it is all that you really want when sitting down to eat on a chilly night.

Plancha grilled octopus with c Chinese broccoli and a cumin mustard vinaigrette

Up there with Periyali for the best octopus in the city. So tender that it literally cuts with a butter knife, with a very meaty, mild taste that is almost reminiscent of bone marrow. It is just so mild and rich. The broccoli is like a cross between broccoli stems and spinach, with a strong vegetal taste that perfectly counteracts the rich octopus. The vinaigrette is earthy and tangy, with the pop of mustard seeds adding yet another textural difference to the dish. The attention to that detail really elevates the plate.

Crispy pork belly with pistachio onion relish and roasted squash puree

I don’t care that this is called the fishbar. For all I care, it could be called the porkbar. This is a standout, must order dish. Juicy pork belly, almost sweet underneath its crispy, salty sheath of skin. The squash puree is incredibly warming, with notes of aromatics like cumin and coriander. The best part may be the relish – tangy, bright, and crunchy with pistachios. The pork belly is a very ample piece, and though it might be a bit much for one person, it is ideal to split.

Cauliflower with spicy prosciutto, breadcrumbs. and grana padano

Why don’t I make cauliflower this way? Boiled until it is just tender at the core, then sautéed with prosciutto, chiles, and crispy breadcrumbs. Served with torn basil and nutty grana padano, this dish is craveable in every sense of the word. It is somewhat salty, but that’s what makes it so great – it is the pasta of the vegetable world. Creamy, meaty, salty, just greasy enough…this really couldn’t’ be improved upon.

Crave Fishbar is a total gem. It isn’t cheap,but you know what? You get what you pay for. You could order a bunch of small plates, like my date and I did, or you could go the traditional route with an appetizer, entrée, and dessert. If this place were in Chelsea, it would be the talk of the town and packed every night. Because it’s in Midtown East, it’s still a little under the radar, and as such, you should run there before the secret is out.

Blue Water Grill – A Fantastic Brunch and All that Jazz

People like brunch because it’s convenient. Because it includes drinks. And because you can often do it cheaply and still have a tasty meal.

However, if you are willing to go up a wee bit on price, I have a brunch that will blow your mind.

Head to Blue Water Grill in Union Square. This BR Guest restaurant at first feels like any other corporate brunch in the city – upscale, immaculate, devoid of any personality. BUT, when you book a table, make it for the jazz room downstairs. Then, you are led from the light flooded, bustling upstairs to a small, elegant dining room below ground where, from 11:30 on, a jazz trio serenades you with some absolutely sensational live music. The longer you stay, the louder and more swinging the music gets. There is something about live music that is undeniably New York and enhances the multi-sensory experience of eating a good meal.

Spicy sausage and shrimp hash

Pork and shellfish are natural lovers – the shrimp makes the pork taste sweet and clean, while it gets the pork’s natural fattiness and full-bodied flavor. Here, huge snappy shrimp pair with jalapeno-scented breakfast sausage, creamy roasted potatoes, and soft sautéed onions. The shrimp is so sweet, with no wretched iodiney taste. Pairing the shellfish with such earthy, full flavored ingredients really ups the ante of a usual breakfast hash.

Fiery maine lobster and big eye tuna roll with green apple, avocado, and honey calamansi glaze

Fresher and more expertly made than I could possibly have imagined. The lobster is as soft and sweet as crab with the unmistakably buttery quality that only lobster has. Pairing it with the lean tuna, soft and mild, is inspired – their contrasting textures really complement each other. Tart green apple, creamy avocado, and a tart-sweet glaze complete this roll, made with excellent room temperature sushi rice. This isn’t authentic sushi, but it is incredibly delicious. It is another example of how well this restaurant does brunch.

Santa Barbara smoked salmon with accoutrements

If you ever see Santa Barbara Smokehouse fish offered, you change your previous plans, cancel all alternate ideas. This is one of the finest smokehouses in the country, is nationally recognized, and produces smoked salmon that is silky, mild, soft, velvety...it’s so good that it almost makes lox sexy. Fish this good needs not be obscured by lots of other stuff-  just a hard-boiled egg, some remoulade, and sour pumpernickel bread is necessary. A stiff, vinegar dressed salad of frisee and lightly pickled onions cleans the palate between bites, preparing it for more of that excellent smoked salmon. This dish is simple but exquisite.

