It’s been around for a long time but suddenly it’s become a thing – tinned fish. When I was growing up if I wanted a snack, I could always open a can of sardines, squid, or tuna. It’s a very old way of preserving food. It doesn’t need to be refrigerated, and isn’t perishable until it’s opened.
The Can of Food That Makes Dinner Parties Delicious, Easy, and Insanely Fast
The easiest dinner party you’ll ever throw is the one where all you do is make a few salads, open a few tins of fish and put out a few baguettes. The reason you aren’t throwing this party already is because you think that tinned fish is cheap, acrid, odorous stuff that you’d never serve to company, much less yourself. But that line of thinking stops now.
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Tinned Fish Pasta
Here’s a recipe that works with almost any type of tinned fish. I used sardines.
Lightly sauté the garlic in olive oil in a small pan until it’s fragrant. Don’t let it brown.
Put the garlic and oil it cooked in, sardines, lemon zest and juice, capers, salt, and pepper in a heat proof bowl. Place the bowl on top of a pot of boiling water to gently heat the ingredients. Remove the bowl and cook the pasta in the same boiling water.
When the pasta is done add it to the bowl with 1 cup of the pasta water and the parsley. Mix and serve with a sprinkling of the toasted breadcrumbs.
Barramundi is a flakey white fish with a thin easily editable skin. It’s a new-to-the-market type of sea bass from the South Pacific and our imports come mainly from Australia.
2 tbsp. butter
1 minced clove of garlic
Salt & black pepper
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp. olive oil
Melt the butter in a small pan on medium heat. Add the garlic, salt and pepper. Sauté for a few minutes and then add the lemon juice. Stir, remove from heat and set aside. (This combination of ingredients works for lots of different types of fish. )
Blot the fillet dry with a paper towel and sprinkle with salt and black pepper.
Heat the oil in a frying pan on medium-high heat. Cook the filet skin side down for 3 minutes to crisp the skin.. Turn it over and cook the other side for 2 minutes.
Place the fish in a serving dish, pour the sauce over it and serve.
For this one I used clams, mussels, shrimp and lobster tails. Add what you like, crabs, scallops, octopus, fish filets, etc. It’s important to steam the clams and mussels separate from the sauce. One sandy clam or mussel can ruin a whole pot of sauce.
Lightly sauté the garlic in oil in a pot large enough to hold the sauce and shellfish. Add salt, red, and black pepper to taste and the oregano. Add the crushed tomatoes and bring to a simmer.
The clams and mussels need to be steamed in a separate pot in case any are sandy. Heat one & a half cups of water and add the shellfish. (Clams and mussels take different amounts of time so it’s easier to do them separately.) Cover the pot and let it steam 8 to 12 minutes (until they open). Discard any shellfish that didn’t open. Add the shellfish to the tomatoes sauce and carefully pour the remaining broth into the sauce leaving any sand behind.
Start to cook the linguine and at the same time add the lobster and shrimp to the sauce. When the pasta is done the sauce will be too. Put the pasta, and shellfish sauce in a serving platter and serve. Please, it’s seafood so no cheese on this sauce.
There’s an H Mart not too far from where we live. That’s a national chain of Korean supermarkets. They have great produce and lots of Korean imports and specialties. We were browsing there when I came across a refrigerated package of ingredients for whiting stew.
According to the package, the ingredients included onion, scallion, mushroom, radish, red long hot, shrimp, watercress, sauce. There were also scallions, tofu, mussels, calamari, and some other veggies and greens that I didn’t recognize.
They gave me some simple instructions on how to prepare it. “Put it in a pot with three cups of water and simmer,” and that’s all I had to do to make Whiting Stew Korean Style.
The sauce they included was very spicy. A bit was all that was needed to give the individual servings a nice spark. It was delicious and we’ll make it again.
The Lobster House in Cape May New Jersey is a classic seafood restaurant. Lunch and dinner in five dining rooms and a full bar is available seven days a week. The Lobster House is located on an active commercial fishing fleet pier in Cape May Harbor. In the warmer months you can eat out on the pier. They also have a take-out shop and a fresh fish market.
A drawing my sister Nicki made of the Fisherman’s Wharf
Excerpt from Memories of the Fisherman’s Wharf
I grew up in a seafood restaurant. My family owned The Fisherman’s Wharf on Mott Street in Manhattan’s Little Italy from the mid-1940s to 1958. . . The offerings were mostly seafood but there was also steak and chicken, as well as some Italian-American dishes like spaghetti and meatballs. I loved shrimp, and the deep-fried breaded gamberetto with lots of ketchup was my favorite. The shrimp and rice special was pretty good too. Only, I’d have to pick out all of the pieces of celery before I ate it—I didn’t eat any green food back then except pickles. . .
. . . they usually started with a few drinks and dinner in one of the local restaurants; Sweet’s, Carmine’s, or Sloppy Louie’s, now all long gone. . .
. . . Anyone could walk out on the pier where they docked, although no one did unless they were in the seafood business. The pier smelled of sea water and fish, and while the fish couldn’t have been fresher, it still smelled, especially in summer. . .
. . . the piles of clams and oysters heaped like stones. What seemed like sea monsters to me were the giant, decapitated swordfish, sliced crosswise to show the quality of the steaks, the heads on display, their swords pointing at the customers. Always enthralled with crabs, I loved chasing the escapees skittering sideways down the street. . .
. . . The longshoreman worked all night, so instead of scrambled eggs or pancakes, they’d eat a hearty meal of roast beef and turkey with fried potatoes and hot cherry peppers. Everyone drank coffee, steins of beer, and shots of whiskey. I’d have a Coke but otherwise ate everything they did. The cook would tell my father, “The kid’s got a good appetite.”
. . . For some of the clam dishes, Michele often used large chowder clams he’d chop into small pieces, and that’s what led to the problem in the cellar. The clams were kept on ice and covered with damp burlap to keep them alive and fresh. Sometimes when clams are out of water, the shells begin to open. . .
. . . I wasn’t to go near the lobsters which had much stronger claws than the crabs. They came packed in seaweed and ice, in open-sided crates, with wooden pegs wedged into the joint at the base of their claws so they couldn’t open them.
“Pero,” Michele said, “some-a time, the peg, she slip out.”
Michele hardly had to warn me. The lobsters’ fierce looks were enough to keep me away. . .
Kitchen 21 is a new addition to Coney Island. Not typically what you’d expect but I think it will be a good fit. It’s in a landmarked Spanish Revival building on the Boardwalk that opened as a Childs Restaurant in the 1923. In contrast to the exterior, the interior is done in a modern industrial style.
It has a Café for take-out, the Parachute Bar with a great selection of beers on tap, the Community Clam Bar for seafood, the Test Kitchen with food by guest chefs and a rooftop bar. When we were there the crowd was made up of tourists, hipsters and enough Coney Island regulars to keep it real.
The service was attentive and friendly. We had fried calamari served on a bed of arugula with a sprinkling of balsamic, then lobster rolls done just right.
After lunch we went to the roof for a drink – bright and breezy with a view of the Boardwalk, beach and the old Parachute Jump.
I grew up going to Coney Island and Kitchen 21 is not something that I would have ever expected. I hope they do well because I intend to go back.
Kitchen 21 in on the Coney Island Boardwalk at the foot of W. 21st Street.
For Italians, the celebration on the Eve is more elaborate than Christmas Day. It a seafood dinner because until not too long ago it was a religious ‘day of abstinence.’ Some people call it the Feast of the Seven Fishes. I never counted but I think we have it covered.