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Mar 1, 2009 07:07 AM

March 2009/July 2012 COTM Fish Without a Doubt: Shellfish Appetizers & First Courses and Chowders, Soups, Stews

**March 2009 Cookbook of the Month** is Fish Without a Doubt by Rick Moonen and Roy Finamore.

Please post your full-length reviews of recipes for shellfish appetizers and first courses as well as chowders, soups, and stews here. Please mention the name of the recipe you are reviewing and the page number, if possible, as well as any modifications you made to the recipe.

A reminder that the verbatim copying of recipes to the boards is a violation of the copyright of the original author. Posts with copied recipes will be removed.

Thanks for participating!

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  1. Mussels with Black Bean Sauce (p. 287)

    When my husband heard what we were having for dinner he got this look on his face and said "that sounds weird." Well ... ha ha! He LOVED it. We all did. Very easy to put together, especially if you still have your fermented black beans from Dunlop month. I served it as a main instead of an appetizer since there were 2 and a half of us, and made his asian slaw on the side. Not very asian but I sliced up a baguette on the side for the sauce. This is the third seafood (as opposed to side dish, etc.) I've tried from this book, and every one of them has been a big hit.

    14 Replies
    1. re: LulusMom

      OOOhh! I'm so excited to try this! Sounds wonderful. I actually still do have the fermented beans from Dunlop, but have been a little afraid to use them. Do you think, even after a year, they are still good, or were you teasing?


      1. re: The Dairy Queen

        I used mine from last year! I'm under the impression they last a long, long time in the pantry.

      2. re: LulusMom

        could you summarize the ingredients for the mussels with black beans? I have the book at home so don't need the recipe, but was going to stop by the store on the way home. I *do* have the black beans. And yes I'm under the impression that they last essentially forever.

        1. re: DGresh

          I'll go get the book and post in a minute for you.


          1/4 cup veg. oil
          2 T minced ginger
          1 T minced garlic
          1/4 fermented black beans
          1 tsp sambal oelek
          2 lbs mussels
          1 T sherry vinegar
          1 T unsalted butter
          2 T fresh cilantro
          2 T chopped fresh basil
          Juice of 1/2 lime

          This sounds like it would be good even without the beans ....

          1. re: DGresh

            Just happen to have the book open right next to me [though I have not yet gotten to page 287]

            You will need vegetable oil, fresh ginger and garlic, the beans, chili paste (sambal oelek). Obviously, the 2 pounds of mussels, water, sherry vinegar, unsalted butter, cilantro and basil and finally, one lime. Is this close enough for your shopping trip?

            1. re: smtucker

              great --thanks. Only thing I don't have or can't easily get is sambal oelek. But my kids aren't all that crazy about spice anyway; maybe I'll just throw in some red chili flakes. All I need to buy is mussels and (maybe) the basil.

              1. re: DGresh

                made the mussels with black beans last night. Delicious and very easy. I even found the sambal oelek in my little market. Definately have all your little bowls of stuff ready to go before you start-- no time between adding items all.

          2. re: LulusMom

            Mussels with Black Bean Sauce, page 287.

            When I posted my clam dish I happened to see LulusMom's report on this dish. As we have lots of Penn Cove mussels here on the island, and since we brought a pound of fermented black beans with us (we go through then like mad), I thought I'd give this a go. I had to make a couple substitutions. I thought I had a lime, but didn't so used lemon. And I didn't have sherry vinegar so I mixed a combination of red wine, balsamic, and a bit of rice wine. Nothing like the sherry version, of course, but that's what I had.

            Oh my goodness! This was out of this world! We had it as a main dish with just a salad for the side. Neither of us could stop eating, and we went through almost 2 pounds of mussels! Our version was a bit spicier than the recipe. Mr. NS threw in an extra spoonful of sambal oelek, unaware that I had done the same thing. I would do it exactly the same way again. And I will do this again, without a doubt. And the bit of butter adds such a nice, rich feel to it. What a great combination of flavors!

            1. re: L.Nightshade

              Just a note here...
              I made this again for guests, so I doubled the recipe. It didn't work that with the doubling of all ingredients, including the water. I think it only takes X amount of water to get the mussels cooked and opened, no matter how many you are cooking. It took a while to get it reduced, and it never got to the delightful saucy level it reached the prior time. If I double it again, I won't double the water, maybe just increase it slightly.

              1. re: L.Nightshade

                Mussels with Black Bean Sauce, p. 287

                I made these tonight and am joining the chorus: delicious! Followed the recipe to the letter, and then we ate them w/baguette slices. With some pate as a started, this was dinner. I had planned a couple of side vegggies, but never got around to those.

                These reminded us so much of a clam w/black bean dish we've eaten in Chinatown for years since a friend introduced us to a place where this was a special(ty). (Probably not a very special place to those in the know, but we fell in love w/this particular dish.) Now I know I can re-create it at home. Smiles all around.

                I just love this book.

