Thursday, January 13, 2005

Fried Seafood Salad

I grew up eating seafood in South Alabama. Back in the 60’s and early 70’s, before Federal Express and UPS overnight delivery, you couldn’t get good seafood unless you lived within a few hours of the coast where the restaurants had their seafood delivered by truck each day or you were willing to drive yourself to wherever the seafood was located. We did both.

The effort isn’t required today. You can get fresh seafood from everywhere delivered almost anywhere. Here on St. Simons Island we have, in addition to the local shrimp and commercially caught flounder, a variety of seafood available from all over the world. On any given afternoon at our local grocer I can find four or five sizes of shrimp, farm raised catfish, grouper, salmon, mahi-mahi, monkfish, two grades of tuna, scallops, Alaskan king crab, and lobster. Needless to say I am in Heaven. I go to the grocer almost every day.

Tonight I constructed my own version of a seafood salad. You can make it by grilling the seafood, but tonight I chose to batter and fry my seafood in a seasoned batter. Here is what I did to make dinner for two:

1 package baby field salad greens (or greens of your choice)
1 cup watercress
1 apple, cored and sliced
chunks of blue cheese

4 large sea scallops
½ pound (16 to 20) medium shrimp, shelled and de-veined
juice from ½ lemon
1 cup flour
1 cup bread crumbs
old bay seasoning
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 eggs, whisked
2 cups vegetable oil for frying

4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Cocktail sauce:
½ cup ketchup
½ tbsp Worcestershire sauce
juice from ½ lemon
1 tbsp prepared horseradish
1 tbsp hot sauce
pinch of salt
fresh ground pepper to taste

First, toss two large salad or pasta bowls into the freezer to chill.

Put together the cocktail sauce by combining the ingredients in a small mixing bowl and stirring it all up. Now taste it. Does it need anything? Well, add it then, what are you waiting for? When you are satisfied with the flavor, place it in the fridge to chill.

Whisk the balsamic vinegar and olive oil together in a small bowl to make the dressing.

Redneck Tip: Add your olive oil a little at a time and whisk enthusiastically (without getting the dressing on yourself or the ceiling.) The trick is that you only need enough oil to emulsify the vinegar and it takes practice to figure out exactly how much to use. The vinegar will appear a little foamy when you are done.

Put two cups of vegetable oil in a large, deep, heavy skillet on medium heat. The oil should be about ½” deep, so adjust your oil quantity for the size your skillet.

Rinse and peal the shrimp, de-veining them as necessary. Also rinse your scallops and place everything in a small mixing bowl. Squeeze the juice from one of your lemon halves over the seafood, then drizzle in a little olive oil, some Worcestershire sauce, Old Bay seasoning, and grind some pepper on top. Let your seafood marinade for five minutes while your oil comes up to temperature.

In separate bowls, put your flour, your whisked eggs, and your bread crumbs. Season the flour and breadcrumbs with salt, pepper, and some Old Bay seasoning to your taste. I like lots of Old Bay and pepper, and just a little salt.

Run each piece of seafood through the flour, then the eggs, then the bread crumbs to coat evenly on all sides and place them on a plate to the side.

Now let’s fry some seafood. Once your oil is hot (but not too hot) place the scallops in first and cook them on each side for two or three minutes until golden brown. Place the scallops to the side on paper towels to drain, and add your battered shrimp to the oil. Cook three to five minutes, no longer, turning once. DON’T OVERCOOK YOUR SHRIMP. Now pull the shrimp out of the grease and reunite them with the scallops on the paper towels.

Take the bowls out of the freezer and place a couple of handfuls of greens in each. Drizzle the oil/vinegar dressing evenly over the greens.

Place the apple slices around the rim of the bowl and place a handful of the berries around the edge of the greens also. Toss in four or five chunks of blue cheese and the pine nuts.

Place the scallops and shrimp in the middle, put some cocktail sauce in a couple of small bowls on the table, grab yourself a fork, and EAT.

Enjoy Y’all

The Redneck Gourmet


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