Memorial Day signals the “sun-official” start of summer and regardless of the weather, it’s time to get outdoors. During these longer days, I can be found strolling around the farmer’s market, barbequing on the deck, planting and tending to my flowers, enjoying the wonders of Kachemak Bay, fishing, entertaining friends and hosting visitors from the Lower 48.
The local seasonal restaurants are open and serving amazing food. The Other Fisherman and I dined upon fresh caught rockfish and Prince William Sound spot shrimp this weekend. We tasted their freshness, sweet and clean.
The rivers are open for salmon fishing and the Other Fisherman is ready to grab his gear and disappear at some ungodly pre-dawn hour to try his luck on one of the peaceful, beautiful rivers on the Kenai Peninsula. For him, there is nothing better than that first taste of grilled river-caught king salmon belly.
I like to watch him filet salmon. It’s chrome bright, iridescent skin and gorgeous, brilliant pink flesh are a sight to appreciate for a salmon lover.
The summer season allows me to change up my menu with all the fresh bounty available this time of year. The Homer Farmers Market is open for business, and offerings of locally grown produce, food to purchase, baked goods, seafood and handmade craft and art items grow each week throughout the season.
When the sun sparkles on the bay and the deck beacons me to stop what I am doing and enjoy a quiet moment outdoors, it’s nice to have something other than my usual glass of wine, maybe an Aperol spritzer or cocktail mixed with pretty pink rhubarb simple syrup — time to welcome and celebrate summer.
The season for fresh Prince William Sound spot shrimp has arrived, and if you are fortunate to find them for sale, buy some. They are so worth the cost. A favorite of mine, this sweet, delicate crustacean is a treasure from the depths of Alaska waters. Commonly served as “peel and eats,” they are gently steamed and served with a spicy horseradish seafood sauce and lemon wedges.
The champagne makes this elegant French butter sauce truly special served with spot shrimp. Dry, sparkling wine can be used. Enjoy sipping what is left alongside. This ginger, shallot and garlic infused beurre blanc sauce served with the warm shrimp make for a perfect summer appetizer.
Prince William Sound Spot Shrimp with Champagne Ginger Butter Sauce
From “Celebrate the Rain,” a cookbook from the Junior League of Seattle
Serves 4-6 as an appetizer
1 tablespoon butter
1 ½ pounds shrimp, peeled
Champagne Ginger Butter Sauce
1 cup champagne or dry sparkling wine
¼ cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
1 ½ tablespoons minced or finely grated ginger
4 teaspoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons minced pickled ginger
½ cup cold butter, cut into pieces
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
Chives, parsley, chili flakes for garnish
For the sauce, put the champagne, vinegar, shallot, fresh and pickled ginger and garlic in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Boil until the liquid has reduced to about ¼ cup, 20-30 minutes.
Reduce heat to low and whisk in the butter pieces, one at a time until incorporated before adding the next piece. Season with salt and white pepper.
Strain the sauce and return the liquid to the pan to keep warm.
Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon butter in a medium sized skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp and cook until pink and just opaque through, tossing occasionally, 3 to 4 minutes.
Spoon a little puddle of the warm sauce onto appetizer plates and arrange shrimp in a circle atop sauce. Garnish with chives and a sprinkle parsley and red chili pepper.
Miso Ginger Dressing
Here’s something different to enjoy with all the fresh garden greens and produce we will be harvesting this summer. This classic Japanese dressing is a nice change from the usual creamy blue cheese and ranch dressings served so often. I also like it drizzled over a piece of grilled fish, broccoli, or served with fresh picked sugar snap peas as a dip.
½ cup neutral oil, like grapeseed, vegetable or avocado
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons mild or sweet miso, such as yellow or white
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
2 teaspoons honey or agave or 1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon Mirin – (optional)
2 medium carrots, roughly chopped – about ½ cup
1- inch long piece fresh ginger, cut into coins
¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
Dash of cayenne or red chili pepper
Put all ingredients except pepper into a food processor except smoked paprika and pepper. Pulse a few times to mince carrots. Then let machine until mixture is chunky-smooth. (If you want it smoother, run longer) Taste for a nice balance of flavors and adjust to your preference. You may wish to blend in more vinegar, or sweetener, etc. If you find this too thick, stir in a bit of warm water.
Serve over sturdy lettuces such chopped romaine or iceberg wedges.
Being the lover of tossing together fun salad ingredients, I make a salad of crisp greens such as romaine, iceberg, slivered radish or daikon, slivers of green onion, shredded carrot and then add toasted almond slivers for garnish or sesame seeds. Feel free to make it your own with what you like and have on hand.