Category Archives: Fish & Seafood

Pad Thai Recipe and Red Boat Fish Sauce

When writing about Emeril’s Wok Seared Duck Salad, I mentioned his recommendation for fish sauce with the ingredient list.  Shortly after posting, Red Boat Fish Sauce asked if I would try their sauce to compare.  I only recommend products I like and use, so it has taken me a couple of weeks to put it to the test.

Starting with Shrimp Lo Mein, I was pleased with the clean, bright flavor that melded perfectly into the sauce without being too salty or fishy.  The second recipe we tried it in was Pad Thai with Beef (below) and again, it brought a balanced dimension of savory flavor.  I was equally pleased to discover this new sauce has so few ingredients, just anchovies and sea salt.

Additives like hydrolyzed vegetable protein is commonly used in commercial fish sauces as a short cut to enhance flavor.  According to Celiac Solution, “HVP (hydrogenated vegetable protein), HPP (hydrolyzed plant protein), TVP (textured vegetable protein), MSG (monosodium glutamate) could contain wheat if made outside of the U.S.A.” This is a concern for anyone trying to avoid gluten and still enjoy Asian foods.

We cannot always be sure about the ingredients used in restaurants, but at home, I use pure, whole ingredients, as close to the natural source whenever possible.  I look for products like Red Boat to add to my pantry because quality ingredients make a difference in taste and eliminating unnecessary additives from our food is important to us.

To find out where to buy Red Boat Fish Sauce near you, just click on the link or order online directly from Red Boat.

Other recipes to try:
Thai Peanut Sauce
Beef Lo Mein
Thai-Style Pineapple Wraps

Pad Thai with Beef

Pad Thai with Beef

Adapted from Emeril’s Pad Thai
Serves 4
8       ounces  dried rice noodles
1/4    cup Red Boat Fish Sauce
2       tablespoons  rice wine vinegar
2-3       tablespoons  sugar or coconut palm sugar, adjust to taste
1       tablespoon  tamarind paste
1/2     teaspoon  crushed red pepper
3       tablespoons  coconut oil
7       cloves  garlic — minced
1       lb  beef, pork, or chicken (or a combination) — sliced in 1/4″ strips; or shrimp halved lengthwise
2       large  eggs
8       ounces  bean sprouts (about 2 cups) — rinsed and dry
2       cups  green onions (2-3 bunches) — white and green parts, chopped
1/3     cup  roasted, unsalted peanuts — coarsely chopped
1/3     cup  fresh cilantro leaves — minced
1        tablespoon  lime juice
1        whole  lime (optional) — cut into wedges for garnish

In a large bowl, combine the noodles with enough warm water to cover.  Soak until just tender, about 30 minutes, then drain and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the fish sauce, vinegar, tamarind paste, crushed red pepper, and sugar; stir until the tamarind paste and sugar dissolves and is well blended. Set aside.

In a wok or large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat.  Add the garlic, and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds or just fragrant.  Add the meat and cook until the just cooked through, about 2 minutes.  Transfer to a plate and cover to keep warm.

Add the eggs to the skillet and cook, stirring to break up into small pieces, about a minute.  Add the onions and allow to cook for 30 seconds to soften slightly. Add the sprouts, onions, fish sauce mixture, and noodles, and cook until mixed well and warmed through, stirring frequently.

Add the reserved meat and peanuts, and cook for 30 seconds to incorporate into the noodles.  Toss with the cilantro, lime juice, and serve immediately with lime wedges and Sriracha sauce on the side.

Shared on the following Blog Hops:
Premeditated Leftovers Hearth and Soul


Emeril’s Cajun Shrimp Stew: A Hearty One-Pot Wonder

Perusing Emeril’s new Sizzling Skillets and Other One-Pot Wonders  this weekend was delightful, like having coffee with an old friend.  Part of the fun of the One-Pot Blogger Party hosted by The Secret Ingredient is sharing a few recipes so we all get a taste of what’s inside this versatile cookbook. Here in Colorado, crisp fall weather has arrived along with the desire for warm, hearty dinners. I decided Cajun Shrimp Stew would be the perfect way to get the party started.

Rich Shrimp Stock provides a fortified base for this stew, layering flavors of savory vegetables and seafood.  Unlike some comfort food, this dish is warming, but not heavy.  In the second photo, you will notice I added yellow carrots and celery for part of the potatoes—it is easy to customize for spice, vegetable preference, and food sensitivities like shellfish allergies or gluten-free diets (shown below).  You can be sure, when you pull out the Dutch oven, there will be enough to share, so invite someone to join you for dinner.

