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Seafood and Cheese Combos

Am I the only one that finds it a sin to combine the two? I see it more and more as I eat at restaurants but I just can not stomach it and have tried.

While a few arent so bad, gorgonzola sprinkled on a salad with broiled shrimp or pasta and mussels/clams sprinkled with parmesan being a couple examples.

However, I have seen a ton lately. I know Mexican can do it often but I just dont get it: seafood tacos covered in all kinds of cheeses and sour cream, Another being scallops wrapped in some type of meet and cheese product that I have seen in a few spots. Even something as simple as a tuna steak sandwich with layers of cheese.

Is it just me? Seafood and dairy for the most part do not mix.

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  1. Fried shrimp tacos with finely shredded mixed cheese is one of my favorite foods.

    And don't forget about tuna melts!

    But I agree, usually I want to really taste the seafood when I'm eating it, and cheese just tends to overpower.

    1. The first thing that I thought of was Coquille St. Jacques. Many versions have cheese on them.

      But with your last statement about seafood and dairy, I have to disagree. Most seafood is lovely in a cream sauce.

      6 Replies
      1. re: Sooeygun

        mais non! coquilles st. jacques -- the classic -- has no cheese, pleeeeze!

        http://www.corner-kitchen.com/index.p... ( a nice recipe, and an appetizing blog, too).

        and seafood and cream sauce, decadent and delish! esp. spiked with sherry!!!
        pike quenelles (YAY!): http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage...
        with sauce nantua: (double-YAY!): http://www3.uakron.edu/modlang/05trip...

        shrimp in garlic cream sauce: http://southernfood.about.com/od/shri...

        salmon: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tuyaudep...

        1. re: alkapal

          According to Larousse, coquille st. Jacques is actually just the term for scallops. All the recipes made with them are coquille st. jacques a la something or with other words added to the name (e.g. coquille st. jacques mornay..which is cheese sauce). That's why I said 'many versions have cheese'.

          1. re: Sooeygun

            aaah. what's the one with the mashed potatoes piped around the edge of the gratin dish? do all of them have that? now that i've googled it, i see many recipes with the taters have gruyere and some have parm, too.

            the version i had in england was without cheese, similar to this: http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/32... this site calls it "parisienne"


            1. re: alkapal

              Unfortunately, I'm at work and my Larousse is at home. I will have to look it up tonight. Until I looked up Coquille St. Jacques in the Larousse, I had pictured it as exactly the one you linked to with the potatoes and the scallop shell dish. I'll check what the 'classical' name is, if there is one.

              1. re: Sooeygun

                thanks. i have larousse,.....somewhere in the living room! ;-)

                in any event, i'm happy with scallops just about any old way!

        2. I grewup on the East coast, and I agree with you 100%. I dig a good clam chowder, but that's abougt where it ends. A light cream sauce will work with pasta and shellfish as well, but cheese? Wrong, wrong , wrong. Fish sandwich with cheese? EWWWWW.
          Tuna melt? EWWWWW. Yes, I know everyone has their own opinion, and whoever wants a cheesy fish combo is certainly entitled to it. To me however, it's really wrong.

          5 Replies
          1. re: gordeaux

            Really? I've added lump crabmeat to my mac and eight cheese casserole and enjoyed it immensely. So did everyone else.

            1. re: gordeaux

              I also grew up on the East Coast, and didn't know that mixing seafood and cheese was not common. I do like a good tuna melt and can crave a shrimp parm. That reminds me it's almost the season for a nice hearty tuna casserole with extra cheddar.

              1. re: MrsT

                shirmp parm is one of my favorite guilty pleasures- ohhhh- even better is shrimp parm fra diavlo- if lovin' it is wrong I don't wanna be right!

                1. re: chef4hire

                  Ooh- that sounds great! Let them all have their irrational hangups, and pass some of that shrimp parm fra diavolo to me...

              2. re: gordeaux

                I'm with you, can't stand the thought of a tuna melt, YUCK. And I agree with pretty much most of what you said Gordeaux, good on ya!

