Mixed Seafood Grill with Paprika Chimichurri

About a decade ago I found myself with a long layover in a nondescript airport in a nondescript state.  Since the layover was so long I decided to stop by the USO.  I was reading a couple of cooking magazines and came across a recipe for a mixed seafood grill.  I love a good mixed seafood grill.  Not wanting to destroy the magazine for another soldier I committed as much to the recipe to memory as possible and I’ve been chasing this recipe ever since. The paprika chimichurri is a different way to make a chimichurri but is so delicious and makes the grill. It calls for 3 different paprikas which add layers of flavor on the grilled seafood. I’ve settled on a ratio of the sauce for my family’s taste but it is easy enough to tweak that you can play with it at will. You want to prep everything before you start to grill because once you get the food on the grill everything cooks fast. I offer two “new age” cooking steps in this recipe that are clearly marked: 1. Using edible essential oils and 2. Sous vide octopus. These steps are optional, however, I highly recommend them; if you’ve never “sous-vide-que” octopus it’s a fool proof way of preparing octopus!

Ingredients:

1. 1 baby octopus – per person
2. 1 x 4 oz filet Chilean Sea Bass – per person
3. 6 x 13-15 count Pink Argentinian Shrimp – per person
4. 1 bunch flat leaf parsley
5. 2 lemons plus 1 lemon per cedar plank
6. ½ tsp smoked paprika
7. ½ tsp paprika
8. 1 tsp sweet paprika
9. ¼ cup diced shallot
10. 2 garlic cloves diced
11. 1 pound brussels sprouts
12. French bread
13. ½ cup Chardonnay
14. Olive oil
15. Salt
16. Pepper
17. OPTIONAL: Edible thyme essential oil (i.e Young Living Vitality)
18. OPTIONAL: Edible lemon essential oil (i.e Young Living Vitality)

OPTIONAL Octopus Preparation

The octopus is prepared “sous-vide-que”, the sous vide part of this is completely optional but if you’ve never had sous vide octopus before I highly recommend it. The octopus comes out silky and juicy but toothy. You do not need to blanche the octopus before hand either but the short blanche makes the tentacles curl and give them that nice restaurant visual. Plunging the octopus into ice water immediately after blanching helps stop the skin from slipping off.

1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Have a second bowl full of ice water. Clean the octopus by pulling out the gills. When water is boiling, using tongs drop the octopus in the boiling water for 30 seconds or until the tentacles curl. Fish out of the boiling water and immediately plunge into the ice water.
2. Once the octopus is cold fish them out of the cold water and dry with paper towels.
3. Slice the head from the tentacles and slice the tentacles into individual pieces.
4. Toss the octopus with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
5. Place octopus into a zipper bag or vacuum seal in a vacuum bag
6. Place bagged octopus into a water bath (if using the zipper bag this is where you would use the displacement method to push the air out of the zipper bag)
7. Sous vide at 175F for 5 hours

OPTIONAL Cedar Plank and Skewer Soak

1. Soak cedar planks and wood skewers in your sink or a large bowl of water.
2. OPTIONAL: Add 3 drops of edible thyme essential oil and 4 drops of edible lemon essential oil to the water.
3. Let cedar planks and wood skewers soak while preparing the rest of the meal
4. Let soak for at least 30 minutes

Brussels Sprouts

1. Slice the bottom of the brussels sprouts, remove the outer leaves, and slice in half from top to bottom.
2. Place brussels spouts in a tinfoil pouch, drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper, ¼ cup of wine, and juice of half a lemon. Seal pouch by folding the edges and top seam into itself.

Chilean Sea Bass

1. Pat sea bass dry, rub with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and a squeeze of lemon juice

Pink Argentinean Shrimp

1. Clean shrimp by removing the shells and deveining but leaving tails on. Rinse the shrimp and pat dry.
2. Toss shrimp with olive oil, salt, pepper, and a squeeze of lemon juice. Thread shrimp onto skewers

Finishing the Sous Vide Octopus

1. When the sous vide is complete, cut the bag open and drain the octopus into a colander.
2. Pat the octopus dry and toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Octopus – No Sous Vide

1. Clean octopus by pulling out the gills. Rinse the octopus and pat dry.
2. Slice head from the tentacles and slice the tentacles into individual strips.
3. Toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Grilled Bread

1. Slice French bread and brush with olive oil.

Paprika Chimichurri

1. Bring a small sauté pan to medium high heat.
2. Add a tablespoon of olive oil and sauté shallot until golden and soft. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant.
3. Add a tsp more of olive oil and add the paprika. Sauté paprika until nutty and fragrant.
4. Deglaze pan with ¼ cup of wine and pour into a bowl
5. Add salt and pepper and lemon juice from half a lemon.
6. While whisking add a half cup of olive oil in a steady stream until emulsified
7. Strip parsley leaves off of stalks and roughly chop the parsley leaves.
8. Stir in parsley leaves to the paprika and olive oil mixture
9. Taste and balance with more lemon juice, salt, and/or pepper.

Grill It!

You will add the brussels sprouts to the grill first since they take the longest to cook. The next longest time is the Chilean Sea Bass, then the shrimp, then the bread, and then the octopus.

