Foolproof seafood recipes with America’s Test Kitchen co-host Julia Davison

Morning News

Co-host of America’s Test Kitchen Julia Davison joined us live with foolproof seafood recipes. For more information on the recipes featured in the segment, you can visit America’s Test Kitchen’s website or see the details below. 

Crab Louis Salad
Serves 4 to 6 

Ingredients
Purchase high-quality, fresh crabmeat for this recipe. However, if you can only find canned crab meat, we prefer either claw or backfin meat or a combination thereof. Chili sauce, a condiment similar to ketchup, has a sweet flavor and a subtle, spicy kick; do not substitute Asian chili-garlic sauce. 

Dressing

  • ½  cup of mayonnaise 
  • ¼  cup of sour cream 
  • ¼  cup of finely chopped green bell pepper 
  • ¼  cup of sliced scallions 
  • 2  tablespoons of chopped, pitted green olives 
  • 2 tablespoons  of chili sauce 
  • 5 teaspoons of lemon juice 
  • 2 teaspoons of chopped fresh tarragon 
  • ¼ teaspoon of salt 
  • ¼  teaspoon of pepper 
  • ⅛  teaspoon of cayenne pepper 

Salad

  • 1 pound fresh crabmeat, picked over for shells and pressed dry between paper towels 
  • 2 heads Bibb lettuce (1 pound), leaves separated and torn into 1½-inch pieces 
  • 7½ ounces grape tomatoes, halved 
  • 3 hard-cooked eggs, quartered 
  • 1 ripe avocado, halved, pitted, quartered, and sliced thin 

Instructions

1. For the dressing: Whisk all ingredients together in bowl. 
2. For the salad: Gently toss crabmeat with ½ cup dressing in bowl. Mound lettuce in center of serving platter. Arrange tomatoes, eggs, and avocado around the lettuce. Top the lettuce with dressed crab and serve with remaining ¾ cup of dressing.

Salmon Tacos
Serves 6
Substitutions Arctic Char • Wild Salmon

Ingredients

Avocado Crema

  • 1/2 avocado, chopped
  • 1/4 cup of chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3 tablespoons of water
  • 1 tablespoon of lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon of plain yogurt

Tacos

  • 1/4 teaspoon of grated lime zest, plus 2 tablespoons of juice
  • 1 teaspoon of table salt, divided
  • 4 ounces of collard greens, stemmed and sliced thin (2 cups)
  • 4 ounces of jícama, peeled and cut into 2‑inch-long matchsticks
  • 4 radishes, trimmed and cut into 1‑inch-long matchsticks
  • 1/2 small red onion, halved and sliced thin
  • 1/4 cup of fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of pepper
  • 4 (6- to 8‑ounce) skin-on salmon fillets, 1 inch thick
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 12 (6‑inch) corn tortillas, warmed
  • Hot sauce

Why this recipe works:
While we love California-style fish tacos, we’re not always up for deep frying on taco Tuesday. This gave us the opportunity to branch out and make tacos with rich salmon rather than more common white fish. A flavorful spice rub gave the fillets a nice crust without the need for batter. And why not change direction on the slaw, too? Thinly sliced collard greens, radishes, cooling jícama, red onion, cilantro, and lime perfectly complemented the robust salmon. For added richness and a creamy element, we served the tacos with an avocado crema. You can substitute 2 cups thinly sliced purple cabbage for the collards if desired. If using Arctic char or wild salmon, cook the fillets until they reach 120 degrees (for medium-rare)and start checking for doneness after 2 minutes.

Instructions

  1. For the avocado crema rocess all ingredients in food processor until smooth, about 1 minute, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Season with salt and pepper to taste; set aside until ready to serve. (Crema can be refrigerated with plastic wrap pressed flush to surface for up to 2 days.)
  2. For the tacos whisk lime zest and juice and 1/4 teaspoon salt together in large bowl. Add collard greens, jícama, radishes, onion, and cilantro and toss to combine; set aside.
  3. Combine chili powder, remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper in small bowl. Pat salmon dry with paper towels and sprinkle evenly with spice mixture. Heat oil in 12‑inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Cook salmon, skin side up, until well browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Flip and continue to cook until salmon is still translucent when checked with tip of paring knife and registers 125 degrees (for medium-rare), 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer salmon to plate and let cool slightly, about 2 minutes. Using 2 forks, flake salmon into rough 2‑inch pieces, discarding skin.
  4. Divide salmon, collard slaw, and avocado crema evenly among tortillas and drizzle with hot sauce to taste. Serve.

