Foodie Tuesday: My Crustacean Crush

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Who are *you* calling a Shrimp??? These here critters are Prawns, ma’am!

Living in north Texas, I realize we’re only a day’s drive away from the Gulf Coast, and stores and eateries here have generally plentiful provisions of Gulf Coast shrimp, catfish, stone crabs and other delicacies of the region to be sure. But I will admit to occasional bouts of longing for the profligate availability, in our former stomping grounds on the West coast, of those indigenous oceanic treats and northwest native water denizens with whom I grew up. The salmon and steelhead Gramps would bring us fresh from the Skykomish; the Dungeness crab caught that morning in the icy water of Puget Sound or sweet clams dug from the rocky coarse sand beaches of the Pacific Ocean, all right at our doorstep. The Alaskan runs of halibut and Copper River salmon being dashed down the coast from boat to table in a matter of hours. These are the delicacies on which I was weaned and cut my kitchen choppers, so to speak. Gulf Coast treats are a delight of their own kind, but neither should ever, could ever, supplant the other in anyone’s heart and mind and tastebuds.

So I indulge a little when I come across any of that home-reminiscent bounty of the sea and shore when I’m able. But I’m also working my way around the places in my newer home region that seem to proffer the authentic and fresh and well-crafted seafood known and loved by Texans and lake-landers and southerners, to learn more of what’s so great about what’s right here and what can be brought in that brings the oceans with it. Today needed to be a seafood day; either my heart or, at the very least, my tastebuds told me so.

On an ordinary Tuesday, I’m out grocery shopping in the afternoon, because my zookeeper husband, having a short turn-around time between when he gets home from Tuesday morning staff meetings and work at the church in Dallas and when he needs to be back at the university to do his final preparations for choir rehearsal there, has me drive him over and that gives me a convenient time with access to the car for the grocery expedition. Today wasn’t ordinary, though–having sung an extra-rigorous scheduleΒ  of rehearsals and performances of Theodora, the Collegium singers had earned a break from today’s usual rehearsal time. Since his schedule today included useful and necessary meetings with at least three or four different parties during the day and a significant reception event in the evening, all in Dallas, and since most of my partner’s administrative and score-study work can be done at or from any of his three current office spaces (school, church and home all having library materials, keyboards, computers and telephones), it’s an all-day Dallas day.

While we could, of course, have brought our lunch, it offered an opportunity for us to go to a place known for its seafood and indulge the whim a bit. So that’s what we did. Truluck’s–where I confess we’ve not yet tried anything not particularly aquatic to eat other than a little salad–seems to me to treat their seafood with respect, and not try to disguise anything second-rate with overworked or over-complicated distractions. So the fresh prawns in the first shot, their “Shrimp Cocktail“, is nothing but five massive prawns cooked, chilled, and served in their own stainless cauldron over billowing dry ice (that looks remarkably like the dish was shipped straight from Cawdor) with a couple of wedges of lemon and a hearty spoonful of brain-clearing horseradish cocktail sauce. It’s entirely possible that anyone wishing to do so could eat this supposed cocktail with some of the house bread and butter and leave fully replete and contented. But one has, after all, passed the display tank in the entrance on the way to one’s table, and the crustaceans there waved their antennae and claws ever so coyly and winsomely . . .

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…with a friendly ‘Howdy Do’ to all and sundry…

. . . so, clearly it would be rude to ignore the invitation and bypass a further dish. The dish of choice: a bowl of the house Lobster Bisque, as creamy and unfussy and redolent of the rosy lobster as one could like, and studded with a few very nice hunks of mild and tender lobster meat lazily rafting around in the foamy pool. The soup is poured into the bowls tableside, over a good dollop of goat cheese, and having that nice bit of mild zing gradually melting into the soup so that it intermittently brightens the mellow, cayenne-tinted warmth of the broth and balances the lovely bit of cognac (or is it sherry?) just barely sweetening the pot–well, it’s all finally melded into a slurry that goes down a treat on top of those recumbent prawns now nestled neatly in one’s happy stomach.

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Creamy and dreamy.

I’m still looking forward to the next time out on the coast and eating Cheri’s inimitable clam chowder (no one else’s anywhere has come close yet) at the 42nd Street Cafe, or wild-caught King salmon straight off its cedar roasting plank, or taking ridiculously big forkfuls of Dungeness crab drenched in melted butter and washing them down with a glass of some nice, crisp, dry Washington Riesling . . .

Of course, there’s all of that seafood beckoning to me from the vast array of countries and cities and restaurants and home kitchens full of good sushi and curries, gravlax and dishes alla Pescatore and, oh, oh, ohhhhh . . . .

35 thoughts on “Foodie Tuesday: My Crustacean Crush

    • Yikes, stay away from the allergens!! If you can do *any* seafood, the bisque would certainly be fabulous made with salmon, possibly even a mix of fresh and smoked . . . Hmmm, I think I’m getting an idea!!! Thanks, Ted!!!

