Featured Recipes: Olive Oil Poached Fish/Shellfish and Lobster Diavolo
This week I am featuring two recipes, both seafood dishes and I am honored to have permission to bring them to you. The recipes are from Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs the founders of Food52. I discovered food52 a little over a year ago and it has been life changing for me. Amanda and Merrill brought their brilliant plan to start a website celebrating home cooks (like myself) to life a little over two years ago, and it’s now one of the most popular food related websites available on the internet. They have already published one cookbook, with a second coming out in October of this year as well as an IPad holiday App. Check out Amanda’s recipes and Merrill’s recipes on Food52.
Poaching fish or shellfish in olive oil is simple, and delicious. Add your favorite herbs and aromatics to the oil. The fish or shellfish are tender and and flavorful. I poached some shrimp and lobster tails. I didn’t use whole live lobsters (phobia) instead, I decided to poach lobster tails in olive oil a la Amanda for Merrills Lobster Diavolo. This is a variation of the famous Lobster Fra Diavolo. The dish is finished with fresh mint (my mint went bad and I was only able to salvage a few leaves so I mixed it with parsley to garnish the dish), which in my opinion makes this such a stand out recipe, adding a fresh twist to a classic. I used canned tomatoes instead of the fresh since seasonal fresh tomatoes are not available yet. I poached half of the shrimp in the oven and the other half on the stovetop with the lobster. I set the oven to 200 degrees and it took about 20 minutes. Both methods turned out fantastic. I invited a friend over for dinner and he gave both dishes two thumbs up!
Olive Oil Poached Fish – By Amanda Hesser
To Poach Any Kind of Fish
Lay the fillets in a shallow, oven-proof casserole dish or skillet, just large enough to hold the fish in a single layer. Cover the fish with a 1/8-inch thick layer of olive oil (a good brand, but not your best), season with a flakey sea salt and any other herb or spice you like, then send it into a 275-degree oven, basting it often, until it’s cooked through. For a 1-inch thick fish fillet, it takes about 30 minutes.
To Poach Shellfish
I like to cook them on the stovetop. Place them in a single layer in a saucepan and pour in enough oil to just cover them. My default aromatics are thyme and lightly smashed garlic cloves (see photo above). Then set the pan over low heat, letting it warm enough so that tiny bubbles begin emerging on the sides of the pan, but none of the shellfish are bouncing around. Baste often and you’ll see the shellfish slowly turn opaque and constrict. When they’re cooked properly, they’ll be bouncy and light and not at all tough.
Lobster Diavolo- by Merrill Stubbs
2 pounds Roma tomatoes (or 28 ounces canned tomatoes with their juices)
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for finishing
2 fat cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 1 1/2-pound live lobsters
1/2 pound spaghetti
1 teaspoon chopped fresh mint
Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Core the tomatoes and cut a shallow “x” through the skin of the non-core end of each tomato with a sharp knife. Working in batches, gently lower the tomatoes into the boiling water for about 30 seconds, until the skin begins to peel away from the cuts you made. Remove the tomatoes from the water with a slotted spoon and set aside until they are cool enough to touch.
Peel and then roughly chop the tomatoes and set aside. Pour the olive oil in a shallow, heavy saucepan and set over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and cook for about 3 minutes, until fragrant and softened, but not browned. Add the chili flakes (start with half if you’re not sure about the heat – you can add more later) and cook for another minute or two.
Add the tomatoes and any juices, along with a few generous pinches of salt and stir through. Raise the heat to medium and let the tomatoes come to a simmer. Turn the heat down to low and simmer gently for 2 to 3 hours, until the tomatoes have completely broken down, adding water as needed to keep the sauce from drying out. When the sauce is ready, taste for salt and add more necessary. Cover and set aside.
Bring an inch of water to a boil in a large stockpot. Add the lobsters to the pot and cover. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until the lobster’s antennae can be easily pulled off. Remove the lobsters from the pot and set aside for a few minutes to cool a little
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook until still quite al dente. Reserving about half a cup of the pasta water, drain the pasta in a large colander and set it aside while you finish up with the lobster.
To remove the lobster meat, twist both claws off the body at the shoulder joint. Use a lobster cracker or the back of a chef’s knife to crack the shell and remove the claw meat. Use a pick or a small fork to pry the meat from the knuckles, twisting at the joints to separate one knuckle from the next. Twist the lobster body from the tail and discard. Twist off the fans at the tail, and then gently insert your finger into the opening, pushing the tail meat out the other end (it should come out in one beautiful piece). Clean off any roe, fat and green goo, and remove the vein if you like by peeling back the strip of meat on the top of the tail.
Keep the lobster meat in a warm place while you finish up the pasta: Turn the heat to medium underneath the pan with the sauce. Add the cooked pasta and some of the pasta water, using tongs to toss the pasta in the sauce. Add a splash or two of olive oil if you like. When the pasta is well-coated in the sauce and warm, arrange it among two shallow, warm bowls. Slice the lobster tails into ½-inch medallions and arrange these, along with the claw and knuckle meat, on top of the spaghetti. Drizzle with a bit more olive oil and sprinkle generously with mint. Serve immediately.