Ben Sargent's Guide to Seafood

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    Ben Sargent lives for seafood. He’s a fisherman, restaurateur, chef and overall seafood fanatic who takes viewers on the ultimate seafood journey on his show, Hook, Line & Dinner. Get his guide to seafood and learn the best ways to cook up your favorite fish.

    How to Make Salmon

    How to Make Halibut

    How to Make Snapper

    How to Make Mackerel

    How to Make Bass

    How to Make Porgy

    How to Make Cod

    How to Make Dolly Varden aka “Dollies” (Char)

    How to Make Hogfish

    How to Make Carp

    How to Make Blue Crab

    How to Make Bay Scallops

    How to Make Prawns

    How to Make Caribbean Lobster

    How to Make Swordfish

    How to Make Barracuda

    How to Make Snakehead aka “Frankenfish”

    How to Make Lionfish

    How to Make Hawaiian Opah aka Moonfish

    How to Make Sea Cucumbers

    How to Make Geoduck

  • Silver Salmon aka Coho Salmon

    How to Buy: Silver salmon is available both fresh and frozen. You can buy these fish whole, or in steaks or fillets. Because it is one of the leaner salmons, it is a popular choice for smoking or canning. Salmon should be bright orange-red in color and have a firm texture. Make sure it does not smell fishy, but smells like clean ocean air.

    How to Cook: The options are endless for salmon: grill, sauté, broil, fry, poach. Because this variety of salmon is not high in fat content, it is fine-textured and full in flavor. Great flavor affinities include yogurt, dill, citrus, white wine, mustard — your options are endless.

    How Ben Does It: Ben’s a fan of cooking the entire fish. The great thing about salmon is it's really hard to overcook because of the high fat content. He guts and scales the fish and packs it with fennel, lemon or lime slices, tomato and some shallots over the top and stuffed inside. The fish goes into the oven for 45 minutes at 350 or 400 degrees F. This works great on the grill, too, wrapped in foil with lots of olive oil.

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    Chinook Salmon aka King Salmon, Tyee

    How to Buy: You can find both fresh and frozen Chinook salmon in your grocery store or at your local fishmonger. Look for the freshest, firmest flesh and a bright orange color. The fish should never smell fishy, but just like the ocean. Fresh forms include: whole, dressed, steaks and fillets.

    How to Cook: Chinook salmon has a high fat content and lends itself to grilling, broiling, roasting and even microwaving. It’s full of fatty acids and is high in protein, making it a great choice for family dinners.

    How Ben Does It: Ben says, "Though this fish is seasonal and may be hard to find, it is totally worth the effort in seeking it out — great, great flavor!" He likes to cure this salmon for his weekend bagel, cream cheese and lox.

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  • Halibut

    How to Buy: First off, buy Pacific halibut. The Atlantic halibut has been overfished and populations have depleted. Alaskan halibut is plentiful and delicious. The fisheries in the Pacific are well-managed and it is your best choice out there for halibut. Look for halibut fillets and steaks in your local supermarket. Choose white, glossy-looking fish and don’t buy anything that looks a little yellowed as it might be a couple days old.

    How to Cook: Though halibut looks thick and sturdy, it is actually very delicate and can be a tricky fish to cook. It has a low fat content, so it can quickly overcook and dry out. Don’t overcook it: You want to be sure that you remove halibut from heat as soon as the center of the fish goes opaque. Halibut can be broiled, sautéed, grilled or deep-fried. Once cooked, it has a large, delicate flake and is mild in flavor. Pair it with butter, citrus or herbs, or make a sauce with fresh berries.

    How Ben Does It: Ben loves to grill halibut. Because it has large flakes, it’s great for the grill — nothing falls between the grates. It’s a meaty fish, so it can stand up to the char. Also, did you know that halibut cheeks are a delicacy? In Sitka, Chef Nelson had them on the menu at Café Ludvig’s: Halibut Cheek Putanesca. Ben didn't try it, but doesn’t it sound delicious?

