by Tara Davis
We in the South are blessed with so many beautiful resources, we have the luxury of marking seasons based on their availability. Blueberry and strawberry season, collard and mustard green season, mirliton, fig and tomato season. Harvesting and canning used to be a rite of passage in my childhood days, which meant listening to the latest community gossip- ahem, news- while shelling peas on someone’s porch.
Fishing season meant playing with bait worms and learning how to clean and cook what we caught. The neighbor kids and cousins would sometimes find and try to make pets of tadpoles and translucent crawfish hatchlings. Those really were the days, and how lucky we were to have them.
Everything here really does, in some way, revolve around food.
On the Gulf Coast, spring is unofficially ushered in when crawfish can be easily found at multiple places in any and every little town around us. While most of us consider the notion of (gasp!) leftover mudbugs blasphemous, what if… what if someone, well, had some? Leftover?
Or, if your brain cannot comprehend it, substitute shrimp.
What can be done with a small amount of precious shellfish gold?
Or perhaps you, with saintly patience, chose to pick the last few crabs clean and somehow resisted the urge to eat all of it in the process. (I don’t know how you do it!)
Over the years, various family members of mine, from grandmothers to in laws, passed along a wide assortment of seafood recipes. Today, I share with you some of my own, to use in a world of which we scare dare dream.
Seafood dip- heat 1/2 stick butter and 1 block cream cheese in a pan over medium heat, until well melted together.
Add 1 tbsp minced garlic, 1/2 tsp salt and 1.5 cups seafood of your choice (crawfish, shrimp, crab or a combination). Heat 5 minutes, or until warmed through. Finish with 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley and hot sauce to taste. Serve warm with toast, crackers or vegetables.
Seafood salad- mix together 2 cups plain Greek yogurt, 1 tsp each salt, pepper and garlic powder, 2 stalks celery, sliced, 1/3 red onion, diced, 1/2 bunch fresh parsley, roughly chopped 1 tbsp soy sauce and 2 tbsp lemon juice. Add 2-3 cups seafood of your choice. Serve cold with crackers, as a sandwich or on top of salad greens.
Seafood quesadilla- slice 1/4 each white onion, red or yellow bell pepper and 3-4 mushrooms. Saute over medium high heat with salt, pepper and garlic to taste. Add 1 cup seafood of your choice and heat until just warm. Mix together 2 tsp horseradish, 1 cup ketchup, 1 tbsp dijon mustard. Spread one side of each tortilla with a thin layer of mixture, then add seafood mixture and (controversially) cheese of your choice, stacking a second tortilla on top. In a dry pan, toast both sides of your quesadilla until the cheese is melted and the outside is golden brown.
Thanks for reading!