Seafood, Differently

Pearls of caviar, soft dustings of briny bottarga, feathery wisps of bonito, ribbons of squid ink, buttery flecks of urchin, crisp seaweed, and nutty anchovies (yes, anchovies!)—these delicate delicacies have hidden superpowers: turning everyday favorites, from roast chicken to pasta to burgers and fries, into something truly extraordinary.

By Katie Barreira and Erin Merhar
Photos by Greg DuPree

Squid Ink

(skwid eenk) : like a black leather jacket, it feels a little dangerous : a pop of minerality and an oceanic note

The Delicious Dark Horse

Squid ink's mysterious allure has inspired chefs' imaginations, showing up in recipes as diverse as squid ink bagels, squid ink martinis, squid ink ice cream, and even black-as-night squid ink chicken wings. (In 2014, Burger King Japan introduced a limited-edition cheeseburger served on a black bun with black cheese, courtesy of squid ink.)

Much of the ink found in markets is harvested from cuttlefish, a larger cousin to squid. Cuttle-fish ink tends toward a deeply brown color; squid ink is a blue-black, and octopus produce the darkest black ink.

The flavor is a subtle, savory taste of the ocean—sometimes obscured in fresh pasta doughs, it's absorbed well by rice, making it a rich addition to risottos and paellas.

Squid Ink Paella

Active | 20 min Total | 55 min

Squid ink is as much a food coloring as it is a flavoring element. Work with gloves or over parchment paper to help keep its stain in your food and not on your hands and tools.

  • 4 cups seafood stock
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup white wine
  • ¼ tsp. crushed saffron threads
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 small red bell pepper, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 4 plum tomatoes, seeds removed, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • ½ lb. peeled and deveined large raw shrimp, tails on
  • 1½ tsp. kosher salt, divided
  • ¾ lb. whole cleaned skinless squid tubes, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 2 cups bomba rice or Arborio rice
  • 3 tsp. squid ink
  • ½ lb. littleneck clams in shells, scrubbed
  • ½ lb. fresh mussels, scrubbed and debearded
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges
  1. Combine seafood stock, water, wine, and saffron in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over high; cover and reduce heat to low. Keep over low heat until ready to use.
  2. Pulse onion, bell pepper, tomatoes, and garlic in a food processor until finely chopped, 6 to 8 times.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a 15-inch paella pan over 2 burners on medium-high. Add shrimp to the pan; sprinkle with ½ teaspoon of the salt. Cook until the shrimp are golden on both sides, 1 to 1½ minutes per side. Remove from pan, and set aside.
  4. Add the onion mixture, squid, and remaining 1 teaspoon salt to the pan; cook, stirring occasionally, until nearly all the liquid evaporates, 7 to 8 minutes. Stir in paprika, and cook 2 more minutes.
  5. Add rice and remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Cook, stirring constantly, until rice is slightly translucent, about 1 minute. Remove ½ cup of stock mixture, and reserve for use in Step 6; stir remaining stock mixture into paella.
  6. Add squid ink, and stir just until rice is evenly distributed. (Do not overstir.) Cook over medium-high, 15 minutes, without stirring. Rotate the pan to ensure even heating. If paella begins to look dry in parts, add reserved stock mixture to that area, 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time.
  7. Add clams, hinge side down, equally spaced around the pan. Cover and cook 4 minutes. Add mussels, hinge side down. Cover and cook another 4 minutes. Distribute shrimp evenly in pan, and cook another 4 minutes, uncovered. Increase heat to high, and cook, without stirring, 2 minutes. Remove from heat; cover with aluminum foil, and let rest 10 minutes. Top with parsley. Serve with lemon wedges.

Serves 6


(ANN-cho-vees) : the humble, hardworking backbone of the savory foods you love—even if you didn't know it was in there : extraordinarily versatile : funky (nearly) to a fault

Whole Roasted Chicken with Anchovy Butter and Fall Radishes

Minced anchovies folded into a bright compound butter of garlic, lemon zest, and thyme boost the umami flavors of a roast chicken and mellow out the sharpness of fall radishes.

