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Archive for the ‘Seafood’ Category

Panamei Seafood Review – in Grocery Stores Nationwide

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Panamei Seafood ReviewPanamei is one of the brands available from Quirch Foods, an importer, exporter, distributor of quality products to groceries and industrial accounts.

They trace their roots back to the early 20th century in Cuba, then after 59, immigrated to Puerto Rico, set up there, and finally to establish a base in the Miami area, where they are today.

The work the entire gamut of food – beef, pork, poultry and seafood – fresh and frozen.

I was attracted to their frozen seafood because of specials one of my local grocers was running, several weeks in a row.  I hadn’t noticed the product line in the past.

First item up was one pound frozen blocks of lobster meat.  Their lobster comes from Central America. The package ingredients say: lobster. Period. You should slow defrost it in the frig for 24-36 hours. It is raw. I chose to steam it, then gave the meat a quick char under the broiler.  Mind you, this isn’t one or two small tails, this is loose meat, from tails and claws.  Good for sandwiches, salads, bisque, bouillabaise, and casseroles.

The reason I broke the speed limit to get to the store the day I noticed the product in the circular, is because it was marked at $7.  A pound. Lobster meat.

And it was delicious.  Yes, there are a few packs in the freezer.  This time around it evolved into tasty lobster rolls, split buttered, toasted bun, slight memo and finely diced celery bits in the salad.

Following week it was shrimp.  Good size (13-15), great value at $6 a pound.  Sourced from Southeast Asia, package ingredients, shrimp, salt, water.  The flesh was very flavorful and firm.  It was great on skewers on the grill. I’m damned picky about my shrimp, having lived in New Orleans for years. This meets the grade. Yes, I stocked up on this, also.

Check the products out if you run across them. Don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Panamei Seafood Review

 

 

Store locator.

Panamei Seafood Review

Panamei Seafood Review

 

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Boston Fish Market Review – Des Plaines, IL

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Boston Fish Market ReviewA Greek fisherman, the proprietor eventually made his way to the US, working in Greek restaurants, rising to head chef, but all the while aspiring to open his own fish market.

Eventually, it happened, and Boston Fish Market  grew and grew until it became the Midwest’s largest processor of salmon and whitefish, running through 300,000 pounds a week for their wholesale customers.

As a “market” open to the public, they have fish and seafood from around the world which they will happily sell you, provide you with cooking instructions and helpful hints for accompaniments and serving suggestions.  Even exotics.

BUT…..they are also a restaurant, serving just about anything you can think of that swims. Here’s the full menu.

Walk in the front door, and you’ll see the display case of fish and seafood for sale in front of you.  At the left end of the counter sits the cashier, order taker.  He’ll hand you a menu, you’ll make your selection (including drinks), and pay. He’ll provide you with a number table topper so the servers can deliver right to your table.

I had recently been on a tour of the Southeast which had left my affection for grouper unrequited. I kept running into restaurants who had run out. No such problem here in Des Plaines (the birthplace of Ray Kroc’s McDonalds empire, as well).

I had  a delightful plate of crispy, lightly fried grouper, on a toasted French roll, with fries and slaw.  My tablemate went for grilled salmon. Both selections were superb. They have their own secret tartar sauce recipe, it has a little kick and is really nice.

A peek at a custom feast!

 

Boston Fish is five miles north of O’Hare airport, just off Mannheim Road, the main surface street outside of the airport.  It’s 20 miles from Chicago’s loop. Market and restaurant are open Monday through Saturday, 1030A-8P.  Servings portions are AMPLE!

They are opening a second suburban location in the near future.  Go. Eat. Or take home and cook. Superb.

Boston Fish Market Review

Fried grouper sandwich

 

Boston Fish Market Review

Grilled wild caught salmon

Boston Fish Market Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Boston Fish Market Review

Boston Fish Market Review

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The Sand Bar Review – Twin Lakes, WI

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Sand Bar ReviewStop me if you’ve heard this.  So a few weeks ago I was on one of my food tours, back down to the Southeastern U.S., Carolinas, Georgia, Florida, and one thing I was looking forward to was a lot of seafood and fish, of course.