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  • Mangrove Snapper

    How to Buy: Mangrove snapper is a great alternative to the overfished red snapper. This snapper may not be found in supermarkets outside of south Florida, but you can ask your fishmonger about ordering it. Slightly grayish in color, look for shiny, firm texture and a fresh ocean smell. The eye of the fish should be completely clear. The flesh should be white and not mushy to the touch.

    How to Cook: Mangrove snapper, like mutton snapper, can substitute into any snapper recipe you like. This fish can be cooked whole or filleted. Fillets can be pan-seared, oven-roasted or grilled. This is a mild fish in flavor, but slightly meaty in texture. It can take on big flavors, like citrus or spice. It pairs nicely with tropical fruits as well.

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    Mutton Snapper

    How to Buy: Look for mutton snapper as a fantastic alternative to the overfished red snapper. They look and taste almost identical, but a mutton snapper has a black spot almost halfway between the head and tail. It's the telltale sign it’s a mutton, not a red. Mutton snapper is a local fish, and because of the red snappers’ pervasiveness in the marketplace, mutton hasn’t really become popular. Search it out when you travel south, or see about ordering it online.

    How to Cook: Substitute mutton snapper in any of your favorite red snapper recipes. The fillets can be pan-seared or oven-roasted, just as you would with the red snapper. However, a medium-sized mutton snapper, about 3 to 5 pounds, is fantastic cooked whole. Tropical or citrus flavors and herbs brighten this fish, but don't overpower its mild flavors. Take it from mutton snapper-loving chef Doug Shook, who stuffed his snapper full of cilantro, onions and Key lime juice for a flavorful family-style dish.

    How Ben Does It: Fried up, real crispy. Break the fillet into crispy bite-sized nuggets, then dust in paprika and some all-purpose flour. The pink skin will fry up nice and crispy if you throw it into a hot, oiled frying pan. Make a tomato, avocado, basil and dill salad around the fish.

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  • Mackerel

    How to Buy: Mackerel does not store well because it is extremely high in good-for-you omega-3 fatty acids. The oils spoil the fish quickly, so be sure to cook the fish within the day you buy it. Look for mackerel at your local grocery store or in Asian markets. You could find it fresh or frozen, whole (depending on size), or cut into fillets or steaks. It is one of the tastiest, healthiest and most inexpensive fish out there. The flesh should be gray in color, though it will cook up white. Make sure it is not mushy in texture or fishy in smell.

    How to Cook: Some may find the flavor of mackerel to be assertive and fishy. It is on the fishier side, but it holds up to the addition of lots of ingredients and marinades. Its firm and oily meat makes it great for grilling, smoking, broiling or roasting, or even pickling, like a vinegary escabeche. Or try it breaded, seared and smothered in mushroom sauce topped with melted provolone cheese, like Chef Lupe cooked it in Islamorada. Who says you can’t put cheese on fish?

    How Ben Does It: Ben loves mackerel pasta and mackerel on skewers. This really is one of his favorite fish. He tends to like fish like bluefish and mackerel because of their fishy taste. The flesh is never overcooked or dry. The trick to mackerel, like bluefish, is to make sure they were bled on deck and that they are not even a full day out of the water. Spanish or Boston Macs are great on the grill. Leave the head on — just gutted and scaled. Sometimes he will make a very rich dish where he coats the fish in a layer of homemade mayo and grill it wrapped up in foil. Even if you are not a mayo lover the result is impressive.

    But the best mackerel recipe Ben has ever tried comes from his friend and fishing buddy, Dave Pasternack. Dave is the owner of the New York City restaurant Esca, where he serves white bean and mackerel bruschetta. To replicate it for yourself, simply toast a baguette on a grill/grill pan. Mix together cooked white beans, onions, olives and parsley, plus just a bit of olive oil and lemon juice, and baby mackerel. Chill and serve over the toasted bread. It's a bruschetta to die for!

