Janine Gilbertson's Granite Kitchen: Prime season for seafood

By JANINE GILBERTSON March 14. 2017 6:57PM
These homemade crabcakes could make you think you're in Baltimore. (JANINE GILBERTSON)

The weeks leading up to Easter Sunday are a great time to buy seafood. Supplies are abundant, particularly near the end of the week, in anticipation of the meatless Fridays of Lent.

The practice of forgoing meat during the Lenten season is a Christian tradition meant as an act of penitence, in remembrance of the Friday on which Christ was crucified.

Whether or not you observe Lent, you can still seize the opportunity to enjoy some fresh fish. 

Since cold and snowy days are still with us, a hearty seafood corn chowder is an excellent choice for dinner. If you’re short on time, customizing some condensed corn chowder by adding some haddock, shrimp and fresh herbs means you can get a fresh meal on the table in no time.

I absolutely love sea scallops and order them often when I go out to eat. I recently had an incredible scallop dish at a restaurant and attempted to recreate it at home. 

Scallops are simple to cook; rinse them and pat them dry, then dust them with flour and sear them in a little hot oil with garlic. Once they’re browned, set them aside and deglaze the pan with some fresh lemon juice. Add some butter and a little flour to make a roux, then add some cream and seasonings. Return the scallops to the pan and coat them with the decadent garlic cream sauce you’ve just created and you will enjoy a dish fit for a five-star restaurant.

If you’re looking for something a little lighter, try some lightly browned crab cakes served over a bed of greens. You can use fresh, frozen or canned lump crabmeat to make them and still get a good result.

Pan-seared scallops with garlic cream sauce, served over fettucine. (JANINE GILBERTSON)

Pan Seared Scallops with Garlic Cream Sauce

1 lb fresh sea scallops

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

2 tbsp flour, divided

1 tbsp butter

1 lemon, quartered

1 1/2 cups light cream

1 lb fettuccine, cooked according to package directions

1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

Rinse the scallops and pat dry. Sprinkle with one tablespoon of flour, turning to coat, then season with salt and pepper. 

Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium high heat and add the garlic. Cook for about 2 minutes, until the garlic begins to brown slightly, then add the scallops. 

Sauté the scallops for about two minutes on each side, ensuring to move the scallops around every 30 seconds or so. Remove scallops from pan and set aside. 

Reduce the heat to medium and squeeze the lemon pieces into the pan, using a spatula to scrape the bottom of the pan to remove any brown bits. 

Add the butter and remaining flour, stirring with a wire whisk to make a paste. Add the cream, whisking constantly to create a smooth sauce. 

Return scallops to the pan and toss to coat. Serve over pasta and garnish with fresh parsley.

Fresh seafood and extra corn turns a canned corn chowder into something special. (JANINE GILBERTSON)

Quick Seafood Corn Chowder

2 (15 oz) cans condensed corn chowder, such as Snow’s

15 oz can cream style corn

15 oz can sweet corn

3 cups whole milk

1 cup light cream

1 lb fresh haddock, chopped

1 lb shrimp, peeled and de­veined

1/4 cup fresh scallions, chopped

2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

2 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp black pepper

Add the corn chowder, cream style corn and sweet corn to a large stockpot set over medium high heat. 

Stir in the milk and cream. Cook for about 10 minutes, until heated throughout.

Add the haddock, shrimp, scallions, parsley, salt and pepper. Cook for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, until the haddock and shrimp are cooked through. Garnish with additional scallions before serving, if desired.

These homemade crab cakes could make you think you’re in Baltimore. (JANINE GILBERTSON)

Crab Cakes

1 lb crabmeat (fresh or canned)

1/3 cup crushed crackers such as Ritz

1/4 cup scallions, chopped

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1 egg

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp dry mustard

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp salt

1/2 lemon, juiced

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Flour, for dusting

1/4 cup olive oil

Combine all the ingredients except the flour and oil in a large bowl and mix well. 

Using your hands, shape the mixture into patties about 3/4 inch thick 5 inches wide. Dust both sides of the patties with flour. 

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat and set the patties in the oil. 

Cook each side for about four minutes, until lightly browned. Remove from oil and serve.


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