              3. Sin??? Wrong??? Very different responses than "I don't care for it". I've had combinations with cheese and dairy that I enjoy very much. While I suppose I've combinations that did not work.

                I would be curious to know if there are real guidelines and the logic behind them.

                1. Italian cuisine tends to not mix fish and cheese.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: rubinow

                    Yes - and there have been a number of threads on this topic - some quite, shall we say, heated! However, I have a Sardinian cookbook that I love, and there are comments in there about using cheese and fish together in Sardinian cuisine. I'll try to find the details in the a.m. One of my favorite recipes in the book combines bottarga and pecorino.


                    1. re: MMRuth

                      Perused the book a bit - another dish calling for cheese with seafood is Calamari stuffed with ricotta and bottarga, and pecorino sardo is another ingredient. The recipe for Spaghetti with pecorino and bottarga is apparently "a traditional recipe from the town of Carloforte on the island of San Pietro, home to some of Sardinia's finest tuna fisherman". There are also recipes for "Pasta with ricotta and bottarga", "Nettle Ravioli with branzino and ricotta", "Sole with Pecorino Sardo" (note says this is a classic way to combine land and sea in Sardinia, although "to some this is not a 'natural' or familiar combination".)

                    2. re: rubinow

                      I know Marcella Hazan quite well and have collaborated with her in the past. She says no seafood with cheese, no olive oil for dipping on the table (butter only), and no lemon twist with espresso. But that doesn't make any of these things wrong. Personally I do adhere to the no cheese (save for mascarpone which isn't cheese) with seafood rule. I have had parmesan crusted soft shells once though, and enjoyed them quite a bit.

                      1. re: almansa

                        It sounds like then that this use of cheese with seafood in Sardinia must be an anomaly in Italian cooking. I'd never combined cheese and seafood when cooking Italian food (pretty much from Hazan's book), but have enjoyed recipes I've made from that Sardinian one.

                    3. Lobster thermidor?
                      Fish pie?
                      seafood gratin?

                      all contain both seafood and cheese and are nice.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: foreignmuck

                        Fish pie has cheese?? Cream, sure, but cheese?

                      2. Seafood and cheese is verboten in my book ... with the exception of the Fish-O-Filet!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          I think you just summed it up best. That filet-o-fish is my one exception. Tuna melts from a can of tuna dont really count either here.

                          Fish pies and seafood gratins just dont do it for me. There is a time and a place. It just tipped me off the other day when I was at a Greek place with great grilled calamari and someone asked for parmesan.

                          Maybe it IS the Italian in me and how I grew up but just dont get it or stomach it.

                        2. I'm one of the loudest ranters on all of the seafood and cheese threads. Literally makes me sick to my stomach. I think it's an Italian thing but I don't know. The worst is when people sprinkle grated cheese on mussells or clams in red sauce with pasta. I also see commercials for Red Lobsert or some other chain promoting parmesan fish or shrimp. That makes me throw up in my mouth. All of that said, I have one huge exception.....FILET o' FISH!!!!!!!!!!!!

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: southernitalian

                            Have you actually tasted those 'worst' cases, or are you just reacting to the concept and visual image? How much flavor, good or bad, does that grated cheese contribute? Isn't grated cheese, especially pre-grated cheese, just 'saw dust'?

                            1. re: paulj

                              Well, I'd say I'm obviously reacting to the concept and visual image, right?

                            2. re: southernitalian

                              In my earlier post I was toning it down, but yankeefan, and southernitalian have summed up how I feel about this, EXCEPT that I can't even stomach the filet o fish. I ALWAYS get them without cheese. But, again, as I said before, to each his/her own. I just don't get it though.

                              1. re: gordeaux

                                It's not really a question of "getting it" - at least intellectually. As I'm sure you know it's personal preference. I find pork products make dishes heavy and greasy, especially pie crusts and chowders, but obviously I'm in the minority on this site. People like it, and who am I to question their likes?

