SEXY SEAFOOD DISHES

Travel and Food Writer Shares Fa­vorites

Upscale Living Magazine - - Culinary - BY TRACY ELLEN BEARD

The dic­tio­nary def­i­ni­tion of sexy is ex­cit­ing, stim­u­lat­ing, in­ter­est­ing, ap­peal­ing and in­trigu­ing. Dur­ing my trav­els over the past year, I have eaten many un­usual, tasty, stun­ning and cre­ative seafood dishes, and I am pleased to share with you my top five sexy choices. Each plate is out­stand­ing for a va­ri­ety of rea­sons—they ex­cite the pal­let with tempt­ing fla­vors, in­cor­po­rate un­ex­pected, fas­ci­nat­ing tex­tures, orig­i­nate from dif­fer­ent des­ti­na­tions from around the world and are al­lur­ing works of art.

UL­TI­MATE FA­VORITE

The Cylin­der of Sesame Seeds, created by Ex­ec­u­tive Chef An­drès Delpeut at the Michelin star res­tau­rant Bridges, re­ceived my all-time fa­vorite seafood award. I en­joyed this sur­pris­ing, se­duc­tive dish while stay­ing at the opu­lent Sof­i­tel Le­gend the Grand Am­s­ter­dam Ho­tel in The Nether­lands after my hus­band Steve and I trav­eled up the Rhine River from Basel, Switzer­land, on a Vik­ing River Cruise. Bridges is lo­cated in­side the ho­tel. Chef Delpeut cre­ates de­lec­ta­ble dishes for both restau­rants, the bar, and catered events.

Chef tossed to­gether raw ahi tuna with spicy wasabi, cream cheese, and a soy dress­ing to make the fill­ing. He then stuffed the mix into a cylin­der made of candied multi-col­ored sesame seeds. I was ex­cited after the first bite. It was del­i­cate and light with sweet notes from the candied shell and salti­ness from the dress­ing. The fish was ten­der and suc­cu­lent con­trast­ing with the crunchy ex­te­rior. This one stun­ning dish in­cor­po­rated ev­ery­thing de­sir­able into the per­fect bite.

EX­QUIS­ITE AM­BIANCE

So many things con­trib­ute to the din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence in­clud­ing the sur­round­ings where one eats. While trav­el­ing and work­ing on a story about the re­cov­ery after the 2017 fires in Napa Val­ley, Cal­i­for­nia, my friend, Con­nie, and I ex­pe­ri­enced a culi­nary ex­trav­a­ganza at The Res­tau­rant at Au­berge du Soleil, a Michelin star res­tau­rant. Ex­ec­u­tive Chef Robert Curry cre­ates Mediter­ranean-in­spired cui­sine us­ing lo­cally sourced in­gre­di­ents.

Eat­ing out­side on an un­usu­ally balmy Fe­bru­ary night over­look­ing the vine­yards filled with bright yel­low mus­tard flow­ers, we watched the sun go down over the Val­ley while we dined on ap­pe­tiz­ing cre­ations of culi­nary art. My fa­vorite seafood dish of the evening was The Day Boat Scal­lop. Chef Curry pre­pared the del­i­cate scal­lop by sear­ing the out­side un­til it formed a crust while si­mul­ta­ne­ously keep­ing the in­side sup­ple and cooked to per­fec­tion. The scal­lop rested on a bed of pureed sun­choke ac­com­pa­nied by a baby car­rot, sun­choke, cab­bage, shaved Proscuitto de San Daniele and a driz­zle of black gar­lic with oil.

PHE­NOM­E­NAL CROWD PLEASER

The word “festival” brings to mind thoughts of in­no­va­tive prod­ucts, cre­ative foods, beer, wine and other al­co­holic bev­er­ages. The BC Shell­fish Festival in Co­mox Val­ley, Van­cou­ver Is­land, Canada, did not dis­ap­point. I trav­eled to the is­land by sea­plane to write a few sto­ries about the in­dus­try and the use of lo­cal prod­ucts. Each night en­com­passed ei­ther a spe­cial event where ac­com­plished chefs manned booths turn­ing out ex­cep­tional food along with free-flow­ing beer and wine, or an el­e­gant multi-course din­ner.

