Salami of the Sea: Rediscovering Seafood Charcuterie

From top, Scallop and lobster sausage, sale di cervia; hot-smoked Quebec herring, preserved in oil; saffron-brined and hot-smoked east coast scallop; dry-cured and cold smoked rainbow trout; hot-smoked eel and octopus salami, preserved lemon, chili and parsley.

One taste of chef Rob Gentile’s tuna ’nduja, a soft and spicy, spreadable salami made from the tuna’s bloodline – that dark strip of blood-rich muscle that runs down the centre of the fillet – and you might just conclude we’ve been wasting the best part of the fish all these years. “We were told to throw the whole bloodline in the garbage,” Gentile says of learning to clean tuna as a young chef. “When I went to Italy and ate it for the first time I was beside myself because I couldn’t understand why anyone thought it was garbage.”

It’s a story familiar to anyone who has ever overpaid for lobster in a restaurant: What was once considered inedible or lowly has risen to the level of delicacy. The nose-to-tail movement that seeks to utilize every part of an animal inside and out has made the natural transition to seafood – call it nares-to-fin, if you like. Making this movement especially appealing is the simultaneous rediscovery of salumi di mare, or seafood charcuterie, that goes beyond traditional methods of preserving fish (smoking, salting, drying) to create new delicacies that are bringing unexpected flavours to familiar fish and introducing diners to some things that may have been discarded in the past.

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Buca Yorkville, Gentile’s lauded new seafood-focused restaurant in the upscale Toronto neighbourhood, is ground zero for this style of cooking. In addition to his tuna and swordfish ’nduja, he’s salting and curing lobster roe and sea-urchin gonads to create a sticky, intense bottarga that can be grated over dishes for a hit of intense umami. He slow-cooks octopus and preserves its liquid to mix with preserved lemon and chili to make a gorgeous, marbled salami. Smoked sturgeon bones become rich stocks, and marrow from the fish’s spinal column is stuffed in tortellini.

One of Gentile’s favourite ingredients is roe sacks from heavily smoked herring, something people have been throwing in the garbage since the late 19th century. He was introduced to this particular treat by Alex Cruz of the culinary collective Société-Orignal, which seeks to revive and rediscover rural Canadian food traditions and products.

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“We started working with this place called Fumoir d’Antan in Îles de la Madeleine,” Cruz explains. “It’s a classic old smokehouse of the kind that used to be part of a major industry around here throughout the 20th century.” Early Scottish, Basque and French settlers developed a very specific way of smoking the herring for as long as three months over maple. “Consequently,” Cruz says, “you have all these female herring that have the eggs in them and the eggs cured naturally inside the mothers. It’s amazing that they used to just throw them away.”

Gentile uses them in a variation on pasta carbonara with the smoked herring roe replacing the cured pork jowl that traditionally punctuates the dish, giving it a complex, fishy smokiness with a rich, almost livery component. It completely refutes the idea that fish should never be served with cheese.

Out on the East Coast, at Mallard Cottage in Quidi Vidi Village just outside St. John’s, another traditional Italian charcuterie-inspired chef Todd Perrin’s seal-loin bresaola, a take on the classic air-dried, salted beef. “We wanted to come up with some different ways to use seal and preserve it in other ways besides freezing it,” Perrin says. “If you look at a seal loin it kind of has that deep ruby colour of good bresaola. It’s got an oiliness and a fattiness to it that allows it to dry out, but still maintains that kind of silky texture.”

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After seasoning and drying the loins for up to three months, Perrin will either serve it thinly sliced on a charcuterie plate with a little Parmesan, sea salt and oil in the traditional manner or grate it as a garnish over pasta. “It has a flavour of the sea,” he says, “and it has a saltiness to it with a bit of richness, kind of a beefy sea flavour that’s just really interesting.”

