Jon Bonnell, Cowtown's finest seafaring chef, is spilling his secrets for cooking great seafood in Waters Fine Coastal Cuisine cookbook.
You may be familiar with both Bonnell's Fine Texas Cuisine restaurant and his one year old seafood-centric restaurant, Waters, located in Fort Worth, Texas. What you may not know is that along with a passion for cooking, Bonnell has a passion for sport fishing, and his new cookbook reflects this passion throughout.
For anyone who thinks it's too difficult to cook seafood at home, this is the book for you.
The cookbook features nine chapters of fairly simple and easy to follow recipes along with colored photos of the finished products. There are plenty of recipes to tantalize your taste buds. The first chapter starts off with tasty chilled and raw recipes, including scallop carpaccio with citrus aioli, and a spicy tuna tartare. There is also a chapter on soups and salads that features Water's famous Creole gumbo. The next 5 chapters concentrate on various ways to cook fish and seafood; poached or steamed, sautéed or pan seared, crispy or fried, grilled or roasted, and baked. The last chapter offers an assortment of sides including a decadent lobster mac and cheese.
In addition to recipes, Bonnell offers everything from tips to how to smoke and cure fish easily at home. Whether you are a novice or an experienced cook the book offers something for everyone who likes seafood.
Here are a few recipes from the cookbook to try out on the grill. You can find Bonnell's recipe for Dirt Rub by emailing a request to waterstexas.com.
Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp Brochette with Lime Butter
Nothing sells to a crowd quite as well as bacon-wrapped shrimp. Of all the parties I’ve ever catered, I don’t know that I’ve ever had a single bacon-wrapped shrimp left over. It’s a marriage of flavors that works for almost every palate. I like the idea of putting a little jalapeno in the middle, but it isn’t necessary. Brush on a bit of lime butter and it’s just too rich to pass up. Maybe this isn’t the most health-conscious dish but, once in a while, I can’t resist some succulent indulgence.
12 large wild Gulf white shrimp (10–15 count)
2 fresh jalapenos
12 very thinly sliced strips of bacon
1 teaspoon Texas Red Dirt Rub, Creole Blend (available at waterstexas.com)
Dirty Rice (see below)
Begin by peeling the shrimp, leaving only the tail shells on. Carefully cut a small slit down the back of each shrimp and remove any vein that may be present.
Slice the jalapenos lengthwise into thin strips, leaving the veins and seeds if you prefer more heat. Place one strip of jalapeno in the slit you’ve just made in each shrimp, then wrap tightly with a strip of bacon. Use toothpicks (2 may be necessary for really large shrimp) to secure the bacon to the shrimp. After wrapping and stuffing all of the shrimp, season on all sides with the Creole Blend.
Grill over low-to-medium heat until the shrimp are cooked through. For really large shrimp, begin on a grill until the bacon gets somewhat crisp, then finish cooking in an oven, or move to a cooler side of the grill and pull the lid down until finished. Serve over Dirty Rice.
8 ounces butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
Juice from 2 limes
Zest from 1 lime
1 teaspoon agave nectar
6–8 sprigs fresh cilantro
In a saucepan, combine all the ingredients, except cilantro, and simmer lightly for 3 minutes. Roughly tear the cilantro leaves by hand and add the last 10–20 seconds. Brush the warm butter generously over the shrimp brochettes after they have cooked.
Most authentic dirty rice contains livers of some sort. I tend to shy away from organ meats, so this version is somewhat tamer but still packed with intensity. I like rice in general, but on its own, it seems somewhat bland. Add all of these ingredients and rice becomes a completely different dish altogether—the dirtier the better.
1/2 pound tasso, finely diced
1/2 pound Andouille bulk sausage (not in casing)
1 small sweet onion, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
1 poblano pepper, diced
3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
2 cups cooked plain white rice
Texas Red Dirt Rub, Creole Blend (waterstexas.com)
In a large sauté pan, render the tasso on low heat until it releases much of its fat, then add the sausage and continue cooking. Once the sausage is cooked, add in the onion, celery, poblano and garlic; cover and cook until very soft. Stir in the cooked rice and add a pinch of Texas Red Dirt Rub, Creole Blend, if desired.
Cedar Plank Wild Salmon
I love the use of cedar to not only create a visually appealing dish but also to impart an impressive smoky flavor to the salmon. Wild Alaskan salmon is my preference for this dish, but arctic char or trout can also be substituted. I like to cover the top of the salmon with dill, lemon and sea salt while cooking, but typically I’d remove that just before serving to make it easier for the diner. This is a great dish to prepare when guests are coming over and might congregate around the grill. It’s visual show-stopper.
4 cedar planks
2 tablespoons coarse sea salt
1 whole bunch fresh dill
4 (6-ounce) portions wild Alaskan salmon, skin on
2 lemons, sliced into thin rounds
Soak the cedar planks for at least one hour before beginning this recipe or they will burn too quickly on the grill.
Once soaked, begin by placing a light layer of salt on each plank, roughly the size of the salmon fillet that will go on top. Spread out several sprigs of fresh dill over the salt, then lay the salmon fillets on top, skin side down. Sprinkle more coarse sea salt evenly over the fish, then lay down more sprigs of fresh dill, finishing the layering with a few slices of lemon on top of each piece of fish. This can be done with larger pieces of salmon, but keep the fish at a size that will stay on the plank without hanging over the edges.
Heat a grill to high, then place the planks directly over high heat and close the lid of the grill. The fish will cook completely on one side without being flipped over, so do not open the lid very many times or the top will have a hard time cooking. Most salmon will take roughly 6–8 minutes to cook, but grills and fish thicknesses vary, so use a thermometer to check for doneness. For medium-rare salmon, remove from the grill at 125 degrees internal temperature; for medium, cook to 135 degrees. While the salmon is cooking, be sure to occasionally check to see that the planks have not caught on fire. Light singeing with black smoking edges is perfect, but have a little water handy in case a large flame ignites. Either pour a little water on the flaming board or use a squirt bottle to shoot down excessive fires. Ideally the salmon should grill, roast and smoke at the same time.