Active | 15 min Total | 40 min

  • ¼ cup salted butter, softened at room temperature
  • 4 anchovy fillets packed in oil, finely chopped
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, grated (about 1½ Tbsp.)
  • ½ tsp. thyme leaves, chopped, plus 4 whole thyme sprigs, divided
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest, plus 2 Tbsp. fresh juice (from 1 lemon), divided
  • 1¼ tsp. kosher salt, divided
  • ¾ tsp. black pepper, divided
  • 1 (3- to 4-lb.) whole chicken
  • 1½ lb. fall radishes (such as watermelon radish), cut into 1½-inch pieces
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • ½ cup pitted Castelvetrano olives
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped parsley
  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Stir together butter, anchovies, garlic, chopped thyme, lemon zest, ½ teaspoon of the salt, and ¼ teaspoon of the black pepper in a small bowl until well combined. Set aside. Place the chicken, breast side up, on a cutting board. Loosen and lift skin from chicken breast with fingers (do not totally detach skin); spread about 2 tablespoons butter mixture underneath skin. Carefully replace skin. Season outside of chicken with ½ teaspoon of the salt and remaining ½ teaspoon pepper.
  2. Toss together radishes, thyme sprigs, olive oil, and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt in a small roasting pan. Spread radishes in a single layer. Place chicken in center over radishes. Bake at 425°F for 35 minutes. Reduce temperature to 325°F; add olives, and bake until a thermometer inserted in thickest portion of breast registers 165°F, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from oven, and dollop remaining 2 tablespoons butter mixture over chicken. Let stand 10 minutes.
  3. Using a slotted spoon, transfer radishes to a medium bowl, and toss with lemon juice and parsley. Serve radishes and olives with chicken.

Serves 4

Make Your Own Anchovy Paste

  1. Cut the anchovy lengthwise into long, thin strips, and then finely chop crosswise.
  2. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt.
  3. Turn the blade of your chef's knife away from you, and scrape the anchovy against the cutting board until a fine paste results.


(OO-nee) : the foie gras of the sea : rich, buttery, and meltingly smooth

Smoky Uni Carbonara

When tossed with pasta and savory stock, uni melts into a creamy carbonara sauce with a texture as velvety as custard. Spaghetti night just got an upgrade.

Active | 20 min Total | 35 min

  • 2½ Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
  • ½ cup panko (Japanese-style breadcrumbs)
  • 2¼ tsp. kosher salt, divided
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 1 oz. Grana Padano cheese, finely shredded (about ⅓ cup)
  • 4 oz. (about 4 slices) uncooked hickory-smoked bacon, chopped
  • 12 oz. uncooked bucatini pasta
  • 1 (120-gram) tray (about 4¼ oz.) fresh sea urchin roe (uni), at room temperature, divided
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice (from 1 large lemon)
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • ¼ cup roughly chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  1. Bring a large stockpot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium; add garlic, and cook, stirring constantly, until light golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Add panko and ¼ teaspoon of the salt; cook, stir-ring occasionally, until toasted, about 5 minutes. Transfer panko to a plate; wipe skillet clean.
  2. Lightly whisk eggs, egg yolk, and cheese in a medium bowl; set aside. Add remaining ½ tablespoon oil to skillet, and heat over medium. Add bacon; cook until rendered and just beginning to crisp, about 7 minutes. Reduce heat to low to keep warm.
  3. Add remaining 2 teaspoons salt to the boiling water; add pasta, and cook until al dente, about 12 minutes. Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup cooking water. Add pasta and ¼ cup of the reserved cooking water to skillet; toss to coat. Remove from heat.
  4. Add egg mixture and 2 ounces of the uni to skillet, stirring until uni dissolves into sauce. Stir in up to ¾ cup reserved cooking water, ½ cup at a time, until desired consistency is reached. Stir in lemon juice; top with pepper, parsley, panko mixture, and remaining uni. Serve immediately.