Caramelized banana ice cream tower with hazelnut shell and toasted marshmallow sauce

This makes bananas foster look like Laffy Taffy. That’s how divine and purely banana-y this ice cream tastes. It tastes clean and almost floral with soft bananas interspersed in the airy ice cream. It is drizzled with bittersweet chocolate sauce and crowned with sticky, sweet marshmallow cream. Possibly the most delicious part of the dessert is its fragile hazelnut tower. Crisp, sugary, and buttery, tasting like a gigantic Florentine cookie. This dessert might have made my dad stab my sister with a fork for the last bite.

My family dines to win. 

Luckily, having to share dessert is the only downer to this brunch – each entrée, by the way, comes with a very nice mimosa or a VERY strong bloody Mary. The service is excellent, the food is way above par, and the live music is just delightful. Make no mistake, the price tag is hefty. You pay for some of the freshest seafood around. However, for brunch with the parents or a splurge-y treat…this is worth it. It’s tasty, elegant, and unique…

And all that jazz.

 

A Salt and Battery – NYC’s Own Fish and Chips

If you have ever been to England, you have undoubtedly looked the wrong way when you crossed the street, marveled at how the entire country closes early on Sundays, and eaten fish and chips.

I don’t mean fried fish and french fries. I mean fish and chips. Fresh British fish, served  under puffy golden batter alongside fat, pale yellow chips, doused with sour malt vinegar.Preferably eaten standing up. Preferably eaten slightly drunk.

There is, thankfully, a place to pretty much recreate that experience on this side of the Atlantic.

A Salt and Battery has been in Greenwich Village for a several years – it has beaten Bobby Flay in a Throwdown, been touted as the finest fried fish by The Village Voice, and has been the late night haunt for many NYU students.

The tiny shop, in a row of 2 other same-owned shops offering British candy and tea service, has only a few stools and a counter. Read the menu on the wall and order fast – if you are lucky enough to snag a seat, do it now. And do it with someone you know well – the food here isn’t right for a first date.

Fried Haddock and Chips

The real deal. Thick, flaky haddock is mild and clean tasting under a puffy, perfectly crispy sheath of golden batter. It is moist within its greaseless cage. It sits atop beautifully fried potatoes, thick and creamy within, crunchy without – just like in London. Doused with vinegar and salt until my mouth puckered, this was the best fried fish I have had in this country, without a doubt. The tartar sauce was also good, though a bit less tart than I like.

 

Mushy Peas

The perfect food for those of you who love squash puree and carrots cooked to oblivion. These are verdant and fresh without being overly grassy. They are served piping hot and need only a touch of salt to make them the perfect accompaniment to the main event.

Coleslaw

Incredibly crunchy though being very thickly sauced with a heavy, creamy dressing. Traditional without being overtly  seasoned, it provides a cooling and crispy component to the meal, juxtaposing those gloriously mushy peas.Don’t miss it if you love coleslaw – it’s a solid rendition.

Deep Fried Mars Bar

What, you though that state fairs invented these?

Imagine the world’s gooeist brownie with a molten, creamy nougat center, enclosed in doughnut batter. Yeah. Share one…don’t try to eat one on your own.

Your heart will actually beat slower from all of the fat.

 

The food is great, the service is charming, and the price can’t be beat. Don’t expect fast food – this stuff is made efficiently, but it’s made to order. And it’s worth it. Grab a  Boddignton ale, a jar of malt vinegar, and sit down to wait for one of life’s great pleasures.

And, be warned, A Salt And Battery…next time, I’m coming for the eating challenge. And I’m not going home until I win.

Seared Coriander Tuna and Soy-Sesame Soba Noodles

Step away from the ground chicken. You have had it enough. Step away from the delivery menus. You have paid that crappy Chinese restaurant’s rent one too many times. Step away from the bags of popcorn, the almost-too-old bagged salad in the fridge, and the freezer burned lasagna that your aunt made  in 2010.

Tonight, you are cooking.

It will takes some prep work. It will take  careful timing.

But it will be beautiful. It will be wholesome. And, damn it, it will be delicious.

Tonight you don’t just eat.

Tonight, you dine.