Cajun Shrimp Stew

Emeril's Cajun Shrimp Stew

This comforting, simple stew is a Cajun dish that many home cooks in Louisiana enjoy, especially during the Lenten season. It is easy to make and feeds a bunch. The trick is getting the roux to the right color . . . about a notch darker than peanut butter should do the trick. A homemade shrimp stock makes all the difference in the world. Make sure to add the shrimp just before serving so that they stay nice and tender. Some families boil eggs in their shrimp stew (as it simmers) to make the dish even heartier.

Serves 6 to 8
1 cup vegetable oil
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 ½ cups finely chopped onion
¼ cup minced garlic (about 12 cloves)
10 cups Rich Shrimp Stock (pg 173)
2 bay leaves
1 ¼ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
¾ teaspoon cayenne
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 ½ tablespoons kosher salt
3 large baking potatoes (2 ½ to 3 pounds), peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
2 pounds small or medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
¼ cup chopped green onion, green part only
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
Steamed long-grain white rice, for serving

1. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium-high heat and, when hot, add the flour. Whisk to combine and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until a medium roux is formed (it should look a bit darker than peanut butter), about 10 minutes. (If the roux begins to brown too quickly, reduce the heat to medium or medium-low and take your time—it is important that the roux not be burned at all or the stew will have a bitter taste.) As soon as the roux is the right color, add the chopped onion and cook until soft, stirring occasionally, 4 to 6 minutes.

Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the stock, little by little, and bring the sauce to a gentle boil. Add the bay leaves, black pepper, cayenne, thyme, and 4 teaspoons of the salt and reduce the heat so that the sauce just simmers. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the floury taste is gone, 30 to 45 minutes.

2. Add the potatoes and continue to cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are very tender and the sauce is thick and flavorful, 30 to 40 minutes longer. (Add a bit of water or chicken broth to thin the gravy should the stew get too thick during the cook time. The sauce is meant to be thick and rich but not pasty.)

3. Toss the shrimp with the remaining ½ teaspoon salt. Stir the shrimp, green onion, and parsley into the stew and continue to cook until the shrimp are just cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Remove the bay leaves. Serve the stew in shallow bowls over hot white rice.

Savoring Today Cajun Shrimp Stew

Sometimes certain recipes are avoided due to food sensitivities like gluten intolerance, and one reader commented she has a shellfish allergy.  So everyone can enjoy this savory stew, here are a few adjustments to accommodate those needs:

1. Sweet rice flour makes a wonderful gluten-free roux, replacing wheat flour measure for measure. So long as the spices used are gluten-free, this one adjustment will create a gluten-free meal.

2. Any firm fish, cut into manageable pieces, can substitute for the shrimp; simply cook it in the same manner (briefly). Use fish carcass or heads rather than shrimp to make the stock as well.

Cajun Shrimp Stew and the entire collection of sumptuous recipes will be available September 27, but stay tuned, I will give one away later this week. You can also pre-order Emeril’s Sizzling Skillets and Other One-Pot Wonders, just click on the title link.

Shared on the following Blog Hops:
Premeditated Leftovers Hearth & Soul Hop
SS & GF Slightly Indulgent Tuesday

Emeril’s Rich Shrimp Stock: Getting Ready for Cajun Shrimp Stew

Homemade stock is a crucial element in delicious soups and stews. It was no surprise to find a great stock recipe in Emeril’s Sizzling Skillets and Other One-Pot Wonders  as the base for the Cajun Shrimp Stew, set to post on Monday.  Although it is easy to do the entire recipe in an afternoon, I thought it might be helpful for some to have the stock recipe prepared in advance.

Daughter Having a Little Fun with It

When shopping for this dish, it was not easy to find a good quantity of shrimp shells and heads. Many large grocery chains now have their fish products trimmed at a larger facility and shipped to them case-ready. I had some shells from the shrimp for the stew, but that was not enough for a great stock. To improvise, I asked Whole Foods for a 3-4 pound fish head, which they had.  Availability of scraps and carcasses can simply be an issue of timing; however, a good fishmonger will usually have something to offer in their freezer.

