Catch of the Day: Local Chefs Share Their Go-To Recipes for Oregon Seafood

From saucy crabs and albacore crudo to razor clam chowder, here's a bevy of ways to prepare Cascadia's briny bounty.

By Kelly Clarke and Benjamin Tepler May 13, 2016 Published in the June 2016 issue of Portland Monthly

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Justin Wills' no-cook, home cured albacore crudo goes best with satisfyingly crunchy sea beans.

Image: Nomad

Wildwood Chef-Founder Cory Schreiber’s Razor Clam Chowder
Departure Chef Gregory Gourdet’s Dungeness Crab with Tamarind Ketchup
Restaurant Beck Chef Justin Wills' Rockfish and Grilled Spring Salad
La Moule Chef-Owner Aaron Barnett’s Steamed Mussels
Ox’s Grilled Oregon Halibut with Mint Chimichurri
Crown Paella Seafood Paella
Chef Kyo Koo’s Oregon Spot Prawns in a Spring Garden
Luce Chef-Owner John Taboada’s Clam Pasta

Restaurant Beck Chef Justin Wills’ Albacore Crudo with Sea Beans
Paley’s Place Owner Vitaly Paley’s Grilled Cedar Planked Salmon

Wildwood Chef-Founder Cory Schreiber’s Razor Clam Chowder

Cory Schreiber, founder of Northwest Portland’s long-departed (but not forgotten) Wildwood restaurant, shares his take on James Beard’s Northwest razor clam chowder.

(Serves 4)

1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 leek, white part thinly sliced
1 medium fennel bulb, green parts discarded, white part diced
2 stalks celery, peeled and diced
¼ cup lukewarm water
2 tsp salt
4 cups clam juice
2 cups milk or heavy cream
2 cups Yukon Gold potatoes (about 3-4), peeled and diced
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
2 tsp fennel seeds, coarsely crushed
1 bay leaf
6 razor clams, minced (about 2 cups) (Enjoy a detailed razor clam cleaning video.)
1 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
¼ cup parsley leaves, stems discarded

Melt butter in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add leek, fennel bulb and celery and sauté for 2 minutes. Add water and 1 tsp salt, then cover. Turn heat to medium-low and cook until vegetables are soft, about 8-10 minutes. Add clam juice, milk or cream, potatoes, remaining 1 tsp salt, thyme, fennel seeds and bay leaf. 

Simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 15 to 20 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Add minced razor clams and pepper and simmer for 5 more minutes. Remove bay leaf. To serve, garnish individual bowls of chowder with whole parsley leaves if you like.

This article appeared in the May 2007 issue of Portland Monthly.

Departure Chef Gregory Gourdet’s Dungeness Crab with Tamarind Ketchup

To up your crab game beyond butter and Old Bay, we enlisted the help of Top Chef star and Departure chef Gregory Gourdet. His Asian ketchup gives the crustaceans a sweet, tart coating, finger-licking required.

(Serves 4-8, makes about 1 cup of tamarind ketchup)

4-8 live Dungeness crabs, boiled and cleaned (Instructions and videos on cooking and cleaning crabs at the Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission’s website)
1 tbsp vegetable oil
½ cup roughly chopped shallots
6 roughly chopped garlic cloves
2 tbsp peeled ginger in ¼-inch-thick slices
¼ of a red jalapeño
3 tbsp tamarind purée
¼ cup crushed tomatoes
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
¼ cup plus 2 tbsp palm sugar (or brown sugar)
2 tsp fresh-squeezed lime juice

Heat vegetable oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Sweat shallots, garlic, ginger, and red jalapeño over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until lightly caramelized, around 10 minutes. Add a pinch of salt, tamarind purée, tomatoes, fish sauce, soy sauce, palm sugar, and lime juice and cook for about 12 minutes, or until sauce thickens.

Purée in a blender until smooth and season with salt and sugar if needed. In a bowl toss whole or quartered crabs (cooked and cleaned) with some sauce and cilantro. Serve with more tamarind ketchup for dipping.

This article appeared in the December 2014 issue of Portland Monthly.  