Seared Coriander Tuna and Soy-Sesame Soba

Ingredients:

1 lb. sushi grade tuna

1/2 cup cilantro, washed and chopped

1/4 onion, sliced

1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed

1 tbsp. coriander

 1 tsp. pickled ginger, minced

1 serrano chili, sliced or chopped

2 tbsp. soy sauce

For noodles

2 bundles soba noodles (usually served in bundles, otherwise, enough for 2 people), cooked

1/4 cup stock or water

3 tbsp. soy sauce

drizzle rice wine vinegar

drizzle sesame oil

1 tsp. sugar

more cilantro to garnish

1. Combine the 2 tbsp. soy sauce, onion, garlic, chile, and coriander in a Ziploc bag.

2. Add the tuna to the bag, close the bag, move the contents around so the tuna is fully immersed in the ingredients, and put it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or up to 45 minutes to marinate. 

3. After marinating, drop the tuna in a pan on very high heat, and sear for 30 seconds on each side for rare. Save the marinade. Then, take it out of the pan and cut it against the grain on a cutting board. There is no need to let it rest before cutting. 

5. In the pan that the tuna was in, dump the marinade, onions, and chile. Extract the garlic cloves, since they will have leached all their flavor already.

6. When the onions have softened and the peppers have started to char (about 10 minutes), turn the heat down to medium and add the rest of the soy, the rice wine vinegar, the water or stock, the sugar, and the sesame oil.

7. Let it come to a boil on medium heat, then reduce the heat to low for about 5 minutes, or until the sauce thickens. Taste to make sure that the sauce is to your taste.

8. Put noodles in saucepan and coat with sauce.

9. Top noodles with tuna and extra cilantro, and serve.

This is totally how the other half eats – you know, the non-lazy, non-nyc-shoebox-sized-kitchen half. The tuna cooks so quickly it is shocking, and the salty, nutty, warm outside contrasts beautifully with the clean tasting, soft interior. This is ideal for anyone who likes spicy tuna rolls – it has all of those bright, spicy flavors. The noodles are soft and nutty, saturated with the salty, tangy flavors of the sauce. This dish can be served warm or cool, for lunch or dinner. Don’t keep it for more than one night, because tuna this rare really must be eaten quickly for safety reasons. Pair it with some Asian cucumber salad, pour yourself a glass of white wine, and enjoy dining like you have a personal chef.

Because, you do. It’s you.

Bistro 14 – Making the Rehearsal Dinner the Main Event

When you go to a rehearsal dinner, you are mostly praying for free-flowing wine, food that is thoroughly cooked, and not to be seated next to a creepy groomsman. It’s no use to pray for the food to actually be good, because that just never happens. Except at this wedding. Thank you, Jamie and Larry, for being totally and completely obsessed about food.

Bistro 14 is a globally inspired eatery on Long Beach Island that specializes in the fresh seafood and produce of the area. It is open year round, but in the off-season, only on weekends. The feel is beach elegant, with an airy, wood paneled room with many windows.

Chowder

Whatever you do, whatever you order, GET THIS CLAM CHOWDER. For some reason, the folks on Long Beach Island make a fantastic clam chowder.. The clams are large and sweet, with a pleasant chew and a totally clean aftertaste. The broth is briny and acidic, brimming with fragrant celery, tangy tomatoes, and lots of sharp black pepper. This clam chowder isn’t anything new, but it is made so well that it seems like it is. If only every restaurant in NYC took such care with its clam chowder, I wouldn’t be so thrilled when I tried clam chowder here.

But, as fate would have it, I was.

Green Salad with Crostini

A few salad leaves, some fresh cucumbers and Jersey tomatoes, and some tart, bright vinaigrette. Nothing special, but again, something done with care. The vegetables are crisp and fresh and crisp, the dressing is applied sparingly, and the crostini is spread with light, creamy goat cheese that is none too grassy or funky. It works for people who love goat cheese and people who are wary of it.

Grilled Local Scallops, shrimp, and Crabcake with Herbed French Fries and Coleslaw

Seafood so good I would swear I was at a clam shack in Massachusetts or Maine. Succulent scallops, broiled until just cooked through, so rich that they required no butter. Large shrimp, expertly cleaned and absolutely as sweet as sugar. When I have shrimp like this, it reminds me why I’m not kosher. The crabcake is another winner, with large, mild hunks of crab combined with herbs and mayonnaise until they form a moist, satisfying cake. They don’t’ skimp on the crab here, and put enough seasoning in the mix to complement the crab, making it sweeter next to the savory garlic and herbs. The cocktail sauce is rather insipid, and the tartar sauce unmemorable, but the coleslaw was creamy, tangy, and perfectly crunchy. The French Fries are another winner – overtly garlicky and piping hot, but not too salty. I would have cleaned my plate if my boyfriend hadn’t “generously” offered to help me with my fries and crabcake…thank you?

