Magazine article Sunset

Chefs of the West; Farmers of the Sea Come to Our Rescue

Magazine article Sunset

Chefs of the West; Farmers of the Sea Come to Our Rescue

Article excerpt

Even a Midwestern farmer would doff his hat to those who reap their harvest from the sea. Marine farming--or, to refer to it with due respect, mariculture--poses all the challenges of tilling the soil, and then some.

Witness that the French call shellfish fruits de mer, the Italians frutti di mare--fruits of the sea. But the romance languages gloss over certain complications. Apples and oranges, after all, simply sit there waiting to be picked, whereas crabs, shrimp, oysters, and the like are more elusive.

Once they reach the marketplace, however, shellfish face the laws of supply and demand like any other crop. And judging by the price tags at the fish counter, demand has the upper hand. So, to avoid emptying our pocketbooks, we stretch our seafood with supplementary starches and sauces, as our Chefs of the West have done in the following recipes.

A lover of both seafood and spices, Mike Humason of Thousands Oaks, California, created a Western version of the Creole dish jambalaya, combining shrimp with spicy seasonings, mixed with rice pilaf. He modestly titles his recipe: Humbalaya

1 tablespoon butter or margarine

3 hot or mild Italian sausages (about 10 oz.), cut into 1-inch slices

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, minced or pressed

4 medium-size mushrooms, sliced

1 medium-size green bell pepper, seeded and diced

3/4 pound medium-size shrimp, shelled and deveined

1/4 cup dry white wine

1 teaspoon each paprika and chili powder

1/2 to 1 teaspoon crushed dried hot red chilies or cayenne

Rice pilaf (recipe follows)

Dry-roasted peanuts

In a 4- to 5-quart pan over medium heat, melt butter; add sausages and cook, stirring occasinally, until browned on all sides. Discard all but 2 tablespoons of the drippings.

To pan, add onion and garlic, stirring occasionally until onion is soft, about 10 minutes. Add mushrooms and green pepper; stir occasionally for 3 to 4 minutes, then mix in shrimp, wine, paprika, chili powder, and 1/2 teaspoon of the chilies. Cook, stirring often, until shrimp turn pink, about 5 minutes. Taste and add as much of remaining chilies as you want.

Combine rice pilaf with shrimp mixture; spoon into a warm serving dish and sprinkle with peanuts. Makes 4 servings.

Rice pilaf. In a 1-1/2- to 2-quart pan over medium heat, melt 3 tablespoons butter or margarine. Add 1 small onion, chopped, and stir often until onion is soft, about 10 minutes. Stir in 3/4 cup long-grain white rice and cook, stirring, until rice is lightly browned.

Stir in 1 can (14-1/2 oz.) regular-strength chicken broth. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook until rice is tender to bite and liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Use hot; or keep warmp over hot water for as long as an hour.

John R. Fisher, whose recipe for Individual Crab Wellingtons next appears, displays stylish economy with shellfish because he lives far from the sea. The puff pastry envelope for the crab is more than just fancy dress: it ensures that no flavors or juices escape into the oven, and that the crab meat will stay hot on the plate. Individual Crab Wellingtons

Bechamel sauce (recipe follows)

3/4 pound crab meat

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

3/4 cup (3 oz.) shredded jack cheese

Salt and pepper

2 teaspoons butter or margarine

1 tablespoon minced shallot

2 large mushrooms, finely chopped

2 tablespoons, each finely chopped carrot and celery

1 package (17-1/4 oz. …

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