A Dictionary of New England Seafood
Anthony's Pier 4 (Ë˜an´the-n¯ez pîr fôr) n. Restaurant. Sometimes only a classic will do. This downtown stalwart fills the bill, even if most complain that Anthony's has become too much of a tourist trap. So what if the old-fashioned dishes seem more like something Grandma would make? The lobster bisque is rich and creamy, and the baked finnan haddie is a throwback to traditional New England cooking. More important, the views of the harbor are superb, and the expert bartender makes a stiff gin and tonic. There's even baked Alaska for dessert. Those who prefer to avoid the out-of-towners can keep to themselves by picking up a box of live lobsters to cook at home. 140 Northern Ave., Boston, 617-423-6363.
B&G Oysters (b¯e and j¯e oi´sters) n. Restaurant. Leave it to No. 9 Park's Barbara Lynch to make the oyster bar stylish. Lynch and partner Garrett Harker (the “B” and the “G”) upped their recently opened restaurant's fashion sense by lining the walls with gray and white tiles and opening up the kitchen to the wraparound bar — all the better to chat with the master oyster shuckers over the best varieties (which change daily depending on what's fresh). What really places this South End oyster bar a notch above the rest is its lobster roll on a lightly toasted hot dog bun with just a smear of mayonnaise and the crisp crunch of celery. Add homemade sweet pickles, tangy slaw, and perfectly crispy fries, and you've got a true trendsetter. 550 Tremont St., Boston, 617-423-0550.
cod (kË˜od) n. Fish. As if you can talk about New England seafood without mentioning cod. Though this fish's heyday is long past in area waters, you can still find the feisty swimmer on local menus, such as at Turner Fisheries, where cod is served simply: herb-crusted and baked with Yukon Gold potatoes and spinach risotto. Turner Fisheries, 10 Huntington Ave., Boston, 617-424-7425.
Daily Catch (d¯a´l¯e kË˜ach) n. Restaurant. This spot specializes in just what the name promises: no-frills, fresh-from-the-ocean seafood served Italian-style. Now that there are four locations (the original in the North End plus Brookline, downtown Boston, and Saugus), snagging a table to sample the exemplary fried calamari, mussels marinara, and lobster fra diavolo is easier than it used to be. The hard part is deciding among the fresh catches scribbled on the authentic blackboard — tuna vinaigrette one day, grilled salmon another. 323 Hanover St., Boston, 617-523-8567; 2 Northern Ave., Boston, 617-772-4400; 441 Harvard St., Brookline, 617-734-2700; 124 Broadway, Saugus, 781-231-3280.
East Coast Grill & Raw Bar (¯est k¯ost grË˜Ä±l and rô bär) n. Restaurant. Seafood is taken seriously at this Cambridge restaurant. That's why, in addition to an exhaustive raw bar loaded with local faves such as oysters, clams, and crab claws, there are three different shrimp dishes on the menu. Dig in to the peel-and-eat gulf shrimp, steamed in Old Bay Seasoning and beer, or the traditional shrimp cocktail, icy cold and spiced up with house-made cocktail sauce. Or, keeping in mind chef Chris Schlesinger's love for culinary flamethrowing, brave the fiery, chile-glazed jumbo shrimp and scallops, served over cooling ginger-scallion noodles with a lychee-chile sambal. 1271 Cambridge St., Cambridge, 617-491-6568.
Fugakyu (fo¯¯o-gË˜ok´yo¯¯o) n. Restaurant. For some of the freshest, most inventive sushi and sashimi in town, look no further than this busy, bi-level Brookline restaurant. Unusual combinations like the lobster maki, made with asparagus, avocado, cucumber and lettuce, or the Fugakyu maki, a simple roll of tuna, eel, and sweet potato, make great practice for those honing their chopstick skills. (For help, see diagram at right.) Traditional Japanese entrées such as carpaccio chu-toro (medium fatty tuna) dressed with spicy ponzu sauce offer something slightly more exotic than your standard California roll. The newer Sudbury location means suburbanites can still get their sushi fix. 1280 Beacon St., Brookline, 617-734-1268; 621 Boston Post Rd., Sudbury, 978-443-1668.