Bistro 14 hosted a really great rehearsal dinner and I have no doubt that the food is just this delicious when you dine here a la carte. The chef was there at this dinner cooking, overseeing, coming out to chat with the bride and groom…it was a totally hands on situation. He is proud of all the food he puts out, and he should be. The price point is very reasonable, especially to someone coming from Manhattan, and if the service was like it was at this affair, it is more than competent. I mean, this restaurant did the impossible ..it made the rehearsal dinner part of the main event.

Bistro 14 Restaurant and Raw Bar on Urbanspoon

Wood Planked BBQ Salmon

As summer draws to a close, so does salmon season, and thus my participation in the Fresh Catch Crew. For my last post about wonderful, wild Copper River Salmon, this time Coho salmon, I chose a recipe that is simple and incredibly precise. This isn’t one where you can substitute ingredients or techniques. This isn’t a “play along as you will” recipe. The ingredients must be followed to the letter. But follow these instructions and you will be rewarded with what may be my favorite salmon dish to date.

Wood Planked BBQ Salmon

Ingredients:

1 lb. Coho Salmon Fillet.

*Coho salmon is some of the mildest, fattiest salmon there is. It has an extremely lush texture and because of its fat content, it is very forgiving if it is cooked a bit too long. This is the salmon to start people on who are scared of eating fish.*

Wood Plank, soaked overnight.

*This is where the salmon gets its earthy, smoky flavor. The plank lends the fish a very deep, woodsy flavor that is almost akin to being grilled or smoked outside. It is also useful for chicken or beef, and comes in varieties like ceder or alder. Each wood lends a slightly different taste to the fish as it cooks.  Be sure to soak it overnight before using it in the oven.*

Island Delight Hawaaiian BBQ Sauce

*The perfect BBQ sauce for salmon. Sweet enough to counteract the salmon’s natural salinity, savory enough to work with the cedar plank, and tangy enough to add brightness to the fish. This is not too salty or smoky and is the only bbq sauce that I have found that compliments the fish versus overpowering it. Buy it here if you have to. It is just that spectacular. And they have not paid me to say this…this is just the way that it is.*

1. Preheat your oven to 350F and put the plank on a tinfoiled baking sheet in the oven as it preheats. As the plank warms up, an intoxicating woodsy scent should fill the kitchen. Take it out after the oven has totally preheated.

2. Place the salmon skin side down on the warm cedar plank and pour the sauce over the flesh.

Really slather the sauce on there. Get it all over the fish.

3. Bake for 20 minutes or until the thickest part of the salmon is almost completely opaque.

4. Serve.

This is so easy to enjoy, even kids will clamour for it. It isn’t subtle or gourmet, but it is undeniably tasty. Moist, tender salmon cloaked in a sweet and tangy bbq sauce that caramelizes at the edges and makes a sticky sauce on the top. finally, a soft but definite layer of smoke anchors the salmon, erasing any trace of fishiness, rendering it perfect for a side of sweet potatoes, green beans, or corn on the cob.

Salmon season is almost over, so don’t miss your last chance for a year to enjoy this wonderful dish!

And don’t even THINK about messing with the ingredients…I will know…

Disclaimer: I was given the coho salmon as a sample. I am not being monetarily compensated for my opinions or recipes. 

A Surprising Dinner at Michael Mina’s Seablue

When it comes to food, it is hard to surprise me. I have eaten many different types of food at many different establishments. I cook. I read about food. I live and breathe it. You may impress me, but you will very rarely totally shock me.

Dinner at Chef Michael Mina’s SeaBlue was one of those rare occasions.

The restaurant, located on the casino floor of the Borgata, is this celebrated West Coast chef’s only East Coast establishment. Known for his decadent lobster pot pie, this restaurant draws inspiration from Mediterranean and Middle Eastern flavors, using the fresh fish and produce from the Garden State. The restaurant is large and casual, but upscale enough for a nice dinner with wine. Be prepared that the restaurant is rather loud, but the noise comes off as a fun atmosphere, not too raucous for a couple of people enjoying their food.