Applying ancient techniques from one branch of cooking to a whole new set of ingredients is resulting in some of the most exciting things happening in cooking right now. Nonetheless, Gentile says, “We’re not doing things because we want to be cool about how much we can manipulate food.” His motivation is simply to have people taste something they never realized they could eat, or be surprised by something they maybe thought would be challenging. “Ultimately,” he says, “I want people to leave feeling like they’ve made a new discovery.”

Source: The Globe and Mail

Barbecued Large Shrimp


20 large raw shrimp, about 2 lbs
1 stalk lemongrass, white part only, finely chopped
1 tsp finely grated ginger
1 small red chili, chopped
1 cilantro root, washed
3 oz butter


5 oz vermicelli noodles
1/4 cup shredded mint leaves
3/4 cup halved Thai basil or basil leaves
3/4 cup cilantro leaves
1/2 red onion, finely sliced
4 tbsp lime juice
4 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp brown sugar


  1. To make the noodle salad, place the noodles in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Set aside for 4 minutes or until soft. Drain and rinse with cold water.
  2. Toss the noodles with the mint, basil, cilantro, onion, lime juice, fish sauce and sugar. Refrigerate until required.
  3. Remove the shrimp heads and cut each shrimp between the legs to butterfly flat. Remove the black intestinal tract.
  4. Place the lemongrass, ginger, chili and cilantro in a small food processor and process until finely chopped.
  5. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the lemongrass mixture and stir to combine.
  6. Brush the shrimp flesh with the butter mixture and cook flesh-side down on a preheated barbecue for 2-3 minutes. Turn the shrimp and cook for 1 minute or until opaque.
  7. To serve, place the noodle salad on serving plates and top with the shrimp. Serve with lime wedges.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: Donna Hay

Shellfish and Dishes

Japanese Scallop (ホタテガイ)


Grilled with Miso

Steamed with Sake

Grilled with Butter

Seared with Chili Sauce


Fried Foods Tied to Raised Heart Failure Risk

Eaten regularly, they might boost chances as much as 68 percent, study finds.

The more fried food you eat, the greater your risk for heart failure, a new study says.

“This study suggests that it might be wise to reduce the frequency and quantity of fried foods consumed weekly in order to prevent heart failure and other chronic conditions,” said lead researcher Dr. Luc Djousse, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston.

Heart failure means the heart isn’t pumping blood throughout the body as well as it should. Symptoms include fatigue and shortness of breath, and it’s one of the most common reasons for hospital admissions among people aged 65 and older, according to the American Heart Association.

In this study, men who ate fried food one to three times a week had an average 18 percent increased risk of developing heart failure, researchers found. When fried food was eaten four to six times a week, heart failure risk was 25 percent higher, and at seven times or more weekly, 68 percent greater.

So, ditch the French fries, doughnuts, crispy fried fish and chicken, and other foods cooked in fat, heart experts suggest.

A healthy diet is high in fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains, but low in saturated fat, red meat, salt and fried foods, Djousse said.

The association between fried food consumption and heart failure risk seen in the study does not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

However, Samantha Heller, a senior clinical nutritionist at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City, pointed out that greasier foods increase calorie consumption, which can lead to obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and heart disease.

“In addition, people who eat a lot of fried foods may also consume a generally less healthy diet, consisting of more red and processed meats and fewer vegetables, beans and fruits,” she said.

“The bottom line is, eating fried foods once in a while is fine but not on a daily or even a weekly basis,” Heller added.

For the study, researchers collected data on more than 15,300 male doctors who took part in the Physicians’ Health Study. The men — average age 66 at the start of the study — completed food frequency questionnaires over a three-year period. During an average follow-up of about a decade, 632 developed heart failure.

Dr. Gregg Fonarow, a professor of cardiology at the University of California, Los Angeles, said the findings support previous research linking fried foods to type 2 diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure — risk factors for heart failure.

“This and prior studies suggest that lifestyle choices can influence the risk of subsequently developing heart failure,” he said.

“Heart failure is common, costly, and deadly,” he added.

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

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