Preparing Seafood Beyond "The Big Three"

David Pasternack knows plenty about seafood.

He's executive chef of the famed seafood restaurant Esca in Manhattan, which just got three-stars from The New York Times.

His first cookbook, "The Young Man and the Sea," is full of seafood cooking secrets and recipes.

Pasternack shared some of them on The Early Show Tuesday.

His love of seafood shines through the book's pages.

He writes that his father took him fishing "shortly after I learned to walk," and his love of fishing and seafood only grew from there.

Pasternack is passionate about cooking, and doesn't come off as some stuffy chef. His co-author, Ed Levin, writes that Pasternack's chef coat is often dirty, as if he's gone to battle in the kitchen; he doesn't look pristine and crisp. Rather, he looks as if he's really gone to work for that meal on your plate.

Pasternack knows many people are afraid to cook with fish, and seeks to show there's nothing to it, saying just a few tips will help the home cook prepare seafood. Pasternack adds that fear is the reason most people only cook a few times a year with "the big three": tuna, salmon and swordfish.

Pasternack doesn't understand it because, he says, there's so much more available, with amazing flavors and textures.

He wants you to think as he does, "that cooking and eating all kinds of fish are two of life's greatest pleasures."

RECIPES

CORN SALAD WITH WALNUTS AND GOAT CHEESE

6 ears corn, husked
1/4 cup walnuts
1/2 cup Rosemary Oil (recipe follows)
1/2 cup Braised Mushrooms, preferably chanterelle
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 ounces dry aged goat cheese finely grated using the small holes of a box grater
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 cups arugula, rinsed and spun-dry

Preheat the oven to 300F.

Prepare a charcoal fire. Grill the corn over the fire until lightly charred, about 3 minutes. Cut off the narrow end of the cob. Hold the ear with one hand, the flat end resting on a cutting board, and cut the kernels from the cob. Place the kernels in a bowl. Repeat with each ear of corn. Set the corn kernels aside.

Place the walnuts on a baking tray and toast in the oven for 3 minutes, or until they begin to give off an aroma. Remove from the oven and set aside.

In a large sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons of the Rosemary Oil. Slightly crush the toasted walnuts in your hand and add to the pan along with the Braised Mushrooms. Sauté for 1 minute. Add the corn kernels, stir to combine, and sauté for 3 minutes, until the corn is hot. Add the butter and 2 tablespoons of the grated goat cheese. Season with salt and pepper.

Place the arugula leaves in a mixing bowl. Dress them with most of the Rosemary Oil and season with salt and pepper. To serve, spoon the corn mixture into the center of four serving plates and sprinkle with half the remaining goat cheese. Top with arugula and the rest of the goat cheese. Drizzle each plate with some of the remaining Rosemary oil.

FLUKE WITH SEA BEANS AND RADISHES

4 ounces sea beans
4 ounces radishes, cut into matchsticks
Coarse sea salt
Juice of 1/2 lime
One 8 ounce fluke fillet
High-quality extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

In a small mixing bowl, combine the sea beans, radishes, a pinch of sea salt, and a squeeze of lime juice.

Using a knife with a thin sharp blade, begin cutting the fluke into thin slices on the diagonal. Transfer the slices to four serving plates as they are cut, forming a fan pattern, about four slices per plate.

Place a small mound of the sea bean salad on top of the fanned fluke in the center of each plate. Drizzle each serving with olive oil and a sprinkling of sea salt.

Serve immediately.

MARINATED SARDINES WITH ROASTED EGGPLANT

16 fresh sardine fillets
1/4 cup red-wine vinegar
2 medium cloves garlic, sliced
Zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 loaf of rustic country bread, cut into 1/2 inch thick slices
Oven-Roasted Eggplant (recipe follows)
1 heirloom tomato, cut into 1/4 inch thick slices
12 cherry tomatoes, halved

Line a Pyrex baking dish with parchment paper. Place the sardine fillets, skin side down, on the paper, making sure they're not touching one another. Pour the vinegar over the fillets and sprinkle with the garlic, lemon zest, and sea salt. Cover with another piece of parchment paper and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, preheat the broiler. Bring the sardines to room temperature. Brush away the garlic and lemon zest. On a broiler pan, lightly toast the bread.

To serve, put one slice of toast in the center of each of four serving plates. Top with an heirloom tomato slice and then spoon some roasted eggplant on top of one half of each slice. Lay four marinated sardine fillets, skin side up, on the other half. Garnish the plate with cherry tomatoes. (Alternatively, you may serve as an antipasti.)

