Florida's Favs: Seafood Tricks and Tips from the Sunshine State
‘Aruba, Jamaica, oh I want to take ya
Bermuda, Bahama, come on pretty mama
Key Largo, Montego, baby why don’t we go’
It’s pretty safe to say that The Beach Boys know their beachy stuff. The more I think about their song, Kokomo, the more I’m convinced they’re assembling the menu of influences that make Florida’s food fantastic (the mind of a chef, forgive me…everything is about food).
It’s the hub of Caribbean flavors, other honorable mentions (surprisingly absent from the geographical destinations listed in Kokomo) are Haiti, Cuba, Puerto Rico and Barbados. Partner those island culinary contributions with influences from the Southern US and a healthy smattering of the freshest Atlantic seafood… the result is…. Floribbean!
Floribbean is the term coined to describe all the deliciousness the Sunshine State has to offer. We’ll explore a number of Floribbean tips and tricks to help you bring these flavors home to your own kitchen…since we can’t always go, way down to Kokomo.
We’ll Pull out to Sea…
This state is known for incredible seafood! From sea to plate, and in many manners of preparation. There are 3 top seafood menu options that reign supreme…grilled, fried and ceviche. And the seafood that works best with these culinary methods…
Shrimp, Lobster, Scallops, Snapper, Tuna, Mahi, Sea Bass, Crab Cakes (frying) and Soft Shell Crabs (grilling or frying).
We’ll leave grilling and frying alone (those are pretty self-explanatory) but ceviche is something pretty special.
Ceviche is a dish where either raw or cooked seafood is cured in a marinade made with citrus and seasoned with all manner of tropical spices and ingredients. There is a Florribean seafood recipe for the perfect marinade listed below but the method of preparation is pretty simple.
For raw seafood…
- Cut your fish or shellfish into bite sized pieces. Place chopped seafood in a glass casserole dish, arrange evenly and cover in the marinade (making sure all pieces are fully covered).
- Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. Remove from the fridge, stir, evenly arrange and return to the fridge (covered, of course) for another hour.
- The citrus essentially ‘cooks’ the seafood, so when the ceviche is finished your seafood will look, cooked (firm and no longer opaque).
- Serve your ceviche with tortillas, chips or avocado.
For cooked seafood…
Everything remains the same as for the raw seafood except for the refrigerator time. Cooked seafood only needs about 1 hour to absorb the flavors vs. 2 hours with the raw.
Tropical Contact High…
Let’s talk flavor… Floribbean cuisine is all about the fresh; fresh seafood, fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, fresh herbs, bright spices…fresh fresh fresh. Think tropical bounty, like mango, papaya, (all the) citrus, coconut, rum and spicy peppers. That’s Floribbean.
Here is the ultimate Floribbean seafood marinade. This can be used to make your ceviche, marinate seafood for grilling, whisked with some mayo for dipping (great for fried seafood)-you name it…versatile.
Floribbean Seafood Marinade
- 1 cup citrus juice (fresh key lime and orange juice combination is my favorite)
- 1/4 cup mango or papaya juice
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
- 1 shallot, peeled and minced
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1 tablespoon jalapeno, minced (optional)
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- In a large bowl, whisk together citrus juice, fruit juice, garlic, shallot, chili powder, salt, cilantro and jalapeño together until blended.
- In a thin stream, pour in olive oil while whisking. Continue whisking until blended. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- Seafood only needs about 30 minutes to 1 hour of contact with the marinade before grilling. Seafood soaks up all that flavor very quickly (as opposed to meat steaks and chops that need much more time in the marinade bath).
- Deep fry seafood using a deep fat fryer-and use the lid. I find that this will save your kitchen from smelling like fried seafood for days after (thank you lids).
- Whisk 1 cup of mayo with 3 tablespoons of marinade for a kick ass fried seafood dip (fried soft shell crabs…yum!)
- You can marinate your fried seafood too, before breading.
- Have all manner of tropical drinks handy!
Buy Seafood Online-and cook good food at home!
All of the seafood listed in this article is available at our online store. As we say, ‘from shore to door, 3 days fresher than the grocery store’-all of our seafood is delivered right to your door when you schedule it, guaranteed! It’ll get there fast so you can take things slow (ok, ok, last Kokomo song reference).
About the author
Patterson Watkins is a professional chef with over 17 years of experience. With a robust career in restaurants, contract dining and catering (including 4 Summer Olympic posts preparing food for the athletes!) Patterson joined the Cameron's Seafood team at the end of 2018 to concoct some delicious recipes with our premium seafood items as the centerpiece.