As Emeril indicates in the introduction to the recipe, it makes a remarkable difference to roast or brown the bones or carcasses.  Roasting the savory vegetables in a 350° oven for 45 minutes or so will caramelize the sugars and deepen the flavor of the stock even more. Allowing time for it to reduce will create an aromatic and richly fortified stock, you do not want to skip this step in the process.  With this Rich Shrimp Stock we are one step closer to the Cajun Shrimp Stew!

Emeril’s Rich Shrimp Stock

Yield:  About 12 cups
This stock is so easy to make, yet so flavorful—make a batch every time you have shells and heads from fresh shrimp and you’ll never have to worry about where to get shrimp stock again. You’ll find that toasting the shells in oil before adding the water gives added depth to this stock, which can be used in countless ways.

1 to 1 ½ pounds shrimp shells and heads
1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil
14 cups water
1 large onion, unpeeled, roughly chopped (the onion peel deepens the color of the stock)
½ cup roughly chopped celery
2 small carrots, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
3 sprigs fresh thyme
2 large sprigs fresh parsley

1. Rinse the shrimp shells and heads in a large colander under cold running water and allow to drain.

2. In a large stockpot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. When hot, add the shrimp shells and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shells are pink and toasty-fragrant, 4 to 6 minutes.

Add the water and all the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil over high heat, skimming any foam that comes to the surface. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to cook at a slow simmer until the stock is flavorful, 45 to 60 minutes.

3. Strain the stock through a fine-mesh sieve into a large heatproof bowl and allow it to cool completely. Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days before using. (The stock may also be placed in airtight containers and frozen for up to several months.)

Note: You can easily double the ingredient amounts to make a larger batch of stock. To save space in the freezer, you can reduce the stock further after straining and discarding the solids. Just add water to the defrosted stock to reconstitute as needed.

Grilled Sea Scallops With Pasta Rags and Homemade Pesto: Test Kitchen Tuesday

Each week as I review scores of recipes for Test Kitchen Tuesday, I am reminded of the endless possibilities in the culinary world—flavors, textures, temperatures, all waiting to be explored.  Like any great adventure, disappointment and thrill are part of the risk and reward.  Last week, the Tuscan Garlic Chicken Pasta was a disappointment. However, summer is the perfect time to make basil pesto and grill fish, so my hope is this week will be in the thrill category.  I will substitute cod in this dish as well as gluten-free pasta, since I already have it on hand. Though not as briny as scallops, cod should be a satisfactory choice—we shall see!

I hope you join me in this delicious adventure!

In the next week or so:

1.  Make the recipe (posted below)
2.  Leave a comment describing your experience, opinion, adjustments, or suggestions.
3.  Subscribe to comments so you can see what others have done.
4.  If you are especially proud of your creation, send a photo to, or include a link to your site with your comment.

Grilled Sea Scallops With Pasta Rags and Homemade Pesto

Source: Emeril Lagasse
Serves 4-6
1      pound  fresh pasta sheets
3      tablespoons  olive oil — plus
1      cup  olive oil
Salt — to taste
Freshly-ground black pepper — to taste
2      cups  fresh basil leaves – (packed)
1/2     cup  pine nuts — toasted
2       teaspoons  chopped garlic
1/4     cup  grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
24     fresh sea scallops — cleaned
1       pint  tear or pear tomatoes, red or yellow
1       pound  fresh asparagus — blanched
1       pound  fresh chanterelle mushrooms — cleaned

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.  Tear the pasta into 1-inch pieces.  Drizzle a little olive oil into the water and add the pasta.  Cook until tender, about 4 to 6 minutes.  Remove from the water and drain.

In a mixing bowl, toss the pasta with a tablespoon of the olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Set aside.

In an electric blender, combine the basil, nuts, garlic and cheese.  Blend thoroughly.  Season with salt and pepper.  With the blender running, slowly drizzle in 1 cup of the oil.  The mixture will be thick.  Season with salt and pepper.  Set aside.

Preheat the grill.  Season the scallops with a tablespoon of the olive oil, salt and pepper.  Place the scallops on the grill and cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until the scallops are firm to the touch.

In a sauté pan, over medium heat, add the remaining tablespoon of the oil.  When the oil is hot, add the tomatoes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Sauté for 2 minutes.  Add the asparagus and mushrooms.  Season with salt and pepper.  Continue to sauté for 3 to 4 minutes or until the mushrooms are wilted.

