Celebrating the Bounty of the Banks
I grew up in the Piedmont area of southern Virginia where there was no seafood to speak of, unless you caught it yourself. Fast-forward to the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, when frozen foods came into vogue, and Mama Hawthorne started serving frozen flounder fillets packaged in rectangular boxes. When I met Mr. Hawthorne, I would entice him with a frozen solid box of flounder and place the fillets in an baking dish with some onion slices, a lot of lemon juice, a lot of butter, and some Lawry’s seasoned pepper. I’d stick them in the oven while they were still frozen and bake them until they were flakey. That frozen box of flounder fillets was the start of my fervent, burnin’ love of seafood. It wasn’t until I moved to the Outer Banks, in 1984, that I realized flounder wasn’t a rectangular block-shaped fish.
On the Outer Banks, a whole new world opened to me – a world with a myriad of seafood. Each season here brings a different catch, and a bountiful one at that. The fact that I can bait a crab pot, drop it off my pier, and eat a fresh meal within hours, is just another perk of living where we do. The circle of life is never broken. It just keeps rollin’, rollin’, and rollin’ from generation to generation.
My own boys continue that tradition as they bring home their own catches. This 18-and-a-half-inch flounder, caught by my son, made it from water to table in about an hour. Little did I know, those many years ago, that this was what was packed into those rectangular boxes.
A love that started with frozen flounder has bloomed into something much bigger – a continuity – a chain of love, food, and communion. As Mr. Hawthorne says, “Every meal is a celebration of life,” and we’ve celebrated so many lives over the years.
Get the recipe -> Coconut Fried Shrimp with Pineapple Salsa
Both Mr. Hawthorne and I think the best flavor coaxed from shrimp comes from frying the little beasties. A lot of people are intimidated by frying, but one needn’t be. Purchase a laser thermometer to monitor the oil temperature, which is crucial in frying. This will take out all the guesswork, and you will be able to fry anything to perfection.
I make a light beer batter to coat my shrimp, then dredge them through coconut and panko. I’ll be serving the shrimp with a flavorful pineapple salsa that complements it perfectly.
The next dish is one of our all-time favorites. For years, the Hawthornes have had the pleasure of attending the North Carolina Aquarium’s series of seafood cooking classes, where chefs from local restaurants come and present their dishes. The following scallop dish is from one of those classes, and it’s a winner.
I have now given you my two favorite seafood recipes. You are most welcome! ♦