One particular item I was hot for was grouper fish, a quite common offering in Florida, I ate it a lot living there, and it’s also popular in Southeast Asia, so I had my share living there, as well.

So after having my fill at all you can eat catfish buffets, I started a search for grouper. Two places had it on the menu, both were “sorry, we’re out.”  Pretty much gave up after that.

So I spot it on the menu at this boater’s bar on the Illinois/Wisconsin border (literally). WTH?  They bill themselves as a “Tropical Oasis in the Least Likely of Places.”  Apparently the owner spent quite a bit of time on FLA’s west coast, and wanted to transfer a bit of the culture and cuisine to Illinois. I mean Wisconsin.

It’s cutely decorated on a marine theme, with nets and decorative fish and crustaceans, as well as theme “signage,” and a list of exotic sounding tropical drinks.

But I came for the grouper, fingers crossed, please don’t be “out.”  They weren’t.  And chef delivered.

Perfectly grilled, a dusting of blackened The Sand Bar Reviewseasoning (not actually “blackened” as the menu states, and that’s just fine, it’s a delicate fish. It’s plated as a sandwich on a toasted bun (firm enough to cradle the contents, pretzel bun available as upgrade), with a lemon zest mayo, which is an interesting addition.

Lettuce, tomato and red onion slivers.  Fries or slaw are standard accompaniments. I upgraded to get rings.

Rings have medium thickness of breading with a beer based batter. Done correctly.  Nice crisp.  Nice sized onion.

Lots more interesting things on the menu, worth a return visit.  I’m sure curious where they source the grouper around here.

Sandwich is a little spendy at $15.95 plus $1.98 upcharge for the rings, but this place is probably jammed jammed jammed in season and they have a captive audience.  If they can do, they should.  Oh, full bar including large selection of “tropical” cocktails.

Modest amount of indoor seating, outdoor patio for more temperate weather.  Server Cate did a fine job, checking in as necessary, but not too often.

Co-located facility has water toy rentals available by hour or day.  Boat launching facilities and dock.  Saw a sign for live bait, as well.

Finally, a note to women. I am told that the women’s facility is small and narrow.  To the point that the only place to put one’s purse is in the sink basin. Unfortunately, it’s an auto-on sink.  So if you don’t want a complimentary purse wash, have a different solution.  Might be good if a couple hooks were placed somewhere on a wall?  That’s all.

Highly recommended.  Menu is online and also below.

 

 

The Sand Bar Review

Grilled Grouper with Rings

The Sand Bar Review

Sand Bar Food Menu – Click to enlarge

Sandbar Bar & Grille Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sand Bar & Island Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
The Sand Bar Review

The Sand Bar Review

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New Orleans Seafood and Hamburger Co Review – Multiple Locations New Orleans, LA

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New Orleans Seafood and Hamburger Co ReviewI’ve been coming to this place for almost 20 years. It used to be for the hamburgers, and it was the hamburger because the location I used to frequent had a very large “fixin’s bar,” which was quite nice.

That feature seems to have vanished.  Now I come for the thin sliced fried catfish, cause I think this is the only place in the city you can get it, unless you’re in the mood for a Sunday drive and want to go about 40 miles north to Middendorfs, an old timey place which is really great as well.

What they mean by “thin-sliced” is the filet is sliced length-wise, resulting in a paper thin piece of fish.  It’s then flash fried in their unique breading, resulting in an extra crispy filet.

New Orleans Seafood and Hamburger’s menu has all the usual suspects of local dishes. Fried and grilled seafood, oysters, gumbo, and throw in the burgers for good measure.

They have great fries, extruded potato fry shape drenched in garlic butter and sprinkled with herbs. They’re kind of addictive.

This time around, I had the thin filet cat poboy, it was good, good bread, fully dressed, too large to eat at a sitting.  (If you’re a first time visitor to the city, servers will ask if you want your sandwiches “dressed” which means lettuce, tomato and mayo. Most people say yes.