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  • White Perch aka Smaller White Bass

    How to Buy: There is not much concern at all about the conservation of the white perch as they are in abundance in fresh waters. If purchasing, look for whole, scaled and gutted fish. Finding fillets will be very difficult since they are small and not worth the labor. One whole fish is typically good for one serving.

    How to Cook: Despite its small size, it has firm white meat and makes delicious fish chowder. They can also be fried in the usual way by coating the fillets (cornmeal, breadcrumbs or flour). Once the fish has been scaled and gutted, you can grill whole as well. Because of its simple flavor it pairs very well with a salty, acidic sauce alongside or poured right over the fish.

    How Ben Does It: Other than smoked salmon on a bagel, you don’t really hear about eating fish for breakfast. But one day Ben tried cooking up some white perch with his scrambled eggs, and it was tasty. He took the fillets, removed the skin and sautéed them alongside the eggs. All the flavors blended together and it was delicious.

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    Striped Bass aka “Striper” aka Rockfish (south of New Jersey)

    How to Buy: You can find striped bass at most supermarkets, either whole or in fillet form. If whole, ask your fishmonger to scale and gut the fish. Look for shiny, light-colored flesh that smells like the sea. The skin cooks up really crispy so buy the fish with the skin on. This fish is completely sustainable, so you should feel good about buying and eating it often.

    How to Cook: Striped bass equals thick meat. It is an extremely meaty, large-flaked fish, not delicate at all in texture. What that means is that it holds up great to longer cooking times. Whether you grill, broil, sauté or roast, look for opaque flesh and flakiness when sticking a fork into it — that’s when it’s done. And remember to leave the skin on — it makes for a delicious crunchy bite, like Chef Todd Mitgang did for his striped bass on the show.

    How Ben Does It: Ben loves striper raw. It makes some of the best sushi around. He eats whole plates of it with just a bit of pickled ginger and soy sauce. Just remember, if you’re eating it raw, be sure to handle it properly. Striped bass meat gets mushy if you leave it in melted ice, so if you put the fish on ice, remember to refresh it often.

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  • Porgy

    How to Buy: Look for larger-sized porgies when shopping at your local seafood shop — these will be easier to filet and cook up. However, if you can only find smaller ones, buy them and cook them whole. Most people are nervous about porgies because they have so many bones, but don’t be scared — porgies are inexpensive and delicious. And best of all? They are completely sustainable.

    How to Cook: Porgy has very delicate, mild meat, so a great way to cook it is steaming. You can also poach, pan-fry or roast. Porgies are not oily fish, so take care not to overcook. Try throwing a whole porgy on the grill just like Chef Meadows did in Montauk. Get his recipe here.

    How Ben Does It: Ben makes a mean porgy ceviche that he serves with crackers. Flavored with a little lime and orange juices, a bit of beer and some red pepper flakes for kick, this ceviche is best served outside, preferably on a boat with fishing pole in hand.

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  • Black Cod aka Sablefish aka Butterfish

    How to Buy: Black cod can be found in most supermarkets, but black cod tips are a specialty. Tips come from the collar of the black cod, and because most cod are sold to market with the head and collar off, the tips are hard to come by. But they are worth seeking out. Ask your local fishmonger to order a bag — they usually come frozen. If you can’t do that, try buying a whole, head-on black cod, and cut the tips out yourself. They are located just where the head of the fish meets the body, on the inside near the gills.

    How to Cook: In general, because black cod is such an oily fish, it is perfect for smoking and roasting. Its tips are full of flavor and a great source of omega-3s. The oiliness gives a buttery, melt-in-your-mouth texture when cooked, hence the sometimes-name of Butterfish. Grill them up so the char balances out the oiliness, or roast them at high temperatures with lots of salt and citrus to cut the fatty mouthfeel. Fresh herbs or greens make a fantastic accompanying flavor.

