NEW YORK — We don't typically think of seafood as seasonal. Some forms of salmon, sea bass, crustaceans and lobster are available in super
Traditionally, many species of fish have only been available during certain seasons. As the world has gotten flatter, it's become easier to ship product from the East China Sea to New York and back again. Fresh seafood is now accessible all year. But locating and shipping quality seafood increases the cost of the product, as well as its carbon footprint.
Some fish are locally harvested year-round. In New York, we have tilefish and squid in every season. How
I'm a dedicated champion of locally sourced ingredients, and seafood is no exception. If you live in a landlocked area, you don't necessarily need to omit fish from your diet. At my restaurants in Las Vegas, for instance, we source our seafood as locally as possible (from the West Coast).
Elizabeth Meltz, director of food safety and sustainability for my restaurants, is an expert on sourcing ingredients locally and on the environmental impact of the alternatives.
“I once read something that said, ‘For top-scale flavor, bite when fish are in season,' and that sums it up,” she says. “Currently, tilefish, shad, mackerel, lobster, skate and flounder here on the East Coast are all in season right now.”
For the Gulf Coast and the West Coast, the options are different and easily obtainable.
Soft-shell crabs are one seafood species that is rarely available out of season.
What we call “soft-shell” are typically blue crabs that have recently molted their exoskeletons and are still soft and 100 percent edible.
In America, they're available in their natural state and alive from spring to late summer.
In this recipe, I pair the crabs with hot peppers and fusilli bucati. It's a supremely delicious, seasonal combination.
FUSILLI BUCATI WITH SOFT-SHELL CRABS AND HOT CHILES
Serves 8 to 10 as an appetizer, 6 as a main course.
6 live soft-shell crabs, “hotel”-size
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
6 Italian frying peppers, cored, seeded and julienned
4 red jalapenos, cored, seeded and julienned
¼ cup dry white wine
2 cups basic tomato sauce (for quick results, try Mario Batali pasta sauces by Gia Russa)
1 ½ pounds fusilli bucati pasta
Recipe courtesy of “Molto Batali” (ecco 2011).
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I once read something that said, ‘For top-scale flavor, bite when fish are in season,' and that sums it up.”