Poached Maine Lobster with Gelee, Avocado Mousse, and Piment d’Espelette Mascarpone with American Caviar

Delicately poached lobster, tender and buttery, sitting atop a lightly acidic gelee. The avocado mouse is creamy and slightly peppery, accentuating the lobster’s sweetness. Best of all, the Mascarpone is rich and surprisingly spicy. The piment d’espelette has a slow, bright burn that works well with the delightfully sticky caviar, bursting with brine and salt. These ingredients all seem too rich, too flavorful, and not congruent, but they work. The result is a dish that is complex but harmonious.

Octopus Tagine with Preserved Lemons, Chickpeas, and Spicy Fava Bean Falafael

When asked how difficult it was to make the octopus, Chef Mina said in an offhanded way “Oh it’s a cinch. Just boil it for 4 hours before you pop it in the tagine.” This matter of fact approach he takes to even the most arduous tasks results in intensely flavorful and well thought out food, like this octopus. Except for Periyali, I have never had such succulent, sweet octopus. The tagine renders it tender enough to cut with a fork. The chickpeas, onions, and other vegetables in the mix have the signature spicy-sweet warmth of Moroccan food from harissa, cinnamon, and a touch of smoke (perhaps cumin?). The chickpeas are hearty and al dente, and the preserved lemon are tart, adding brightness to the long cooked dish. The falafel is otherworldly wonderful. Grassy and fresh with fava beans ,they have a rather intense heat that builds as you swipe it through the harissa flecked aioli. Eventually, the burn prickles through to the front of your mouth, not too hot, but more than just a little spicy. This won over several ocotphobes at the table, and was a huge winner of the night.

Loup de Mer with Zucchini Pistou, Heirloom Tomatoes, and Zucchini Fritters

Similar to branzino, loup de mer can be dry and rather fishy if not cooked very gently and carefully. Luckily, this was cooked very gently. The flesh is extremely moist, flaking off easily with the fork. Unfortunately, the skin is not crispy, which means that one of the best textural contrasts on a piece of fish is missed here. However, the zucchini pistou is earthy and fresh, the fritters are crisp outside and moist within, and the heirloom tomatoes add sweetness and acidity. New Jersey vegetables are showcased ideally here, accented with herbs and spices but mostly left alone to shine in their natural states.

Wagyu Beef 2 Ways – Seared Tenderloin over Oxtail Ragout and Roasted Romaine and Braised Belly over Aligot with Chaneterrelles and Bone Marrow

Wagyu beef is some of the most tender, most marbled, most delicate and luxurious beef in the world. Here, it is served 2 ways to showcase its versatility. The seared loin is cooked to medium rare, with a salty charred crust and a dark rosy interior. Soft but not mushy, with a light minerally taste that is in between beef and veal. There is nothing robust or abrasive about this taste, it is all about the depth and complexity – earthy and at the same time almost bright in its beefiness. Served over jammy oxtail ragout and a side of bok choy-like romaine, it somehow manages to avoid being a total gut bomb.  The Wagyu belly makes short ribs look like chicken breast – thick cut and tender, interspersed with globes of opalescent fat.  The aligot it is served with is the world’s cheeseiest  mashed potato – stretchy and thick enough to eat with a fork. The marrow is the piece de resistance – buttery, beefy, soft, goodness. All it needs is a piece of bread to make it complete.

I used the term “surprising” several times in this review. That is because this meal was, more than delicious, more than excellently served, more than fairly priced, was surprising. I have never had octopus cooked in a tagine. Mascarpone flavored with Southern French chiles and topped with caviar. Wagyu beef belly. Where does Mina get these ideas? Who does he experiment with? Though I don’t know the answers to these questions, I do know the not-to-miss restaurant in Atlantic City. Without a doubt, it is SeaBlue. The restaurant is a treasure chest of culinary surprises. 

*Disclaimer: The restaurants PR firm piad for my meal and stay. I was not required to write a review, and my thoughts and opinions are my own.*

Seablue on Urbanspoon

Moroccan Cured King Salmon Gravlax

As part of the Copper River Salmon Fresh Catch Crew, I was recently sent another shipment of fresh salmon from Alaska.

I know, my life really doesn’t suck right now.

The King salmon I was sent is aptly named – it is nothing less than  regal. It is the largest of the salmon that run the Copper River, with the highest fat content. It has a saturated orange color and an extremely rich mouthfeel. This salmon has only a one month season, so I didn’t want to play with it too much. I was very lucky to get some, and just wanted to accentuate its natural lushness and mild taste.