    How Ben Does It: Ben loved Kerry Maclane’s grilled cod tips — it’s the only fish he ever overdosed on. As he says, it is so good you will not believe the first bite. Nor the second or the third or the entire two bowls of it you eat over rice. After that much of such a rich, oily fish? You will wish someone had told you to take it easy. Get the recipe here.

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  • Dolly Varden aka "Dollies"

    How to Buy: Though similar to trout, Dolly Vardens are actually char. If you can’t find a Dolly Varden in your supermarket, look for arctic char, which is a good alternative, similar in flavor and texture. The flesh is brightly colored coral-red, and the taste is mild and sweet. You can buy fresh fillets or steaks. Because Dollys are small fish, it is a great one to buy and cook whole. Just make sure the skin is shiny and the flesh is bright in color. Look at the eye and make sure it is perfectly clear, not cloudy.

    How to Cook: Similar to salmon, but a bit leaner, Dolly Vardens can be grilled, sautéed, broiled or poached. Because of its small size, this is a great fish to cook whole and serve family-style. Try stuffing it with herbs and onions and citrus and roast it.

    How Ben Does It: Ben loves Dollys in the traditional Polish manner, which is butterflied like a rainbow trout, fried or sauteed in a beurre blanc sauce with capers. He does it tail on and head off. He also poaches a few eggs with hollandaise sauce and makes his own version of Eggs Benedict. It's so easy — serve the eggs on a muffin or toast and you have a fisherman's breakfast!

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  • Hogfish

    How to Buy: If you’re not in Florida or the Florida Keys, hogfish may be hard to come by. That being said, check out sources online to buy fresh hogfish and have it shipped to your door overnight. It might just be worth it for its super-sweet flavor and white, delicate flesh.

    How to Cook: Because this fish is very delicate, it is best cooked on a flat top, in a skillet or in the oven. Alternatively, fry it up and make some delicious fish tacos. Throwing it on the grill might cause the small flakes to fall apart. Its sweetness can stand up to a little spice, so add some dry spices like Bobby Mangielli did in his Hogfish Fajitas.

    How Ben Does It: Ben had never had a hogfish until he spent some time trying to spear them with Bobby, the owner of Hogfish Bar, in the Florida Keys. Finding them when the wind has picked up is not as easy as you might think given their bright pink color. Bobby and Ben cooked them up a few ways, but the best was taking fried hogfish fingers and making a sandwich served on fresh-cut Cuban bread with sauteed mushrooms and yellow onions — perfection after a hard day of fishing.

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  • Carp

    How to Buy: Carp are usually purchased live, because they spoil quickly. Carp is a freshwater fish, so it tends to be a bit muddy in flavor. Look for live carp that are about 5 pounds, with green-brownish skin and brightly colored eyes. Carp can be found live in Asian fish markets. Check to be sure the water it is sitting in looks clear and not muddy. Have the fishmonger head and gut the fish if you plan on cooking immediately, or store the carp in a bathtub full of fresh water for up to 2 days.

    How to Cook: Carp is a very bony fish. Cut the carp into steaks or cook it whole, being mindful of bones when eating. The flesh is grayish in color, but cooks up white. It is good for smoking, baking or roasting whole or in fillets/steaks, or grinding into fish balls. Carp is often used in the Jewish food gefilte fish.

    How Ben Does It: In Ben's opinion, carp is not the best-tasting fish. That is why in the Polish tradition, it's a good idea to purge them for a few days in your bathtub before eating. Ben did enjoy a carp dish prepared by his neighbor, a famous Polish poet. He took cubes of the carp and covered them in sour cream with a layer of onions or dill and a squeeze of lemon. Carp chowder is not bad either.

