Omakase: New Year's Eve
Gulf of Maine Sashimi (Portland, ME)
Well, it's New Year's Eve. And while this celebration will be unlike any of the years' prior, that's no excuse to having a stellar last dinner. This month's Omakase is coming from Jen and the team at Gulf of Maine Sashimi because she had killer variety (even though she's in the northeast), and our west coast fishermen had a bad weather week.
As Jen and I talked about what products she had landing, I realized it's a perfect opportunity to relive my early days of offloading boats and share a couple recipes from Jean-Georges and Thomas Keller.
So grab a bottle of wine and enjoy what came to be a very French themed Omakase!
Day Boat Sea Scallops
Harvester Name: Kristan Porter
Boat: F/V Brandon Jay
Location: Cutler Maine
Sea Scallops steal the show during a northeast winter. Whether consumed raw in a crudo or seared with high heat, there's nothing like scallops from the Gulf of Maine.
The vast majority of sea scallops available to the public are treated by being soaked in a chemical to increase shelf-life and/or retain water to increase the product weight. These are NOT. Never treated or frozen and only handled by the harvester and Gulf of Maine Sashimi before arriving to you.
Skate (Boneless fillet)
Harvester: Jim Ford
Boat: F/V Lisa Ann III
Location: Newburyport Massachusetts
Eating is no doubt 90% visual. Some things just don't look good and so we avoid them. Until we actually try it and realize what we've been missing. Skate definitely falls into that category.
In my first years of offloading boats fishermen would often ask me if I could "find" or "develop" markets for low value items. Skate as on the top of that list. To my surprise it was also on the top of Chef Jean-Georges and Thomas Kellers list as well.
Skate has long been a French favorite. I learned from Chefs that when it's fresh (new) it's incredibly moist and sweet. Below I'll give the recipe Emily and I use at home, which is how Chef "dumbed down" his recipe from the restaurant. It's incredibly easy and just all around awesome.
If you want to go off script another amazing way to prep your Skate is to make a spin off of the Fried Chicken Sandwich. Again, its super moist and sweet so if you bring a little spice into your dry ingredients it'll sing!
Truly hope you enjoy this fish. It took me a couple years to finally try it but once I had it I was hooked.
Harvester: Jim Ford
Boat: F/V Lisa Ann III
Location: Newburyport Massachusetts
We've all had Flounder. No question. But few realize there are several species of Flounder. The most common or well known are Halibut and Fluke. But their cousins are just as tasty.
Yellowtail Flounder are certainly a lesser known fish but gaining in popularity. This is another fish I didn't really know the value of until the French Chefs I was working for showed me how they make Flounder Meuniere.
The Flounder Meuniere recipe is INCREDIBLY simple and absolutely amazing. You can use this recipe for the other Flounder too: Blackbacks, Dabs, Lemon Sole, Grey Sole, and really any other flatfish.
Harvester: Brian Pearce, F/V Gracelyn Jane
Location: Portland Maine
Wow. Where do I start with Monkfish Livers? This is another prime example of something I/we would avoid based solely on appearance. And again this is an item that I truly hesitated to even bring into kitchens to show Chefs and ask if they'd be interested. But when I did they all (literally every single one of them) went crazy for this stuff!
Foie Gras of the sea. That's what they all told me. Super versatile and it really works across almost any cuisine from Japanese to French. You just need to get past the prep. You won't be sorry. I promise.
Monkfish are abundant throughout New England waters. When I first started offloading Monk I learned that the vast majority of the fish were exported. It was also one of the few fish that exporters wanted whole and so after doing some poking around I learned its because the value of the "other" parts of the fish can often exceed the value of the tail. Most valuable of these is the liver. Others include the Cheeks, Tongue, and Eyes. But that'll have to wait for another Omakase.
So don't be overwhelmed by the livers. Take your time and enjoy the process of cleaning them and the payoff will come with the finished product!
The biggest mistake we often make is feeling like we need to find an intricate or elaborate recipe to do justice to buying exceptional ingredients. I can’t emphasize enough your approach to cooking with “special” ingredients should be the complete opposite! Let me explain.
The impetus for cocktail sauce being put on oysters was to make spoiled/dead oysters palatable. When you eat great oysters they need exactly nothing with the exception of possibly some fresh lemon or a mignonette.
Think of every remarkable steak dinner you’ve had. Did you smother it in A1? NO!! Why? Because great ingredients stand on their own.