In a large mixing bowl, toss the pasta with the vegetables and pesto.  Mix well.  Add the cheese and mix well.  Readjust the seasonings if needed.  Mound the pasta in the center of each serving plate.  Lay the scallops over the pasta.  Garnish with parsley.

Fish Tacos: Thank you, Baja!

We lived in California years ago, but my first introduction to fish tacos was at Rubio’s in Denver of all places.  I was hooked right away, the textures and flavors are addictive with crisp slaw, tender fish, a squeeze of lime, all cradled in your hand for quick delivery. Where the fish taco originated still raises debate according to this story in Sunset.  As far as I’m concerned, Ralph Rubio got it right when he opened his restaurant near Mission Bay 28 years ago.

This inspired recipe includes subtle twists on the tacos that won my heart—better oil for frying and adding a few more fresh items to fill the warm tortillas alongside the fish—there is even a grilling option if you prefer to avoid the stove when it is hot outside. Rubio’s soft corn tortillas are unique to the restaurant, but The Tortilla Factory Corn Tortillas are pretty close.  The white sauce is mild and cools the spice of the salsa, but if you are looking for more heat, Habanero-Cilantro Taco Sauce is another option.  Here’s to Baja!

Fish Tacos

Serves 4
3      med white fish fillets (Mahi Mahi, Halibut, Cod) — cut into 1″ x 4″ strips
1       whole  lime — cut into wedges
1/2     head  cabbage — thinly shredded
1       small  carrot — peeled and grated
1/2     cup  cilantro — coarsely chopped
1/2     whole  avocado — peeled and sliced
1        cup  salsa (recipe below)
8       small  corn tortillas
salt & pepper
coconut oil

For the Sauce:
1/4     cup  mayonnaise
1/4     cup  plain yogurt

For the Beer Batter:
3/4     cup  beer
3/4     cup  flour
1/2      teaspoon  salt
1/2      teaspoon  garlic powder

Squeeze half of the lime over the fish, sprinkle with salt and pepper; allow fish to marinate while prepping the other ingredients.  Mix cabbage, carrot, and one tablespoon of the chopped cilantro together.  Once the vegetables and sauces are prepped, mix beer batter in a bowl wide enough to dip the fish.

Heat enough oil to cover the bottom of a skillet by about an 1/8″.  Dry fish with paper towels and dip into beer batter, shaking off any excess so there is a thin coating. Place fish in hot oil and cook on each side about 2-3 minutes. Drain on paper towels.

Fill warm tortillas with fish, cabbage slaw, salsa, and garnish with avocado, cilantro, and sauce. Finish with a squeeze of lime on each taco just before serving.

To grill the fish instead of frying, leave the fish whole until after it is grilled. Omit the beer batter and add the garlic powder to the fish while marinating. Grill over medium heat on a gas grill for 3-4 minutes on each side.


Serves 8
1/3     yellow onions — chopped fine
1/4     Serrano pepper — chopped fine
1/4     green pepper — chopped fine
1/2     yellow chili pepper, mild — chopped fine
1         clove  garlic — chopped fine
5         Roma tomatoes — coarsely chopped
1/2     bunch cilantro leaves — coarsely chopped
2         teaspoons  lime juice
1/2     teaspoon  salt — to taste

Put garlic, peppers, and onion in food processor and pulse to chop fine. Cut stems off of cilantro just below leaves.  Add tomatoes and cilantro to processor and pulse to chop slowly so that tomatoes do not become too small.  Remove from processor and squeeze fresh lime over mixture, stir well.  Add salt and stir well. Serve with tortilla or pita chips.

NOTES: For hotter flavor use whole Serrano pepper.

Posted on the following Blog Hops:
The Nourishing Gourmet Pennywise Platter Thursday
The Healthy Home Economist Monday Mania
Hearth & Soul Blog Hop
SS & GF Slightly Indulgent Tuesday
Mom Trends Food Friday
Real Food Whole Health Fresh Bites Friday

Garnishing a Meal: More Than Just A Pretty Plate

Blackened Salmon garnished with Feta, Basil, and Fresh Tomato

So, you have dinner on the table with the last ounce of energy you could muster for the day and the thought comes to you, how I can garnish it? … Uh, hardly.  I know, it should be enough to have dinner done every day, but a simple garnish can transform a meal from ho-hum to ta-da! with little effort.  An easy rule of thumb to is, if it goes in it, it can go on it.  If a recipe calls for celery and onion, then celery leaves and scallions will be a complementary garnish when served.  The fresh components of those ingredients already in a dish create a bright, enzyme-rich finish.  These are just a few suggestions using common grocery items as a garnish to make any meal even more appealing.

