Yup, here I am.
I don’t want to be here.
It’s Sunday afternoon, and we have friends visiting, and I’m holed up by myself in my office, writing a recipe for a spunky, just-right spicy, wondrously comforting shellfish soup that I enjoyed so so much last night, but really don’t feel like reliving. Especially not now, when I could be finishing Sunday. This morning was so relaxing, so calm, doing yoga, wandering out for brunch, running into friends at the farmers’ market. But I came back to blog, and today I want to punch my computer.
Where is January 1st? I’m done with November. December, too, actually. Today I don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. Instead, I see construction workers. They’re two guys inside my brain, peering into an almost-finished tunnel, then looking at the road above it. Joe says “Hey look, that road works just fine!” and Bob says “Ayuh. ” (I think Bob is from Maine. Translation: Yes.) “Guess we didn’t need to start this thing after all.” Joe nods slowly. Ugghhh.
The other thing is that I am seriously mourning my camera. It’s just at camp, I keep telling myself. It’ll come back. God, I hope so.
But it turns out my husband’s camera has some nifty features, like the ability to make movies, which I’ve started abusing with some success. Note that while I may be a perfectionist in some arenas, perfection isn’t so high on the list when it comes to home video. But if you’re a total shellfish novice, it might help.
Ever wonder what to do with all those little hairs sticking out of your mussels? Or why scallops have little white things on them sometimes? Oh, I am so here for you:
Here’s a little more scallop education, from Madeleine Kamman:
Each scallop is made of a large number of vertical fibers held together by a circular membrane, to which is attached a small tendon called the foot of the scallop. In any size scallop the food must be removed because it becomes terribly tough as the scallop cooks.
I’ve always known the foot as the tab, and have also heard it called the tab foot. In any case, it’s usually whiter than the rest of the scallop, and you need to get rid of it.
So have at it. Buy the shellfish listed below, or go crazy – add squid, maybe a few big spot prawns, or a cubed filet of a lighter white fish, like bass, cod, or tilapia.
Spicy Shellfish Soup with Coconut, Lime and Ginger (PDF)
Recipe 315 of 365
Here’s a soup for the days you feel like raiding the fish market. Clams, mussels, shrimp, and scallops are poached in a fragrant, sour-spicy broth that’s quick to make (and a good way to clear the ol’ sinuses). Serve with plenty of good, crusty bread for mopping up the broth.
You can alter this recipe for a fish-phobic audience by omitting the fish sauce, using chicken stock instead of clam juice, and substituting shredded meat from a rotisserie chicken for the shellfish. You can also add leftover rice or quick-cooking vegetables, like snap peas or asparagus, to the broth just before serving.
TIME: 30 minutes (start to finish)
MAKES: 4 servings
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 small shallots, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon green Thai chili paste (or to taste)
1 can light coconut milk
1 tablespoon Thai fish sauce
2 cups dry white wine
1 (8-ounce) container clam juice
Juice of 1 large lime
2 tablespoons sugar
16 manila clams, rinsed (about 1/2 pound with shells)
8 large mussels (about 1/2 pound with shells)
1/2 lb. medium (41/50) shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
3 scallions, green and white parts, sliced into thin rounds
1/3 lb. small bay scallops, tabs removed
Preheat a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the shallots and garlic. Stir until beginning to soften, about two minutes. Add the ginger, and cook another minute or so, stirring. Add the chili paste, stir to combine, then add the coconut milk, fish sauce, white wine, clam juice, lime juice, and sugar, and simmer for 5 minutes. Season with salt, if necessary.
Add the clams and mussels to the pot, cover, and let cook 3 minutes. Add the shrimp, stir, and cover again for a minute or two, until all the clams and mussels have opened. Stir in the cilantro, scallions, and scallops (which will continue to cook in the hot broth all the way to the table), and serve immediately.