                                There's a logical fallacy in presuming that simply because something in one culture is traditional means it's better - for example, the examples of Chinese blending dairy and fish/seafood and some favorite Italian dishes blending them are just two examples of how the assumptions are questioned.

                                For me it depends on the dish. Sometimes it's a great combo and sometimes lousy, with the whole range between.

                            3. There is a fabulous Greek shrimp dish which includes tomato sauce & feta cheese. I really do think it's a cultural thing and relates not only to regional tastes but to ancestral availability.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: mrschef1

                                this was the first thing i thought of. shrimp saganaki. delicious. also an easy dish to make and it has the ooh factor when served to someone else.

                                that and lox and cream cheese

                                and despite what the italians say... sometimes an inauthentic blast of cheese is just what that seafood pasta needs to tie it together.

                              2. During Lent, my favorite is Shrimp Parm!

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: mitchell25418

                                  Shrimp Parm? I've never heard of such a thing. Is it like eggplant parm? If so, I don't think I could do it.

                                2. It does relate to early food experiences, at least for me. A cheese sauce over fish fillets was a favorite, growing up, and even now, sole mornay is a comfort food for me.
                                  But I never encountered Mediterranean fish preparations, or Asian 'steam fish' until I left home. I can't get enough of all three ways to prepare fish, as long as they are two or three days apart.

                                  1. wow I don't see a problem, fish in cream sauces, fish pie and the wonderful Sole/Haddock/Halibut Mornay. Also grilled fish with melted butter or fried in butter. Also any of the above fish Florentine (bed of spinach and cheese sauce).

                                    Tuna bake in a white sauce, with a crispy cheese topping.

                                    What about a bagel with smoked salmon/lox/nova and cream cheese. Herrings in cream sauce.

                                    1. A few combos I like are lobster mac n cheese, seafood newburg, tuna melt, and grilled squid stuffed with feta and mint.

                                      1. Go to any major big city where there is a great Cantonese seafood restaurant, they will gladly do a lobster baked with cheese. It's a Hong Kong style classic, although I can't remember when was the last time I had it.

                                        And maybe your local Asian buffet dinner special would let you have half a lobster as the main attraction (usually a shrunken piece of sadness and dried up), where the top is baked with some mayo like cheese mix. Usually those renditions are a bit dodgy.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: K K

                                          Funny. I wonder who made up the rule about no fish combined with cheese and why everyone is afraid to break it.

                                          I find the combination delightful.

                                          1. re: dolores


                                            I always found it odd how some non-Italians "adopt" this mantra and then tell everyone combining cheese and seafood is just "wrong". It's a regional Italian custom; however, as MMRuth points out, there are some parts of Italy that do serve seafood and cheese. It is certainly not a "sin", or else every other country that does this is wrong? I don't think so - For example, what about classic dishes like France's Lobster Thermidor and Coquilles St. Jacque, or Greece's traditional taverna dish of garides me feta (shrimp baked with tomatoes and feta). One can prefer not to combine seafood and cheese, or personally not like this combination, and it's a cultural Italian custom (BTW which I respect - I don't ask for cheese on a seafood dish at an Italian restaurant), but shouldn't be considered the definitive rule.

                                        2. First of all, I think more and more we are seeing cheese on everything. It's mostly a North American thing. Remember when fast food places would charge extra for the cheese on a burger? Now they just charge you for it automatically. If you don't want to pay for it, you have to ask them to leave it off.

                                          I don't like cheese on top of most things, and certainly not seafood. Dairy is a much broader question, of course. It is not usually my preference.

                                          I'm sure you could always find the odd European recipe for that combo, but it would be the exception.

                                          1. My initial thought was, tuna melt. I love those things. I thought about it, and came up with several more examples...the only bad one I thought of was this krab and cheese casserole they serve at the Chinese buffet a few towns over. But it's made with krab...I don't think it was the cheese that ruined it.