That’s when I came across this recipe for Moroccan gravlax. I had no idea how it would work, and I also didn’t want to spend THAT much time finding all the spices, toasting them, measuring them…etc. Bottom line – I wanted a shortcut.

That’s when I thought about using ras el hanout. Though there are many different varieties, this Moroccan spice blend tends to use aromatic and smoky spices like cumin, coriander, and ground rose. It has the deep, complex charictaristics of curry without actually USING any curry. Thus, it is perfect for accenting the fish instead of overpowering it. I thought I would add some aromatic vegetables and give it a whirl.

What I came up with might just be the best fish recipe I have ever made. Mild, complex, smooth, and incredibly easy to make!

Moroccan Cured Gravlax

Ingredients:

1 lb. salmon fillet

1/4 cup salt

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup ras el hanout

Zest of 1 orange

1/4 cup fennel bulb, diced

1 loaf pan lined with cling wrap

1 brick or a few heavy cans

1. Mix all ingredients except salmon in a bowl until they are well combined.

2. Put the salmon skin side down into the loaf pan, and rub the seasoning all over the visible parts of the fish.

Be sure to get it everywhere, including the sides. You really want to pat it on thickly.

3. Roll up the sides of the cling wrap so the salmon is totally enclosed in plastic.

Add another piece or two of cling wrap if you need to ensure that the salmon is totally enclosed.

4. Put your weight, brick, or cans atop the salmon. Then put it in the fridge for 48 hours. No moving, no peeking!

5. By the time that you check on the salmon, it should have released quite a bit of moisture in the loaf pan, and the salmon should be  flat. Unwrap the salmon and put it on a plate.

6. Using the back of a butter knife, scrape excess seasoning off the salmon. Be gentle, as you will see that the salmon has become very delicate.

It will also have turned an almost glowing pinky-orange. This is the result of the salt and sugar curing the salmon.

7. Using a gravlax knife or a very sharp, flexible knife, slice velum thin slices of the salmon, just down to the skin but not cutting through the skin. Angle the knife so that you cut away thin pieces of the salmon without the skin. Go against the grain, on the bias. The grain changes on the salmon, and you may have to change the direction that you cut several times.

If you are not very skilled, you will end up leaving quite a bit of salmon on the skin – it just gets too difficult to slice all the way down to the skin, and you really want thin, even slices. It’s okay – just let it go or feed it to the cat. Lucky cat…

8. Garnish with a sprig of fennel and serve.

This is just astonishingly delicious. The salmon takes on the fresh orange taste, the sweet fennel, and the smoky warmth of the ras el hanout. It is not at all salty like some gravlax, just saline in the natural way that seafood is. When sliced thin, it almost melts on the tongue, leaving behind just the taste of the salmon and the aromatic  spices. This is almost the un-recipe – very set it and forget it! It is a welcome mix up from the classic dill gravlax and is fabulous with greek yogurt on brown bread.

With a gravlax like this, it’s easy to say long live the King!

Disclaimer: I was given the sockeye salmon as a sample. I am not being monetarily compensated for my opinions or recipes.

Lazy Poached Salmon

It’s salmon season and I couldn’t be more thrilled. Salmon is high in Omega 3 fatty acids, high in protein, and incredible in flavor. I love the lush, smooth flavor and texture of salmon, especially the summer salmon that comes from Copper River.

So, when Copper River Salmon reached out to me and asked me to be part of the Copper River Salmon Fresh Catch Crew, it was a perfect fit. I have LONG been a fan of Copper River salmon, which are in season for only a few short months, and is the freshest wild salmon available. This means that it is a sustainable fish, and that it supports local fisherman. I am a huge believer in supporting small farmers and individual fishermen, and in eating sustainable seafood. I want to be eating for a long time to come, so if there is a way to get delicious fish that ensures that the fish will be reproducing for years to come, I am in on it!

As part of the Fresh Catch Crew, I will be letting you know where you can find Copper River Salmon in NYC on my Facebook page and Twitter. If you try it, I believe you will taste a HUGE difference between this and any other salmon you have tried.

The first shipment I received was Sockeye salmon. Almost fluorescent red, Sockeye is firmer than other types of salmon, and is often available through September. Because I find it less fatty than other types of salmon, I love to eat it with some sort of decadent sauce – that brings me to the method of poaching.

