Fresh Gulf Shrimp and Cobia
Home Cooking on Florida’s Panhandle
By: Charles Giuliano - 04/17/2014
There’s nothing like home cooking.
During a week in a condo on the Florida Panhandle at first we dined out.
Paying $21 at a rustic seafood shack for catch of the day with a couple of hush puppies on the side was a bit steep.
We opted to go local cruising the strip for a fish market.
With a bit of luck we found a wholesale/ retail store open seven days a week.
There was an abundance of seafood to choose from in a range of price and size.
After much deliberation we opted for three pounds of head on jumbo shrimps for just $9.95 a pound. For the same price, on the advice of the friendly young fishmonger, we also bought a pound of deep sea red shrimp for the same price. He said they were smaller but sweeter.
For another $3.98 we sprung for the handy cleaning tool. It’s messy but made fast work of removing the shell and cleaning the shrimp.
Astrid gamely took on this task while I boiled pasta and prepped.
Our favorite shrimp recipe is amazingly quick, simple and delicious.
Back home Big Y offers buy one get one free and now and then buy one get two free.
That’s for farm raised, previously frozen shrimp.
This was the rare opportunity to try fresh from the Gulf meaty and flavorful shrimp.
First I chopped a generous portion of ginger and garlic.
Heating the frying pan I added olive oil and sautéed the garlic and ginger to release their flavors into the hot oil.
The cleaned shrimp were added and briskly turned as they started to turn color from translucent grey to white with pink edges.
This happens rather quickly in about two to three minutes. You don’t want to over cook as that makes them tough and looses flavor.
After a couple of minutes I add about a cup or so of white wine. Continue cooking just long enough to absorb the flavor and burn off the alcohol.
The shrimps were served over gluten free brown rice pasta. If cooked properly it is perfectly fine and complemented by the flavors of the shrimps and wine sauce. In our home for the past couple of years we have been mostly gluten free.
For a Sicilian it’s tough to cut back on pasta but this is a decent compromise. Now and then I enjoy the real deal when dining out. But only rarely does it match our own.
We feasted for two nights on our stash of fresh shrimp. With sautéed okra and pencil thin asparagus as sides.
Returning to the fish market we were eager to try the locally caught cobia. It’s a relatively large fleshy fish with meat that resembles a smaller version of tuna or swordfish but far more nuanced and delicate.
During our visit we watched as a local couple brought in and weighed a 30 pound cobia. She explained that they have a license to sell to fish markets. Cobia are a migrating fish and this is near to the end of the season which peaks in March. The locals catch them with rod and reel.
The pound we bought was not cheap at $18.95. But imagine the price in a restaurant if they even have the delicacy on the menu.
Back at the condo there was a difference of opinion. Astrid wanted to cut it into smaller portions to pan fry. I wanted a big chunk broiled.
That led to complications in our minimal galley of a kitchen with poor venting.
The olive oil in the broiling pan caused billows of smoke setting off the smoke alarm. We took turns fanning it and flopping the front door back and forth to create a breeze.
The results were great for both of us. It was served with perfectly cooked, nutty Himalayan red rice and asparagus. Of course if we were back home the cobia would be perfect on the outdoor grill. The hitch is that it’s tough to get fresh fish in the Berkshires.
On the road you improvise.
Today we will return to the fish market where I have my eye on the awesome red snapper. But we may again opt for an unfamiliar local delicacy.
Soon we will be back on the road and at the mercy of the malls and fast food chains.
So this respite of home cooking, condo style, was totally awesome.