If you’re interested in some reading about this I strongly recommend reading Fernand Point’s Ma Gastronomie. He does a great job explaining why simplicity was the basis for all of his dishes. If I can sum up his feelings it is that properly sourced ingredients are perfect as they are and a Chef's only job is to not ruin them by masking their flavors.
So the excitement of getting these incredible products should never come with a stress of “what am I going to do with them?” Keep it simple. You’ll be able to taste the difference and it’ll be a more enjoyable and relaxing experience!
Scallop Crudo by JG & Dan Kluger
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons soy sauce, preferably organic
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons sunflower oil
1 tablespoon finely grated peeled fresh ginger
1 red Thai chile, thinly sliced
3/4 teaspoon Sherry vinegar
1/2 pound large sea scallops, side muscle removed, thinly sliced crosswise
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, torn if large
2 tablespoons thinly sliced chives
- Whisk orange juice, lemon juice, soy sauce, oil, ginger, chile, and vinegar in a small bowl. Pour dressing onto 4 large rimmed plates. Arrange scallops over. Garnish with mint and chives. Season lightly with salt.
Method : Pan Fried
As with all the recipes we recommend, this is pretty simple and straightforward. You want exceptional ingredients to shine and not mask them.
- 1 Pound Skate Fillets
- 1/2 Cup Milk
- 4 Tablespoons All Purpose Flour
- 3 Tablespoons Vegetable oil
- 3 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
- 1/2 Cup Capers (Drained)
- 2 Tablespoons Finley Chopped Shallots
- 2 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar
- Salt & Pepper
- Place the Skate Fillets down in a single layer inside a large high wall dish and pour the milk over them. Season lightly with Salt and Pepper. Flip fillets over and ensure the entire fillets have a coating of milk and have been seasoned to your liking.
- Put your flour in another large dish and lightly dredge the fillets on both sides.
- Heat your oil in a large skillet over medium/high heat. You want the oil to get hot but NOT smoking.
- Gently place the fillets in the oil. Be sure not to over crowd the skillet. You can cook in several batches if you need just be sure to add about 1 Tablespoon for each new batch and let it heat up properly.
- Sauté for about 3 minutes or until it gets a golden brown and flip. If you are cooking in multiple batches place them in a warm oven to hold temperature.
- Once all the Skate is cooked, wipe out the skillet with a paper towel and return it to heat.
- Add your butter. Heat until the butter turns light brown and then add Capers, Shallots, and Vinegar. Stir gently while cooking for about 1 minute then pour over Skate Fillets and serve immediately.
Yellowtail Flounder Meuniere
Method : Sautéed
- 2 Whole Flounder
- Olive Oil
- 3 Cups All Purpose Flour
- 6 Tablespoons Salted Butter
- 1 Lemon
- Salt & Pepper
- 2 Tablespoons finely minced FRESH Parsley (Optional)
- 1 Sprig FRESH Thyme (Optional)
- Dry the Flounder with paper towels then season both sides with salt and pepper.
- Coat the bottom of a large sauté pan with Olive Oil and heat over high. Be sure to work the fish in BEFORE the oil starts to smoke.
- Cooking one fish at a time lightly dredge through the flour and lay it into the hot oil.
- Let it cook for about 2 minutes until it turns golden brown.
- Carefully flip the fish over and cook for another 60-90 seconds. Place first fish in a warming oven while cooking second fish.
- Repeat for second fish.
- Once both fish are cooked, wipe out the skillet with a paper towel and return it to medium heat.
- Add your butter. Heat until the butter turns light brown (about 3-4 minutes) and then add Thyme if you're using.
- Turn off heat and squeeze in the juice from one whole lemon. Stir gently and pour over Flounder. Serve immediately.
Method : Hot or Cold
We're going to walk you through prepping the monkfish livers here and share a link to a great recipe for both Hot and Cold.
As mentioned before: don't be overwhelmed with the Monkfish Liver. Take your time. Cleaning Monkfish Liver is similar to finely trimming chicken and nothing more than cutting out the blood vessels and removing the thin membrane.
A good video to use as a reference is this one. No worries if you don't speak Japanese because his technique is perfect!
Finally, the recipe! I asked a few Chefs what we should recommend doing with the livers and everyone immediately asked: You want them to do hot or cold?
Ultimately we want you to do whichever one you're most excited about. With that in mind we're sharing this blog entry that has both.