Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Seafood is Best... Fresh
After sampling the Shrimp and Bacon en Brochettes during the launch party for Ralph Brennan's New Orleans Seafood Cookbook I had to try this recipe at home. (That's an image of the passed party appetizers above.) Since it was such a crowd pleaser at the party my boyfriend and I opted to test out the recipe as a main course instead of the appetizer option.
Unfortunately our first attempt at preparing this recipe was delayed. Due to deadlines and a busy weekend schedule we bought the shrimp a day ahead of time. Rule number one... read the instructions about checking freshness and quality in the Seafood Cook's Manual at the beginning of this book.
"The best measure of freshness for store-bought shrimp, raw or cooked, is their smell. The fresh ones carry a clean, rather astringent smell with no unpleasant 'fishy' odors..." (Ralph Brennan's New Orleans Seafood Cookbook, pg. 38)
Had I remembered this tip on checking freshness I would have insisted that the clerk let me smell the shrimp before sealing them in the take-away bag. However, I relied on the reputation of the store to provide quality seafood.
We began to prep the next day and pulled out the shrimp, which were very fishy smelling. Now, it may have been the day-long delay from purchase to cooking time which ruined these shrimp, however typically store-bought seafood should last for a day if refridgerated.
So my advice to readers... become familiar with the ways to safely select, store and prepare seafood. The section in Ralph Brennan's cookbook called "A Seafood Cook's Manual" offers an excellent array of tips and methods for safely securing and preparing seafood for consumption. Keep these instructions in mind when you head to the store and use this section even when you're making seafood recipes from other cookbooks.
As for my attempt at Ralph's Shrimp and Bacon en Brochettes, you'll have to check in on the blog later for an update. This seafood scandal didn't dissuade me from testing the recipe, it's just delayed the process a bit. I'll keep you posted.
Photo: Courtesy of BlakeMakes.com