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  • Blue Crab

    How to Buy: Most are harvested as hard shells and sold by the bushel. The larger, meatier males are more desirable. Fresh-picked blue crab is sold in 1-pound plastic containers (and should be kept on ice). Jumbo lump is the biggest and most expensive. Crabmeat does not freeze as well as shrimp and tends to dry out after about 2 months, so don’t purchase frozen or freeze any leftovers. To be really sure your live crabs are really alive, make sure they wave their claws.

    How to Cook: You can steam or boil live blue crabs. They have an “internal” thermometer and turn orange-red when they are fully cooked. Freshly picked blue crab sold in the 1-pound container has already been cooked, typically pressure-steamed, so if you are making crab cakes, for example, you don’t need to worry about cooking the seafood all the way through like you would poultry or beef. The meat of the blue crab is rich, sweet and tender with a buttery flavor, so pairing it with a tartar sauce is a perfect way to balance out the flavors.

    How Ben Does It: Ben can’t help himself — he just pops the top of a container of freshly picked blue crabmeat and eats it straight, maybe with a sprinkle of salt. He loves a good crab cake, but nothing beats fresh blue crab.

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  • Bay Scallops

    How to Buy: Look for bay scallops at your supermarket or fishmonger. Bay scallops are extremely delicate and sweet. The freshest will be translucent, firm and moist in texture. Avoid any that look spongy or slimy. Scallops should always have a sweet ocean smell — not fishy. Some will be sold in their shell. If so, you can ask your fishmonger to clean them for you. If you are buying frozen scallops, be sure they are white in color and still translucent.

    How to Cook: Scallops should never be overcooked. They can be grilled, sautéed, stir-fried, fried, steamed or poached, among other techniques. Scallops cook extremely quickly, so never walk away when cooking them; once they turn opaque, they are finished. Always be sure to pat scallops dry before placing on heat. It is sweet and delicate in flavor, so try not to overpower them. They can also be eaten raw. Ingredients that pair well with scallops include citrus, butter, herbs, sweet squashes, corn and mushrooms.

    How Ben Does It: Ben is a fan of not cooking scallops. Nothing in the world tastes better then eating a raw scallop right out of the shell. You can feel them with your toes on the bottom of the ocean. Sometimes they will scoot away too fast, but if you happen to get one, eat it right there!

    If you do want to cook them, Ben says that a super-hot cast iron pan is the way to go. Cook for only 30 seconds per side. Ben is still working on replicating a cocoa, butter and sugar prep he once saw a fisherman make for scallops that almost made them taste candied. It was out of this world.

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  • Spot Prawns

    How to Buy: Spot prawns can be purchased live, fresh or frozen. You can also find them whole or “tailed.” The best flavor comes from the live, fresh prawns, so seek them out. Look for reddish, still-moving prawns, identifiable by their white spots. Make sure they are alive by looking for movement in their eyes or arms. These are extremely perishable, so once you buy them, refrigerate as soon as possible.

    How to Cook: Simply: These prawns are best raw or almost raw. Take care not to overcook. Spot prawns are the sweetest of shrimp. A little citrus, a little lime, a little salt, and you have a delicious bite of food. Or fry whole and eat the heads — that may sound strange, but there is a lot of flavor in those shrimp heads.

    How Ben Does It: Other than popping the heads off and eating the prawns right out of the water (like he did in Vancouver), Ben likes to cook them very simply. The key to cooking spot prawns is to just pour hot water over them. When you can handle them, they are done.

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  • Caribbean Lobster aka Spiny Lobster

    How to Buy: It’s best to buy a lobster live. Make sure its color is orangey-brown and its body is wiggling and lively. Caribbean lobsters are different than the more popular Maine lobster in that they do not have large claws and have spiny tails. If you buy spiny lobster that has already been cooked, make sure it is white in color; if it is gray, the lobster was possibly dead before it was cooked.

