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Seafood salad sensation

Cornelius Gallagher, executive chef of Oceana restaurant in New York City, with recipes to keep you cool, regardless if it’s the end of summer.
/ Source: TODAY

The calendar might say September but, there will be plenty of sweltering summer days left this year. To keep your cool in the kitchen why not whip up a few seafood salads? Cornelius Gallagher, executive chef of Oceana restaurant in New York City, and one of Food & Wine magazine’s best new chefs of 2003, has a few salad recipes which are sure to keep you cool.


Begin preparing this recipe one day ahead of serving.

Yield: 4 servings


1 beefsteak tomato, peeled, cut into 8 wedges and seeded

1/4 cup red onion, peeled and thinly sliced

3 tbsp. olive oil

3 tbsp. red wine vinegar

2 tbsp. parsley, sliced

Salt and pepper

16 medium shrimp

1/3 cup basil leaves

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2 tbsp. toasted pinenuts

1 clove garlic, peeled

1 tbsp. grated parmesan cheese

1 avocado, peeled and seeded

1 tsp. lemon juice

1 tsp. cumin powder

1 cup arugula leaves


Combine the tomato wedges, red onion, olive oil, red wine vinegar and parsley in a large wooden bowl, toss well, and season with salt and pepper. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, gently stirring the tomatoes frequently. The following day, drain the tomatoes, reserving the juices and tomatoes separately. Set aside.

Fill a medium saucepan half way with salted water and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add the shrimp to the water, and cook them just until the shells begin to turn color and the shrimp look pasty white. Immediately remove the shrimp from the heat, drain and chill them at once. When chilled, peel the shrimp, discarding the shells. Add the shrimp to the reserved tomato juices, cover and reserve in the refrigerator, chilled.

In the jar of a blender, combine the basil, vegetable oil, pinenuts, garlic and parmesan cheese; cover and puree until smooth. Transfer the blender jar to the refrigerator and reserve.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the meat from the avocado with the lemon juice and cumin, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Crush the avocado lightly with the back of a fork, mixing until just combined.

Transfer the shrimp to a platter and combine the tomato juices with the basil puree; chill until ready to serve.


Spoon one fourth of the avocado into the center of four chilled dinner plates. Arrange 4 shrimp on top of the avocado, and spoon one quarter of the reserved tomato pieces around them. Drizzle the chilled basil-tomato puree around the plate, and garnish with some arugula leaves.


Yield: 4 servings


1 leek, green part only

4 leaves red oak lettuce

4 leaves green oak lettuce

4 leaves baby romaine lettuce

8 leaves frisee lettuce

3 tbsp. butter

12 diver scallops

Salt and pepper

2 tbsp. thyme leaves

2 tbsp. shallots, chopped

2 tangerines, cut into 16 segments

2 tbsp. blood orange juice reduction

2 tbsp. green herb oil

1/4 tsp. grated lemon zest

1/4 tsp. grated lime zest

1/4 tsp. grated orange zest


Add the leek to a sauce pot filled with salted boiling water, and blanch until tender and bright green, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. When chilled, remove the leeks, pat them dry, and cut the greens into 4 thin strips lengthwise. Reserve.

Combine the lettuces into four stacks of leaves as follows: one leaf each of red oak, green oak and baby romaine, and two leaves of frisee. Stack the lettuces and then roll each one into a cylinder. Tie each bundle with a leek strip and trim the base of each so that it stands up without support. Reserve the lettuce bundles in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

In a saute pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Season the scallops with salt and pepper and when the butter begins to sizzle, add the scallops. Roast them in the pan until the become golden, about 2 minutes. Add the thyme and shallots, and baste the scallops with the butter, just until they finish cooking, another minute. Turn heat off the heat and set out four serving plates.

Stand one lettuce bundle in the center of each, and surround with 3 scallops. Add 4 tangerine sections to each plate, and drizzle the blood orange and herb oil over the fruit. Sprinkle with the grated zests. Drizzle some of the scallop roasting butter over the lettuce and serve immediately.


Yield: 8 servings


10 sheets gelatin

1 avocado, seeds removed

1 tbsp. lime juice

1 tbsp. lemon juice

Pinch cayenne pepper

Pinch ground cumin

1 cup piquillo peppers, seeds removed

1/8 cup water

1 medium Russet potato, scrubbed

1/8 cup ramps leaves

1/8 cup chervil leaves

1/8 cup parsley leaves

1/8 cup tarragon leaves

1/8 cup dill, stems removed

1/2 medium fennel, fronds only

1/8 cup spinach leaves

1/8 cup sorrel leaves

4 stalks asparagus

1/2 cup cream

Salt and pepper

1 egg

1 cup canola oil

1/2 lemon, juiced

2 tbsp. capers

2 tbsp. chopped cornichon

1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard

Pinch cayenne

12 ounces lump crab meat, picked thoroughly for shells

12 ounces Jonah all-leg meat, picked thoroughly for shells

2 heads frisee

2 tbsp. black olive oil


Preheat oven to 150 degrees F.

Put the gelatin in a large bowl and cover with cool water to soften, or bloom. When soft, transfer the gelatin to a sauce pan and place over very low heat to melt. When melted, turn off the heat and reserve the pot on the stove.

Meanwhile, combine the avocado, lime juice, lemon juice, cayenne pepper and cumin in the work bowl of a food processor, and process until smooth. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Reserve.

