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La Belle Cuisine
A Summertime Seafood Salad
The New York Times, July 3, 2002
by David Pasternack
Pasternack is the executive chef at Esca in Manhattan.
This column was
written with Florence Fabricant.
salad is a great summer dish. This mixture of seafood here is my
you can adjust the proportions, depending on what's in the market.
I slice the calamari and the scallops, but I leave the shrimp whole. People
to see big shrimp. If you're spending money on the good stuff, why chop
I always put scungilli — conch — in the salad. It's kind of a key
meaty, a little chewy and sweet with that briny finish. The
slices of scungilli
look almost like porcini in the bowl.
I keep the mussels in their shells because I like the way they look. I
prefer small cultivated mussels, not the great big flabby ones that have no
To cook the seafood I make a court bouillon that's pretty salty. I put in
some sea-weed, the kind you see in the fish markets with the lobsters. I boil
but most people will buy it already cooked, so it can be
lightly poached like the
other ingredients. But you have to clean the scungilli. The only thing I put in
are the clams. And by the way, for
me, there is only one clam: a littleneck
Long Island. It has a hard
dark-gray shell. If you can't find them, buy
Maine. But don't buy
the ones from the South with their lighter
shells. They don't have the same
I cook the garlic a bit to take away some heat and sharpness. The dressing
lemon juice for freshness and red wine vinegar, olive oil and a little
put in parsley and mint. The mint makes it very Neapolitan.
At the end, I rub some mint and parsley with my fingers to release the oils
toss them in. I also like the salad spicy, with a little bit of chili,
but that's up
It's best if you let the salad sit for about an hour so the flavors meld
serve it. Then put it on a platter and serve it family style, a
nice pile of
fresh seafood in a dressing, all at room temperature or even
still a little warm,
with a crisp
white wine and some crusty bread. The big
mistake people make
is they chill it
in the refrigerator. Everything
stiffens up, and it's never the
same, never ever
Time: 1 hour
plus 1 hour's marinating
Yield: 4 servings.
1/2 pound cleaned calamari
1/2 pound sea scallops
3/8 pound cooked scungilli,
sold in some fish markets
3 large cloves garlic, sliced paper thin
3/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 dried red chilies
3 large strands fresh seaweed
Zest of 2 lemons, finely slivered
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 pound cultivated mussels, scrubbed
12 littleneck clams, scrubbed and shucked,
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1/3 cup minced flat parsley leaves
1/3 cup minced mint leaves
1 teaspoon red chili flakes, or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
Leaves from 6 sprigs parsley and
6 sprigs mint, for garnish.
1. Remove and reserve tentacles from calamari. Slice calamari
in thin rings. Remove and discard hard nugget of muscle on side of scallops.
scallops horizontally. Cut scungilli in half and, with the point of a
pry out sac in middle of each half. Cut off any narrow dark rubbery
protrusions. Place garlic in 2 tablespoons olive oil in small dish.
2. Place chilies, seaweed and half the lemon zest in a six-quart pot. Add 4
quarts water. Bring to a boil, then simmer 20 minutes. Stir in about 2
tablespoons sea salt.
3. Add scungilli, and simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove with slotted
and drain. Set aside. Add calamari rings and tentacles to pot,
minute, remove with slotted spoon, drain, and set aside.
Add scallops, cook
about 2 minutes, remove, drain, and set aside.
Add shrimp, cook about 2
minutes, remove, drain, and set aside.
Bring liquid to a boil, add mussels,
and cook just until they open;
remove, and drain.
4. In a small skillet, cook garlic in oil until softened. Place garlic and
large bowl. Add clams and juice, calamari, shrimp and scallops.
slice scungilli, and add it. Add remaining zest, lemon juice,
onion, minced herbs, and 1/2 cup olive oil. Fold together. Add
in their shells and more oil to taste, chili flakes and black
aside, covered, about
5. Toss ingredients. Add more oil and seasonings if needed. Spoon into
serving dish. Bruise remaining mint and parsley between fingers, and
on top. Serve.
Copyright 2002 The New York Times Company
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