With a 30-plus year career in supermarkets and grocery stores, Anne Hill, of Crown Point, a deli manager for Strack and Van Til, has seen a new wave in customer expectation for seafood needs.
What was once limited to offerings in the frozen food sections and canned products on the grocery shelf, by the 1990s, now includes beautiful ice-packed glass display fresh seafood departments in most stores.
The concept, which used to be only available in large metro urban centers and meat markets with access to large bodies of water, was a quick hit according to Hill, especially with many stores also offering the convenient option of using deep fryers to prepare selected items picked from the case and cooked on request for carry-out.
Two decades later, fresh seafood treatment from the fish counter at supermarkets, such as Strack and Van Til, is hooking an expanded customer base because of new options according to Hill.
"Our store locations have started adding even more ways to have fresh seafood selections prepared on-site, besides the traditional frying option," said Hill, during a visit to Strack and Van Til's latest store additions in Valparaiso, which were previously WiseWay Food Centers.
"With our remodeling and expansion of our Valparaiso North store location, for example, customers will now be able to select the fresh seafood of their choice and have the options of having it prepared steamed, baked or grilled," Hill said.
Bonnie Hampton of Valparaiso, who is the seafood counter manager at the new Valparaiso North Strack and Van Til, has worked in the seafood field for 38 years, including many years at a Florida seafood location.
"Some of the most popular customer fresh counter picks are the salmon, cod, shrimp and tilapia," Hampton said.
"What customers also like is we are able to offer our own breading and seasoned fish fillets like lemon pepper and Cajun, to allow the customer to also prepare selections to take home and cook as desired."
Hampton also provides customers with a bountiful rack of handy seafood recipe cards, all free to customers to explore their own culinary creativity at home.
In the neighboring deli meat and salad case area, two of the most popular seafood prepared recipe options this season for "light lenten lunch ideas" are a creamy salmon spread and a Cajun crab dip, perfect for toasted bagels or crisp crackers and chips.
Executive Chef Elias Youssef Hanne, of Elk Lodge #1152 in Hobart, said shrimp always remains a seafood favorite for any menu.
When asked to select a recipe for the appetizer course at last weekend's 12th Annual Dine with the Chefs 2013 Gala at Avalon Manor in Merrillville benefiting Meals on Wheels of Northwest Indiana, he said he knew a shrimp dish was an ideal fit.
And like Chef Hanne, and the staff at Stack and Van Til, faculty at The Culinary Institute of America always remind cooks to be creative and inventive when combining varied flavors and ingredients with any seafood course.
Since March is not only connected to Lenten menus, but also St. Patrick's Day fare, fresh cabbage is a popular option, including a new creation they describe as "a delicious heart-healthy and diabetes-friendly variation on a traditional stuffed cabbage," which uses salmon and wild rice.
"I serve the stuffed cabbage rolls with steamed edamame and a tarragon dipping sauce, to make a meal high in protein, fiber, and flavor while low in saturated fat, and without a fishy aftertaste," said Registered Dietitian and CIA Associate Professor Jennifer Stack.
"I designed this recipe for people like me, who are not fond of fish but want the health benefits it provides. These stuffed cabbage rolls look so good and are so tasty, they tempt even non-seafood lovers."
She said rinsed, canned salmon can be used in place of fresh salmon when not able to get to a fresh fish counter.
Chef Hanne's Royal Prince Shrimp Maras
1 small shallot, peeled and minced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 small Roma tomato, diced
2 tablespoons white wine
Pinch of Creole seafood seasoning
Pinch of fresh tarragon, basil and thyme
Pinch of crushed red pepper
12 large shrimp
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 tablespoons cold water
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh basil garnish
DIRECTIONS: In a large saute pan over high heat, add the shallots, garlic, tomatoes, wine, seasoning, tarragon, basil, thyme, red pepper and shrimp. Bring to a boil. Remove shrimp from the pan and set aside. Add mustard and scallions to pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until liquid is reduced by half. Increase heat and whisk in butter and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and incorporate shrimp with sauce. Serve by plating with a few shrimp, covered with sauce and garnished with basil. Makes 4 servings.
Source: Chef Hanne
Salmon and Wild Rice-Stuffed Cabbage
1 cup water
1/2 cup dried shiitake or porcini mushrooms
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup pearled barley
3/4 cup cooked wild rice
2 teaspoons olive oil
12 ounces salmon fillet
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
8 ounces sliced fresh shiitake mushrooms
1/2 cup white wine
3/4 cup chopped green onions
1 1/4 teaspoons dried tarragon
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest
8 large cabbage leaves, blanched
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
DIRECTIONS: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bring the water to a boil and remove from the heat. Steep the dried mushrooms for 10 minutes. Strain the mushrooms and reserve the steeping liquid. Chop the mushrooms and set aside. Add enough water to the reserved mushroom liquid to make 1 cup. Add 1/8 teaspoon of the salt and bring it to a boil. Stir in the barley and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook until the barley is soft, about 25 minutes. Stir the chopped soaked mushrooms into the barley. Mix the cooked barley with the wild rice and set aside. Heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Season the salmon fillet with 1/8 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Sear the salmon fillet just until cooked, about 2 minutes per side. Remove the skin from the salmon if still on and flake the fish into the barley mixture. Brown the fresh mushrooms in the same pan. Remove the mushrooms and deglaze the pan with 1/4 cup of the wine. Add the skillet liquids and mushrooms to the barley mixture. Add the green onions, tarragon, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper, and the lemon zest. Fill the cabbage leaves with the barley mixture and roll the leaves up tightly. Place the rolls seam side down in a baking dish. Bring the chicken broth and the remaining 1/4 cup wine to a boil and pour over the cabbage rolls. Cover with foil and bake until cabbage is soft and the broth is steaming, 20 to 25 minutes.
Nutritional Information Per Serving—Calories 384; Protein 24 g; Carbohydrates 24 g; Fiber 8 g; Total Fat 15 g; Saturated Fat 3 g; Sodium 326 mg.
Source: Culinary Institute of America
Herb-Crusted Haddock with Garlic-Basil Sauce
1 1/2 pounds haddock fillets
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
4 small garlic cloves, minced (divided use)
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil (divided use)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (divided use)
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
DIRECTIONS: Sprinkle fillets evenly with salt and pepper. Combine 2 garlic cloves, 2 tablespoons basil, 2 tablespoons parsley and lemon peel in a shallow bowl. Gently press both sides of fish fillets with garlic mixture. Coat fillets evenly with cooking spray. Grill fillets, covered with grill lid, on a grill rack coated with cooking spray, over medium-high heat 5 to 7 minutes on each side or until fish flakes with a fork. Arrange fillets on a serving platter. Cover and keep warm. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add remaining garlic and cook 1 minute. Add remaining basil, parsley and lemon juice. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Spoon sauce over fish. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.
Source: Strack and Van Til