Summer Seafood Dishes

Bring on summer! I’m ready for a sno-ball, cold beer (make mine Abita Amber), a dip in the pool, a boat ride on the bayou, and crabs prepared every which way.

 

About this time of year as soon as school is out, a cousin of mine and I head out to Vermilion Bay to put out the crab traps, baited with chicken necks, on the pier of our camp. In between checking the traps, we sometimes sink a line in the slate-gray salty water in hopes of catching a redfish or speckled trout, or even a stray flounder. Fresh fish and crabmeat make for a great dinner pairing.

 


 

TROUT OR REDFISH ROULADES
Makes 6 servings
  • 6 fillets of trout or redfish, 6 to 8 ounces each
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 pound fresh white button mushrooms, wiped clean, stemmed and chopped
  • 1 pound small shrimp (peeled and deveined) or 1 pound lump crabmeat (picked over for shells and cartilage)
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil leaves
  • Salt, freshly ground black pepper, and cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup fine dried bread crumbs (more or less as needed)
  • 1/2 pint half-and-half
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

 

Gently pound the fillets a bit to make them lie flat. Sprinkle with lemon juice and set aside.

 

Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, and mushrooms and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the shrimp or crabmeat and basil, and season with salt, black pepper and cayenne. Add ¾ cup of the chicken broth and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the bread crumbs and stir so that the mixture binds together. Remove from the heat and cool.

 

Place a tablespoon or so of the mixture on top of the fish fillet and roll up like a jelly roll. (You may have to use a toothpick to hold the roll together.) Place the roulades in a shallow baking pan with the remaining ¼ cup chicken broth and the half-and half. Dot with the remaining butter. Bake until the fish flakes easily with a fork, 20 to 25 minutes.

 

For a quick sauce, combine 1/4 cup Creole mustard and 1/4 cup mayonnaise and mix well. Drizzle the sauce on the roulades as they come out of the oven.

 

If we’re lucky enough, we will catch enough crabs to enjoy both a crab boil AND a chilled crabmeat salad plopped on thick slices of ripe tomatoes.

 


 

CRABMEAT SALAD

 

Makes 4 servings
  • 1 pound lump crabmeat, picked over for shells and cartilage
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 dashes hot sauce
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped celery
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped green onions
  • 1 tablespoon drained capers
  • 3 teaspoons finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons Creole mustard
Combine all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix well. Refrigerate for at least one hour before serving. The salad can be served atop a mound of salad greens, on thick slices of tomatoes, or in an avocado half. It can also be served as an hors d’ouevre, with crackers or toast points.

 

If you’ve never had soft-shell crabs, then please give yourself a real treat. (You can purchase them on this website.)

 

This recipe does take a little time to pull together, but it’s time well spent.

 


 

STUFFED SOFT-SHELL CRABS AND JAMBALAYA

 

Makes 6 servings
  • 6 jumbo soft-shell crabs
  • 1 cup chopped green onions
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 pound lump crabmeat, picked over for shells and cartilage
  • 1 pound small shrimp, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 3 cups stale bread crumbs
  • 1/2 pound mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 (3-ounce) jar diced pimientos
  • Flour for dredging
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 3 cups cracker meal
  • Peanut oil for deep-frying
Clean the soft-shell crabs by cutting across the face with a pair of kitchen shears. Remove the eye sockets and the lower mouth. Carefully lift up the apron and remove the gills. Gently rinse with cool water and pat dry.

 

Cook the green onions, garlic, crabmeat, and shrimp in the wine for several minutes over medium heat. Add 1 teaspoon of the salt, 1/2 teaspoon of the cayenne, 1/4 teaspoon white pepper and the bread crumbs. Stir to mix. Add the mushrooms, egg yolks and pimientos. Mix gently. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Chill the stuffing for at least one hour or until firm.

 

Carefully lift the shoulders on each crab and gently press about one tablespoon of the stuffing into this area. Press the shoulders down to hold the stuffing. Be careful not to break off any of the legs of the crabs. Lay the crabs on a baking sheet and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon cayenne.

 

Combine the flour with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne and 1/4 teaspoon white pepper in a shallow bowl. In a mixing bowl combine the buttermilk and the eggs. Whisk to blend. Put the cracker meal in another shallow bowl.

 

Heat the oil to 360 degrees in a deep pot.

 

Dredge the crabs in the seasoned flour, then dip them in the buttermilk mixture. Then dredge them in the cracker meal, making sure that the legs are well breaded.

 

Hold each crab by the body, allowing the legs to dip into the hot oil for a few seconds before dropping the whole crab into the hot oil. Fry the crabs until they float to the surface of the oil and are golden brown. Drain on paper towels.

 

For the jambalaya:
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable shortening
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1½ cups chopped onions
  • 1/2 cup chopped green bell peppers
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 (1-pound) can whole tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup tomato sauce
  • 2 cups uncooked short-grain white rice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1¼ teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 2½ cups water
  • 1 pound medium-size shrimp, peeled and deveined
Heat the shortening in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and stir over medium heat to make a golden brown roux. Add the onions, bell pepper, celery, and garlic. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables are soft, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the whole tomatoes and the tomato sauce and cook until an oil film rises to the surface.

 

Stir in the rice, salt, cayenne, water and shrimp. Cover and cook over a low heat until the rice is tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Add more water if the mixture becomes dry. Serve the crabs, legs up, over a bed of jambalaya. Ladle a tablespoon of CREOLLAISE SAUCE over the crabs. Garnish with a wedge of lemon and fried parsley.

 


 

CREOLLAISE SAUCE
  • 2 cups béarnaise sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Creole mustard
Combine the sauce and mustard and keep warm.

 

Ahhh yes, bring on summertime!

 

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