Recipe: Truffle Lobster Rolls

Truffle Lobster Rolls
Photos: W&T Seafood

Here in New York, the weather is finally starting to warm up and our thoughts are wandering to sunny beaches and dockside escapades. With that in mind, what better summer treat is there than a hefty lobster roll made with healthy amounts of butter and mayo? (Yes, I realize that lobster rolls are typically made with either mayo (Maine) or butter (Connecticut), but here in Brooklyn, I’ve decided it’s ok to use both.) For an added dash of sophistication, I added some truffle oil to the mayo, but you can leave this out if it’s not on hand. You could also use store-bought mayo, but homemade mayo is SO much better in flavor and not difficult to do, so if you’ve never tried it, here’s your chance.

For the lobster meat, you can either boil a whole lobster and remove the meat from the shell, or use pre-shelled lobster meat. Here at W&T Seafood, we offer packs of frozen lobster meat that are pre-cooked and perfect for use in lobster salads, bouillabaisse, lobster mac & cheese, and of course, lobster rolls. If you have the ingredients ready, lobster rolls come together in a matter of minutes, so there’s plenty of time for you to grab a cold drink with your other hand and enjoy the sunset.
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Crises, Scandals & Lies: Reputation Management in the Internet Age

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PR Disaster

It’s Friday night and right before you’re about to take off for a long weekend, the phone rings. There’s been a serious accident, or someone’s launched a massive petition against your product, or an employee is leveling accusations of harassment. Whatever it is, your company’s reputation is at stake and you need to do something pronto. Sound familiar? It seems like every time we read the news, yet another company is under fire for some sort of misdoing, be it yoga mat chemicals in Subway’s sandwiches or Target’s data breach.

At this year’s Seafood Expo, the keynote speaker was Daniel Diermeier of Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, addressing the crowd on reputation management. In a lively, action-oriented talk, he explained the new lay of the land in today’s media environment. The rise of social media means that the spread of information has intensified. “It takes less than 50 minutes on average for a story to make it once around the world,” explained Diermeier. “But just as quickly, we turn our attention to something else. Today, we’re concerned over the missing Malaysian plane. Two days later, it’s going to be Justin Bieber again.” For a typical news story, people pay attention to the event for 28 hours. What does that mean for companies? If you have a crisis and don’t respond within the window where people are paying attention, then your audience will just remember you as being unresponsive and guilty. Far from giving you enough time to investigate the situation and figure out who was at fault, today’s executives must respond to these challenges within a few hours, without getting all the facts. It’s an uncomfortable way to react.

So, what do you do? How do you take a crisis and turn it into an opportunity to increase trust from your customers, suppliers and partners? Diermeier explained that there are four factors that increase trust: transparency, empathy, commitment and expertise. Transparency goes beyond simply full disclosure, it’s about addressing all questions that your customers have in a way that makes sense to your customers. This is the tricky part because you have to understand your customers concerns and fears, even if you think they’re unfounded. For instance, many diners are worried about radiation in seafood from the Fukushima nuclear incident. When you talk to experts, there are negligible risks to eating Pacific seafood, however the fears are still there. “You cannot be transparent if you’re not understood,” said Diermeier.
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Inside Seafood Expo 2014: Cold Temps, Hot Products

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Blood & Chocolate Clams

This March marked my third year attending Seafood Expo North America (né Boston Seafood Show), and while there’s always some carryover from past years, I found plenty of new and innovative products on the show floor.

Fish Pasta del Mar

Have you ever had fish pasta? It sounds mundane but this isn’t simply pasta with fish on top, it’s pasta made out of fish. Pasta del Mar is 45% Alaskan pollock, and has a delightfully springy texture, not too different from al dente pasta. The fish flavor is pronounced but still approachable for the seafood-shy. The noodles come cooked and ready to go, so you simply need to heat them with some sauce or a light simmer in soup. This would be a fantastic addition to Asian noodle soups and Western-style seafood dishes, and a great way to introduce more seafood to our diets.

Kaviari Tin

On the chic end of the market, Kaviari has introduced individual size caviar tins. As I walked by the stall, I couldn’t help stopping to gaze at the slick, metallic colors. Each tin comes with a sliding lid and spoon tucked inside with 15 g of caviar. It’s the perfect splurge for first class flights, luxury hotels stays, and gift bags. You can also get tins designed with your company’s logo; I saw some tins customized by the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel and FIAC, the French contemporary art fair.