    How to Cook: Fill a very large pot with boiling, salted water and boil or steam the lobster whole, about 10 to 12 minutes, until the lobster changes color to bright orange. To keep the tail from curling, run a skewer up the tail to keep it straight. Lobster can also be grilled, though it may be a good idea to parcook the lobster (boil it for about 5 to 6 minutes) and then finish it on a hot grill. It is always a great idea to have some melted butter for dipping. Or serve it like they do in Bimini: a classic lobster salad with peppers, mayonnaise and lots of lime juice.

    How Ben Does It: Ben can't help it: He prefers the Northeast lobster to the spiny lobster of warmer climates. But there are a few ways the spiny lobster can win out. One way is served in any type of ceviche. Because it's not rich in flavor, it seems to go well with any type of acidity or spiciness. Ben has also had it in a delicious Mofongo in Puerto Rico. Also, the Northern lobsters emit a strange smell on the grill. That's not the case with the spiny lobsters, so Ben would say they win out there, too. Grill them split open with clarified butter, some paprika and a squeeze of lime.

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  • Swordfish

    How to Buy: Swordfish is very common in the seafood section of grocery stores across the country. This fish is a popular choice for many, and it is still a sustainable, good choice. This fish is sold in steaks or fillets. Swordfish have a lot of bones, some big in size, so take care to remove those before cooking or keep an eye out while eating. It is important to note that swordfish does have a relatively high level of mercury. All that means is not to eat it too often.

    How to Cook: This firm, meaty fish is absolutely the closest you’ll get to a steak with fish. Its dense texture makes it perfect for grilling or roasting, and its meaty flavor makes it a perfect match for marinades, spices and interesting sauces. Take care not to dry this fish out, though, as it quickly becomes mealy in texture. It does not have a high oil content, so it can overcook. And remember to take out the bloodline — it has a fishy, gamey flavor that some may not appreciate.

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  • Barracuda

    How to Buy: It is rare to be able to find Atlantic barracuda in U.S. markets outside of the Caribbean area; you may find Pacific barracuda. Regardless, look for creamy-white skin with firm flesh. Choose fillets that have come from smaller-sized fish, as larger fish are known to carry ciguatera toxins, which can cause gastrointestinal problems. The fish spoils easily, so store properly and use soon after purchasing.

    How to Cook: Because of barracuda’s meaty, firm flesh, this fish is best marinated and grilled, sauteed or broiled. It is a hearty fish and lends itself to spice and pungent flavors. It can also be battered and fried and used for fish tacos or fish and chips.

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  • Snakehead aka "Frankenfish"

    How to Buy: The snakehead fish is considered an invasive species, which means it has no natural predators and will destroy any local wildlife. Because of this, it has become illegal to import and interstate transport all snakehead species in the U.S., which helps prevent the species from taking over any freshwater areas in case they are released. However, if caught locally, you may be able to find snakehead fish at your local Asian market. And if you like to fish and live near rivers where snakeheads are running amuck, go out there and try to catch one. You’ll be doing all the other fish a big favor.

    How to Cook: Poaching, pan-frying, roasting, baking, chunks in soups, stews and curries — this fish works very well for all these uses as well as anything that shows off its tender flesh, and offers an attractive, simple flavor. It isn't at all oily, so it's not very good for grilling or smoking. Pickling this fish is popular in some cultures. Because the skin is so thick, tough and slimy, be sure to take it off before cooking.

    How Ben Does It: As far as freshwater fish go, snakehead is far and away the most flavorful and meaty fish out there. It really is most like sturgeon if you had to compare it to something. It seems to hold up well to frying and stays nice and sweet and flavorful. Seared quickly and served with pepitas and lime wedges is the way to do it. It's a perfect little starter. This dish is some of the best fish he has ever had, and it has no muddy flavor (which is impressive, considering it lives in the mud).

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  • Lionfish

    How to Buy: Lionfish has not hit the general marketplace in the United States, and you probably won’t be able to find it for sale unless you look online. These fish are an invasive species which are terrorizing the Caribbean waters. If you happen to live in Florida, you might be able to spot these fish while fishing around coral reefs or large wrecks. Spearfishing is your best bet for catching one of these fish. If you do catch one, be very careful when handling it — lionfish spines are full of toxins that can be harmful. Using gloves, carefully cut away the spines before filleting this fish.