Lemon-Poached Halibut with Roasted Fingerling Potatoes
Serves 4
Substitutions Mahi-Mahi • Red Snapper • Striped Bass • Swordfish

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds of fingerling potatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon of table salt, divided
  • 3/4 teaspoon pepper, divided
  • 8 ounces grape tomatoes, halved
  • 4 (6- to 8‑ounce) skinless -halibut fillets, 1 inch thick
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried oregano
  • 8 thin slices of lemon
  • 2 tablespoons of minced fresh parsley

Why this recipe works:
We’ve learned that potatoes don’t cook well en papillote, so we pair our fish with lighter vegetables in packets so they cook through to the perfect texture. But the concentrated, flavorful broth that’s created inside the foil seemed like a lovely medium for tying fish and potatoes together on the plate, so we roasted elegant fingerlings outside the packets—right underneath the parcels on a baking sheet for maximum utilization of the oven (we preroasted the potatoes so they finished at the same time as the packets). Adding grape tomatoes to the packets with the halibut provided pops of brightness. We slid the moist poached fish, infused with lemon and oregano, and colorful tomatoes on top of the beautifully browned fingerlings before serving. Use potatoes of a similar size to ensure consistent cooking. To test for doneness without opening the foil packets, use a permanent marker to mark an “X” on the outside of the foil where the fish fillet is the thickest, then insert an instant-read thermometer through the “X” into the fish to measure its internal temperature.

Instructions

  1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Toss potatoes with 2 teaspoons oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Arrange potatoes cut side down on rimmed baking sheet in even layer. Roast until cut sides begin to brown, about 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, lay four 16 by 12‑inch rectangles of foil on counter with short sides parallel to counter edge. Divide tomatoes evenly among foil rectangles, arranging in center of lower half of each sheet of foil, then place 1 fillet on each tomato pile. Sprinkle halibut with oregano, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper, then top each with 2 lemon slices and 1 teaspoon oil. Fold top half of foil over halibut and tomatoes, then tightly crimp edges into rough 9 by 6‑inch packets.
  3. Place packets on top of potatoes on sheet and bake until fish registers 130 degrees, about 15 minutes. Carefully open packets, allowing steam to escape away from you, and let halibut rest in packets for 10 minutes.
  4. Divide potatoes among 4 individual serving bowls. Using thin metal spatula, gently slide halibut and tomatoes onto potatoes, then pour accumulated juices over top. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Grilled Bacon-Wrapped Scallops
Serves 4
Use ordinary bacon, as thick-cut bacon will take too long to crisp on the grill. When wrapping the scallops, the bacon slice should fit around both scallops, overlapping just enough to be skewered through both ends. We recommend buying “dry” scallops, which don’t have chemical additives and taste better than “wet.” Dry scallops will look ivory or pinkish; wet scallops are bright white. This recipe was developed with large sea scallops (sold 10 to 20 per pound). You will need four metal skewers for this recipe.

Ingredients

  • 12 slices of bacon
  • 24 large sea scallops, tendons removed
  • 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon of pepper
  • 2 lemons, halved
  • ¼ cup of chopped fresh chives
  1. Place 4 layers paper towels on large plate and arrange 6 slices bacon over towels in single layer. Top with 4 more paper towels and remaining 6 slices bacon. Cover with 2 layers of paper towels; place second large plate on top and press gently to flatten. Microwave until fat begins to render but bacon is still pliable, about 4 minutes. Toss scallops, melted butter, salt, and pepper together in bowl until scallops are thoroughly coated with butter.
  2. Press 2 scallops together, side to side, and wrap with 1 slice bacon, trimming excess as necessary. Thread onto skewer through bacon. Repeat with remaining scallops and bacon, threading 3 bundles onto each of 4 -skewers.
  3. (a) For a charcoal grill: Open bottom vent completely. Light large chimney starter filled with charcoal briquettes (6 quarts). When top coals are partially covered with ash, pour two-thirds evenly over half of grill, then pour remaining coals over other half of grill. Set cooking grate in place, cover, and open lid vent completely. Heat grill until hot, about 5 minutes.