  1. I’m three hours from the coast. I used to live an hour away and we would drive to Rockport and eat seafood there. I’ve also vacationed and eaten seafood in Aransas Pass. I’m a shrimp lover and it looks like my son and daughter-in-law will be taking my wife and I out to eat at Red Lobster Friday night. Shrimp for me and those cheese biscuits that I LOVE! πŸ™‚
    Btw – I know you’re busy so you don’t have to answer any of my comments unless there’s something in it that just entices you to. πŸ™‚

  2. What a lovely respite this lunch must have been, you’ve described it so well I could have been there right alongside you. And how I would have loved to have been, the description of the dishes was so tantalizing and detailed. I was just think that only you could have me visualizing a “slurry” of food going down into your contented prawn-filled tummy and I was imagining it in soft-focus with such romantic blush colors… Only you could pull that off! You’re really an amazing food writer, Kathryn:) xoxo Smidge

    • Only someone with an equally romantic view of the world could appreciate the mushiness of my strange descriptions. I’m glad you’re such a someone! πŸ™‚ xoxoxo!

  3. With just the possibility of that sort of lunch beckoning, how ever could you have brought your lunches? I enjoy seafood far too much to let such an opportunity pass me by. Looks to me like you took full advantage of your location. Good for you!

    • It was a Delicious Day. πŸ™‚ And that evening event we went to last night capped it neatly–a fine caterer who really did a magnificent job with ‘heavy hors d’oeuvres’ and an extremely convivial party of people enjoying it all as it deserved. I could eat another piece of that roast pork tenderloin with peach barbecue sauce right about now . . . πŸ˜‰

  4. This post has given me a lot of thought. When we’re not used to eating a certain life form, and see it described as food, we can’t help but question the whole business of being a carnivore. It’s not the first time it happened to me. I still have thoughts engendered by the stories my daughter told me when she returned from a visit to Thailand twenty years ago… There is nothing like habit to take the thorn out of self-examination. But when one strays from the familiar… oh, then there are some real surprises. Thank you for a good read.

    • Absolutely true, Shimon: I have thought many times about how our cultural and personal histories can shape what seems safe or appealing to eat to such a high degree. Crustaceans are a classic example–Americans are wildly enthusiastic about eating many of them, and some southerners even refer to shrimp or prawns as ‘mudbugs’ or simply ‘bugs’, but if you asked any of them to eat any of the grubs or insects that are so common and popular in, say, many Asian, African or Australian indigenous cuisines they would likely be disgusted and horrified, even though chances are pretty good they’d find them similar in texture and flavor if prepared by the same roasting, frying or seasoning methods whichever cooks used. I know *I* would find it a challenge, even though intellectually and anecdotally I am confident that millions of other eaters’ enthusiasms and good health and taste can’t be so far removed from what I would love if I were accustomed to the idea too. I’ve hardly ever been disappointed when I did get up the nerve to try the unfamiliar, and have found so many wonderful new things to love, so I *am* glad when I’m not too fearful to learn.

    • Isn’t that fun! I’d never seen it elsewhere either. It kind of looks like we’re going to see a magic trick when they bring out the platter with those to serve us. πŸ™‚

  5. Lobster is an out-of-the-house treat for us, even in summer when the price drops below that of hamburger (in some years)…all those years of cooking it for other people – and going home reeking – made me ban it from my kitchen.
    The goat cheese sounds like an amazing addition to an already-amazing bowl of yummy – just cause I won’t cook it , don’t mean I won’t eat it!

    • I’m even that way about Dungeness despite my addiction–while I’ve picked through many a crab myself over the years, I’m thrilled to let others do the cooking, cleaning and picking and I’ll just sit back and slurp up the rewards. It’s worth paying the premium if I can. Besides, I like to do my part for the local economy by employing crustacean cuisine artists. πŸ˜‰

  6. I like seafood but I think I prefer not to see them waving at me, even in an friendly way, from a tank as I might feel guilty eating them. Out of sight out of mine. Your lunch sounds like a very well deserved respite for you both from a very busy schedule. πŸ˜‰

    • I much prefer my food to appear in the kitchen or at table no longer living (I think cooking crab or lobster is as far as I’ve gone with preparing still-moving food) but I’ll admit I am callous and/or gluttonous enough to adore eating animals that I’d far rather not butcher myself. If it came to that in any serious degree I suspect I’d be content to go vegetarian.

  7. That top photo makes me wiggle! And the whole rest of it has the same effect! What a lunch, and what delicious writing about it! I didn’t realize I was hungry, but I think I could faint dead-away with it now! Thank you dear Kathryn for always stirring Something in me! xoxo

    • Antoinette, my dear, somehow I think I ought to be less bombastic and a bit more demure and perhaps just *whisk* Something in you! But if you don’t mind too much I guess you can forgive my manners. πŸ˜‰
      xoxo

    • It is an unavoidable hazard for those of us who like the stuff and get anywhere within thinking distance of it! And in a not very surprising turn of events, your mere coming by to comment on a dietary need compels me to go off in search of a piece of dark chocolate.

  8. I’m absolutely drooling! I adore seafood, especially shellfish.

    Love this:
    ‘Today needed to be a seafood day; either my heart or, at the very least, my tastebuds told me so.’

    All of it!

  9. Pingback: Foodie Tuesday: Yummy Bugs | Art-Colored Glasses

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