Our Favorite Recipes by Sustainable Seafood Chef Barton Seaver
One of the best ways to prepare lobster is in a rossejat, pronounced rose-ay-YACHT. The lobster in this dish lends rich flavor to the spaghetti pasta noodles. And by boiling it, its juices and shell can be returned to the liquid to make a flavorful broth. The dish is then finished under the broiler, the high heat causing the noodles to curl upward and crisp. With a garlicky perfume that shines as the hot noodles take on its flavor, the aïoli garnish throws this seafood dish over the top.
Roast Vegetable Tuna Salad
Taking a cue from the famed Niçoise salad, the tuna here flavors a host of vegetables. The vinaigrette—made spicy by mustard and its more potent pairing, horseradish—balances the roasted vegetables: green beans withered and browned, radish sweetened of its bitter personality, and tomatoes concentrated by the heat. Watercress rounds out the assembly with its peppery bite. This salad can be composed as individual plates or served family style on a giant platter, and is as good the next day as when prepared fresh. So easy and quick to make, it gives you that much more time to enjoy the good—and simple—life on the coast.
Many cooks are most familiar with mussels steamed in wine and aromatics, served with nothing more than crusty bread or French fries. But mussels can also star beautifully in more complex, richly flavored dishes. This recipe borrows from the great tradition of convenient, one-pot seafood stews, such as the bouillabaisse of Marseille, or cioppino from San Francisco. Here, the mussels find company with tons of vegetables—fennel, onion, butternut squash—making this a nourishing meal, too.
Lionfish Fritters with Red Bell Pepper Coulis
Delicious grilled, sautéed, or stewed, lionfish is a near perfect stand-in for many recipes likely in your repertoire already. Lionfish fillets are dense, with an elastic bite; a sweet, briny flavor; and just a hint of buttery richness. Add fennel, along with crunchy celery and fresh herbs to create a textured and aromatic fritter. The red pepper coulis, with its sultry scarlet hue and smoky depth, provides an excellent complement. This snack or appetizer is tasty paired with a citrusy mezcal margarita for an afternoon of doing good, deliciously.
The season for crawfish usually begins around mid-November and carries on through the spring. These crawfish are one of the great delicacies of Creole cuisine, but there is nothing delicate about eating these red-shelled beauties. Looking a bit like miniature Maine lobsters, whole crawfish are traditionally submerged in boiling water, beer, and large quantities of "boil spice"—usually a mix of paprika, garlic, onion, herbs, and chiles. When they are almost cooked through, the heat is turned off, and the crawfish are left to simmer and absorb all of the flavorful liquid. A proper "boil" is almost always served family style, and includes other ingredients such as spicy andouille sausage, corn, and potatoes.
Grilled Whole Fish
Whether farmed or wild, the key for grilling whole fish is to choose one that weighs about 2 pounds, give or take—though it's better to err on the larger side. First, remove the scales and nip off the fins. This is known as "dressing" a fish, and is a task that any good fishmonger will be happy to do for you. A thick marinade not only seasons the fillets with the flavors of herbs and garlic, but also provides a protective layer that will help prevent the fish from sticking to the grill. Reserve any unused marinade to spoon over the finished dish as a fresh, aromatic sauce. To enjoy, flake the succulent meat away from the bones with a fork—it’s that simple.
Mackerel en Saor
In this Italian-inspired mackerel recipe, the key is lots of olive oil, as well as enough time for the fish to marinate. Let it chill overnight, and then allow it to return to room temperature prior to serving—how easy is that? Though it is traditionally served as a cicchetti (appetizer), it also makes a lovely a main dish. When enjoyed with cold, crisp white wine and charred, toasty bread, it adds a splash of Italian romance to any summer table.
Chesapeake Crab Cakes
Crab cakes steal the show when simply served at the center of the plate surrounded by a few summer vegetables. They also make the perfect accompaniment to a salad of mixed greens, or sandwiched between butter-toasted buns slathered with mayo and stacked with thick slices of tomato. You often can find imported blue crab on the market (both fresh and frozen), but it doesn't hold a candle to domestic blue crab in terms of flavor.
Hot-smoked Alaskan Salmon
Salmon has found its way into cuisines all over the world, but no dish better tells the story of the striking Alaskan coastline and its people than cured, smoked salmon. When the fish surge upstream in summer and fall they are caught, preserved, and smoked so they can be stored throughout the year. While this preparation preserves the salmon, Barton Seaver has adapted that tradition to create an easy and versatile dish that is flavored with brine and smoke, but meant for eating within a couple of days.