    (b) For a gas grill: Turn all burners to high, cover, and heat grill until hot, about 15 minutes. Leave primary burner on high and turn other burner(s) to medium.
  4. Clean and oil cooking grate. Place skewers, bacon side down, and lemon halves, cut side down, on cooler side of grill. Cook (covered, if using gas) until bacon is crispy on first side, about 4 -minutes. Flip skewers onto other bacon side and cook until crispy, about 4 minutes longer. Flip skewers scallop side down and move to hotter side of grill. Grill until sides of scallops are firm and centers are opaque, about 4 minutes on 1 side only. Transfer skewers to platter, squeeze lemons over top, and sprinkle with chives. Serve.

Why this recipe works:
To recast this cocktail-party favorite as a grilled entrée, we had to find a way to get sturdy, fatty bacon and lean, delicate scallops to come together. Parcooking the bacon in the microwave rendered some of the fat, preventing flare-ups when it hit the grill. Wrapping each bacon slice around two scallops made for the best ratio, and skewering the bundles ensured that everything stayed put. Grilled lemon halves squeezed over the top are the final touch.

Cóctel de Camarón
Serves 1 

  • 1 ¼pounds of large shrimp (26 to 30 per pound), peeled, -deveined and tails removed 
  • ¼ teaspoon of table salt, plus salt for cooking shrimp 
  • 1 cup of V8 juice, chilled 
  • ½ cup of ketchup 
  • 3 tablespoons of lime juice (2 limes), plus lime wedges for serving 
  • 2 teaspoons pf hot sauce, plus extra for serving 
  • ½ English cucumber, cut into ½-inch pieces 
  • 1 cup of finely chopped red onion 
  • 1 avocado, halved, pitted and cut into ½-inch pieces 
  • ¼ cup of chopped fresh cilantro 
  • Saltines 

Why this recipe works:
Mexican shrimp cocktail combines tender shrimp with crunchy cucumber and onion and creamy avocado in a gently spicy tomato-based sauce. It has a livelier personality than the American dish: Eaten ice-cold with a spoon and saltines, it’s like a festive, shrimp-packed Bloody Mary or gazpacho. Our poaching method for Shrimp Cocktail (page 327) produces reliably plump, tender shrimp, so there was no need to abandon it. We cut the shrimp into bite-size pieces that were easy to eat. For a sauce that wasn’t too sweet, we used a combination of savory V8 and ketchup plus lime juice and hot sauce. V8’s slightly viscous consistency, along with the ketchup, gave the sauce body to coat the shrimp. The balanced flavor of Valentina, Cholula, or Tapatío hot sauce works best. If using a spicier, vinegary hot sauce such as Tabasco, start with half the amount called for and adjust to your taste. Saltines are a traditional accompaniment, but tortilla chips or thick-cut potato chips are also good. 

Instructions

  1. Bring 3 cups water to boil in large saucepan over high heat. Stir in shrimp and 1 tablespoon salt. Cover and let sit off heat until shrimp are opaque, about 5 minutes, shaking saucepan halfway through sitting time.  
  2. Meanwhile, fill large bowl halfway with ice and water. Drain shrimp and transfer to ice bath; let cool for 3 to 5 minutes. Drain and cut each shrimp crosswise into 3 pieces. 
  3. Combine V8 juice, ketchup, lime juice, hot sauce, and salt in bowl. Add cucumber, onion, and shrimp and stir until evenly coated. Stir in avocado and cilantro. Portion cocktail into individual bowls or glasses and serve immediately, passing saltines, lime wedges, and extra hot sauce separately. 

This segment aired on the KTLA 5 Morning News on May 26, 2020.

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