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The Bend Magazine

All Hail Local Seafood

11/01/2019 04:43PM ● By Kayla Butts
By: Kayla & Justin Butts  Photos by: Rachel Benavides

This Thanksgiving season, let us rejoice for having the best seafood in the world right at our doorstep!

Certain regions are justly famous for their seafood: the Pacific Northwest, the Mediterranean, the New England coast, the roiling currents of Chile, and the lush islands of Japan. 

Here is the not so well-kept secret: Our seafood in The Bend is as good as, or better than, anything else in the world. Our Gulf Coast seafood industry is getting more and more attention as an international fishing and seafood destination. 

We only need to step outside to look across the sparkling bays and white-capped waves of our Gulf waters. Those currents hold redfish, speckled trout, flounder, snapper, black drum, shrimp, oysters, and much more. This seafood can be enjoyed the same day, or even within hours, from the moment it was caught.

The trick to finding the freshest fish is knowing where to look. If you know a good angler (or one of our many world-class fishing guides) you can have your fill of trout, red, and other game fish. But the easiest way to get the freshest fish any day of the week is to build a relationship with a good fishmonger.

There are many excellent seafood markets in The Bend. Don’t be afraid to buy bait and seafood at the same shop – these are some of the best! 

Our friends at Flowers Shrimp Market in Rockport sell live shrimp and crabs for bait or for the table. As you stand on the dock with seagulls squawking and the sun shining and the wind blowing in your hair, you can see where the fishing boats have just docked. The nice (and super-fast) lady will bag your live shrimp or crabs with ice right in front of you; it doesn’t get fresher than that.

Find an experienced fishmonger and build a relationship. When we call our fishmonger, a friendly voice answers who already knows us and our preferences. He tells us the best catches of the day, will set something aside for us, and can even make cuts precisely to our specifications. This relationship has blessed our table many times with the freshest, choicest, most delicious seafood in the world at a very fair price. 

We have some of the highest regarded seafood right here in the Coastal Bend. Let’s give thanks for our bounty this season and enjoy every delicious bite! 

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Stuffed Flounder
Serves 4

Prep time:
5 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Ingredients:
4 flounder fillets
1 tsp salt
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 stick of butter, cubed
Crab and Oyster Stuffing
1 lb crab meat
1/2 lb oysters
1 egg
1/2 sweet onion, diced
1/3 cup bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
3 Tbsp mayonnaise
3 cloves garlic, minced
Juice of 1 lemon
1 Tbsp yellow mustard

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Using a sharp fillet knife, cut along both sides of the center seam of each flounder fillet. Place fillets flat in a large baking dish. Season with salt, paprika, and cayenne. 
In a medium-sized bowl, combine ingredients for crab and oyster stuffing. Divide stuffing into four equal portions, and stuff the flounder, allowing the excess to mound on top. Top with a light coating of bread crumbs. Disperse butter evenly throughout the baking dish. 
Cook flounder for 20 minutes, until fish is opaque and stuffing is starting to brown. Place oven on high broil setting and brown the top for additional 5 minutes, until golden brown. Serve with lemon wedges. 

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Thai Coconut Seafood Soup
Serves 6

Prep time: 
5 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Ingredients:
2 Tbsp coconut oil
6 cloves garlic
1 stalk lemongrass
1 Tbsp ginger
4-8 Thai chilis, whole
4 cups fish stock or chicken stock
2 (13.5 oz) cans coconut milk 
3 Tbsp fish sauce
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp salt
Juice of two limes
1 lb local fish filet, such as flounder
1/2 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 lb mussels, debearded and cleaned
1/2 lb clams, cleaned
1 bunch fresh basil or cilantro

Directions:
In a large pot, cook coconut oil over medium heat. Sauté garlic, ginger, lemongrass, and Thai chilis for 2 minutes. (For a milder soup, decrease the number of chilis or add later in the cooking process). Add fish stock, coconut milk, fish sauce, salt, and lime juice to the pot and cook until boiling. Once boiling, add fish, shrimp, mussels, and clams and cook for another 3 minutes, until most of the shells have opened. Remove from heat and serve with chopped basil or cilantro leaves. 

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Steamed Blue Crab
Serves 4

Cook time:
15-20 minutes
Ingredients:
6 local blue crabs, whole
1/2 cup crab boil or Old Bay® seasoning
12 Tbsp salted butter
Juice of 1 lemon
1 lemon, segmented

Directions:
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add seasoning and blue crabs, cooking in batches if necessary. Cook for 10-15 minutes, until crab turns orange. 
In a sauté pan, heat butter over medium-low until melted. Add lemon juice and stir to combine. Serve crab with lemon butter and lemon wedges.