NANTUCKET BAY SCALLOPS WITH LEMON AND CHERVIL

Serves 4

1/2 pound Nantucket Bay scallops (about 25 to 30), well chilled
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
coarse sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 sprigs chervil, leaves only

In a mixing bowl, combine the scallops, lemon juice, and olive oil. Toss gently to combine.

Spoon onto four serving plates and dress each with a light sprinkling of sea salt, black pepper, and a few chervil leaves.

Serve Immediately.

RIGATONI WITH TUNA BOLOHNESE

Serves 4

2 pounds fresh tuna scraps or steaks, cut into large chunks
10 ounces pancetta, cut into medium dice
6 ounces mackerel, cut into medium dice
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
one bottle (750-milliliter) red wine
1 bay leaf
1/2 cinnamon stick (about 2 inches)
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
one 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes (and their juice)
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 pound dried rigatoni (preferably DeCecco)
1/2 pound mascarpone cheese

In a food processor, pulse the tuna, pancetta, and mackerel until coarsely ground. Set aside. In a Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over a medium flame. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, 3 to 4 minutes.

Add the ground tuna mixture, and increase the flame to medium high. Cook, stirring with a fork, until all the juices are dry and the bottom of the pan begins to brown, 7 to 10 minutes.

Add the red wine, bay leaf, red pepper, and cinnamon stick, and cook until dry, about 15 minutes. Add the tomatoes, crushing them by hand, and their juice, and 1/2 cup water. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Let simmer, uncovered, for 1 1/2 hours. The sauce should be moist, not wet. Taste and re-season with salt and pepper. Discard the bay leaf and cinnamon stick.

Prepare the rigatoni according to the package directions, cooking 1 minute less than the package instructs for al dente. Drain in a colander and combine with the Bolognese sauce. Divide among four serving bowls. Top each bowl with 1/2 cup of mascarpone, a sprinkling of salt, and a grinding of pepper.

GRILLED PORGY WITH SALSA VERDE AND BRAISED CARROTS

Serves 2

For the Salsa Verde:
2 tablespoons coarse sea salt
3 sprigs rosemary, needles picked off the stems
2 anchovy fillets
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup chives, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup fennel tops, fronds picked off the stems
6 sprigs tarragon, leaves picked off the stems
3 sprigs oregano, leaves picked off the stems
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Juice of 1/2 lemon (about 1 1/2 tablespoons)
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

For the Porgy:
One 2-pound porgy, scales and fins removed and gutted
4 parsley stems
2 medium lemon slices
1 clove garlic, crushed
Extra-virgin olive oil, to coat the fish
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Braised Carrots (recipe follows)

Make the Salsa Verde:

Use a mortar and pestle, combine the sea salt and rosemary and crush to a fine dust. Add the anchovies and garlic, and continue pounding until the mixture has the consistency of a paste.

Follow with the chives, fennel tops, tarragon, and oregano, pounding after each addition.
Transfer the paste to a small mixing bowl and add the olive oil and lemon juice.

Taste and then adjust the seasoning by adding salt and pepper as needed. This should be made shortly before serving so the herbs are still fresh tasting. Leftovers can be refrigerated and brought to room temperature before serving as a condiment.

To make the Porgy:

Prepare a charcoal fire and let the grill get very hot. Dry the fish with paper towels. Stuff the cavity with the parsley stems, lemon slices, and garlic. Rub the fish on both sides with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

When the coals are white-hot, place the fish over the medium-high part of the fire (where you can hold your hand above the coals for, say, 4 seconds). If the flames jump to touch the fish, move it to a cooler part of the grill. Grill the fish for 8 to 10 minutes per side. The skin should be charred but not blackened.

The flesh of the fish, when touched, should gently break away under the skin. Fillet the fish and transfer it to two serving plates. Spoon a tablespoon of the Salsa Verde over each piece just before serving with the Braised Carrots.

BRAISED CARROTS

Serves 4

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups moscato wine
2 cups orange juice
1/3 cups light brown sugar
3 cups baby carrots
2 sprigs thyme
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter

Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over a medium flame until hot but not smoking.

Add the shallots and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the moscato, orange juice, and brown sugar, raise the heat, and bring to a simmer. Add the carrots and the thyme, stir thoroughly, and cover. Cook the carrots until they're almost tender, about 15 minutes.

Remove the lid and let the liquid evaporate until the pan is moist but no longer wet. Remove the thyme sprigs. Season with salt and pepper, add the butter, stir until it melts, and transfer the carrots to a serving bowl.

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