Mussels and Clams on the Grill

 

I was thinking about clams yesterday as I discovered that you can buy 10 clams for $6 or 100 for $40 directly from a local fisherman at the Greenwich farmers market. Personally, I like them served over spaghetti al dente with garlic, olive oil, a dash of white wine and, perhaps, a few pepperoncini flakes. Eating doesn’t get much better than this classic Italian dish.

Since pasta has been removed from my diet by the carbs police (aka Sheila), Melissa Clark provides a useful alternative although I prefer mussels and clams to be cooked separately.  If you can keep the carbs police occupied in the kitchen making some healthy vegetable dish while you grill, you can secretly dip your hidden focaccia bread or baguette in the briny syrup as the clams and mussels open.  Lovely.

Francis Mallmann and Seven Fires

As Gourmay readers are aware, I am an avid follower of “Mind of a Chef” which airs on PBS at the bizarre hour of 12:30 p.m. on Sunday. The program lasts only 20 minutes, but contains some of the best educational cooking footage from leading chefs around the world: David Chang, Sean Brock and René Redzepi to name just a few. I am rarely disappointed.

Last week, Mind of a Chef featured a lovely interview with Francis Mallmann, an iconic outdoorsman who cooks with wood-burning fires in the southern regions of Argentina. Mallmann, best known for his book, Seven Fires: Grilling the Argentine Way, has recently released Mallmann on Fire which features Mallmann’s love affair for cooking with wood fires. PBS has not yet realized the full version of Mallmann’s superb interview with chef Ed Lee, but you can catch the trailer by CLICKING HERE!

For those who who want to see Mallmann in action (Spanish speaking) cooking wild trout and Polenta in Argentina, watch the video below. Please note that you are likely to work up a hearty appetite if you plan on doing anything remotely similar to eat fresh trout, but Argentines are noted for their theatrics as well as their appetites. Enjoy!

Mustard Roasted Fish from the Barefoot Contessa

Ina Garten Mustard-Roasted FishLike most people, I prefer fresh fish to be cooked as simply as possible: quickly grilled with a dollop of olive oil and salt and pepper. Covering up the subtle taste of fish in a thick sauce is no way to respect our finned friend. Unless you are a fisherman or are dating a fish monger, it is unlikely that you will be fortunate enough to find a “fresh” fish to grill. Furthermore, the lingering smell of cooked fish in an apartment complex is roughly equivalent to mildewed workout clothes in a gym bag.

When our mercury levels are low, we will occasionally opt for seared tuna or swordfish, but – for the most part – we prefer to eat grilled or raw fish at a restaurant, preferably Japanese. As reported earlier, buying fish from a supermarket is courting hepatitis or worse and should be avoided. As such, I was not particularly thrilled to learn that Mamacita had bought some Branzino that was on sale at Whole Foods supermarket. (Editor’s Note: There is a reason why the stock price of Whole Foods is down over 30% this year).

Rather than subject me to the painful task of carbon-dating the age of the “fresh” fish, Mamacita had the good sense to bake the fish in a lovely mustard sauce. The recipe is from Ina Garten’s cookbook, Back to Basics.

Barefoot Contessa’s Mustard-Roasted Fish

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 4 (8-ounce) fish fillets such as red snapper
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 8 ounces crème fraiche
  • 3 Tbs Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbs whole-grain mustard
  • 2 Tbs minced shallots
  • 2 tsp drained capers

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 425º
  2. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper (ovenproof baking dish is OK).  Place the fillets skin down on the sheet pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper
  3. Combine the crème fraiche, the two mustards, shallots, capers, 1 tsp of salt and 1/2 tsp pepper in a small bowl.  Spoon the sauce evenly over the fish fillets, making sure that the fillets are entirely covered.
  4. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes defending on thickness, until the fish is barely done.
  5. Serve at room temperature with sauce from the pan over the top.

Frankly, I enjoyed it.