Sea Urchin Shot

The CA Sea Urchin Commission was passing out sea urchin shots made with ginger beer and a bit of wasabi. Sea urchin is a love or hate food, but even the haters were pleasantly surprised at how the creamy sea urchin played well with the ginger and wasabi notes. The drink was a nice break from the abundance of fried fish samples. Even better, you got to keep the shot glass afterwards.

Shucker Paddy Shucking Knife

At the Oyster Master Class, famed shucker and restauranteur Patrick McMurray demonstrated his custom-designed shucking knife. Most oyster knives have straight blades and handles, but this knife had an asymetric blade designed to quickly tunnel into the oyster shell and pop it open. The handle is also curved with a comfortable gripping surface, unlike the straight handles that I’ve seen elsewhere. When asked if he uses different knives for different oysters, McMurray said, “When you’re working with five species and 16 types of oysters, you don’t have time to change your blade. The knife should be able to do all oysters. You want one knife to rule them all.” So, there you have it. This is probably the first all-purpose oyster knife designed by a pro oyster shucker, and it’ll be interesting to see if it takes off when the knife goes to retail later this year.

Of course, the best part about the convention is the opportunity to meet with oyster and seafood professionals from around the world. We checked in with many of our oyster farmers and suppliers, and forged new connections around the world. We’re looking forward to next year’s convention already!

Choose Your Own Steamed Mussel Adventure

Steamed mussels

Psst, we’re going to let you in on a (not so) secret: mussels are one of the easiest “fancy” meals you can make for a weeknight dinner. The best part is that you don’t need many other ingredients to get a flavorful pot of mussels, and you probably already have what you need at home. To help you out, we’ve created the following “Choose Your Own Steamed Mussel Adventure” guide. (Anyone else love those books as a kid?) The basic formula for steaming mussels goes like this:

  1. You’ll need about 1 lb of mussels per person. Rinse them off and remove any beards.
  2. In a large pot, heat your oil or butter, then add your aromatic ingredients and saute until beginning to brown.
  3. Add your mussels and steaming liquids, toss everything and cover the pot. As the liquid comes to a boil, turn the heat down to a simmer. Toss the mussels occasionally to make sure everything is cooking evenly.
  4. When most of the mussels are cooked (open), remove the pot from heat and mix in your topping ingredients. Serve with bread or pasta.

That’s it!

Unrecipe: Choose Your Own Steamed Mussel Adventure

Servings: 4–5 people

4 lb mussels (order mussels online from us)

Aromatics:

Oil
Butter

Onion, diced
Shallots, diced
Garlic, minced
Leeks, sliced
Ginger, minced
Lemongrass, minced
Fermented black beans

Steaming liquids: Choose one or more of the following, you need about 1 cup of liquid.

Beer
White wine
Stock (fish or chicken)
Tomato juice
Coconut milk
Curry paste
Water

Toppings:

Parsley, minced
Thyme, stems removed
Chives, minced
Basil, minced
Scallions, minced
Cilantro, minced
Blue cheese, crumbled
Bacon, crumbled
Chiles, sliced
Lemon
Lime
Bread crumbs

Serve with:
Crusty bread
Pasta
Couscous

Good Thing There’s Sauce: How to Butcher and Cook Whole Fish

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Striped Bass

This year, in an effort to up my cooking game, I plunged into the Culinary Techniques program at the International Culinary Center. After some introductory lessons in knife skills and stocks, it was time for Fish Week. Some students were noticeably squeamish, wrinkling their noses and reaching for gloves. I rolled up my sleeves as Chef Ray began demonstrating how to fillet a fish.

In just a few deft motions, he slit the striped bass along its spine and gently removed a fillet. “Use long, smooth strokes guys. Don’t saw at it, and make sure you bend your knife so that it scrapes against the bones,” he instructed. You could hear his blade rasping against the spine. After both fillets were removed, Chef Ray slid his knife between the meat and skin, and gently stripped it away. What remained was a perfect slab of fish, pink and well shaped. It looked simple enough.