Avocado — sliced or cubed, avocado goes on tacos, grilled or blackened fish, breakfast eggs, sandwiches, salads, soups, and more.

Croutons — go beyond the usual salad, this cupboard staple works great for soups too.  It won’t boost the nutritional value of the meal, but does add interest and texture.

Fresh herbs add color, flavor, and increase nutritional value. If a recipe calls for dried herbs, adding the same herb as a fresh garnish is guaranteed to enhance the dish.  These are three I use most often on just about everything.

Parsley — that leafy green sprig placed on many restaurant plates is there for more than contrast, it is a digestive aid and breath freshener.  This mild herb is a great place to begin if unfamiliar with using fresh herbs.

Cilantro — a cousin to parley, sometimes called Chinese parsley, fresh cilantro can be used in the same manner as parsley, placement of a stem and leaves or chopped and sprinkled atop a meal.

Basil — used for more than pesto, basil is an aromatic and beautiful garnish when julienned and sprinkled over pasta dishes or grilled meats. Basil varieties are fun to experiment with allowing flavor accents of lemon or cinnamon to bring new dimensions to old favorites.

Fennel fronds, celery leaves, and scallions are often regarded as waste when they could be used to garnish instead.

Lemon / Lime / Orange — citrus wedges or slices brighten and enhance meats, salads, and vegetables with a fresh squeeze of Vitamin C on each plate.

Nuts & Seeds — not just for your morning yogurt, nuts and seeds add crunch and texture to vegetable dishes and fruit or lettuce salads. Fiber, healthy oils, and antioxidants make these a garnish powerhouse.

Parmesan, Feta, Blue Cheese, Gorgonzola, and Chèvre (soft goat cheese) deliver on taste with only a small amount, so strong-flavored cheeses like these are ideal on grilled meat, pasta, burgers, salads, soups, Quiche, and vegetables.

Tomatoesseed and chop tomatoes, or quarter grape tomatoes; toss with salt and pepper before adding as a topper (allow to sit for 5-10 minutes). The salt will help the tomatoes release a little juice and enhance flavor. Use fresh, seeded tomatoes to garnish scrambled eggs, grilled meats, crostini, soups, or pasta dishes.

Beef Stroganoff Garnished with Parmesan and Parsley

Chopped Fresh Tomatoes & Basil Garnish

Shaved Parmesan & Goat Cheese Garnish

Sliced Almond Garnish on Green Beans

Crouton Garnish on Cream of Asparagus Soup

Cilantro, Avocado, Sour Cream Garnish

Fruit, Walnut, and Feta Garnish on Roasted Asparagus

Celery Leaf Garnish on Seafood Chowder

Lime Wedge Garnish with Mango-Avocado Salsa

Is there a favorite garnish you like to use? 

Shared on the following Blog Hops:
The Nourishing Gourmet Pennywise Platter Thursday
Real Food Whole Health Fresh Bites Friday
Girlichef for EKat’s Kitchen Friday Potluck
The Healthy Home Economist Monday Mania
SS & GF Slightly Indulgent Tuesday

Spaghetti Al Farouk: Test Kitchen Tuesday

Simple Italy is a blog that I follow (yes, it does feed my inner Italian) and when this recipe arrived in my inbox this morning, I instantly found inspiration for Test Kitchen Tuesday.  I simply cannot wait to try this dish!  It is no secret that we love Italian food, but Spaghetti Al Farouk is not the usual Italian fare. Curry, ginger, and thyme hint of cuisine farther east of the Abruzzo coastline, which the story behind this dish bears out.

The recipe comes from the newly released cookbook by Domenica Marchetti, The Glorious Pasta of Italy (Chronicle Books, 2011), and though I haven’t had the pleasure of sifting through its pages, this recipe sure makes me want to as soon as possible. Domenica describes this dish in this way, “The platter that came to the table was alive with color—deep yellow from the curry and saffron, and bright orange and red from the shellfish, with splashes of glossy black from the mussel shells. The sauce was rich, spicy, and earthy; the seafood was briny and sweet.”

I hope you join me in this delicious adventure!

