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02 May 2012

Italian Grilled Seafood & Vegetable Platter

Rain, rain, go away.  Come again another day!  

Come to think of it, rain was really previsioned for Labor Day but when we woke up that morning, the sun was shining so bright that it was imperative to hasten our morning preps and run outside to enjoy it.  In summer shirts. 

I have yet to take out our summer clothes so I took them out from storage haphazardly.  My daughter was happy.  She's the kind of person who's always hot.  She refuses to wear sweaters at home in full winter and prefers to walk around barefoot on the freezing floor.  Her older brother instead, is the one who shivers at the first drop of half degree with the temperature. 

Like all the years that passed, it was difficult for him to go through the transition of mid-season shirts to summer shirts.  He is against change, especially when he has to peel off some of his clothes for the warmer weather. 

On his first morning in the Philippines once, he was indignant about my choice of clothes for him for that day. A pair of shorts, short-sleeve shirt and a pair of sandals. We sat together for a very long time because he refused to go out wearing summer clothes. He preferred his long-sleeve shirt, pants, socks and sneakers at a sweltering temperature of 30+ plus 80% humidity.  He got his way. But after less than half an hour, he came to me and asked for the lighter clothes .  

Our annual debate over clothes ensued but he gave in this time with complaints that I could hear all the way from outside. 

We knew about the possibility of rain but we opted to grill anyway. Whatever heat and shining sun we had an hour before gave in to dark heavy clouds and cold winds. My son was triumphant when we called them back in and made them wear long-sleeve shirts and jackets.   

"Hai visto?  Avevo ragione io!"  (You see? I was right!)

For the past years, we have maintained a tradition of grilling seafood on Labor Day.  I had thought of grilling some honey lime ginger chicken again with java rice that we had the other day but maybe it was too soon for a second round.  So seafood it was.  This time, my husband gave me a new Italian cookbook of barbecuing for more ideas.  I wanted to try everything but I ended up doing just one among some I have chosen because of time constraints.  I was up against giving the food while they're still hot and a couple of hungry kids. 

I never get to take so much pictures when we are grilling because they have to be eaten when they are fresh out of the grill.  I usually have a minute to take photos before serving them on the table.  For this reason, I always compute one more serving for my photo shoot after all the chaos of grilling & eating.  That extra serving is for my photo shoot at a convenient time.

The components of this seafood platter are what we typically have for Labor Day with our friends with the exception of the prawns with honey sauce which I got from the recipe book my husband gave me.  Grilled prawns, capsicum, rombo (turbot) and sword fish are common grilled dishes you can order from the restaurants.  Salmoriglio (sammurigghiu in Sicilian) is a typical Sicilian sauce poured over grilled seafood (and sometimes with meat too).   The best fish for the salmoriglio is sword fish.  Together, they make one of the best seafood dishes you can have. 

The grilling of mussels is something typically done in the Philippines, not in Italy. They are best eaten with a sauce mixture of vinegar, soy sauce & chili, accompanied with a very cold bottle of beer and a group of friends around the grill. I introduced it to our friends here years ago. There are not so many mussel lovers among us so only a few eat them.  They look dried up and unappealing after grilling but when eaten immediately, even without any condiments, they are marvelous!  

Cooking the potatoes in the coals is something I learned from my parents-in-law.  I never had them cooked this way before and I remember being dubious the first time I saw my husband cook them among the coals.  Seeing them with charred with the coals didn't look like a promise of a good potato but wait until you open it up and scoop out the pulp.  Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with salt. It's probably the best way to cook potatoes.  Delicious!

When we grill, we never skip the bruschette.  Most of the time, we put tomatoes & basil on top but sometimes, we enjoy them with just extra virgin olive oil and salt while still warm from the grill. It sounds so simple but believe me, it's one of the best representatives of the bruschette.

There's a plethora of seafood and vegetables that can be grilled. There are also so many ways to marinate them and different sauces to pour on them.  However, the most popular way to eat them is plain, simple and healthy. Always drizzled with a very good bottle of extra virgin olive oil, a squeeze of lemon and a light sprinkling of salt.   