Restaurant Beck Chef Justin Wills' Rockfish and Grilled Spring Salad

Owner of Depoe Bay’s Restaurant Beck gives us a tasty recipe for rockfish and local, foraged greens.

 (Serves 4)


1 ½ pounds rockfish, divided into four 6-ounce portions
1 tsp fennel pollen (available at In Good Taste)
1 tsp semolina 
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tbsp grape-seed oil

Combine fennel pollen, semolina, and salt. Season rockfish with semolina-fennel rub. Over medium-high heat, sauté fish in grape-seed oil until golden brown, then turn and cook for 2–3 more minutes.

Grilled Spring Salad*

2 bunches ramps (or scallions)
¼ cup orange juice
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1/3 cup grape-seed oil
1 handful wild wood sorrel (or plain sorrel)
1 handful watermelon radish (or plain radish), shaved or sliced thin

Grill ramps with grape-seed oil (to coat) and salt (to taste) until tender. Remove from grill and cut into 1 ½–inch pieces. Place in mixing bowl. Combine orange juice, sugar, and rice vinegar, and slowly beat grape-seed oil into mixture. Add radishes and sorrel to bowl with ramps. Dress lightly with vinaigrette, season with salt.

*Greens available at the PSU farmers market, or swap them out for supermarket-friendly alternatives.

This article appeared in the May 2011 issue of Portland Monthly.

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Aaron Barnett's steamed mussels can be served three delicious ways.

La Moule Chef-Owner Aaron Barnett’s Steamed Mussels

Barnett gives us the simple formula for tackling three of his richly flavored, aromatic takes on moules-frites, or “mussels and fries,” at home—employing everything from Belgian ales to chorizo to Old Bay to infuse the humble shellfish with international flair.

(Serves 1–2)

1 lb mussels, soaked in cold water for 20 minutes and debearded
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
Classique, Espagnole, or Maine seasoning
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp chopped parsley
Lemon juice, salt, and pepper for seasoning

STEAM Combine the mussels, garlic, and seasonings in a large bowl. (Pick one of the three options below.) Heat a large pot or deep skillet over very high heat, dump in the bowl’s contents, and cover with a lid. Steam for 6 minutes, or until the mussels just begin to open, shaking the pot occasionally.

FINISH SAUCE Transfer opened mussels to a serving bowl with a slotted spoon. Add butter and lemon to the remaining liquid in the pot and reduce until thickened slightly, about a minute. Add parsley and pour the broth over the mussels. Skip the fries at home and serve with baguette and aioli.*

Three Variations

CLASSIQUE [Sweet-Wheaty-Buttery]
Combine 1 tbsp finely chopped shallot with ½ bottle of Belgian ale.

ESPAGNOLE [Spicy-Acidic-Rich]
Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a skillet over medium-low heat and sweat ¼ lb Spanish chorizo (bulk, broken into bits), ½ bell pepper and ¼ yellow onion (both julienned), and a pinch of smoked paprika until peppers and onion are translucent. Add ½ cup dry sherry and ¼ cup white wine when preparing mussels.

MAINE [Salty-Smoky-Celery]
Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a skillet over medium-low heat and sweat 6-inch link of kielbasa cut into ½-inch rounds and ¼ cup yellow onion, julienned, until fat is slightly rendered and onion is translucent. Combine with 1 bottle of Budweiser, 1 cob of corn cut into quarters, 6 boiled baby red potatoes (halved), and 1½ tbsp Old Bay seasoning when preparing mussels.

*Barnett’s accompanying aioli recipes:

Classique Aioli 

1 egg yolk, at room temperature
2 cloves garlic, mashed into a paste
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp red wine vinegar
2-3 dashes Tabasco sauce
½ cup olive oil
½ cup canola oil
Salt and pepper to taste 

Combine all ingredients except oil in a food processor. Blend on high speed while slowly adding oil in a thin stream.

Espagnole Aioli: After blending the classique aioli recipe, add 1 tbsp Sriracha and 1 tsp smoked paprika.