              2. re: LulusMom

                Will just add to everyone else's raves -- made these last night and they were lick-the-plate good. My first use of fermented black beans and now I'm eager to find other uses. I made the full recipe of sauce, but only half the mussels since I was just making it for me. Served with just a little jasmine rice to soak up the delicious sauce. Will definitely make this one again.

                1. re: LulusMom

                  Made this last night and enjoyed it very much. Am planning to make this for company next week. It was a touch on the over-salty side. Was wondering if anyone had a tip for preventing this... Can mussels be soaked prior to cooking?

                  1. re: Blythe spirit

                    The first thing that came to my mind was, did you rinse the black beans Very Well? They are very salty if not rinsed. Also, soak the mussels in fresh water for about 20 minutes. They will have less salt and sand inside their shells after 20 min.

                    1. re: Gio

                      Thanks Gio - I did rinse the black beans. So I was very perplexed by the extreme saltiness. I am going to soak the mussels as you suggested, and see if that helps. I have had similar issues with clams from my lical market.Was also looking at the Thai mussels as an alternative since everyone seems to love that recipe too.

                2. Potato Leek Stew with Shrimp and Hake (Cod) p. 307.

                  Another huge hit, especially on a cold, wet night. Aside from a LOT of chopping (an onion, two leeks, a cup of scallions and some watercress) this is a snap to put together. The creamy broth has a lot more depth than you'd think (usually I think a little wine is necessary in a cream sauce; there is none in this). We absolutely loved it. I used cod since no hake was available. I would say that his instruction to cook the fish and shrimp for 10 minutes seems excessive to me. I turned off the heat after about 6 or 7 minutes. My husband is not the world's biggest cod fan, but he said "you've done it again - proven that cod can be fantastic."

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: LulusMom

                    Hmm -maybe I'll make that tomorrow night instead of the classic mussels. And, of course, I just threw out my fermented black beans in a thorough fridge cleaning - sounds like maybe I didn't need to!

                    1. re: MMRuth

                      I'm also going to try the Thai style ones (I think they're on the page after the black bean sauce). Of course classic mussels are wonderful too.

                    2. re: LulusMom

                      Yeah, I made this with cod and key west shrimp, fantastic, even leftover the next day at lunch. I didn't add the shrimp until about three minutes before I turned off the heat, since I knew we'd have leftovers and didn't want to overcook them. (They were smaller than the 31-35 count called for in the recipe.) I also have to say that even without the full amount of cream--I only had 3 ounces left, made up the rest with lowfat milk even, wow, the flavor was all there. I didn't find watercress and didn't want to hunt for it, so just was sure to have plenty of scallions, and it was still very tasty and not boring at all without that little whang from the cress. We had with buttered baguette.

                    3. Classic Steamed Mussels, p. 284

                      I made the full amount as a main course for us last night. I liked the addition of mustard and mint, which I've not used before with mussels. I thought the dish was good, my husband enjoyed it as well, but I don't feel compelled to make this recipe again.

                      2 Replies
                        1. re: MMRuth

                          Classic Steamed Mussels (page 284)

                          I agree with you, MMRuth. I liked this well enough, but I wouldn’t make it again either. Unlike you, I didn’t care for the hint of mustard. Maybe I’m just not used to it. My go-to recipe is from “Jean Anderson Cooks” and I like her recipe better. It has lots of onions in addition to shallots, uses much more wine, and adds just a bit of butter, which makes the sauce a lot richer. The touch of mint was interesting, but nothing more.

                        2. Clams with chorizo, p283

                          He says to serve this with drinks, but I thought they'd make a nice starter, with a few tweaks. So I used half a kilo of palourdes clams (not sure if they're the same as little necks), and a couple of chorizo sausages.

                          You skin the sausages and slice them, and then fry them in a little olive oil for a minute or two until starting to brown. Then add four cloves of chopped garlic, thyme, the clams and a third of a cup of dry sherry (I used fino). Cover and cook until the clams open (less then five minutes for me - he says it can take up to 10).

                          We all thought this was delicious, and it was very easy to put together at the last minute. You need plenty of bread to soak up the juices. I don't really see how you can serve this with drinks, to be honest. It would be pretty messy, and you definitely need plates, napkins and a table to sit around.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: greedygirl

                            "I don't really see how you can serve this with drinks,"

                            Very sloppily. See the last paragraph.


                            1. re: greedygirl

                              Made this for a solo dinner the other night, without any modifications. I completely agree with GG and Joan that it is delicious and dead easy and fast -- amazing how so few ingredients produced such deliciousness in so little time. And I made sure to have a baguette on hand with which to wipe out every drop of the juices. I was one very happy eater.

                              1. re: greedygirl

                                Clams with chorizo

                                Wow, we loved this. I doubled the recipe (using TJs soy chorizo) and we still all wanted more. Aside from it being a bit on the salty side (probably from the soy chorizo) this was absolutely heavenly. Sopped up with lots of baguette and with a caprese salad on the side (which did a great job of clearing the salt-problem). Lulu said "Can we have this again next week?" LulusDad said "Is this the Fish without a doubt guy again? He sure knows what he's doing." As others have said, this is very easy to put together, and is fabulous.

