A Summer Garden Party & Crab Boil
Our Summer Garden Party will be held on Sunday, July 17 at Styer's, and we're excited to welcome a special guest to this year's festivities. Chef, author and sustainable seafood advocate Barton Seaver will host an Old-Fashioned Crab Boil to close out the celebration, inspired by his newest book, Two If By Sea. The day will also include lots of summertime treats, garden workshops, and fun for the little ones-- and we'll be celebrating again in Westport on July 23! Explore all the events at the Westport and Glen Mills Summer Garden Parties and read on for more with Barton, including his recipe for Scallop Satay.
terrain: What inspired you to make the jump from restaurants to advocacy for sustainable seafood?
Barton: As a restauranteur, I began to understand the responsibility and impact that we have as large scale food purchasers. Over time, I got more and more engaged in sustainability. As I explored how to minimize the impact to the environment, I realized that a dialogue was missing from the conversation-- how can we maximize the environment's impact on us? Sustainability is too often about reducing negatives, rather than working to restore positives. I became very interested in how people fit into the equation. Ultimately, we're trying to sustain ourselves too. I took on a role as a National Geographic explorer, which was an amazing opportunity to travel and see firsthand how people rely on the environment, rather than how the environment relies on us. I look at sustainability as a celebration of what we can do together-- our needs, our heritage, and our communities in the world.
terrain: What are some of your favorite sustainable seafoods for summer cooking?
Barton: One of my favorites is blue fish—on the East Coast, they're running in profusion this summer. If given a chance, people will realize that the blue fish is one of the best fish in our seas. I'm always a particular fan of oysters, too. Not only are they a briny mermaid's kiss on a half shell, but they're a seafood that truly restores ecosystems. Oysters are also a window into history; they were once the most popular food source in all of the States, and every region along the East Coast was famous for a different variety. I love to taste the water where an oyster lived and think about that history.
Right now, I'm especially enjoying Rappahannock river oysters. The Rappahannock produces oysters in six different areas; some have the full salt punch of the ocean, others are far less salty with a river influence, and there's everything in between. Maine also doesn't produce a bad oyster. The incredible cold of the Gulf of Maine gives its oysters a remarkable backbone and strength of flavor.
terrain: What's your advice for readers looking to source sustainable seafood?
Barton: First, don't beat yourself up if you feel confused. It's tough, and lots of factors play into choosing good seafood beyond sustainability, including price, freshness, and your own preferences. The easiest and best thing we can accomplish is to simply buy domestic farmed and wild fish, participating in sustainable and civic fisheries. The Made in the USA sticker means something! We have the very best management system in the world for fisheries, one that's heralded and replicated all over the world. We believe in the law, and believe in our neighbors who produce food following that law.
terrain: Can you tell us a bit about Two If By Sea, and how it inspired the menu for our upcoming dinner?
Barton: Two If By Sea is my sixth book, and part of a trilogy that I've collaborated with my wife to create. She's the designer of each book, and touches every centimeter of every page. This book is a celebration of American seafood. It's also a cook's book rather than a chef's book. A chef's book is about showcasing their skill, while a cook's book is about having fun and cooking together.
The menu is inspired by flavors that people respond to and are familiar with, including Herb Baked Clams [above], ceviche, and Maryland crabs. I'm especially looking forward to the Scallop Satay, a spicy dish with peanut and soy. There's a sweetness and a delicate snap of the elastic meat, and peanut sugars caramelizing under the broiler. It makes people say, "Okay, I'll have that!" It's not a hard sell, and it's also not too exotic-- all the ingredients are in your pantry.
terrain: What upcoming projects are you looking forward to?
Barton: Right now, I'm working on the manuscript for my next book. It's a culinary and anthropological history of fisheries in America, told through biographical sketches of every fish caught here. My wife and I will also be tending the farm; we're looking forward to summer at home in Maine, where the heat is finally persistent enough to grow some crops. Finally, I'm excited for the start of the school year. I teach at both Harvard and the University of New England, and it's wonderful feeling the resurgent energy of the students as they return to class.
from Two If By Sea | Serves 4
1 pound medium untreated scallops
2 tablespoons rice vinegar, divided use
2 tablespoons smooth or chunky peanut butter
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon aji-mirin (or substitute maple syrup)
1 clove garlic, grated
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1 tablespoon peanut oil
Season the scallops lightly with salt. Whisk together 1 tablespoon of the vinegar, the peanut butter, soy sauce, mirin, garlic, and ginger. Pour half the marinade over the scallops, tossing gently to combine. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of vinegar to the unused marinade and whisk to make the sauce; set aside.
Thread 3 to 4 scallops onto a skewer and return to the marinade. Repeat with the remaining scallops. Marinate for at least 20 minutes and up to overnight.
Heat the peanut oil in a large sauté pan over high heat until shimmering. Add the scallop skewers and cook, without moving, until the scallops develop a darkly caramelized crust, about 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and carefully flip the skewers and leave in the pan until cooked through, about 2 minutes.
Drizzle the skewers with the reserved peanut sauce and serve immediately.