Jill Eats: Seafood in New England

By Jillian Bernardini - Jan 21, 2016 - 10:05 AM
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People often talk about sense of place when cooking. Whether it involves seasonality, buying local, or embodying a regional culinary style, food and place will always be a constant pair. Six years of living in Boston, I have fallen for seafood. It might be easy for me to say because I work in a seafood restaurant, Boston is a harbor city with the freshest local fish and shellfish around, and I can confidently admit 90% of the restaurants here have raw bar on their menus. Other then that reasoning, I have loved embracing the tastes and techniques of cooking New England seafood at home.

gloucester lobster new england jill eats

How often do we scan the perimeter of our local grocers, jumping immediately from produce to the deli/butcher section, while not even noticing the beautiful array of fresh local seafood the fishmonger has to offer us? I admit. It’s intimidating. There are lots of questions, how do I store it, what if I can’t cook it tonight will it go bad, how much do I need, or what do I do with it? Some may think seafood is way too expensive when compared to it’s protein-laden land animals. If one thinks about the price of a fish entrée at a restaurant vs. cooking it at home, most likely you can quadruple the servings for the same price.

pilsner steamed mussels craving boston wgbh jill bernardini

You can find the above recipe on Craving Boston!

We live in a region that is begging us to eat locally and seasonally. Try something new this weekend! Think about the soups, stews, sautés that all focus on red meat or pork, and translate that into a seafood dish. I have some tips and ideas for you:

-Think simple, don’t muddle up that true ocean flavor, avoid hiding the fresh seafood, enhance it.

-Carry-over cooking can happen because seafood is more delicate, so especially if there is a broth or sauce, once pulled from the heat, the proteins will still be cooking.

-5-10 ingredients is best, unless it’s some sort of crazy-lavish seafood gumbo or paella with every swimming animal in it!

-All you’ll need: a form of acid [citrus, wine vinegar?], fats to begin/finish like butter, lard, olive oil, the main star of course: protein, fresh herbs to brighten, and perhaps stock or some water...possibly a starch to round out the dish and seasoning!

stuffies top necks new england stuffed clams jill eats

I think that about sums it up, and don’t be afraid to ask questions with your fishmonger. They should be passionate about their product and willing to share all those delicious details with you. Let me know what you decide to make this week! [Yes that's my official #shellfie as the cover photo, thanks ICO =) ]