    How to Cook: Lionfish flesh is white in color and extremely flaky and delicate. It is best cooked in a skillet or on a flat top because its meat will flake and fall apart. Or you can wrap it in parchment or foil to make a pocket to roast or grill. Lionfish is mild and sweet, so flavors can easily overpower it; go lightly if using spices. Citrus, butter and white wine are always a good idea.

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  • Hawaiian Opah aka Moonfish

    How to Buy: Look for opah in specialty seafood markets, as it is most likely not in general supermarkets. Choose opahs from Hawaii as a more sustainable choice over imported opahs. Hawaiian opahs have firmer meat, with a variation of orangey-red colors. The meat from the loin is a light orange color, but becomes a darker orange/light red as you move down toward the belly. You can store opah for up to 2 days in the refrigerator after buying.

    How to Cook: Opah has a meaty texture with a moderate fat content. It's perfect for grilling, sautéing, broiling or pan-searing. Conversely, try opah raw, sashimi-style. Because of its fat content, opah has a rich, creamy flavor that has great versatility and lends itself to a variety of flavors. Try it simply grilled with candied lemons and herbs, just like Ben ate it in New York City.

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  • Sea Cucumber

    How to Buy: Sea cucumbers are not your average seafood item. So you may have to look past your local supermarket, or even your local fishmonger. Scope out Asian markets or even Asian restaurants as a source to find sea cucumbers. You might find them skinless and frozen, or fresh and intact.

    How to Cook: Sea cucumber is all about texture: a bit chewy and jelly-like. They are relatively flavorless, so they will take on whatever ingredients you add to them. Asian condiments are a great source of flavor: salty, sour and sweet. After they have been cleaned, sea cucumbers can be eaten raw, but try braising them for a mellower texture, or quickly blanching or stir-frying. Chef Sato quickly blanched the sea cucumbers in Japanese green tea, and then added them to a cucumber salad, quite a clever combination of ingredients.

    How Ben Does It: While Ben enjoyed his sea cucumber and cucumber salad with Chef Sato, he really enjoys this species in soup. There are a ton of great clear broth soups where the cucumber really adds a nice texture and takes on the flavor of the broth. Any soup that uses both a meat and seafood of some type seems to turn these critters into something pleasing. There is one traditional Chinese soup recipe he happens to love that's super easy. Fill a stockpot with water and cook a couple pounds of pork ribs for 45 minutes, until the water turns white; this will be the broth of the soup. Then, just add the sea cucumber and some bamboo shoots, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes, and finish it all off with some shrimp, salt and pepper. Taste it for seasoning, and serve it hot.

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  • Geoducks

    How to Buy: You usually find geoducks sold live in specialty seafood markets, but not your average supermarket seafood department. Look in Asian markets for this giant clam. Geoduck stocks are plentiful, but most of the clams harvested in the United States head to Asia to be sold there. Geoducks may look odd, but trust Ben — they are the sweetest, tastiest clams you'll ever try.

    How to Cook: On the show, Ben ate one right after he pulled it out of the sand. Deliciously sweet and chewy in texture, this clam is fantastic raw. You might see it in Japanese restaurants called “giant clam” on sushi lists. If you’re looking to cook it, go for a quick blanch to remove the shell and skin, and gently sauté with vegetables or add to pasta sauces for a unique spin on seafood pasta.

    How Ben Does It: Tempura-battered fritters are delicious. Clear broth soup or even in a chowder is another way to go. In a ceviche is also good. But to be honest, this clam is so expensive and cooking it or even overshadowing it with flavors is a bummer. Raw, sliced very thin and dipped in a little soy sauce is by far Ben's favorite way to eat these. There is no sweeter clam out there.

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