So I'm in the last two weeks of a busy semester. Final papers to write, projects to present, data to collect and of course, books to read. Barely any time to go to the gym and certainly hardly any for blogging. However, we all have to eat, so believe it or not, I have been cooking. This month I have been exploring Indian cooking. I love curries and in the past few weeks I made chicken tikka masala and a lamb vindaloo. I also tried out a chicken kung pao recipe that my boyfriend claims is "just like the restaurants". I promise I will post about these sometime. The tikka masala and the lamb vindaloo were both good, but not "restaurant quality". Something was off with the spices. I need to invest in more red chilies.
Another culinary first for me happened on Sunday when I cooked clams and calamari at home. I love seafood. Love it. Could eat it everyday. But because of the cost and the ecological impact and the fact that we are causing serious global problems through overfishing and badly managed fish farming, I don't. But on Sunday at the farmer's market I saw clams for sale, direct from the Chesapeake bay, courtesy of the seller, the latest in a long line of family fisherfolk. So I grabbed a bag of a dozen and went home to concoct something.
In my freezer was a one pound bag of pre-cleaned calamari, supposedly caught in US waters. I bought it after eating some fantastic black squid ink risotto with calamari at Hook, one of my new favorite restaurants (or it would be if I could afford to eat there more than once or twice a year). You support sustainable fishing while enjoying fine dining-what a great combination!
Anyways, I soon realized that without squid ink I couldn't replicate the risotto, so I decided to mix it up with my clams and some wine and pasta and call it a day.
Clams and Calamari with lemon and capers
This isn't so much a recipe as an idea. Feel free to change things, especially the seasonings, and toss in some vegetables. I mixed some of my leftovers with sauteed broccoli, Lima beans and artichoke hearts for a nice spring dinner last night. Serves two.
4 ounces whole wheat linguine or spaghetti
1 lb cleaned squid cut into bite sized pieces or rings
12 clams, scrubbed and prepped by placing them in a bowl of salt water for an hour or so to clean out the sand.
1 tbsp olive oil
about 1/2 cup white wine
about 1 tsp red pepper flakes
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
salt and fresh black pepper to taste
zest and juice of one lemon
2 tbsp capers or to taste
1. Heat half the olive oil in a cast iron pan (non stick pans will get scratched), toss in your clean clams and stir. Pour in the wine, put on the lid and let the clams steam open. Remove them and their juice from the pan. Take all but a couple of the clams out of their shells.
2. Get some hot water boiling in a big pot and toss in your pasta. In the same frying pan, heat the remaining olive oil at medium high heat. Toss in the pepper flakes and calamari (if it was frozen, let it thaw before using and pat off the excess water with paper towels). Turn the heat up for a minute. Turn the heat to medium-low, add the garlic, capers and the clams and their juice. Add the salt and pepper, lemon zest and lemon juice to the pan. You should time it so that your pasta is finished by now. Dump the drained pasta into the pan and swirl it around so it soaks up the clam juice, wine and lemon juice. Give everything a taste and adjust the seasonings as needed.
Hook gives out a handy guide to sustainable seafood that I use while shopping. It is put out by the Blue Ocean Institute and you can access a copy here: Blue Ocean Seafood Guide. You can see that one of the more important aspects of buying seafood is knowing where it was farmed or harvested. You would be amazed at how much shrimp is farmed in South East Asia. I have yet to find US-farmed shrimp (supposedly the most sustainable choice), at any supermarket around Washington DC.
In the end, the best fish is the fish you catch yourself. If the Potomac river wasn't so full of lead, I'd be there with a pole right now....