I had a birthday over last weekend, and I mark myself now only one year away from my well-deserved Medicare holiday. After paying in all these years, especially in light of the carnage Obamacare has personally wreaked on us, it will be a delight to start with the payback! This is the end of the political comment section, read on for the fun parts.
My birthday was celebrated by the return of the Gastropalooza! There is a mix of opinions on just how many of these we have held, and this is most likely due to this event’s heavy support of the wine and tequila industries. However, I’m going with 5 (and a 1/2 if you count the after-party).
This year’s theme was seafood, which started out with a visit to the Stinky Market! That’s the locals-only name for a fabulous Asian market with a Vietnamese name that I can’t pronounce (and I’m afraid if I tried this post would be taken down) that has the largest selection of seafoods, both domestic and imported, of any fish store I have ever been in. I was told to keep my eye out for the frog tank, where I would be greeted by layers and layers of frogs stacked up for sale in a large aquarium. Not dead frogs, mind you, just very flatly stacked LIVE FROGS, with their eyes all blinking and staring out at you. I had my cell phone at the ready, and was primed to do a fabulous YouTube posting that would hopefully generate enough advertising income to retire on! But, alas, the tank was empty. So we settled on some very tasty ingredients for a Ceviche appetizer, some manila clams and prawns to mix with an existing jumbo bag of green-lipped mussels from Costco to steam as a second course, and Ralph, the main course.
Let’s start with the Ceviche, which required prep well in advance of dinner. For those of you who are unfamiliar, ceviche is a dish concocted by marinating very fresh fish and/or shellfish and herbs and spices in lime juice, which effectively “cooks” the seafood. Wally, one of our very adventurous friends and fellow-paloozer, could NOT take his eyes off of a very large octopus in the cooler. So, into the cart it went, followed by scallops, and a box of frozen green-lipped mussels (making them easy to cut into pieces). We added 6 pounds of fresh manila clams and 2 pounds of fresh prawns and decided we had done enough damage to our wallets. When we returned home, Wendy and sister Mary made quick work chopping and dicing up Mr. Octopus.
Every ceviche needs spice and lime juice. Bro-In-Law Jeff had about 6 dozen Mexican Limes juiced and frozen, so we appropriated 2 quarts of that lovely nectar. And Wally and Wendy found cilantro, dill, and 2 types of scallions in Wally’s garden.
The garlic is best when it’s peeled (or husked) and sliced thin. And for this we were given a wonderful tip from Frankie, Wally’s better half. This really is only good if you are husking a lot of garlic cloves, especially if you are slicing and not mincing them. Separate your garlic cloves from the bulb, and place them into a mason jar or other sealed jar. Shake them vigorously and, voila!, they magically husk themselves!
Super thin sliced garlic, lime juice, thin sliced scallions, diced fresh octopus, cut up frozen mussels, quartered scallops, and some finely diced English Cucumber, and in 4-5 hours you got ceviche! Just for fun, Wally took a small quantity of it and added a cup of high-test tequila to it. Yowzers! You have to try it to believe it!
And finally, meet Ralph. We found Ralph at the Stinky Market. He is (or was) a Bandit Fish, a wonderfully fat rock fish. And he just begging to be cleaned and stuffed with dill, cilantro, and lots of fresh lemon slices, then doused with EVOO, wrapped in heavy duty foil, and roasted on the BBQ on low heat for 30 minutes.
While we waited for Ralph to finish his sauna, we enjoyed the steamed mussels, clams, and shrimp. Then 10 of us picked Ralph, quite literally, to the bone! As a side note, our Grand-Niece Emma really enjoyed poking Ralph in the eye while I was cleaning and prepping him, that is until the loud “BOO!” that made her jump at least a foot off the ground. What a squealer!
A very special shout-out to all of those who made my 64th Birthday very memorable, and very gastro-satisfying: my best half, Wendy; my sister (and most excellent hosts) Mary and her hubby Jeff; my delightful niece Morgan and her equally delightful hubby Erin with their two delicious girls Emma and Annie; fellow Ninja-Barbequer Wally and his bride, the ever-floral Frankie; and last but not least Barbara and hubby Joe, she being the mistress of mouth-watering desserts, and he being one of the funniest Jews I ever laid ears on. I’m going to credit my future eBook that deals with Hayim Depot, the Home Depot for Jewish Guys, all to him.
Until we meet again! And, back by popular demand, here’s Tippy!