Steamed clams are an easy appetizer, and they tie in perfectly to the movie Manchester by the Sea, set in Massachusetts. Image source: Flickr CC user suchi org
As a big movie buff, one of my favorite nights of the year is the Oscars. In fact, I usually spend a decent part of January and February catching up with all of the year’s best prestige films and picking out my favorites, so I can really enjoy the Academy Awards (isn’t it frustrating when you feel like you’ve seen hardly any of the nominated movies?). This year, it’s my turn to host an Oscar party, and I’m taking my love of the cinema a bit further--I’m creating a dinner menu of seafood dishes that thematically match the nominees.
Since, obviously, there will be different movies nominated for next year’s show, I don’t want my hard work on this menu going to waste. That’s why I’d like to take this opportunity to share a few of the recipes with you now.
With Manchester by the Sea, Pair Steamed Clams
No Oscar season is complete without a serious tear jerker, and this year’s was the beautiful film Manchester by the Sea, which is set in New England. With all the great seafood coming out of New England, there are lots of recipes you could choose to tie to the movie, but I’ve picked a steamed clam appetizer. New Englanders love their clams, and steamed is an easy way to highlight fresh shellfish.
Simple Steamed Clams
Start by washing the clams to get rid of any dirt or sand--farm-raised (be sure to choose sustainably farm-raised) clams have very little grit, making your job much easier. Then add the following to a large pot over medium heat:
Simmer the wine and garlic mixture until about half a cup of wine is left. Then add:
Steam the clams with the pot lid on until they start to open, then stir in:
After adding the butter, let the mixture cook until the majority of the clams have opened. Throw out any that haven’t opened and serve the rest (along with the juices) in large bowls. Sprinkle with a handful of chopped parsley.
Substitutions: Try adding more than just parsley at the end if you love herbs. In the last minute or two of cooking, stir in a handful of chopped chives and tarragon. You don’t have to use Sauvignon Blanc, either--Pinot Grigio works well, too, as does unoaked Chardonnay. And when it comes to drinking wine with the clams, I’d definitely go with Muscadet.
Pair Caribbean Seafood Paella with Moonlight
Moonlight was one of my favorite movies this year; it’s just a beautiful and subtle romantic film. It takes place mostly in Miami, Florida, which just so happens to be the home of some of the world’s best Caribbean cooking. With that in mind, I’ve put together a Caribbean seafood paella recipe. The great part about this one is that you can substitute all sorts of different shellfish and it will still be just as tasty.
Caribbean Seafood Paella
Start with a large stock pot over medium-high heat, then add the following ingredients:
Bring these to a boil, then add:
Once the mixture returns to a boil, cook for 1 to 2 minutes before reducing to medium-low heat and covering with a lid. Cook for 20 minutes, or until the rice is tender. Finally, stir in 1 pound of already-cooked extra large tiger shrimp and 1 tablespoon of lime juice and let stand for five minutes.
Substitutions: One of the best things about this recipe is the way it allows for customization. In addition to the shrimp, consider adding other types of pre-cooked shellfish, such as fresh Dungeness crab meat or steamed mussels.
Pair La La Land with Classic Californian Fish Tacos
Another one of my favorite films this year was La La Land, a musical that is just quintessential Hollywood. In fact, I don’t think a movie has captured the glitz and glamor of the film business--or the golden age of musicals--as well as this one did since 2011’s The Artist. So, what screams Los Angeles more than fish tacos? I certainly can’t think of anything.
Start by mixing the following ingredients in a large bowl:
Reserve about half of this mixture in another bowl for topping the tacos. Then toss the remainder of the sour cream mixture in with the following until you have a well-mixed slaw:
Next, take a large skillet and add the following:
Pan fry the mahi mahi strips until opaque all the way through, about 5 to 6 minutes. Finally, heat some tortillas and serve the fish in them, topped with the cabbage slaw, the reserved sour cream mixture, and sprigs of cilantro.
Substitutions: If you’re feeling particularly bold, how about trying swordfish instead of mahi mahi? Swordfish has a meatier texture and taste than the fish usually used in fish tacos, but your guests with adventurous palates are likely to appreciate the swap.
I’m pretty proud of these recipes, but these are just my choices. With the right fresh seafood provider, you can find plenty of seafood options to experiment with. Prepping for an Oscar party, however, can be a bit time consuming. That’s where DailyFreshFish.com comes in; they’ll deliver the best seafood--hand-cut, minimally handled, and fresher than the supermarket--right to your door. DailyFreshFish.com also uses only sustainable seafood, which is fitting for the Academy Awards, an event that often sees Hollywood stars using their acceptance speeches to spread awareness about preserving our environment.