The Best Cool Bites to Get You Out of the Kitchen
Though an enthusiastic cook and appreciative of the slight reprieve from the summer temperatures, I remain unconvinced that Gumbo Weather is upon us. I am still avoiding heat belching ovens, roiling liquids in a hot pots, and, for the most part, hot food. I remain in the mood for cool, refreshing soups, crisp salads, light vegetable-forward sandwiches, raw anything (pretty much) and fresh sushi. How fortuitous for me: I have plenty of options for indulging my passion for cold fare.
Haiku (4430 Magazine St., 504-301-0850, haikunola.com) on Magazine Street offers an extensive menu including hibachi options and delicious house-made ramen with choices of tonkatsu, kansu, shoyu and miso broths – all of which I enjoy but currently eschew in favor of fresh unadorned slices sashimi and inventive rolls, my favorite being the White Ninja combining yellowtail and transparent slices of both lemon and jalapeño with a splash of Ponzu sauce. Very limited, well-spaced seating is offered inside but there is plenty of seated space on the deck, which is outfitted with cooling fans. Pickup and delivery are also available.
At Luvi (5236 Tchoupitoulas St., 504-605-3340, luvirestaurant.com) Chef Hao Gong features two “Feed Me” menus, one all raw and cold, the other a combination of raw and cooked, nothing on which is which is piping hot. Both of the menus are constantly changing but offerings may include Shanghai Bund, one of those concoctions of seemingly disparate ingredients – paper thin slices of yellowtail, crisp green apple, Manchego, vinegar soy and basil oil – that Gong is known for bringing together with a brilliant magic touch. Other stow stoppers that may make an appearance of the Feed Me are Sunny D (salmon, Asian pear, seasoned soy, and basil seeds), or Bottoms Up 12 (Gulf tuna, pink dragon fruit, spicy sesame soy sauce). The Feed Me menus are offered only to patrons occupying the very limited seats at the small restaurants but many others dishes are offered to go and for delivery. Check out the menu here.
I am definitely not cool enough to be a regular at Hoshun (1601 St Charles Ave., 504-302-9716, hoshunrestaurant.com), the sleek pan-Asian money machine in the LGD, but the rivers of metal, cold stone counters and low ambient lighting offsetting the very well-spaced tables in the cavernous space are compelling. Cold and raw foods abound on the extensive menu, which is also offered via delivery: Tuna Tataki (seared rare tuna drizzles with ponzu and scattered with scallions) Yellowtail Jalapeño (yellowtail sashimi with jalapeño salsa) Beef Tataki (rare rib-eye with ponzu and scallions) and cucumber salad with sesame and soy.
If you are seeking fresh recipes to prepare at home consider a copy of “The Deep End of Flavor: Recipes and Stories from New Orleans’ Premier Seafood Chef,” the new-ish, ground-breaking seafood cookbook from Chef Tenney Flynn of GW Fins (808 Bienville St, 504-581-3567, gwfins.com), New Orleans’ answer to Eric Rippert and Le Bernadin (NYC). Flynn uses the book to demystify the process of cooking seafood, particularly finfish, at home. A phobia I admittedly share but am working to cast aside. This cookbook has definitely helped.
” As fearless as my restaurant guests have become in ordering fish they’ve never heard of, most people are often skittish about cooking fish at home,” Flynn said. “It’s perishable, delicate, and generally more expensive than other proteins. I want to ease those fish-cooking phobias forever.”
Here’s a taste from the book.
Veracruz Seafood Cocktail
Serves 4-6 as a appetizer
- 12 ounces frozen cleaned squid, tubes and tentacles (or use octopus)
- 2 quarts water
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
- 2 bay leaves
- 6 parsley stems (reserve the leaves for another use)
- 1⁄2 cup large-dice sweet onion
- 12 ounces (16–20 or 21–25) wild- caught Gulf shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1 quart of ice
- 1⁄2 pound jumbo lump crab or crab fingers, optional
- 1⁄2 pint fresh oysters, optional
- Tomato Base (recipe follows)
Thaw the squid under cold running water for 5 to 10 minutes and separate the tentacles. Feel the center of each to check for small pieces of beak and remove them. Run water inside the tubes and remove any stray debris with a finger. Slice the cleaned tubes in 1⁄4-inch pieces. Place them in a bowl and mix them together with the tentacles.
In a large pot, bring the water to a boil over high heat. Add the salt, pepper, bay leaves, and parsley stems and stir. Lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the onion and continue to simmer until slightly softened, about 3 minutes longer. With a slotted spoon, remove the onion, spread out on a plate, and put in the refrigerator.
Raise the heat and return the liquid to a boil. Add the shrimp and cook for 2 or 3 minutes, until the shrimp are just beginning to turn pink. You don’t want them all the way done—the lime juice in the sauce will finish “cooking” them.
With a slotted spoon, transfer the shrimp to a large bowl. Return the liquid to a boil, add the squid, and cook for another 3 minutes. Transfer the squid to the bowl with the shrimp, add the ice, and pour the cooking liquid over them. There should be enough ice to completely cool the mixture. Let the shellfish sit in the water while you make the tomato base. (You can prepare the seafood the day before and chill in the refrigerator.)
To serve, drain the squid and shrimp and add it to the sauce, along with the crab and/or oysters, if using. Serve in chilled footed glass goblets or glass bowls. Garnish with avocado slices and cilantro sprigs.
- 1 cup ketchup
- 1⁄4 cup tomato juice
- 6 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
- 1⁄4 cup large-dice roasted red pepper
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, plus a few sprigs for garnish
- 1 avocado, peeled and sliced (for serving)
In a medium bowl, mix together the ketchup, tomato juice, citrus juices, Tabasco, roast pepper, and the cooled onion. Mix in the cilantro and refrigerate for 1 hour, or until very cold.