Great Bay (gr¯at b¯a) n. Restaurant. Sure, dinner at one of the tables in this cavernous Kenmore Square restaurant guarantees you choices from a menu full of fresh seafood, such as local halibut with heirloom tomatoes, tempura squash blossoms, and pesto. But the best seats in the house are along the central ceviche bar — and not just for the superb people-watching. Dishes here are smaller and best shared, offering more chances to sample the unique flavor combinations prepared by chef Michael Schlow and executive chef Jeremy Sewall. Try the spicy halibut taco, a tongue-tickling combination of delicate halibut, tomato, papaya, pickled onion, and crunchy corn shell, or the perfectly prepared tuna tartare garnished with cucumber and black sesame. Hotel Commonwealth, 500 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, 617-532-5300.
halibut (hË˜al´e-bet) n. Fish. You'll find halibut just about everywhere these days. But only at celebrity chef Ming Tsai's Blue Ginger will you find the firm, mild-flavored, white-fleshed local fish prepared so lovingly — and unusually. Tsai encases the fish in fresh Maine crab, bakes it to a meltingly soft, perfect texture, and serves it with golden clams. The flavors are refreshingly different, and the presentation of this overexposed fish makes it completely new. Blue Ginger, 583 Washington St., Wellesley, 781-283-5790.
Ipswich (Ë˜Ä±p´swË˜Ä±ch') n. Town. This quaint seaside North Shore hamlet is known for many things (superb antique shops, a vital shellfishing industry), but what puts Ipswich on the map is its beloved Clam Box. The fancifully shaped restaurant, whose design brings to mind an open box of fried clams, serves up some of the best fried bivalves around. Each clam is cooked to perfection in a crunchy, salty batter. Not exactly diet fare, but calories don't seem to matter much when the clams (and just about everything else fried on the menu) are this lip-smacking good. The Clam Box, 246 High St., Ipswich, 978-356-9707.
Jasper (jË˜as´per) n. Chef. Most chefs start small and work their way up to the biggest kitchens and the fanciest food. Jasper White left behind the haute cuisine of his original Jasper's restaurant and opened up a simple clam shack. He did it so well he was nominated for the fanciest of food awards by the James Beard Foundation. In addition to simple steamed lobster, an extensive raw bar, and a clam chowder that can hold its own, Jasper White's Summer Shack serves up spicy, tangy Rhode Island–style fried calamari, old-fashioned cod cakes with real Boston baked beans, and a mean lobster roll. Throw in addictive beer-battered fish and chips and an unexpectedly good corn dog, and you've got a great little clam shack that's hit the big time. Jasper White's Summer Shack, 149 Alewife Brook Pkwy., Cambridge, 617-520-9500; 50 Dalton St., Boston, 617-867-9955.
Kingfish Hall (kË˜Ä±ng´fË˜Ä±sh hôl) n. Restaurant. Getting a resident Bostonian to seriously consider a Faneuil Hall restaurant for fine dining takes some arm twisting. But amid the hot dog carts and tourists, Todd English's Kingfish Hall stakes its place and gets New England seafood right. Try the roasted Georges Bank cod, served with a baked lobster macaroni and cheese, or — better yet — the New England lobster boil, which nets you a lobster, steamers, sausage, corn on the cob, potatoes, and even blueberry bread (and one giant lobster bib). 188 Faneuil Hall Marketplace, South Market Building, Boston, 617-523-8862.
lobster (lË˜ob´ster) n. Marine Crustacean. Most New Englanders cook their lobsters by dunking them in boiling water or preferably by tossing them on beds of seaweed and saltwater to steam over an open fire on a beach. Another method to try is oven-roasting, which draws out the flavor and keeps the lobster from becoming too soggy. Lobsters from downtown's James Hook & Co. come fresh from Maine, ready to cook. Heat the oven while placing the lobster in a freezer for 10 minutes to numb it. Slice the lobster with a very sharp chef's knife, beginning from where the shell makes a “T” through the head (which kills it). Slice the shell on the underbelly from the body to the tail. Open the shell, without breaking it, and remove the ugly bits (intestine, stomach, tomalley). Stick a wooden skewer through the meat to prevent it from curling while cooking. James Hook & Co., 15-17 Northern Ave., Boston, 617-423-5500.
mussel (mË˜us´el) n. Bivalve Mollusk. There's something utterly satisfying about the simplicity of a bowl of steamed mussels and a glass of crisp white wine. The sleekly sophisticated Back Bay bistro Mistral offers the best of both, with steamed black mussels served with a traditionally tangy tomato marinière as well as an extensive wine list to complement the dish. Mistral, 223 Columbus Ave., Boston, 617-867-9300.
New England clam chowder (no¯¯o Ë˜Ä±ng´glend klË˜am chou´der) n. Soup. With so many clam chowders vying for the title of New England's best, it's hard to tell the winners from the wannabes. But time and again, Legal Sea Foods wins the crown for the perfect simplicity of its soup. And best of all, Legal doesn't tease us all by keeping the recipe secret. (See below.) Legal Sea Foods, Copley Place, Boston, 617-266-7775; Prudential Center, Boston, 617-266-6800; 26 Park Plaza, Boston, 617-426-4444; 255 State St., Boston, 617-227-3115; 20 University Rd., Cambridge, 617-491-9400; 5 Cambridge Ctr., Cambridge, 617-864-3400; 43 Boylston St (Rte. 9), Chestnut Hill, 617-277-7300; 50-60 Worcester Rd. (Rte. 9), Framingham, 508-766-0600; and other locations.