Maine Aioli: After blending the classique aioli recipe, add ¼ cup chopped kosher dill pickles, 2 tsp dill pickle juice, 2 tbsp chopped dill.

This article appeared in the October 2015 issue of Portland Monthly.

Ox’s Grilled Oregon Halibut with Mint Chimichurri

To pair with Ox’s Northwest-inspired version of chimichurri, the ubiquitous South American condiment, the chef Greg Denton opts for lusciously textured halibut instead of steak and adds fresh peas and mint to showcase spring’s bright flavors.

(Serves 4)

1 ¼ lb cleaned halibut fillet, divided into 4 portions
Olive oil to coat
Kosher salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Mint chimichurri*

Brush the halibut with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Place on a hot grill that has been rubbed with oil, and cook to desired doneness (for an average 1-inch fillet, 3–4 minutes on one side and 2 minutes on the other over a medium flame). Remove and top each fillet with a generous spoonful of chimichurri.

*Mint Chimichurri
½ cup fresh Italian parsley leaves, chopped
2 tbsp fresh spearmint, chopped
1 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
½ cup yellow onion, minced
1 tsp fresh garlic, finely minced
½ cup good-quality extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp fresh Meyer lemon juice
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 ½ tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients and let sit for at least half an hour and up to one day.

Potatoes and Peas
½ lb new potatoes, scrubbed
Kosher salt to taste
1 ½ cup shucked English peas (removed from the pod)
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper (to taste)

Place potatoes in a pot and cover with water. Add 1–2 tablespoons of salt and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until just tender. Remove from water and set aside to cool. Bring a small pot of fresh water to a boil. Add a tablespoon of salt and blanch the peas for approximately 30 seconds. Remove peas from the hot water and cool in an ice-water bath. Drain off the water and set aside in a large bowl.

Toss the potatoes with the olive oil, salt, and pepper, and place on a hot grill that has been rubbed or sprayed with oil. Cook for approximately 2 minutes on one side and 2 minutes on the other, or until they start to brown and get grill marks. Remove potatoes from the grill and place in the large bowl with the peas. Add approximately 1 cup chimichurri to the potatoes and peas and toss gently to coat. Serve hot, room temperature, or cold.

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
4 medium garlic cloves, peeled and sliced thin
8 French breakfast radishes (or globe radishes), sliced thin

Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil and the garlic slices in a small pot over very low heat and cook gently until the garlic starts to color. Remove from heat, and as soon as the garlic turns a golden brown place in a small bowl and add the other tablespoon of olive oil to stop the cooking process.

TO SERVE: Place the potato and pea salad in the center of the plate and put the halibut on top. Garnish the halibut with the fried garlic chips and a small drizzle of the garlic oil. Scatter the radish slices all over the dish, and serve.

This article appeared in the May 2012 issue of Portland Monthly. 

Crown Paella Seafood Paella

Catering pros Scott and Emily Ketterman re-created the iconic Valencian rice dish with a paprika-stained jumble of chicken, chorizo, and Oregon shellfish over a charcoal grill, endowing it with deep, savory flavors and a crunchy, caramelized bottom.

 (Serves 8)

2 tbsp olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1½ lbs skin-on chicken thighs, deboned and cut into 1-inch strips
1½ lbs prawns or shrimp, shell on and deveined
1 cup dried chorizo, thinly sliced
cups sofrito*
1 tbsp smoked paprika
1½ tsp saffron threads
2 quarts chicken broth
1 tbsp salt, plus more for seasoning
10 canned piquillo peppers, quartered
1½ lbs mussels, scrubbed and debearded
1½ lbs clams, soaked in cold water for 15–20 minutes
3½ cups Bomba rice
Lemons for serving

*Sofrito: Heat ¼ cup olive oil in a skillet over medium-low heat, and sweat
2 cups medium-diced green bell pepper, 2 cups medium-diced onion, and 2 cloves garlic, slivered, until translucent. Add 2 cups tomato purée and gently simmer over low heat, stirring frequently, until most of the liquid has been cooked off, at least 30 minutes. (Sofrito can be made up to five days ahead.) 