1. Fire up your grill to medium high.
2. Add brussels sprouts pouch to the grill, cover the grill, and let grill for 30 minutes
3. After 30 minutes, check the sprouts. Once fork tender start grilling the seafood.
4. Slice one lemon per cedar plank and place lemon slices on the cedar plank. Place cedar plank on the grill.
5. Place Chilean sea bass, skin side down, on top of the lemon adorned cedar plank.
6. Let the Sea Bass grill for about 5 minutes and add the shrimp to the grill
7. Let the shrimp grill for about 5 minutes, turn the shrimp to grill the opposite side.
8. Once you turn the shrimp, add the French bread to the grill.
9. Place the octopus on the lemon adorned cedar plank. The octopus will take around 3 minutes to cook. (if you sous vide the octopus remember that it is already cooked, you are just finishing it on the grill; if you did not sous vide the octopus it will take 6 minutes)
10. Pull of pieces of the seafood grill as they are finishing up.
11. The sea bass is ready to take off the grill when it reaches an internal temperature of 135F or flakes easily with a fork.
12. The shrimp is ready when it’s bright pink and has a slight C-curve.
13. Pull the brussels sprouts off the grill at the very end.

Plating

Plate the brussels sprouts on the plate and place the sea bass, shrimp, and octopus around the brussels sprouts. Drizzle the seafood with paprika chimichurri, garnish with grilled lemons, and serve remaining sauce on the side. Use bread to sop up any juices.

Lemony Seafood Pasta

I love seafood like it’s nobody’s business.  I would eat seafood every day if I could.  Moving to Maryland was one of the greatest things I did for my gastronomy because the seafood is so cheap and plentiful out here!  It’s amazing!  I think I ate seafood straight for a month or two when I first moved here (partly because I didn’t realize that it’s here all the time!)  One of my favorite products to buy is the frozen mixed seafood bags.  They are fairly cheap and you get a lot of meat for the price so they are a great deal.

No! No! No! Don’t turn your nose up!
I promise, we have something great planned!

I’ve made several dishes with mixed seafood medley but the one I’m going to share with you is one that I turn to the most.  It’s a quick, nutritous meal and I’ve added whatever is in my fridge to the mixture.  I’ve added spinach, kale, tomatoes, squash, basically anything that looks like it won’t last another day, I’ll throw it in there.  Tonight I just made the basic recipe and that includes only onions and garlic (I’m running low on food since it’s the middle of March.  Spring veggies can’t get here soon enough!). 
 
I’ve noticed with seafood, many people *think* they don’t like it and I’ve found that it’s because they have never had it cooked correctly.  Seafood is a very fragile meat and most people treat seafood like they would any other meat.  Don’t do that. Overcooking seafood turns it into a rubbery flavorless mess.  Seafood (both fish and other kinds) need to be cooked at high temperatures for a short time.  Because of this, I cook this specific recipe in my wok.  You want a fire-hot pan, warm oil, and cold seafood (DO NOT DEFROST THE SEAFOOD BEFORE YOU COOK IT!).  Since this is going to cook at such a high temperature, you want to get everything prepared before you start the cooking in the wok.  Seriously, this will take you about 10 minutes from start to finish once your ready for the wok part.
 
The very first thing you want to do is zest a whole lemon into 1/4 cup olive oil.  You want the lemon zest to infuse the olive oil.  Juice the lemon and set the juice aside.  Cook some pasta; I do about two handfuls of quinoa spaghetti.  Reserve about a 1/2 cup of pasta water before you drain the pasta.  Chop an onion and 3 (or 5!) garlic cloves.  Make sure you have sea salt, freshly ground pepper, and red chili flakes available.  That’s it!  Now you’re ready to cook.
 
 
Set your wok over high heat.  Once the wok is nice and hot, add about a tablespoon of olive oil and swirl it around.  Throw in your onion and garlic and caramelize.  Once the garlic and onion are caramelized to your liking, add the lemon juice and olive oil with the lemon zest.  Bring this up to a boil.  Once it’s at a boil, pour in the whole 1 pound bag of frozen seafood, stir it up, add salt, pepper, and chili flakes to taste, and cover.  Shake the woke while it’s covered a few times.  Keep stirring until the seafood is just about cooked through but not all the way.  Add your pasta and shake the pasta vigorously with tongs within the sauce.  The starch from the pasta will thicken the sauce.  If you need a little more liquid you can add some of the pasta water.  Cover, cook the seafood through, divvy up into bowls, top with parmesan and dinner is served!
 

Lemony Seafood Pasta
 
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
Zest and juice of one lemon
Salt
Pepper
Red chili Flakes 
  1. Cook pasta, reserve 1/2 cup pasta water, drain, and set aside.
  2. Using a rasp, zest the skin of one lemon into 1/4 cup olive oil
  3. In a very hot wok, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil (about one turn around the pan).  Add onions and garlic and caramelize.
  4. Add lemon juice and olive oil with lemon zest, bring to a boil.  Add frozen seafood, salt, pepper, and chili pepper to taste.  Stir and cover.
  5. Once 3/4 cooked through, add pasta and shake vigorously with tongs to thicken sauce.  Add some reserved pasta water if it needs more liquid.
  6. Cover and cook the seafood through
  7. Serve with parmesan cheese and crusty bread.