Arroz con mariscos is a sort of Peruvian paella, easy to make and easy to love. Image source:Flickr CC user Ron Dollete
I’ve been to a few retirement parties lately, and, no matter how you slice it, they tend to be focused on the past--on all the things the retiree did during his time at the company. I’m proposing a different type of party; one that focuses on the future instead. If you ask most people what they want to do when they retire, they will tell you that they want to travel. They have spent the last 30 years with the same routine, and now they have a chance to explore some exotic new places. Thinking about those places they’ve always wanted to go is a great place to start when you’re planning a retirement party menu.
The list of places I’d like to go when I retire is St. Petersburg, Lima, Barcelona, and all of Australia, though I’m not due for retirement for a while. With these places in mind, here’s an around-the-world menu that’s healthy, exotic, and delicious.
A Russian Soup to Start
I have found over the years that most traditional Russian cuisine has a lot of sour cream and dill in it. Since that doesn’t pair well with all seafood, we will go another route here. “Ukha” or “fisherman’s soup” is a traditional soup that has been around in Russia for years. Soup is always a great place to start with any menu, especially a soup like Ukha, which incorporates fresh seasonal vegetables. It’s also a great choice as it rolls nicely into Spanish and Latin food where other Russian options might not be as complimentary.
Ukha can be made a variety of different ways but the one constant is fresh seafood. My personal preference when it comes to fresh fish for this dish is wild pacific cod, since it’s a firm fish that won’t break apart easily in the broth, and it’s not oily, which would change the texture and mild flavor of the broth. Ukha has always been made with whatever fishermen had handy, so any vegetables in season are fair game. This particular recipe is my personal favorite:
In a saucepan, bring 6 cups of fish stock to a boil (preferably homemade from fish scraps and bones) with the following:
Once that has boiled for about 20 minutes, you can add four cod fillets cut into cubes and cook for an additional 15 minutes. If you want to be more authentic, you can garnish this dish with finely chopped dill. This recipe serves about 12.
This dish is light, flavorful, and also very healthy, which leaves nothing more to do than toast your retiree by saying Na Zdorovie (pronounced ‘nostrovia’), meaning ‘good health.’
Mussels As a First Course
My dream is to retire in Barcelona, so let’s make that the next stop in my hypothetical retirement
party dinner menu and save Lima for the main course. A twist on steamed mussels will make an elegant salad or first course-type dish. Thinking seasonally again, we will incorporate fresh veggies to make a Mussels Vinaigrette.
First you will want to start with the mussels. My recommendation would be to use PEI (Prince Edward Island) Mussels. If you get them from Daily Fresh Fish, they will come already cleaned, sand and grit free, and most important, sustainably raised and harvested. This makes it easy to prepare enough for a crowd. For 12 people, steam about four pounds of mussels in a large pot for about 4 minutes until they all open. Any unopened mussels should be discarded. After they cool, remove the top half of the shell, and lay them out on a sheet tray in preparation for their “salad” filling.
In a bowl combine the following:
Then spoon the mixture into the shells, topping the mussel meat, and refrigerate until you are ready to serve.
Latin Rice and Seafood Makes Everyone Happy
As the two have similar flavors and spices, it is an easy transition from Spain to South America. Rice is a common staple food in Latin American culture, so I think it is important to incorporate it into the main dish. I once went to a backyard engagement party where they hired a restaurant to come in and set up a charcoal pit with what looked like a gigantic paella pan on top. They then began to make a dish called Arroz con Mariscos.
This is really a simple dish that is packed with a mixture of seafood and great flavor (and you don’t have to make it over a charcoal pit). The most important ingredient as always is lots of fresh seafood. What kind? Whatever your heart desires. I like to go with some sort of a white fish (perhaps snapper), scallops, and shrimp.
Arroz con Mariscos
This dish is similar to a seafood paella so you will want to start by cooking 4 cups of white rice. Then you will need to prepare the following:
In a large pan, sauté onion and garlic in oil. Next you will add water to the pan with uncooked seafood, carrots, corn, peas, and cilantro. Once the seafood is cooked, add the rice and fried snapper, stirring until it’s incorporated. Salt to taste. All that is left to do is serve it.
Spicing Up the Party
Often, the talk at these parties is mostly reminiscences, along with inside stories and jokes that maybe only half of the guests understand. But that’s not your only option. As a kid, I remember my father making bizarre slideshows for retirement dinners, wedding anniversaries, and birthday parties. He would use cutout photos from National Geographic and create hypothetical storylines about the person. You might do a similar project (made much easier by the internet and PowerPoint), by using a projector to display photos of other countries that create a funny storyline about your retiree in each country as you “travel” there in your menu.
However you decide to entertain all of the guests there to celebrate the journey your retiree is about to take, I can assure you at the very least they will be walking away talking about how great the food was. With fresh seafood delivered right to wherever your party is taking place, and in any amount you need, it’s not only easy, but it’s the best way to get fresh, quality seafood, no matter where you are. That’s because DailyFreshFish.com will send your seafood to you as soon as they get it, so it goes straight from our docks to your plate, with a 100% freshness guarantee.