This location (uptown, on the St Charles streetcar line) has a couple large rooms, so it’d be ok to bring your family thing or a tour bus here, I imagine. Full bar and a number of draft beers, and the sign said video slots, but I didn’t see them.

I think I’ll revisit the burger next time.  Good grub. Good value. Sparkling clean facility. Efficent service.

A bunch of locations in the New Orleans metropolitan area.

Full menu. (also below).   Kid choices, too.

 

New Orleans Seafood and Hamburger Co Review

Fried Catfish Poboy

 

New Orleans Seafood and Hamburger Co Review

Click to Enlarge

New Orleans Hamburger & Seafood Company Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
New Orleans Seafood and Hamburger Co Review

New Orleans Seafood and Hamburger Co Review

 

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Crab Shack Review – Tybee Island, Savannah, GA

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Crab Shack ReviewTybee Island is the easternmost point of the U.S. state of Georgia, and is one of the barrier islands off the east coast of the U.S.

The Crab Shack therefore is the easternmost restaurant in the state of Georgia, 18 miles from downtown Savannah, and worth the drive.

Built from the ground up by an enterprising returnee couple, from the remnants of a local marina and bait shop, the restaurant, bar, and gift shop features a menu that offers  fresh seafood, local and otherwise, as well as Georgia style barbecue.

This unique attraction is the perfect place to sit in the sun (or not) and have a great meal, mosey your way through an afternoon of tropical cocktails, or  ……. wait for it. ………….. show the kids the pond with SEVENTY EIGHT (yes, 78, count them!) live baby alligators!  No,  I’m not kidding!

I went for the “low country boil” – something you’ll see on a lot of area menus, which is concocted via  a massive pot of boiling seasoned water, into which is dumped sausage, corn cobbettes, smoked sausage and shrimp. A lot of peel and eat shrimp.  It’s a very generous serving, dumped out onto your plate and serve with condiments of your choice.

(BTW, if your kids get antsy waiting for the food – there’s a giant bin of saltines at each table, but the food comes quickly).

I dug the boil plate big time. Pretty much like a New Orleans crawfish boil, except substituting shrimp, of course.

Also on tap, local favorite Brunswick stew, a flavorful tomato based thick broth with pulled chicken, sausage, pork and vegetables. Simply marvelous.  Brunswick, Georgia, claims to have originated the dish in 1898. Earlier versions were made with rabbit and/or squirrel.  No such luck these days!  here’s a traditional recipe if you want to try it at home.

If you’re visiting Savannah, don’t confine yourself to the tourist areas downtown and along the river. Get out of town, feed the gators, then feed yourself at the Crab Shack.  Highly recommended.

Can’t get there?   They’ll ship you their seafood, stew, ‘cue and condiments.  No kidding!  Brochure below, or order here.  Ask your server about the local atomic bomb!

Crab Shack Review

Low Country Boil

 

Crab Shack Review

Baby gators! They’re alive!

Crab Shack Review

Have Crab Shack Food Shipped

The Crab Shack Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Crab Shack Review

Crab Shack Review

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Fiorellas Cafe Review – New Orleans, LA

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Fiorellas Cafe ReviewOnce upon a time there was a good and decent family that owned and operated a local favorite restaurant near the French Market for many, many years, until finally the time came for them to take it easy and they sold the establishment.

But like many people who create something with passion for a living, after a period, they missed it and made a family decision to start all over again, and opened Fiorella’s Cafe in the Gentilly neighborhood of the city.

As the old establishment was known for its exemplary take on fried chicken, so is the new eatery, winning the New Orleans Fried Chicken Festival two years in a row.

The simple neighborhood cafe serves all of Southern Louisiana’s favorites:  fried seafood, po boys, Italian specialties, along with daily specials.

All dishes are very fairly priced for the neighborhood, not to extract as many tourist dollars as possible.

The food is exemplary. This is possibly the best fried shrimp I’ve ever had anywhere, crispy fry batter, flavorful Gulf shrimp. The muffaletta is a good one, too many “legendary” places make them in advance, and refrigerate them, and they lose their luster, IMHO.  This sandwich moves into being one of my top two in the city.