One of my favorite ways to eat salmon is poached. Warm or cool, poached salmon is delicate, gently cooked so that it flakes but is not at all dry or chalky. It can be served with a salad,with boiled potatoes, or sliced and layered on a crusty buttered baguette. The only issue is that poaching salmon, like poaching eggs, often requires attention and a bit of stress. Is there enough liquid? Is it hot enough? Is the fish overcooked?

No more.

This lazy poached salmon is for those of you who want a tender piece of perfectly poached fish without the stress. Perfect for Sunday brunch or an elegant picnic, this showcases the salmon beautifully. All you need is a pan with a tight-fitting lid and about half an hour.

Lazy Poached Salmon

Ingredients:

1 lb. Copper River Sockeye Salmon

1 bottle white wine

small handful dill and tarragon

1 lemon, sliced but not peeled

1 onion, peeled and sliced

1. Pour the wine into a saucepan and set the heat on high.

2. Toss in the herbs, onion, and lemon.

3. When the wine boils, lay the salmon in, skin side down. The salmon should start to cook and turn opaque immediately.

4. Cover with lid, turn the heat off, and walk away.

5. After 25 minutes, remove the lid. Poke a fork into the middle of the thickest part of the fish and if it flakes easily and is opaque, it’s good to go. If it is too red or doesn’t flake easily, just put the pan on a VERY low heat and cook with the cover off until the fish is done cooking. Chances are, though, the fish will be cooked. If there is a white substance on the fish, it is called albumin. It is a natural protein that sometimes releases during cooking, but has no flavor, is totally normal, and can easily be wiped off before serving. 

6. Remove the fish and peel off the skin (it should come off quite easily).

7. Run your finger along the center and sides of the fish and remove any hairpin bones with your fingers or kitchen needle nose pliers.

8. Refrigerate or serve immediately.

This recipe is foolproof. You just can’t screw it up. The fish cooks gently because it isn’t over direct heat, and the long, slow cooking results in fish that is tender but not mushy. It is especially delicious served cold with homemade mayonnaise or sauce gribiche.  Pairing it with a piquant, creamy sauce enhances the naturally sweet, rich flavor of the salmon. Served with a few boiled potatoes and some blanched asparagus, this is spring on a plate. Even better, it is entirely wild and sustainable.

Being lazy and Copper River Sockeye salmon is one heck of a great combination.

Kind of like Fritos and foie gras.

Disclaimer: I was given the sockeye salmon as a sample. I am not being monetarily compensated for my opinions or recipes. 

Claw – New England Lobster Rolls in Hell’s Kitchen

Hell’s Kitchen has a ton of Thai restaurants and diners, but New England lobster shacks? That we don’t got – well that we didn’t got.

Claw is a tiny storefront on Ninth Avenue. It specializes in fresh Maine lobster, serving it as various iterations, including its most famous one, the lobster roll. This has one more location, in Chelsea, and this site has a white and peach interior, looking for all the world like a very skinny ice cream parlor.

Lobster Bisque

Claw only uses fresh Maine lobster that is never frozen, and the taste comes through in its bisque. Creamy and smooth, but not thick or sludgy, this manages to be rich without being overpowering or too heavy. The lobster chunks are numerous, velvety, and meaty in the buttery bisque. Sweet and comforting, this is closer to clam chowder than a traditional lobster bisque Though this could benefit from a hit of sherry to elevate the taste from more than simply butter, the taste is still excellent.

Lobster Roll

They don’t skimp on the lobster here. A generously toasted hot dog bun, crisp with butter, holds sweet steamed lobster meat, bound only with a bit of creamy mayonnaise and tossed with a good amount of salt, to bring out the lobster’s natural salinity. The cool meat collides with the warm bun for a unique sensation of flavors, temperatures, and textures. A good example of a classic Maine style lobster roll.

The fries are another great point. Fried to order from fresh potatoes, they are crispy and served with tart cornichons and an eggy homemade mayonnaise – I could have eaten that mayo by the spoonful.

So would I come here again? A qualified “yes” – if someone else was paying. Lunch here is expensive – that lobster roll alone was almost $17. It was tasty, but not what I would call a great value. If they changed their prices by a few dollars, I would stop here easily every week.

Till then, I think I might continue to drive to Connecticut for my lobster fix!

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