Heat a paella pan (18 inches or wider) over a very hot charcoal grill. Add olive oil, add chicken and season with a pinch of salt, brown on both sides, and push to the edges of the pan. Add prawns, season with more salt, and cook until lightly colored. Add chorizo, sofrito, smoked paprika, and saffron, and stir everything together. 

Add chicken broth and the tablespoon of salt, and bring to a simmer. Sprinkle rice evenly over the top of the paella, making sure it is completely covered by broth, and cook for five minutes. Arrange piquillo peppers, mussels, and clams over the top of the paella. 

Continue to cook paella until the rice has absorbed all of the liquid and smells slightly toasted, about 30 minutes. Remove pan from the grill, cover it with aluminum foil, and allow it to rest for five minutes. Serve straight from the pan with lemon wedges and a drizzle of olive oil.

This article appeared in the June 2015 issue of Portland Monthly.

Chef Kyo Koo’s Oregon Spot Prawns in a Spring Garden

The former Bluehour chef shares his recipe for head-on roasted Oregon spot prawns with wild greens, pickled shallots, and brown butter—the rice flour used to coat the spot prawns lend a gluten-free crunch. Dig in!

(Serves 1)

4 whole wild Oregon spot prawns
2 tbsp rice flour
2½ cups vegetable oil (for frying)
Sea salt to season
4 bamboo skewers, 4 inch
Pickled shallots*
4 tbsp brown butter**
1 oz miner’s lettuce
1 oz wild watercress
1 oz wild mustard greens with flowers
1 tsp arbequina olive oil

Carefully remove each spot prawn’s shell from the tail section. Peel from below, breaking the shell from from front to back, to leave the tail whole. It is important to do this gently to keep the head attached to the spot prawn. Take peeled spot prawns and lay on a plate. Very carefully take point end of bamboo skewer and insert horizontally into the tail of the spot prawn, starting at the very back. This is to make sure the tail stays straight while cooking. In a small pot, using a candy thermometer, heat vegetable oil to 360 degrees. 

Place rice flour on a plate, and gently dredge each spot prawn. Shake gently to remove excess rice flour. Individually, take prawns and submerge only the head section of the prawn in oil and fry until crispy. Approximately 1½ -2 minutes. Drain on paper towel.  

Right before serving, turn prawns around and fry the tail section until cooked. Approximately 30 seconds. Drain again on paper towel. Season with sea salt. 

To plate the dish, place cooked spot prawns upright in the center of 4 plates. With a spoon, coat each prawn liberally with brown butter. Place the wild greens in mixing bowl, and dress with arbequina olive oil, ½ teaspoon of the shallot pickling liquid, and a pinch of sea salt. Distribute greens over the prawns evenly. To finish the dish, distribute the pickled shallot rings evenly on all four plates. Placing them around and on top of the greens.

*Pickled shallots
Combine ¾ cup rice wine vinegar, ¼ cup cold water, 2 tsp white sugar, ½ tsp kosher salt, 1 tsp whole black peppercorn, 1 tsp whole yellow mustard seed, 1 tsp whole juniper berries, and 1 star anise in a small pot. Bring to a rolling boil and immediately turn off heat. Let steep for 30 minutes, then bring back to boil and pour the liquid over 2 medium shallots, thinly sliced in a small mixing bowl. Allow to cool in refrigerator at least 1 hour.  

**To make brown butter, add butter to a small sauté pan, and cook gently over medium heat until milk solids color to a golden brown. Stir gently with a high heat spatula to brown the butter evenly. Immediately transfer to small mixing bowl and reserve at room temperature. 

Originally published March 2015.

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Calabrian chiles add spice to John Taboada's clam pasta.

Image: Nomad

Luce Chef-Owner John Taboada’s Clam Pasta

A wave of Calabrian chile warmth mingles with the silky depth of wine, pasta, and clams to create an Italian classic that’s simple to prepare—and easy to love.