                                1. re: LulusMom

                                  Made the Clams with Chorizo (again the TJ soy version) again last night and again it was wonderful and very easy. Lots of bread used to soak up that incredible juice. When I opened the book I found a very sweet card from another COTMer - pleasant surprise!

                              2. Scallop Cioppino (page 319)

                                Another multi-part recipe that can be done in stages. I made half the recipe, and made the cioppino base and the Cilantro Aïoli a day before I put the dish together.

                                To make the base you sauté onions in olive oil and add, sequentially and allowing each to cook for a minute or two, garlic, bell peppers, oregano, minced jalapeño, tomato paste, wine, clam juice, canned diced tomatoes, and lots of white pepper. Simmer for half an hour, let cool, and refrigerate overnight if you wish or just continue on with the recipe.

                                The Cilantro Aïoli (page 419) (which I made with basil because I forgot to buy cilantro and wasn’t going out for it) is non-traditional. You process cilantro, shallots, garlic, lime juice, egg yolk, and store-bought mayo. It was wonderfully herby, and with low-fat mayo a good deal less caloric than traditional aïoli, but were I to make it again (it was a nice element, but hardly necessary to the enjoyment of the dish) I’d use a standard recipe and just add the herbs.

                                The next day I brought the cioppino base to a simmer, added chopped basil, parsley and bay scallops (the recipe calls for sea scallops, but for some reason I can’t fathom the wild bay scallops were two dollars a pound less at Fairway than the wild sea scallops) and simmered it for four or five minutes until the scallops were barely cooked. To serve, you ladle the cioppino over inch-thick slices of baguette that have been sautéed in olive oil until golden, then dried in a 200F oven for 15 to 20 minutes.

                                It’s a thick stew, not soupy at all, so very substantial. It’s a tad sweeter than I expected, perhaps because I used a sweet onion. Next time I’ll use regular yellow onions instead, and perhaps cut back a bit on the tomato paste. Not sure where else, other than the scallops themselves, the sweet element would have come from. This was yet another delicious winner from this book. And with the cioppino base made ahead of time, can be put together practically in a wink.

                                10 Replies
                                1. re: JoanN

                                  That looks very very good. Another one I would otherwise probably have passed right by.

                                  1. re: JoanN

                                    Scallop Cioppino - thank you JoanN. I would so much have passed this recipe by without a second glance. My husband was flying in from overseas this evening, and I wanted to have something tasty for him that wasn't too heavy. I made the base for this two days ago, then just added the scallops and made the croutons when he walked in the door. It was fantastic. As I told him I had dinner ready for him, he sort of wiggled around in an embarrassed way and said "I'm not really that hungry." Ahem. Two servings of cioppino later ...

                                    I made the cilantro aioli and we loved it. Lulu was scooping it up with her spoon without anything else. I did leave out the egg yolk, just because I was serving to a 2 year old and didn't want to chance raw egg.

                                    1. re: LulusMom

                                      Glad you all liked it. Yours looks soupier than mine, and I think I would have preferred that. I wonder if it's because you cut the vegetables chunkier. I'll have to try that next time.

                                      1. re: JoanN

                                        I used one less pepper and was maybe a little freer with the wine - that may have something to do with it too. We really loved it.

                                      2. re: LulusMom

                                        Need to tell this follow up: Lulu liked the cilantro aioli so much that she asked for some yesterday and today with her lunch. So today I put some out on her lunch plate, along with some leftover fried calamari (sort of made sense). She used it on that, and then on ... her grapes. Every single one of them. No matter how wrong this seemed, I simply couldn't stop her. She was loving it.

                                        1. re: LulusMom

                                          Wonderful story. You've got quite a Chowpup there. How old is she now?

                                          1. re: JoanN

                                            She'll be 3 next month. It took me until I was about 30 to be able to love cilantro.

                                            1. re: LulusMom

                                              LLM - I love hearing about your daughter. See how children's taste habits can be programmed.... When I hear of adults who don't like this or that, I wonder what they were exposed to as children. And believe me, I have several friends who have to inspect every bit of food served to them before they will even consider eating it. What a shame..... and how fortunate are we to have children who will at least *try*.....

                                              1. re: Gio

                                                Thanks Gio - I don't push food on her, but I also don't offer alternatives if she doesn't like something. And I'm with you - it saddens me when I meet people who are so nervous about what they eat.

                                          2. re: LulusMom

                                            I've been reading through the reports of FWAD/2009 to see what I missed the first time around. When I read about Lulu putting the cilantro aioli on her grapes I laughed out loud, having forgotten that story. I can't believe she was just two years old then. Now I'll have to make the cioppino with aioli just because. I'll leave out the raw yolk as you did too... just because.