Legal Sea Foods Clam Chowder
4 quarts littleneck clams
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 cup water
2 ounces salt pork, finely chopped
2 cups chopped onions
3 tablespoons unbleached all-
11⁄2 pounds potatoes, peeled and diced
into 1⁄2-inch cubes
41⁄2 cups clam broth
3 cups fish stock
2 cups light cream
1. Clean the clams and place them in a large pot along with the garlic and water. Steam the clams just until opened, about 6 to 10 minutes. Drain and shell the clams, reserving the broth. Mince the clam flesh and set aside. Filter the clam broth, either through coffee filters or cheesecloth, and set aside.
2. In a large heavy pot, slowly render the salt pork. Remove the cracklings and set them aside. Slowly cook the onions in the fat for about 6 minutes, stirring frequently, or until cooked through but not browned. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add the reserved clam broth and fish stock, and whisk to remove any flour lumps. Bring the liquid to a boil, add the potatoes, lower the heat, and simmer until the potatoes are cooked through, about 15 minutes.
3. Stir in the reserved clams, salt-pork cracklings, and light cream. Heat and serve in large soup bowls with oyster crackers on the side.
oyster (oi´ster) n. Bivalve Mollusk. These tasty bivalves are best when plucked straight from the water, shucked, and served with a light mignonette or touch of lemon and Tabasco sauce. We're lucky to have a variety of local versions — the creamy but rare Ipswich Bay, the plump, clean-flavored Cotuit of Cape Cod, the tangy Belon from Maine, the mild, crunchy Narragansett from Rhode Island. For the biggest selection, visit the oyster bars at B & G Oysters (see “B”), Jasper White's Summer Shack (see “J”), or the historic Union Oyster House — America's oldest operating restaurant and legendary oyster bar. Union Oyster House, 41 Union St., Boston, 617-227-2750.
peekytoe crab (p¯ek´¯e-t¯o krË˜ab) n. Marine Crustacean. This Maine crab has finally come into its own. Long reviled by lobstermen for its annoying habit of finding its way into lobster pots and stealing the bait, these crabs (only recently nicknamed peekytoe, probably after the Maine pronunciation of the word “picked” for the crab's toe) are sidestepping onto menus everywhere. Try them at the year-old Winchester restaurant Catch, where chef Chris Parsons fashions them into a peekytoe crab salad with a lemon vinaigrette, pea tendrils, and chilled pea soup. Catch, 34 Church St., Winchester, 781-729-1040.
quahog (k¯o´hôg) n. Bivalve Mollusk. These local, savory clams are best served raw, fried, or steamed. 1. The biggest is the quahog. Smaller versions are known as the littleneck (less than two inches thick) or cherrystone (two to three inches thick). There are other clams (longnecks, razors, steamers) in the sea, of course, but we prefer the hometown charm of the quahog and appreciate the littleneck's star turn in New England clam chowder (see “N”). To sample a quahog raw-bar style, visit the East Coast Grill & Raw Bar (see “E”). 2. While many local restaurants claim to have perfected the fried clam, only the folks at Woodman's of Essex boast that they invented the dish. Whether that claim is true or not, there's no denying the belly-busting goodness of a basket of Woodman's fried clams and a plastic cup full of cold beer, consumed at a picnic table behind the restaurant along the salt marshes of Essex. If you can't make it out of town, South Boston's No-Name Restaurant holds its own with its fried clams, while the nearby Barking Crab serves fried clams with an unapologetic side of attitude — and fantastic city views. The Barking Crab, 88 Sleeper St., Boston, 617-426-2722; No-Name Restaurant, 15 1⁄2 Fish Pier, Boston, 617-338-7539; Woodman's of Essex, 121 Main St., Essex, 978-768-6057.
Red Rock Bistro & Bar (rË˜ed rË˜ok b¯e´str¯o and bär) n. Restaurant. Some of the best waterfront views of Boston require a short drive up the coast to Swampscott, where Red Rock Bistro & Bar sits perched on the water's edge directly across the bay from the city. Enjoy the vista while sampling the notable lobster roll, crispy calamari, or pan-seared tuna — or pick up dinner to go from the takeout window and watch the sunset from the adjacent beach. 141 Humphrey St. (Rte. 129), Swampscott, 781-595-1414.
scallop (skË˜ol´ep) n. Bivalve Mollusk. Experience what the humble scallop is really supposed to taste like at its best: fresh from local waters and cooked to accentuate the subtle, sweet, nutty flavor. At Clio, chef Ken Oringer prepares Nantucket Bay scallops in a luxuriously indulgent way, seared with brandade broth, black truffles, and garlic oil. Up the decadence with a glass of bubbly, and you'll never think about scallops the same way again. Clio, 370 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, 617-536-7200.
