Anatomy of the Row 34 Smoked and Cured Board
Chef de cuisine Francisco Millan brings a nose-to-tail philosophy to cured seafood.
Row 34 describes itself as a workingman’s oyster bar and although that might be a bit of a stretch in the well-heeled Fort Point neighborhood, it certainly provides a fun, raucous environment perfect for slurping freshly shucked bivalves. Prior to opening in November, chef Jeremy Sewall and chef de cuisine Francisco Millan were comfortable with the the beer-friendly raw concept, but they were searching for ways to differentiate themselves in the crowded local seafood scene, particularly against Row 34’s sister restaurant, Island Creek Oyster Bar.
“When chef Jeremy and I were talking about opening Row 34 we asked ourselves how we could really stand out from Island Creek and other seafood restaurants,” Millan says. “The smoked and cured board was what first came to mind. Traditionally some places will have smoked salmon or gravlax of some sort, but I wanted to take it a step further and use the whole fish. After I pitched the idea to Jeremy, we both got into it.”
Inspired by the growing nose-to-tail movement practiced at better charcuterie spots, Millan began taking unused cuts from Row 34’s dinner entrees and turning them into terrines, stocks, and cold-smoked slices. “We try to use the whole fish, whether it be the body, the head, or the collar. We’re paying homage to the fish and trying to do something different. For example, we have a snapper ceviche on the menu right now, but we’ll roast the heads to make a terrine. Also, we’re getting bluefish in from Chatham from which we’re making a pan-seared dish with asparagus and English peas. The leftover collars and heads are now being used in our bluefish pâté.”
Given their proximity to the harbor, Row 34 has built great relationships with their purveyors, often changing their menu nightly depending on the quality of the day’s catch. The smoked and cured board is priced per person, but can also be sampled a la carte. “The board is really great for larger parties as it’s a way for each person to get a little taste of the five to eight options per evening,” Millan says.
We asked Francisco Millan to give us a breakdown of his signature smoked and cured board. Here, in his own words, are the techniques and ingredients behind each one.
(*Clockwise from top left)
1. Chive Crème Fraîche
2. House Bread and Butter Pickles
3. Pickled Red Cabbage
4. Pickled Red Onions
5. Grilled Iggy’s Sourdough
6. Smoked Trout Pâté:
“We brine Idaho Red Trout and then cold smoke it for about 20 to 30 minutes. We do all of our smoking in-house, including our cold smoking where we keep the temperature of the ovens at around 110 degrees. When someone cold smokes they are doing it strictly for flavor, all of which comes from applewood chips. We place chunks of the trout fillet on top of an orange puree then dress it with radish, arugula, lemon, and olive oil. The pâté has a nice creamy consistency, which is great for spreading on the grilled sourdough.”
7. Smoked Salmon:
“We use farm raised salmon from the Faroe Islands. We first cure the salmon with salt, sugar, and aromatics such as fennel seed, coriander seed, fennel seed, and citrus. It’s a similar cure that we use for the Arctic char, but afterward, the salmon is also cold-smoked.”
8. Smoked Trout Salad:
“This comes from the same Idaho Red Trout as the pâté, but after cold-smoking, we then cook it all the way through in the oven. To make the salad, we then mix it with cream cheese, shallots, herbs, black tea, salt, pepper and lemon zest. ”
9. Smoked Scallops
“The scallops are from Red’s Best seafood. The majority of our fish comes from Red’s, which does a great job at sourcing amazing local fish. They really make my job easy because they allow us to showcase the freshest possible seafood. The scallops are brined, smoked for at least an hour, then grilled medium rare. Afterward we thinly slice the scallops and dress them with lemon zest, olive oil, and sea salt.”
10. Smoked Arctic Char Lox:
“We cure the char for a few days in a similar curing rub as the smoked salmon.”
11. Smoked Shrimp Salad:
“We brine the shrimp, cold smoke, then steam them. The reason why we don’t hot smoke the shrimp is because we feel like we can them cooked perfectly without over smoking at the requisite 165 degrees. The shrimp are then sliced and served with orange segments, arugula, lemon, and olive oil.”
383 Congress St., Boston; 617-553-5900 or row34.com.