Day 127: And the fruits of the sea, they are excellent

May 7, 2007

This evening I made us Frutti di Mare and Linguine which felt very much like a special-occasion dinner. Although pretty easy to make, I can’t imagine making this on an ordinary night, mainly because I had to go out and buy shrimp and crab and mussels. I am extremely grateful that this recipe turned up today and not a few weeks ago when I probably couldn’t have been in the house while such a fishy extravaganza was being cooked. Hooray for the hopeful end of morning sickness, or at least for the end of constant sickness; let’s not get ahead of ourselves here.

This evening’s meal required hardly any chopping- only copious amounts of garlic and a variety of herbs- but would benefit from having all the ingredients assembled in advance. Now would be the time to get all those little dishes out like the profesnials do and that, and have your lemon already zested into a tiny bowl. I prepared things as I went along, so felt like I was always playing catch-up, running against the clock, or in this case the cooking linguine.

The recipe builds upon the Puttanesca sauce methodology, in as much as the garlic, crushed red pepper flakes and anchovy fillets are simmered in olive oil. The tomatoes that were added were crushed, rather than a mixture of diced and crushed tomatoes. Next the shrimp and lump crab meat, which had been stirred together with lemon zest and juice, were placed on top in a single layer. The mussels were placed in the pan and the lid was put on while everything cooked. Five minutes later, the shrimp were pink and the mussels were open. Parsley and chives were stirred in, the linguine added and everything was tossed together was some fresh basil.

Easy, really easy, all it required was a bit of concentration and a fistful of assorted seafood. This meal is good restaurant-quality, which is our highest praise. We would not have been disappointed to have been served this dish anywhere. It was interesting to make mussels at home, I bought them from our local fishmongers, and they were already cleaned and debearded. I have no idea if that is standard practice, I assume it probably is. They were cheap too, which also surprised me. It shattered all my illusions that dealing with mussels was hard work, it really couldn’t be much easier. One of these days, in maybe summer 2008, I’d like to try and recreate a dish they serve in a great restaurant around here- mussels in a red wine-tomato-chorizo sauce. Mm-mmm.

Anyway, all told, this is a great rich meal, which although featuring a wide variety of seafood, is by no means excessive. Make it for a special occasion or a dinner party, and stand back and await the compliments. Tomorrow, yet more seafood in the form of Shrimp and Crab Fritters with Chopped Salad and Roasted Red Pepper and Pickle Vinaigrette. I bought a box of just-add-water pancake-mix for the occasion. We’ve never found mixing pancake batter to be terribly taxing before, but who knows, maybe a box of instant pancake magic will revolutionise our eating habits. Mind you, given my current reliance on ice cream, I should be careful not to add another daily foodstuff necessity.

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