I don't shop in Whole Foods as often as I'd like, so when I go I'm a little like a sugar-jacked kid who's missed a Ritalin dose - in a good way.
"Kid in a candy store" and "smoked fish" are the two phrases that come to mind as regards my most recent WF adventure. I'm not talking about lox or whitefish. Smoked scallops, candy-smoked salmon, and smoked sea bass found their wrapped-to-order way into my shopping cart. Tart dried cherries, dried mango, peppery arugula, and smoked aged cheddar also booked passage chez moi, along with a whole slew of other treats that will need to wait their turn to see the light of blog.
The great thing about house-smoked products is the ease with which you can purchase the exact quantity you want. I bought a paltry four scallops because I had no idea if I'd like them in reality as much as l liked them in concept.
It turns out that smoked scallops, in addition to having a smoky flavor also taste of the sea in a gentle scallop-like way. They're dense and firm, and have a pleasant chewy consistency like good bread crust. I made two appetizers with the scallops. First I made a sort of Napoleon, layering a sliced scallop with smoked cheddar and tart dried cherries. I then made a Dried Mango Mini Taco - folding the organic dried mango around some chopped arugula, more dried cherries, and chopped smoked scallop. The tartness in the cherries worked like lemon juice, and the cherry flavor combined with the smoke to bring focus to the scallops' dusky sweetness.
Candy Smoking is to Salmon what Honey Glazing is to ham; it turns meat into dessert. Crumble some candy-smoked salmon over a bed of tart, shaved-thin Granny Smith apples and you have a great appetizer. These two ingredients are a dynamic duo.
The sea bass was gently smoked and so tender that it melted in my mouth. The smoke-darkened edges had a bit of texture, just enough to contrast favorably with the overall creaminess. Tart apples would have overpowered the sea bass, so I used ripe pears, arugula, and a little freshly ground black pepper. This less than five-minute recipe is a brilliant first course.
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Smoked seafood from Whole Foods isn't exactly cheap, but the recipes above served two to four persons for under $10 per recipe; which is reasonable when compared to restaurant prices.
If wishes were fishes they might very well be smoked.
Andy Broder is the chef/owner of AndyFood, A Culinary Studio.