In the next week or so:

1.  Make the recipe (posted below)
2.  Leave a comment describing your experience, opinion, adjustments, or suggestions.  ♥ If you do focus on altering it to economize, choose healthier ingredients or techniques, make it gluten-free/allergy sensitive, embellish for entertaining, or incorporate into batch/once-a-month cooking, please mention that too.
3.  Subscribe to comments so you can see what others have done.
4.  If you are especially proud of your creation, snap a photo and send it to me at so it can be included in this post or include a link to your site with your comment

Spaghetti Al Farouk

Recipe Author: Domenica Marchetti
Source: Simple Italy
Serves: 4-6
2      tablespoons  extra-virgin olive oil
1       tablespoon  unsalted butter
1       large  yellow onion — chopped
large pinch  saffron threads — pounded to a powder (see cook’s note)
1        tablespoon  curry powder — (preferably spicy)
1/2     teaspoon  ground ginger
1/4     teaspoon  minced fresh thyme
1        fresh bay leaf
1/2     teaspoon  kosher or fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Juice of 1/2 lemon
3/4     cup/180 ml dry white wine
1        cup/240 ml heavy/double cream
1        pound/455 g dried spaghetti
12     mussels — well scrubbed and debearded if necessary (see cook’s note)
16      large  shrimp/prawns — peeled and deveined
6       ounces/170 g frozen shelled cooked langoustine tails– (see cook’s note)

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and salt generously.

In a frying pan large enough to hold all of the seafood, warm the olive oil and butter over medium heat. When the butter is melted and begins to sizzle, add the onion, and stir to coat with the oil and butter. Sauté, stirring frequently, for about 7 minutes, or until the onion is softened but not browned. Stir in the saffron, curry powder, ginger, thyme, bay leaf, salt, and a generous grind of pepper, taking care to incorporate all of the herbs and spices. Stir in the lemon juice, raise the heat to medium-high, and pour in the wine. Let the sauce simmer briskly for about 3 minutes, or until slightly thickened. Reduce the heat to medium and stir in the cream. Bring the sauce back to a very gentle simmer. If the pasta water is not yet boiling, reduce the heat under the sauce to low and wait until the pasta water boils.

Add the pasta to the boiling water, stir to separate the noodles, and cook according to the manufacturer’s instructions until al dente. Once the pasta is in the water, proceed with finishing the sauce.

Add the mussels, shrimp/prawns, and langoustine tails to the simmering sauce, cover, and cook for 5 to 8 minutes, or until the mussels open, the shrimp/prawns are just cooked through, and the langoustine tails are heated through. Discard any mussels that failed to open.

Drain the pasta into a colander set in the sink, reserving about 1 cup/240ml of the cooking water. If the frying pan is large enough to contain both the pasta and the sauce, add the pasta to the frying pan and gently toss the pasta and sauce to combine thoroughly, adding a splash or two of the cooking water if necessary to loosen the sauce. If the frying pan is not large enough, return the pasta to the pot, add about two-thirds of the sauce, toss to combine thoroughly, and then top with the remaining sauce when serving. Transfer the dressed pasta to a warmed serving bowl or shallow individual bowls. If you are preparing individual servings, be sure to divide the seafood evenly among them. Serve immediately.

Cook’s note: Saffron

Beautiful red-gold saffron threads (zafferano) are the dried stigmas of the purple-striped flowers of the Crocus sativus plant. Saffron from Abruzzo’s Navelli plain is among the best in the world. The spice is sold in two forms, powder and threads. The powder dissolves more easily, but it is also more easily tampered with. To be sure you are getting pure saffron, buy the threads and gently pound them to a powder before using. I use a mortar and pestle for pounding, but you can also press down on the threads with a heavy object, such as the flat side of a meat pounder or mallet.

Cook’s note: Shellfish

Much of the shellfish available these days is farm raised and therefore contains less dirt and grit than shellfish harvested from the wild. To clean mussels, scrub their shells with a stiff brush under cold running water. Discard any that do not close tightly when handled. If the mussels have beards, the fibrous tufts they use to hold on to pilings and rocks, you need to remove them. Using a towel or just bare fingers, grasp the beard gently but firmly and yank it toward the shell’s hinge. This will remove the fibers without tearing the mussel meat.

Frozen langoustine tails lack the flavor of fresh ones, but they are much more readily available and they have a nice, meaty texture that captures the sauce and absorbs its flavor.

Heading to the table -- dining outside makes it that much better!