Put the peppers with 1/8 cup of water into a blender and puree. Spread one half of the pepper puree into a thin layer on a baking sheet to make the tuiles, reserving the other half to make the gelee. Place the baking sheet into the warm oven to dry out, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven, and, while still hot, cut the baked puree into jagged pieces. Transfer them to a cool sheet tray and set aside. To make the gelee, pour the remaining puree into the melted gelatin, stir to combine, and refrigerate until firm. Cut into free-form shapes, transfer to a cool plate and reserve.

Raise the oven to 350 degrees F. Prick the potato with a fork and bake in oven for about 20 minutes, until soft. Reserve.

Set a pot filled with salted water over high heat until boiling. Working with one green at a time, blanch the ramps, chervil, parsley, tarragon, dill, fennel, spinach and sorrel; blanch each for two minutes, then transfer them immediately to an in ice water bath to shock. While the greens are blanching, fill another pot with salted water and bring it to a boil over high heat. Add the asparagus and blanch just until tender, 2-3 minutes, then shock in ice water. Combine the blanched herbs, asparagus, potato and cream in the work bowl of a food processor and blend until smooth. Transfer the bowl to an ice bath and chill. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed. Reserve on the ice bath until ready to serve.

Break the egg into the bowl of a stand mixer and start on low speed. With the mixer running, add the oil in a slow stream to form an emulsion. Remove the bowl from the mixer, and slowly fold in the lemon juice, capers, cornichons, mustard, cayenne and salt. Set aside and reserve.

Using a large bowl, combine the crab meat with a little of the egg sauce, just to moisten. Fill 8 ring molds half way full with the crab meat, top with a dollop of avocado puree, and finish with more crab meat, smoothing out the top of the mold. Pack the ring molds until all the crab meat is used.

To serve: un-mold one crab disk in the center of each plate. Drizzle with some of the herb sauce and scatter the pepper gelee pieces around the salad. Top with frisee and finish the plate with a shard of pepper tuile and a drizzle of black olive oil. Serve immediately.


Yield: 10 servings


5 whole Maine lobsters, cooked

10 sheets of gelatin

1 cup plus 1 quart champagne

3 cucumbers, peeled, seeded and quartered lengthwise

10 pearl onions, peeled

1 bouquet garni, containing several branches each of dill and thyme

4 bay leaf

3 egg yolks

3 tsp dijon mustard

3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice, plus 2 tsp for a vinaigrette (from 2 lemons)

4 tbsp. peeled and diced shallot

3/4 cup lovage oil

2 tbsp. garlic-flavored olive oil

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 tsp chopped fresh dill

1/2 cup baby arugula, washed and dried

5 tbsp. white sturgeon caviar (farmed in California; suggested brand - Sterling Premium or Classic)

1/2 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs), toasted


Place a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan in the freezer. Separate the tail and claws from the lobster body; discard legs and body. Shell the tail and claws and scrape away all the albumen (white stuff). Separate the knuckle from the claw and dice the claw meat. Reserve the diced lobster in a bowl, covered with a damp paper towel and refrigerated. Split the tails lengthwise and cut meat into 1” chunks. Leave the knuckles whole. Reserve lobster meat in a separate bowl, covered as directed above and refrigerated.

Submerge the gelatin sheets in a bowl of water to soften.

Bring the champagne to a simmer in a sauce pot over medium heat. When simmering, remove the pot from the stove and add the gelatin; whisk until combined. Pass the gelatin through a very fine mesh strainer (a chinois) and reserve the liquid in a bowl at room temperature until it becomes gelee (the gelatin begins to thicken the champagne). At this point, remove the tray from the freezer and pour the gelee onto the chilled surface. Return the tray to the freezer until the gelee stiffens. When gelled, cut into rectangles (2” x 1/2”) and reserve in the refrigerator.

Meanwhile, combine the cucumbers, pearl onions, remaining quart of champagne, celery juice, garlic oil, bouquet and bay leaves in a large, low-sided pan (called a rondeau). Season with salt and cook over a low flame to barely simmer. Cover with parchment paper and braise the cucumbers just until tender, about 30 minutes. Drain into a bowl, reserving the liquid separately; cool cucumbers and onions, then thinly slice them and store them in the braising liquid. Cover with plastic and refrigerate until serving.

Whip the egg yolks, mustard, 3 T lemon juice, and diced shallot until the color of the yolks lightens slightly. Add the lovage oil drop by drop at first, whisking the mixture vigorously until the oil begins to incorporate into the mixture. Then, pour the remaining lovage oil in a slow stream while constantly mixing until the sauce is thickened. Season with the garlic oil and finish by stirring in the creme fraiche.

To serve: Swipe some of the lovage emulsion onto a serving plate. In a bowl, whisk together the remaining lemon juice and olive oil. Add the cucumbers, onions and diced lobster meat, and fold to combine. Season with the dill. Spoon onto the plate, placing the salad to the left of the lovage emulsion. Top with a small amount of baby arugula.

Dip one lobster claw into the blood orange reduction*. Shake to remove excess and place it on the serving plate. Lay one piece of champagne jelly alongside the claw, and top the gel with a small amount of caviar. Roll three chunks of lobster tail in the caper cornichon mayonnaise**, then roll them in the toasted panko. Line these up alongside the claw, and serve.

1/2 cup fresh blood orange juice, reduced to a syrup

1/4 cup Hellman’s Mayonnaise, mixed with 2 tbsp. chopped cornichons and 2 tbsp. chopped capers.