tuna (to¯¯o´ne) n. Fish. The mild, rich flavor of this bright, often persimmon-colored fish can be enjoyed many ways (tartare, sashimi, grilled), but the “black-and-blu” tuna steak at Blackfin Chop House & Raw Bar is one of the best. Chef Tony Ambrose sears the thick, freshly caught tuna steaks and sends them out alongside a refreshingly crunchy, piquant cucumber salad. When tasted with a crisp, ice-cold dry martini, there's no better summer supper. Blackfin Chop House & Raw Bar, 116 Huntington Ave., Boston, 617-247-2400; 1217 Main St., Hingham, 781-740-4000.
Uni (o¯¯o´n¯e) n. Restaurant. Clio chef Ken Oringer's sashimi bar is the perfect place to sample its namesake ingredient, the sweet, subtly flavored sea urchin. Oringer serves the roe of the creature in its own shell, a purplish, prickly-spined orb, and dresses it with green apple and wasabi foam, a unique flavor combination that's not to be missed. 370 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, 617-536-7200.
Village Sushi & Grill (vË˜Ä±l´Ë˜Ä±j so¯¯o´sh¯e and grË˜Ä±l) n. Restaurant. You might not expect to find expertly rolled maki and perfectly prepared sashimi in Roslindale. But knowing that the same team behind the beloved J.P. Seafood Café also runs Village Sushi & Grill puts things into perspective. The Village Dragon Maki, a shrimp-tempura roll covered with eel and avocado, is reason enough to head out this way. 14 Corinth St., Roslindale, 617-363-7874.
wine pairings (w¯Ä±n pâr´Ë˜Ä±ngz) n. Dining Tradition. The delicate flavors of fresh seafood deserve more than the overpowering buttery oak of California chardonnays (and don't even utter the words white zin, we beg you). Try instead the following bottles for flavors that complement, rather than dominate, the food: Sauvignon Blanc 1. Moreson, South Africa, $17.99. Taste: grassy, crisp. Pair with: grilled shrimp scampi. 2. Craggy Range, New Zealand,$19.99. Taste: limes, peaches. Pair with: steamed mussels. 3. Henri Bourgeois, France, $11.99. Taste: briny. Pair with: oysters. Chardonnay 4. Alamos, Argentina, $9.99. Taste: apples, creamy. Pair with: swordfish. 5. Olivier Leflaive “Les Sétilles”, France, $14.99. Taste: vanilla. Pair with: halibut. 6. Coppo Costebianche, Italy, $19.99. Taste: apples. Pair with: sea bass. Miscellaneous 7. Naia Rueda, Spain, $11.99. Taste: flinty, grapefruit. Pair with: marinated octopus. 8. Weingut Glatzer Grüner Veltliner, Austria, $ 11.99. Taste: mineral, green peppers. Pair with: fried oysters. 9. Sella & Mosca La Cala Vermentino, Italy, $14.99. Taste: pears, mineral. Pair with: sea urchin. All bottles available at the South End's Brix Wine Shop, which offers free weekly tastings of these wines and others. Brix Wine Shop, 1284 Washington St., Boston, 617-542-2749.
Excelsior (Ë˜Ä±k-sË˜el´s¯e-er) n. Restaurant. So Excelsior doesn't really begin with “X.” Chef Lydia Shire's way with lobster is so impressive in its texture and bold flavor, we couldn't resist. Lobster is the star of Shire's menu, sometimes served sauternes-poached, sometimes knife-and-fork-style with spun sugar and spice. (Did we mention the signature lobster pizza?) Sure, these lobster dishes are a long way from an oceanside clambake, but even the most down-to-earth seafood lovers need a little luxury once in a while. 272 Boylston St., Boston, 617-426-7878.
yellowfin (yË˜el´¯o-fË˜Ä±n) n. Fish. The pale-pink flesh of the yellowfin tuna is something of a mismatch with its distinct flavor. But it's the color that makes this fish so elegant in sushi and sashimi. Grab a space at the tiny sushi bar at Chestnut Hill's Oishii (there are only two tables besides the bar, so arrive early), and leave the preparation in the expert hands of the sushi chef. Oishii, 612 Hammond St., Chestnut Hill, 617-277-7888.
Zen 320 (zË˜en thr¯e twË˜en´t¯e) n. Restaurant. It's only fitting that a restaurant with such a simple and modest name should serve simply delicious sushi at comparatively modest prices. That's what keeps patrons filing in and out, bento boxes filled with fluke, salmon, and tuna sashimi in hand to enjoy here in the narrow dining room or on-the-go. 320 Washington St., Brookline, 617-713-4320.