(Serves 6) 

1 lb dried spaghetti 
½ cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic, lightly crushed 
2 whole dried Calabrian chiles*, split lengthwise and deseeded (or ½ tsp of chile flakes)
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
3 lbs manila clams 
½ cup white wine  

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, scrub clams and submerge in a bowl of cold water for 10 minutes to purge them of sand. Tap any open clams; discard those that do not close. 

Heat oil and garlic in a deep skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add chiles and cook 5 minutes longer, or until the garlic is almost black. Discard garlic and chiles. Add pasta to boiling water and cook until al dente.  

While pasta cooks, turn the heat on the skillet to medium-high, add parsley, and fry quickly, about a minute. Add clams; when they start to open add wine and steam, uncovered, until most have opened. Discard any unopened clams. 

Drain pasta, add to skillet, toss until coated, and serve immediately.  

*Available at Luce, which doubles as an imported-foods shop, $7/2.5 oz

This article appeared in the February 2014 issue of Portland Monthly. 

Restaurant Beck Chef Justin Wills’ Albacore Crudo with Sea Beans

Each little sea bean stalk delivers an intensely briny flavor akin to asparagus, with the satisfying crunch of a green bean. They’re at their best with seafood, like this no-cook, home-cured recipe for albacore crudo.

(Serves 4–6)

1 tbsp sea salt 
1 tbsp togarashi (Find this Japanese spice mix at local gourmet markets.) 
1 lime, zested
½ lb Oregon albacore tuna loin 
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1½ tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 oz sea beans, washed (Find them at Nomadic Meal at the PSU Farmers Market or specialty markets)
4 Thai basil leaves, torn

Combine sea salt, togarashi, and lime zest. Rub mixture on tuna and let sit, covered, in refrigerator for 6 hours. Combine ginger, rice vinegar, and lime juice in a bowl to form a vinaigrette. Slowly whisk in olive oil and set aside.

Rub the mixture off of tuna gently with a paper towel. Slice tuna with a very sharp knife into ¼-inch pieces, and shingle onto a plate.

Combine sea beans and basil leaves in a small mixing bowl, and dress lightly with some of the ginger vinaigrette. Place sea bean and basil salad on top of tuna, drizzle more ginger vinaigrette on top, and serve.

This article appeared in the August 2013 issue of Portland Monthly. 

Paley’s Place Owner Vitaly Paley’s Grilled Cedar Planked Salmon

Paley marinates this flavorful Oregon classic in brown sugar, salt, and orange zest, then tops it with Walla Walla onions and basil.

(Serves 4-6)

1 2-lb piece wild chinook salmon, scaled, preferably from the belly of the fish, deboned
2 tbsp kosher salt
¼ cup packed brown sugar
Grated zest of 2 oranges
6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 small bulb garlic, peeled, separated into cloves, and finely chopped
1 Walla Walla onion, halved and thinly sliced
½ cup fresh basil, coarsely chopped
Cedar plank

Place fish in a large glass baking dish. In a bowl, mix salt, brown sugar, and orange zest, and generously rub into both sides of the salmon. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Preheat a gas grill or get a charcoal grill red-hot. Brush both sides of the cedar plank with 3 tbsp olive oil and spread chopped garlic on one side. Place the salmon on the garlic and cover evenly with chopped basil and onion. (Pile onion on the top and sides of the fish to prevent burning.) Drizzle with the remaining 3 tbsp olive oil.

The plank should ignite when you place it on the grill (salmon side up). Let the plank burn all the way around the fish. Once the exposed plank has burned, cover the grill to smother the fire. 
Grill salmon without turning for 15 minutes until medium rare (or until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part reads 130 degrees). Serve immediately.

Chef’s Tip: Untreated cedar shingles purchased at a lumberyard work well as planks.

This article appeared in the April 2009 issue of Portland Monthly. 

Still hungry? Here are even more local seafood recipes: 

Chef Ken Norris Dockside Chowder
Oregon Black Cod with Pears & Chanterelles
Chef Jenn Louis’s Oregon Beach Camping Seafood Stew
Oregon Pink Shrimp, Dragon Well Green Tea-Style
Holdfast Chef-Owner Will Preisch’s Pine Gravlax

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