This way, you taste the real Mediterranean flavors. 

I hope you enjoyed our lunch.   Thank you for dropping by!

Swordfish with Salmoriglio (Lemon Sauce)

For 4 steaks or slices of swordfish
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons hot water
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • handful of parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • salt & pepper
  1. To prepare the salmoriglio, you will be doing a water bath (bain marie) so prepare a saucepan with some water.  Start the fire on the stove.
  2. Put a heat-resistant bowl or smaller saucepan on the saucepan with boiling water.  The water should just be enough, touching the base of the bowl.
  3. Put the oil, lemon juice & 2 tablespoons of hot water together in the bowl and whisk vigorously.  Add the parsley, garlic, oregano, salt & pepper.  
  4. Keep on whisking for about 3 minutes.  The sauce should just warm up, not boil.  Turn off the fire but leave the bowl in the water bath until the sword fish steaks are cooked.
  5. Get some of the salmoriglio and coat the sword fish with it.
  6. Grill the sword fish on both sides.  Season with salt & pepper.
  7. Pour the salmoriglio on the sword fish steaks and serve immediately.

Prawns with Honey Sauce

Serves 4
  • 12 prawns
  • 1 lemon, juice
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons acacia honey (or any similar honey)
  • 1 chili, chopped finely, seeds taken away
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped chives
  1. Take away the shells and veins of the prawns but leave the tails.  Insert each prawn in a skewer.  Set aside.
  2. In a bowl, mix together the oil, lemon, honey, chili, parsley & chives.  
  3. Set aside about a tablespoon of the sauce.  Pour the rest of the sauce on the prawns and let them marinate for about 10 minutes. 
  4. Grill the prawns for about 2 minutes each side.
  5. Drizzle the sauce that you set aside on the cooked prawns and serve immediately. 

Herb Turbot with Lemon & Oil

  • 1 turbot, gutted but leave the scales
  • about 1 cup of fresh herbs of your choice (I used parsley, chives, sage, rosemary, basil, oregano & thyme.), washed & dried
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lemon 
  1. Finely chop the herbs.  Transfer to a bowl and mix with salt.
  2. Push the herbs in the mouth towards the stomach of the fish.
  3. Grill the fish on both sides.
  4. When cooked, take out the meat and place in a serving platter. 
  5. Sprinkle with salt.  Squeeze the lemon on the fish.  Drizzle with extra virgin oil.  Serve hot.

Potatoes Cooked in Coals

  • potatoes
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt
  1. Place the potatoes under the grill, among the coals.  Just make sure they are not under anything you are grilling so that they don't get any drippings.
  2. When cooked, slice them open and scoop out the pulp.
  3. Sprinkle with salt & drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.

Bruschetta with Extra Virgin Olive Oil & Salt

  • slices of bread
  • salt
  • extra virgin olive oil
  1. Put the bread on the grill and brown both sides.
  2. When golden, sprinkle with salt & drizzle with extra virgin olive oil
  3. Serve immediately.

Grilled Peppers

  • peppers, sliced in four lengthwise
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt
  1. Grill the peppers.
  2. When the peppers are cooked, enclose them in a food plastic bag (or ziplock) for a few minutes.  This will make peeling the skin easier.  Peel off the skin.
  3. Transfer the pulp in a serving plate. 
  4. Pour extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with salt.

Grilled Asparagus with Lemon & Oil

  • asparagus, hard ends taken away
  • 1 lemon
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt
  1. Grill the asparagus.
  2. When cooked, squeeze lemon on top, sprinkle with salt & drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.
  3. Serve warm.

Grilled Prawns and Mussels

  • prawns
  • mussels
  1. Grill the prawns and mussels until cooked.
  2. Serve immediately.
  3. Prawns and mussels are naturally tasty and salty so there's no need for any condiments.