CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- It's at this just-past-midway period of Lent that I usually struggle a bit to come up with interesting new ways to fix seafood. We eat fish fairly often during the year, but for some inexplicable reason, my creative seafood juices don't seem to flow on obligatory meatless Fridays.
This year is challenging from a budgetary standpoint as well. The seafood industry is still feeling the effects of last year's catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, which drove up prices and limited supply, said Tony Cerrulo of Fresh Seafood Company Seafood Market in Capitol Market.
So, as much as I'd love to make the Seared Sea Scallops with Linguini in an Herb and Wine Sauce recipe that follows, the $15 to $18 price per pound will probably dissuade me. Likewise anything that calls for Ahi tuna, sea bass and red snapper.
Tilapia, perch, cod, salmon, halibut and grouper are less expensive, and Cerrulo said his brother Tim, who owns the market, hasn't raised his shrimp prices.
Business at Fresh Seafood Co. typically increases about 25 percent during the Lenten season. Although trays of fresh seafood fill the display cases, Tony Cerrulo said the sandwiches, crab cakes and house-made soups make up about 75 percent of business.
And of those, the aptly named Big Fish Sandwich sells far more than any other item. Patrons line up at lunchtime for a generous pile of lightly battered and fried snow cod on a croissant, with a cup of tartar sauce on the side. Cerrulo's brother, who also owns and operates Fresh Seafood Company and Restaurant, 6230 MacCorkle Ave. S.E., tinkered with the sandwich for years. The recipe hasn't changed for the past five years, when he decided he got it right.
At the Capitol Market fish shop, they make their own New England clam chowder daily, and offer a soup du jour, such as crab bisque. Cerrulo doesn't share his recipes, so I'll offer a generic one for clam chowder
I found seafood recipes that range from inexpensive clam chowder that uses canned clams to the pricey scallop and linguini dish. Grilled Halibut and Fresh Mango Salsa features a reasonably priced variety of fish and a fruity salsa made with mangoes, which are abundant and relatively inexpensive in the larger grocery stores right now. Just about any firm-fleshed fish could be substituted for the halibut in this versatile recipe.
Reach Julie Robinson at jul...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1230.
Grilled Halibut and Fresh Mango Salsa
Makes 4 servings (serving size: 1 fillet and 3/4 cup salsa)
2 cups plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 1/2 cups diced peeled ripe mango
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1 teaspoon black pepper, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 6-ounce halibut fillets
1 tablespoon olive oil
COMBINE first 7 ingredients. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and garlic.
RUB halibut with oil; sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Place fish on grill rack; grill 3 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.
SERVE with mango salsa.
Nutritional information: 295 cal, 7.8g fat, 37g protein, 19.5g carb, 2.8g fiber, 54mg chol, 2.3mg iron, 687mg sodium, 105mg calcium.
New England Clam Chowder
Makes 4 servings
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 tablespoons garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 russet potatoes, peeled, quartered and cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
4 cups milk
2 6.5-ounce cans minced clams, drained, juice reserved
1 cup frozen corn
Salt and fresh ground black pepper
IN A LARGE POT, over medium heat, add the butter and the oil. Once the butter is melted, add the onions and garlic and cook for 3 to 4 minutes until slightly tender.
MIX in the flour and cook until the flour is a very pale golden color, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the potatoes and thyme. Stir in the milk and the juice from the canned clams. Reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes are cooked through, about 10 minutes.