Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Gift of Food

With Christmas just around the corner I was trying to figure out something original to get my parents as a special gift. They are in their 80s and have everything they could ever want or need. That’s when I came across a website where I could buy seafood online and have it delivered fresh to their door. They both enjoy crab and fresh fish and I decided this was what I was going to get them every Christmas.

The first year I ordered lobsters for them as well as some fresh clams. Their special seafood delivery showed up in time for New Year's Eve dinner. The next time I gave them fresh seafood for a gift I gave them a gift certificate and let them choose what they wanted to order. They ordered fresh swordfish and crab legs and this time I got an invitation to share the meal with them.

I was really pleased with how professionally run this business is; the seafood delivery is always fresh and always arrives the day after it is ordered. They offer a huge variety of seafood and always guarantee it to be fresh upon arrival. I’ve ordered from them many times for myself and have never had a single bad item.

Last year I was put in charge of hosting a business dinner for some of our clients. I decided to make it a seafood dinner with fresh fish, clams, shrimp, and crab. I planned the menu and ordered the seafood the day before the dinner. The seafood delivery showed up as promised the next day and the dinner party was a huge success. I actually gave the website address to several of the guests so they could order fresh seafood themselves.

Before I found this site where I can buy seafood online, I thought the only way to get fresh seafood was to go to a restaurant. That can be pretty expensive considering the portions you get are relatively small. I really like the idea of being able to have fresh fish and lobster at any time just by a quick click of the mouse. I know my parents have really enjoyed their seafood gifts and they always look forward to those special occasions when they get another gift certificate for fresh seafood. It’s nice to be able to find a gift they really enjoy and appreciate; I don’t ever stress about what to get them for Christmas anymore.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Cooking Calamari to Perfection

There's no doubt about it, calamari is a hit as an entree, appetizer or bar snack in dozens of countries around the globe! Because more shellfish lovers have learned to buy seafood online, scrumptious squid dishes are being served everywhere. If your past efforts with calamari have resulted in a tough, chewy mess, it's time to learn to cook your calamari to perfection.

The first rule of calamari, no matter how you prepare it, is that it must be fresh. Unless you're able to walk down to the docks and purchase your squid from a seafood shop, look for an online vendor who offers overnight
seafood delivery. Store your calamari in the refrigerator on ice and use it within a day or two.

The second rule of calamari is that you must cook it quickly, in less than two minutes, or slowly, as in more than an hour. Anything in between gives tough, unappetizing squid that will have your guests grimacing rather than asking for more!

The most common way to cook calamari quickly, as with shrimp and other forms of shellfish, is to fry it. Some squid lovers like it dipped in beer batter or with spicy seasonings added into the coating. Whichever way you like it, the key is to have the oil you're deep frying or stir frying in hot enough to quickly brown the coating without toughening the calamari.

Again, because you've learned to buy seafood online, your calamari rings for frying should be very fresh, without a strong, "fishy" odor. Experiment with batters for your squid and try serving it with dips like marinara sauce and tzatziki.

Another way to gain kudos for your calamari is by cooking steaks, rather than rings, with a quick frying method. Ask your online
seafood delivery service if they can deliver pre-tenderized calamari steaks. These delicious slabs of shellfish can be dipped in egg and seasoned flour and sauteed for just under two minutes. Add a little butter and lemon juice, or experiment with delicate sauces, and you've got a squid dish even the most squeamish can love!

As we mentioned, you also need a way to cook calamari for more than an hour. The best way is braising, which simply means quick heat followed by slow liquid. Stir fry your sliced calamari steaks or rings in a little olive oil for only a minute (add some veggies like shallots or peppers for interest), then cover it with broth, wine or some other type of sauce and cook it slowly for a little over an hour, stirring and adding spices as you go.

This is a wonderful way to make calamari marinara to serve over your favorite pasta. Play with your own treasured sauce recipes and find ways to slow cook calamari into the mix.

No matter how you serve it, remember the rules for calamari:

1. Keep it FRESH!
Buy seafood online and take advantage of overnight seafood delivery if you're not close to a coast.

2. Cook it fast or cook it slow. Anything else will be disastrous!

Calamari could become your family's best-loved shellfish, if you'll follow these rules. Get ready for requests to make squid a regular part of your menu.