What’s wrong with just buying filleted fish?” someone asked. “Nothing,” replied Chef Ray, “except that you don’t really know how fresh it is. Unless they fillet it in front of you, you can’t check the eyes, the gills or the skin. You can only smell it for freshness. Hell, you don’t even know if it’s the fish they say it is.” We mulled that over. “This lesson was originally written so that each team fillets a fish together. But that’s silly, what’s the point of filleting just half of the fish?” said Chef Ray. “I ordered enough fish so that each of you can fillet one round fish and one flatfish. Let’s get to it.”

Remember to always check the freshness of the fish before you start!” said Chef Ray. “Clear eyes, taut stomach, bright skin, gills full of blood, no fishy or off smells.” I blotted my fish with a clean towel to dry it, and began snipping off the fins with kitchen shears. “Watch out for the spikes in those dorsal fins, they can really hurt!” warned Chef Ray. With my fish knife (thin, flexible and very sharp), I began slicing against the spine. Wait, is that bone or meat? Why is the skin not slipping off? I glanced across at my partner’s fish; he’d already finished his fillets and was cleaning his carcass of entrails. “Five more minutes!” said Chef Ray. I hurried to remove the skin and yank the remaining pin bones out with pliers. Two fillets sat on the cutting board, mangled by cuts and disappointment.

Flounder

The process for filleting flatfish is a little different than for round fish. Flatfish have four fillets, not two, and swim horizontally, with their bellies parallel to the seafloor. You begin by slitting down the center of the fish, following the spine, then take out two fillets from the top of the fish, and two from the underside of the fish. It’s much easier to fillet a flatfish and the fins are floppy, so you can’t stab yourself inadvertently. After tackling my flounder, I was left with four ragged but mostly respectable fillets, and a carcass which would be used for fish stock.

Fish in Parchment Paper

With the stock simmering away, we started on the next task: poisson en papillote, or fish baked in parchment paper. This requires cutting a heart shape out of parchment paper and putting fish inside, along with a splash of liquid and any other garnishes. We placed the striped bass fillet on a bed of mushrooms and chunky tomato sauce, then carefully arranged leek, carrots and celery on top, followed by a drizzle of white wine and a sprig of thyme. Brushing beaten egg whites and crimping along the edges will seal the packet, which goes into the oven to bake. This employs three cooking methods at once: baking, braising and steaming.

Papillote Fish in Parchment Paper

Nine minutes later, we removed our puffy packets and rushed to present them to the Chef. (The envelopes deflate as they cool, unless you cut a small hole in the parchment before pulling them from the oven). Cutting them open, a cloud of fresh bass, thyme and white wine hit our noses. “Very good flavors,” said Chef Ray. “The fish is perfectly cooked. However, your julienne could be more even.”

Fish with Mushroom, Shallot & Cream Sauce

For the flounder fillets, we rolled each one, then shallow poached them over a bed of shallots and mushrooms, partially immersed in the fish stock. Once the fish was cooked, it was removed from the pan so that the sauce could keep reducing. With the additions of reduced cream, whipped cream (yes, two rounds of cream) and a little lemon juice, the sauce was addictively good, an epic rock anthem for the power of ocean flavors and cream. I couldn’t put down my spoon. For that, I would happily fillet dozens of fish.

Brooklyn Folks: Get Oysters Delivered to Your Door!

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Montauk Pearl Oysters
Photo: Montauk Pearl Oysters / Good Eggs

Good news, Brooklyn! We’ve partnered with Good Eggs to launch seafood sales of our top East Coast products. For the first time, you can buy fresh, regional oysters, clams and mussels from us and get them delivered right to your doorstep. Or you can pick up your order at a convenient Good Eggs pickup spot near you!

Good Eggs is a new, innovative service to bring you artisanal, small batch groceries. It’s a combination of an online farmers market, CSA and Fresh Direct, and allows you to support your local foodshed and learn the stories of your food producers from the convenience of your laptop. We are so proud and excited to be part of the Good Eggs community.

Take a peek at our offerings in our Good Eggs webstand: http://www.goodeggs.com/wtseafood

For the time being, deliveries are limited to Brooklyn addresses, however Good Eggs will eventually be expanding to Manhattan and other parts of NYC in the near future. Sign up on our email list (in the footer) to hear more!