We all know summer is in full swing when it’s tomato time at the farmers market. What are some ways that tomatoes and seafood go great together? For this blog post we will skip traditional tomato sauces that can survive with canned tomatoes and be at our service in the fall and winter. We will also save those wonderful hot tomato-based stews and soups that come to mind. We don’t need any help staying warm inside the raging hot inferno known as Summer in North Carolina. We’re going to talk about those fresh, plump tomatoes you waited for all season that very soon may be piling up on your counter.
Here are three ways you can pair seafood with fresh tomatoes or cherry tomatoes:
The quickest thing you can do is make a tomato salsa to top your cooked fish. You can prepare the fish however you like and add the crisp, cold salsa on top as a makeshift sauce. Salsa Cruda typically has a little spice. You get a bonus here for also using any hot peppers you pick up at the market. You could also go tropical and add Mango to your salsa, or you could add a Mediterranean twist with olives and capers. In any case, it sounds more gourmet with the name Salsa Cruda. Whatever you choose to put in your salsa the contrast of cool with the heat of the cooked fish will make dinner stand out with a crowd or a simple dinner at home. Here is a Fish with Tomato Salsa Recipe to get you started.
Fra Diavolo Sauce
This is a traditional spicy Italian red seafood sauce. When used with shrimp it should be more of a summer staple than it is. We would choose this one for a special occasion because one, it will scale well and easily feed a crowd, and two, it also has a gourmet approach that will signal you put extra effort in the dish. If hosting a dinner party you could give a little history. Fra Diavolo means “Brother Devil” in Italian. He was a Guerrilla leader who resisted the French occupation of Naples in the early 1800’s. We would have to ask an Italian if the name of the sauce is related to the revolutionary. On the surface, though, it makes for an interesting note to enlighten your guests. The real reason to use this sauce? It is a great vehicle for shrimp! Get your tomatoes, hot peppers, and shrimp for this wonderful sauce. You can find plenty of traditional recipes for Fra Diavolo online, but we really like the look of this American take on the dish in a recipe from Rachel Ray: Cherry Tomato Fra Diavolo.
Baked Whole Fish with Tomatoes
For good reasons, the usual suspects for baked fish are salt, pepper, olive oil, and lemon. Now is a great time to add sliced or diced fresh tomatoes to the list of toppings for baked fish. Sure, you could skip the whole fish and go for fillets. If you have been waiting to try your hand at whole fish, though, tomatoes are a great seasonal inspiration to give it a go. Here is a recipe from an Italian cookbook of mine that features one or our most plentiful and lower cost fish, Striped Mullet. (Like any other recipe talked about today, you can substitute any number of other Locals Seafood catch.)
Baked Striped Mullet with Tomatoes
Cefalo al tegame
From the book Fish: Recipes From the Sea, Phaidon Press
1.25 lb whole striped mullet
1 Tbs chopped oregano
1 Tbs chopped parsley
1 garlic clove
1.5 cups of dry breadcrumbs
1 lb of tomatoes peeled, seeded, and diced
Juice of one lemon
Preheat the oven to 350 and brush a large ovenproof dish with oil. Put the fish in the prepared dish, season with salt and pepper and sprinkle evenly with the oregano, parsley, garlic and breadcrumbs.
Top with the dice tomatoes, drizzle with olive oil and bake for about 20 minutes. Remove the dish from the oven, sprinkle the lemon juice over the fish and serve immediately.