The chicken lives up to its rep. Nice crust, perfectly fried, juicy on the inside, not greasy.  Fresh cut fries, done and seasoned perfectly.

Really, I finished this meal and I wanted to tell Chef that his/her food was art.  It exemplifies one of the passions of New Orleans, simple fare, prepared well, with love as one of the ingredients.  It’s easy to identify places like this – all the employees are smiling all the time.

I wish the family all the success in the world.  They deserve it.

Menu is here and below.

Fiorellas Cafe Review

Half muffaletta. Perfect.

Fiorellas Cafe Review

Fried shrimp basket with fresh cut fries

Fiorellas Cafe Review

Click to Enlarge

Fiorellas Cafe Review
Fiorella's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Fiorellas Cafe Review

Fiorellas Cafe Review

 

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Roadside Seafood Review – Charleston, SC

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Roadside Seafood Review Once upon a time, before the magic ribbon of concrete (interstates) criss-crossed America, the main highways were chock-a-block full of small businesses drivers would stop at for rest, relaxation, and refueling. In this part of the world, often the eateries were referred to as “clam shacks,” selling fresh, local seafood, prepared in a number of regional cooking methods.

Those days are gone, but one can occasionally stumble on a restaurant that is trying to recreate that ambiance, cuisine, and “Roadside Seafood” in Charleston is one such place.  They started as a food truck less than five years ago, and immediate, overwhelming success enabled them to quickly go into a brick and mortar location.

Like their predecessors, they sell fresh, local (and some not) seafood (menu), prepared as sandwiches, tacos, or baskets, your choice (for most items) fried or grilled. It’s always busy, you order at the counter, and they’ll bring your grub when it’s ready – it doesn’t take long.

I was specifically in the hunt for grouper, very common in Florida, not so common elsewhere, but alas, they were out the day I was in.  I substituted flounder (fried), and was not disappointed.  Flounders live on the bottom of the ocean, occasionally venturing into estuaries, living off small fish and crustaceans.  They grow to 25″ so they pack a good side filet.

Also tapped into the catfish, and an order of rings.  In every case, the fry coating had a very pleasant bit of seasoning to it (Old Bay?) and each dish was fried to perfection.

This place is a bit of a drive from the tourist enclave in downtown Charleston, but the quality of the food and the value for the price are well worth the trip. Oh, and ‘baskets’ come in large and small.  I couldn’t finish the smaller basket at a sitting, just sayin’.  (Yes, their truck still travels the road, and also does private events, schedules posted on their site).

Roadside Seafood Review

Flounder and rings

 

Roadside Seafood Review

Catfish and fries

 

Roadside Seafood Restaurant & Food Truck Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Roadside Seafood Review
Roadside Seafood Review

@roadsideseafood

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Chesters Chicken Review

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Chesters Chicken ReviewChesters Chicken was originally  a licensed chicken concept that started in 1952 and has now evolved into a full franchise model offering. Located across the US and on two other continents, Chesters offers a “store in store” concept.

That is, you will find Chester’s Chicken counters in gas stations, c stores, food courts, and the like.

I see a lot of them in gas stations on the interstates.  They are usually well represented in the typical blue information signs on the highway, so you can be aware that there is one ahead.

I’ve never seen a free standing store, not sure if they do that.

They offered fried chicken in different styles: bone in, tenders, wings, boneless wings, sandwiches, wraps, with a whole host of sides including potatoes, vegetables and biscuits.

It seems the menu can vary slightly, so it would appear that headquarters doesn’t have a problem with that. I see some locations offering breakfast sandwiches, some locations have fried fish, usually catfish nuggets, but I have seen swai as well (which is a type of very mild Asian catfish). (Partial menu appears below).

The food is presented in well lit, clean counters, and as an ala carte, single piece, meal or snack size.  It’s all delicious, really, it’s a crispy mildly seasoned breading and I’ve never had a piece of chicken (or fish) that wasn’t cooked perfectly.

They haven’t penetrated the Upper Midwest, where I live, very well.  Hopefully that will change.