Serves 4


(KA-vee-ar) : briny bling : shimmering orbs that burst with fresh ocean flavor and sophistication

Caviar Burgers with Caviar Mayo

Rich ground-beef patties studded with caviar make for the ultimate in surf and turf—and decadence.

Active | 15 min Total | 30 min

  • ¼ cup crème fraîche
  • 3 Tbsp. mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp. sweet pickle relish
  • 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 (1-oz.) jars (about 7 tsp.) hackleback or other sturgeon caviar, divided
  • 1¼ lb. ground chuck
  • 4 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
  • 1½ tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • Butter lettuce
  • 4 potato hamburger buns, toasted
  • Thinly sliced red onion
  1. Stir together crème fraîche, mayonnaise, relish, and lemon juice in a medium bowl. Gently stir in 4 teaspoons of the caviar; cover and chill until ready to use.
  2. Gently stir together ground chuck and Worcestershire sauce in a medium bowl; gently stir in remaining caviar. Shape beef mixture into 4 patties; sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper.
  3. Heat oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high. Add the patties; cook until a thermometer inserted in patties registers 145°F (medium-rare), 3 to 4 minutes per side.
  4. Place lettuce on bottom of buns; top with burger patties. Spread caviar mayo onto patties. Top with onion slices and bun tops.

Serves 4


(bo-NEE-toh) : a covert seafood operator : adds umami flavor without any fishy business

Caramelized Onion Soup

Bonito flakes are made from fillets of a tuna-like fish that are smoked, aged, and shaved into paper-thin slices for a savory, smoky flavor that's impossible to forget. You'll never make this classic without it again.

Active | 20 min Total | 2 hours, 13 min

  • ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • 2 lb. (about 4 medium-size) yellow onions, cut vertically into ¼-in.-thick slices
  • 2 lb. (about 3 medium-size) sweet onions, cut vertically into ¼-in.-thick slices
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 4 thyme sprigs, plus more for garnish
  • 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup dry sherry
  • 5 cups lower-sodium beef broth
  • 4 cups Quick Bonito Broth (recipe follows)
  • 8 oz. baguette, cut into ⅓-in.-thick slices (about 30 slices)
  • 9 oz. Gruyère cheese, shredded (about 2¼ cups)
  1. Melt butter in a Dutch oven over medium-high. Add onions, salt, bay leaves, and thyme sprigs. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft, about 25 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring often, until onions are deep golden brown, about 1 hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 375°F. Remove and discard bay leaves and thyme sprigs. Add flour; cook, stirring constantly, 2 minutes. Stir in sherry; cook 1 minute. Stir in beef broth and Quick Bonito Broth; increase heat to high, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and simmer 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, place baguette slices in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven until golden and toasted, about 8 minutes.
  4. Ladle soup into 10 broiler-safe 10- to 12-ounce ramekins or soup bowls. Top each with 3 bread slices, toasted side down. Sprinkle evenly with cheese (about 3 tablespoons per bowl). Working in batches if needed, place bowls on a baking sheet, and broil 2 minutes or until tops are golden and cheese bubbles. Garnish with thyme leaves.

Note: If you do not have oven-safe crocks, flip toasts on baking sheet, sprinkle with cheese, and broil until bubbling and starting to brown. Top soup with cheese toasts.

Serves 10

Quick Bonito Broth

Active | 10 min Total | 15 min

  • 4 cups filtered water
  • 1 cup (about ¼ oz.) loosely packed dried bonito flakes

Stir together water and bonito flakes in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium. Remove from heat; let stand 5 minutes. Pour through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a bowl, and discard solids.

