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A Summertime Seafood Salad



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A Summertime Seafood Salad

The New York Times, July 3, 2002

by David Pasternack

David Pasternack is the executive chef at Esca in Manhattan.
This column was written with Florence Fabricant.

"Seafood salad is a great summer dish. This mixture of seafood here is my
ideal, but 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 like
to see big shrimp. If you're spending money on the good stuff, why chop it up?
I always put scungilli — conch — in the salad. It's kind of a key ingredient:
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 flavor.
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 the scungilli,
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
raw are the clams. And by the way, for me, there is only one clam: a littleneck
from Long Island. It has a hard dark-gray shell. If you can't find them, buy
clams from Maine. But don't buy the ones from the South with their lighter
shells. They don't have the same flavor.
I cook the garlic a bit to take away some heat and sharpness. The dressing has
lemon juice for freshness and red wine vinegar, olive oil and a little red onion.
I 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 and
toss them in. I also like the salad spicy, with a little bit of chili, but that's up
to you.
It's best if you let the salad sit for about an hour so the flavors meld before
you 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 as delicious."

Seafood Salad

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
Sea salt
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 pound cultivated mussels, scrubbed
12 littleneck clams, scrubbed and shucked,
juice reserved
 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. Slice
scallops horizontally. Cut scungilli in half and, with the point of a knife,
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
spoon and drain. Set aside. Add calamari rings and tentacles to pot,
simmer 1 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 oil in
large bowl. Add clams and juice, calamari, shrimp and scallops. Thinly
slice scungilli, and add it. Add remaining zest, lemon juice, vinegar,
onion, minced herbs, and 1/2 cup olive oil. Fold together. Add mussels
in their shells and more oil to taste, chili flakes and black pepper. Set
aside, covered, about 1 hour.
5. Toss ingredients. Add more oil and seasonings if needed. Spoon into
serving dish. Bruise remaining mint and parsley between fingers, and
scatter on top. Serve.
 Copyright 2002 The New York Times Company

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