Seasonings, Garnishes, and Sides
Fresh ingredients do make a difference.
Properly seasoning, or salting, food is a crucial aspect of cooking. Salt is more than just a flavor enhancer; it also helps bring out the natural taste of ingredients and adds depth to dishes. When seasoning, it is important to strike a balance—too little salt can leave a dish bland and lackluster, while too much salt can overpower the flavors and make it unpleasant. The key is to season gradually, adding salt in small increments and tasting along the way. This allows for adjustments and ensures that the dish reaches the desired level of seasoning.
Using kosher salt rather than table salt when cooking offers a few advantages. Kosher salt has larger crystals compared to table salt. This larger grain size makes it easier to control the amount of salt being added to a dish. The texture of kosher salt also makes it ideal for tasks such as seasoning meat, as it can be easily grasped and evenly distributed over the surface.
Herbs and Spices
Fresh herbs, spices and some vegetables can enhance and add variety to your cooking – not just seafood, but all of your cooking.
Herbs are the leaves of plants such as basil and rosemary. Most supermarkets carry a selection of fresh herbs. Many cooks like to grow their own in a garden, window box or in small pots. Herbs are easy to grow and give you fresh ingredients just for the picking.
The oils in herbs are volatile and are what you smell and taste. Chop herbs just before you add them to the food. Add fresh herbs about the last 15 or 20 minutes of cook time.
You wont get the same results if you use dried herbs, but if they are not old and stale you can still create some great dishes, Dried herbs and spices should be stored in airtight container away from heat and light. One of the best places to store them is the freezer. They will remain stable up to a year. Always smell them before use. If they do not have their initial fresh scent, replace them.
Generally, use two to three times as much fresh herbs as dried since dried ones are more potent. The exception to this is rosemary; use equal amounts of it, Add dried herbs early in the cooking.
Spices are the bark, root, fruit, berry or seeds of plants Like herbs, spices such as pepper and ginger are very compatible with seafood.
Black peppercorns are picked and dried when the berries of the pepper plant are not quite ripe. Slightly, hot, they have the most intense flavor. The mature berries of the pepper plant are pink or red. The hull is removed to make white peppercorns. They are less pungent than black ones. White pepper is often used in foods such as white sauces so that the color wont stand out in the food. Both black and white peppercorns are quite compatible with fish and shellfish. they need to be freshly ground just before using. You’re going to love these two fresh spices.
Many herbs and spices are compatible with fish and shellfish, including the following:
Some root vegetables, such as garlic and onions, make great seasonings for seafood. Both belong to the lily family, along with leeks, shallots, and chives, which are also compatible with seafood. Garlic is inexpensive and available year-round/ Buy firm, heavy, plump bulbs with dry skin. Store in a cool, dry place. Don’t store it in the refrigerator because it will sprout. If you cut into a clove that has started to sprout (it will be green in the center), remove the sprout to keep it from affecting the flavor of the garlic. Before you peel the garlic, first cut the stem off the end of the cloves.
If a recipe calls for minced or chopped garlic, you can almost always press instead.
Suggestions include the following fruits, herbs, and vegetables:
- avocado slices
- asparagus tips, steamed
- broccoli florests
- carrot sticks
- caulifloer florets
- corn, baby
- cucumber rounds or sticks
- egg (hard-cooked slices)
- fruit (lemon, lime, orange, tangerine wedges or slices)
- mushrooms (baby, whole or sliced)
- olives (stuffed or black)
- onions (pearl); green (whole or strips); red (rings); spring (whole or strips)
- pepper (red, green, or yellow, rings)
- pimento strips
- sprigs (dill, oregano, parsley, sage, tarragon, thyme, watercress)
- tomatoes (cherry or slices)
Also sprinkle with toasted almonds slivers, copped basil, chives, dill, thyme, diced fresh tomatoes, or the zest of a lemon, lime, or orange.
Try pairing these with your favorite dishes:
- corn, creamed or on-the-cob
- small, whole boiled or roasted potatoes
- oven-baked french fries
- baked potatoes
- green beans amandine
- broiled or baked tomato halves
- wild rice
- steamed broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, snow peas, sugar snap peas, cabbage, carrots, Brussels sprouts, mushrooms, spinach, asparagus
- fresh citrus salad