Culinary aphrodisiac, myth or fact, whichever side of the discussion, you cannot argue the seductive nature of seafood.
Every Disney loving boy who’s seen The Little Mermaid learned that, to successfully Kiss the Girl, “First, you’ve got to create the mood,” by taking things into your own hands. How appropriate that the lead crustacean Sebastian, in his sultry baritone, choreographs his fellow creatures from the sea to set the romantic stage. After all, seafood tickles the pleasure feelings and tantalizes the senses through taste and texture, leading to arousal.
“Seafood isn’t difficult to make at home, as it really doesn’t take much to prepare,” begins Enrich Foodie Team Chef Victor Suppa, inviting us into his home where he prepares a foolproof “sure thing” that even a guy can’t foul up. This simple meal will definitely set the pace for a romantic evening, “… and it’s very cost effective, as two can easily dine for under $60!”
Culinary delight can be intensified by incorporating foods of love in an Italian inspired stew. After all, they are culturally known for their ability to romance the simple pleasures of life.
Italian Cioppino begins with fresh tomatoes in a wine sauce, adding a variety of leftovers from the catch of the day which Italian fishermen would feast upon when they returned to port.
Salmon, shrimp and other seafood such as lobster, oysters, clams and scallops are full of omega-3 fatty acids, low-fat proteins and other nutrients known to increase the production of sex hormones essential for a climactic evening, triggering the body’s senses to boost energy, increase blood flow and rev the engine of your sex machine – naturally.
“Shellfish is best consumed in any month with an ‘R’ in it,” begins Chef Victor’s lesson, since shellfish consumed during the summer months could be problematic for various reasons. Today, Chef Victor ‘fished’ at Ocean’s for his selection of fresh mussels, pasta clams, Atlantic salmon, halibut and Tiger shrimp.
Paying homage to the recipe’s historical roots (Cioppino in Italian means “to chop”), short cuts can be taken.Chef Victor assures us, “Life is good when you can buy garlic pre-peeled,” and great quality tomatoes may be found in a can, “… as long as the ingredients only state tomatoes, tomato juice and basil. Just keep your ingredients as close to Mother Nature as you possibly can.”
Chef Victor first prepares the wine sauce and while chopping shallots he explains, “The whole process from wine sauce to seafood takes about two hours, without pre-preparation. You can purchase frozen shrimp and shellfish, but the fresher the seafood the better.” As most shellfish are visually erotic with their uncanny resemblance to sex organs, you should consider the ‘mise en place’ efforts as foreplay as you orchestrate the meal preparation into your own mood setting, complete with Chef jacket … or not.
But what if you are a little squeamish about touching and working with raw fish?
“There are a few things you should note when working with fresh fish,” begins Chef Victor as he dons “rubber” gloves. “First, wash your seafood thoroughly under cold water; even let it sit to soak for a while. Then assess your shellfish while debearding mussels and scrubbing clams. Any cracked or slightly open shells which do not close with gentle tapping, or when you force tap water into them, should be immediately discarded.” As he pulls out 8 shells with these faults, I realize how often I’ve ordered mussels, and how many shells never opened, or I felt a little sick after dining. I never knew. How could I? I was never taught to cook shellfish or raw seafood at home.
Exactly 2 hours later as we dine, a subtle feeling of sensual excitement is kindled as we find our blood pumping, hearts thumping and a serious MMmmmm factor sets in.
Gentlemen, go shopping! Then Kiss the Girl and tell us how we scored with this recipe!
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced
- 4 large shallots, chopped
- 2 tsp salt
- 4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
- ¾ tsp dried crushed red pepper flakes, plus more to taste
- ¼ cup tomato paste
- 1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes in juice
- 1½ cups dry white wine
- 5 cups fish stock
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 lb cherry stone clams, scrubbed
- 1 lb mussels, scrubbed, debearded
- 1 lb uncooked large shrimp, peeled, deveined
- 1½ lbs assorted firm-fleshed fish fillets such as halibut or salmon, cut into 2-inch chunks
- Heat the oil in a very large pot over medium heat.
- Add the fennel, shallots and salt, and saute until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes.
- Add the garlic and ¾ teaspoon of red pepper flakes, and saute 2 minutes.
- Stir in the tomato paste.
- Add tomatoes with their juices, wine, fish stock, white wine and bay leaf.
- Cover and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Stir occasionally.
- Cover and simmer until the flavours blend, about 30 minutes.
- Add the clams and mussels to the cooking liquid.
- Cover and cook until the clams and mussels begin to open, about 5 minutes.
- Add the shrimp and fish.
- Simmer gently until the fish and shrimp are just cooked through, and the clams are completely open, stirring gently, about 5 minutes longer (discard any clams and mussels that do not open).
- Season the soup, to taste, with more salt and red pepper flakes.
- Ladle the soup into bowls and serve with a crusty Italian bread. (optional)
For this dish, a light and crisp extra dry Cotti Albani from Labio, Italy by Fontana Di Papa was used for both cooking and drinking.
$7.49+tax & deposit
available at LCBO