Serves 10


(bo-TAR-gah) : preserves the ocean in your pantry : a salty, fishy treat that packs a punch with each delicate dusting

The Finishing Touch

Forcibly salty, briny, and unabashedly fishy, bottarga's essence is bold and hopelessly addictive. The charcuterie of the sea, bottarga is fish roe that is salt-cured and dried. It's most commonly produced from grey mullet; more precious varietals are made from the roe of tuna or even swordfish. The intact egg sac is removed from the fish, cured with sea salt, and then pressed and dried for a few weeks, depending on the desired firmness—much like salami. It can be grated on top of salads, pastas, and veggies, or sliced and served with bread and olive oil.

Caesar Salad with Bottarga

No anchovies here! The assertiveness of grated bottarga lends a sea-kissed flavor to an otherwise classic Caesar salad. Celery is a typically Sardinian pairing with bottarga; together they provide crunch and a creamy, luscious finish.

Active | 15 min Total | 20 min

  • 2 oz. baguette, torn into ½-in. pieces (about 1½ cups)
  • 6 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • ¾ tsp. kosher salt, divided
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped (about 1 tsp.)
  • 1 pasteurized egg yolk
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • ½ tsp. Dijon mustard
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 1½ oz. bottarga di muggine, casing removed, freshly grated (about ⅓ cup), divided
  • 1 head leafy romaine lettuce, torn into 2-in. pieces (about 10 cups)
  • 3 celery stalks, cut diagonally into ¼-in.-thick slices (about 1¼ cups)
  • ¼ cup loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • ¼ tsp. black pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Toss together baguette pieces, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, and ¼ teaspoon of the salt. Bake in preheated oven until golden, 8 to 10 minutes.
  2. Sprinkle garlic with ¼ teaspoon of the salt. Let rest 2 minutes. Smash garlic and salt together using flat side of a knife to make a paste. Stir together egg yolk, lemon juice, mustard, and garlic paste in a medium bowl. Add vegetable oil in slow, steady stream, whisking constantly until combined. Add remaining ¼ cup olive oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly until mixture is thickened and golden yellow. Gently whisk in 2 tablespoons of grated bottarga.
  3. Toss romaine and celery with ⅓ cup dressing. Top with croutons, parsley, black pepper, and remaining grated bottarga. Serve salad with remaining dressing.

Makes 9 cups


(SEE-weed) : healthy habit : an edible sea vegetable poised to become your next green obsession (sorry, kale)

Dark Chocolate–Seaweed Ice Cream

Nori sheets infuse a classic chocolate ice cream with unmistakable earthiness and minerality.

Active | 25 min Total | 4 hours, 45 min

  • 2½ cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup extra-dark unsweetened cocoa
  • ⅛ tsp. kosher salt
  • 4 sheets nori (from 1 [0.6-oz. ] pkg.), cut into 1-in. pieces
  • 4 oz. 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • Coarse sea salt (optional)
  1. Whisk together milk, cream, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium-high, whisking constantly, until sugar and cocoa dissolve, about 3 minutes. Add nori, and cook until the sheets are softened, another 7 to 8 minutes. Cover and remove from heat. Let stand 20 minutes. Pour milk mixture through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a bowl, discarding solids; remove and reserve ½ cup of mixture. Return remaining milk mixture to saucepan.
  2. Place bittersweet chocolate in a large bowl. Whisk the egg yolks in a small bowl. Gradually stir ½ cup reserved milk mixture into egg yolks; return the saucepan to medium-high. Slowly whisk egg yolk mixture into milk mixture. Cook, stirring often, until mixture thickens slightly and coats the back of a spoon, 12 to 14 minutes. (Do not boil.) Immediately remove from heat, and pour over bittersweet chocolate; whisk well to combine. Cool to room temperature. Partially cover, and chill 3 hours.
  3. Pour mixture into freezer bowl of a 1½-quart electric ice-cream maker, and proceed according to manufacturer's instructions. (Instructions and times will vary.) Transfer to a freezer-safe container, and freeze until ready to serve. (Ice cream is best when eaten within 24 hours.) Garnish with coarse sea salt, if desired.

Makes 1 quart