Ex­ec­u­tive Chef Nigel McMean from the Black­fin Pub distributed a few hun­dred pa­per plates with sable­fish and a gin­ger yam puree. The del­i­cate fish mar­i­nated for 24 hours in mirin, tamari, diced gin­ger and sam­bal oelek which added a bit of spice. Chef then brushed the sable­fish with oil and seared it skin-side down. The fish baked in a con­vec­tion oven for 10-12 min­utes un­til it was opaque through­out. The yams were steamed un­til soft and then whipped with a puree of caramelized gin­ger and onion, whip­ping cream, but­ter, cayenne pep­per and a lit­tle salt and pep­per to taste. Chef Nigel and his staff worked quickly and ef­fi­ciently to pre­pare plate after plate with a mound of smoothly pureed yam as a foun­da­tion for the sable­fish, and then they ex­pertly dec­o­rated the plate with a re­duc­tion of hi­bis­cus and wasabi aioli.

UN­EX­PECTED ORI­GIN

In the past seafood was con­sid­ered best if eaten in restau­rants es­tab­lished near wa­ter. To­day this per­ish­able pro­tein flies overnight al­most any­where in the world giv­ing chefs in Mid­west­ern cities and other in­land places around the globe an op­por­tu­nity to create spec­tac­u­lar dishes. Re­cently I vis­ited St. Louis, Mis­souri, to write his­tor­i­cal and lux­ury sto­ries. While stay­ing at The Chase Park Plaza Royal Son­esta St. Louis I dined in their res­tau­rant, The Pre­ston, and was de­lighted to dis­cover a sen­sual seafood dish in a re­gion I thought un­likely to de­liver such an arous­ing plate.

Chef de Cui­sine Nathan Sand­knop takes oc­to­pus and turns it into some­thing marvelous to sa­vor. First, he sim­mers the oc­to­pus in a court bouil­lon made of onions, cel­ery, lemons, black pep­per, smoked paprika and bay leaves for an hour or two depend­ing on their size. Once fin­ished, the oc­to­pus is cleaned, grilled and tossed in a paprika vinai­grette with house-made potato gnoc­chi. The two in­gre­di­ents lay over a bed of pureed sun­chokes mixed with cream and but­ter. The vinai­grette adds a light acid­ity, and the soft pil­lowy gnoc­chi pairs lov­ingly with the ten­der, tasty oc­to­pus.

SENSUOUS SUSHI

Port­land, Ore­gon, boasts some spec­tac­u­lar seafood, but my fa­vorite place for sushi is Sinju. This chain of restau­rants serves premier Ja­panese food in three dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tions around Port­land—Bridgeport Vil­lage, Clacka­mas

Town Cen­ter, and the Pearl District. I live near Port­land and fre­quent the city for both work and plea­sure. It doesn’t mat­ter which res­tau­rant you visit, each one uses the same recipes. A fa­vorite plate for me is one with a Cater­pil­lar Roll and a Sun­shine Roll.

The Cater­pil­lar Roll in­cor­po­rates smoked eel, cu­cum­ber, nori, rice, av­o­cado and a sweet sauce. The Sun­shine Roll fea­tures shrimp, crab salad and av­o­cado wrapped in rice, and then it is topped with raw sal­mon, mango, and a driz­zle of honey mus­tard sauce. I like to eat each bite with a lit­tle soy sauce mixed with wasabi and a tiny piece of pick­led gin­ger. The com­bi­na­tion cre­ates an ex­plo­sion of fla­vors.

Seafood is a fab­u­lous source of pro­tein, gen­er­ally low in calo­ries, and high­lighted in a va­ri­ety of cuisines. Take a chance and try some new dishes when your are din­ing out, or pick up some seafood at your lo­cal pur­vey­ors and try a recipe that will de­light your taste buds.

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