I drove around the south a few years ago and tried all manner of tenders from different joints. You can read about that here. Another similar concept is Dodge’s Chicken (not size comparable tho), and Krispy Krunchy, headquartered out of Louisiana is another comer.  Some cities have their own localized versions, catering to more regional tastes.  In New Orleans, look for “Brothers.”

Want your very own Chester’s? (I sure would). They have a real interesting, low fee/no royalty model.  Read about franchising on their website.

Chesters Chicken Review

Tenders and bone-in

Chesters Chicken Review

Choose your goodies

Chesters Chicken Review

Click to enlarge menu

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Arkansas Menu Labeling for Catfish

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Appropo to my article the other day about mislabeled fish in restaurants, the state of Arkansas wants to do something about it.

There’s a move to be able to label specific origins of catfish on restaurant menus statewide, drilling down as far as “farmed,” “wild” “wild-river” “wild lake” and so on.

Not sure how many diners care about this, but it’s a step towards cleaning up the much bigger problem of you not getting what you think you ordered, which is a huge problem in the seafood biz.

Arkansas Times article

Menu labeling catfish

 

 

Arkansas Catfish identification

Arkansas Catfish identification

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All About Swai

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All About Swai

All About SwaiI like fish. It’s a genetic thing.

My dad was crazy about fish and seafood. So much so, that when he came to visit me in Hong Kong, we pretty much had fish/seafood three meals a day because of the preponderance of fresh product there.  When I was growing up, we routinely had fish at least once a wek, but it was some frozen preparation, tho my dad might cook fresh fish for himself on occasion.

There are so many more types of fish available in the market today than there were in my salad days. OK, I never had “salad days.” But I’ve come to discover that fish isn’t always precisely what it’s labeled in the grocery counter.

How did this happen?  Back in the 1960s, when cotton and other cash crops began losing their footing in the deep south, farmers were looking for an alternate source of income and aquafarming began to take root, particularly for catfish, which was gaining popularity on US dinner tables. Raising All About Swaicatfish domestically provided for an easy to raise, cheap cash crop.

Not wanting to miss out on this growing market, other countries, and particularly Vietnam also started raising catfish and exporting it to the U.S.

American catfish farmers didn’t cotton to this (see what I did there?) because the Vietnamese were undercutting American wholesalers prices in an attempt to get a foothold in the market.  Seeing this and feeling the wrath of his constituents, Uncle Sam raised a bony finger, pointed at the Vietnamese and said “knock it off. Go open nail salons or something.”

Eventually they got the message and imports of Vietnamese catfish dwindled. Or did they? Turns out those crafty folks merely changed the name of the Asian cats. To Swai. And/or Basa.  The Asian cats are milder than the US farm raised, and lend themselves to easily being manipulated with different flavorings and cooking methods.

The Swai comes from the Mekong River, which starts in the Tibetan plains and meanders 2,703 miles  through China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. It’s one of the world’s most diverse and productive fisheries, producing 4,500,000 tons of fish/seafood per year!

So now you know.  Anyway, I was thinking about this over the weekend as I was screwing around with different types of breading for frying fish. Got out the mini-Cuisineart and pulverized pretzels, cheetos, cheese popcorn, saltines, matzo and the like.

All About SwaiIn any case, I was disappointed in my experiments, except I thought the pretzel one had potential, tho most people would find it too salty. I suppose I could find unsalted pretzels somewhere.

In the end, I used my old standby,  2/3 cornmeal, 1/3 flour, and am doses of Tony Chachere’s Cajun seasoning and paprika. For me, that combination works just fine.

Swai and Basa come in multi-pound packages of individually wrapped frozen boneless filets. Generally about $3 a pound. What other healthy protein can you buy at that price?

Oh, before I go, one more thing. There’s no such animal as “Chilean Sea Bass.”  It’s a marketing term designed to sound nice on menus.  Cooked up by a fish wholesaler in 1977. The actual  fish itself? It’s a Patagonian Toothfish.  Doesn’t that sound yummy?

All About Swai

Seasoned cornmeal coated fillets, 375 oil, 3 minutes per side

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