Salumi of the Sea
At Seviche, his groundbreaking, Latin American-influenced eatery in Louisville, Ky., Lamas commits to creating all sorts of unique seafood dishes. His tuna Old Fashioned was inspired by the classic whiskey cocktail. Seviche’s signature macadamia-crusted sea bass had critics buzzing on the local and national fronts. And his seafood sausage was such a hit when he first served it at the James Beard House that it’s inspired him to experiment with other versions of seafood charcuterie.
Dubbed “seacuterie” by PB Catch in Palm Beach, Fla.—which offers eight choices at a time on its menu—seafood charcuterie has been gaining ground as the catch of the day at restaurants across the country. It’s been an especially popular feature at seafood-focused eateries such as Seviche, however, Lamas insists that it’s more than just a trend. It’s about sustainability and respecting the animal.
“I think the whole charcuterie movement with the pig got me started,” Lamas recalls. “Before, (many cooks) wouldn’t scrape the meat off the belly of the fish and would just throw it away. There’s still a lot of meat there and it shouldn’t be tossed out. It’s a way of being creative and utilizing the entire animal.”
For Seviche’s seafood sausage, he mixes “scraps” from grouper or halibut with chunks of shrimp or lobster as well as jalapeño, cilantro, lemon zest, lemon juice, egg white, ginger and olive oil. They’re shot into tubes, poached in a flavored stock, then served grilled. He’ll run it as an occasional special as well as salmon mousse and smoked trout dip, which are accompanied by house-made crackers.
“(Seafood charcuterie) keeps us on our toes,” he says. “We’re like, ok, we’ve got this part of the fish, what should we do with it? That’s the fun part about cooking is that we’re using our creative minds.”
More Restaurants Across the Country Participating in the Seafood Charcuterie Revolution:
Cold Storage (Chicago)
The casual seafood eatery is adjacent to steak powerhouse Swift & Sons. A salmon rillette tartine offering with seasonal accompaniments is on the appetizer menu. Rillettes are typically made from pork belly or shoulder, so chefs use belly meat from salmon to re-create this dish. Smoked whitefish dip that’s brought with saltines is also an appetizer standard.
Kingfish Kitchen & Cocktails (New Orleans). The celebrated French Quarter restaurant jumped into the seacuterie game during the 2016 Lenten season. Owner/chef Nathan Richard displays various imaginative offerings, depending on what’s available, on custom-designed charcuterie boards made from salvaged wood. They may include crawfish boudin, shrimp-flavored chips, creamy catfish terrine or garfish tasso. They arrive with various pickles, mustards and marmalades as accompaniments.
Focusing on local foods with Mediterranean twists, Cure only features seafood charcuterie on its tasting menu. Partner/chef Justin Severino has reimagined lesser-known cured meats like ’nduja (a spreadable spicy pork sausage) and finocchiona (a fennel-seed salami) with sockeye salmon and swordfish, respectively.
David Burke Restaurants
Legendary chef David Burke has been curing seafood charcuterie long before it had a name. In 1988, he created pastrami-smoked salmon and it’s appeared in several forms throughout the years at many of his restaurants. Right now, it’s at two of his steakhouse concepts, Tavern62 (New York) and BLT Prime (Washington D.C.), with buffalo mozzarella, pomegranate and butternut pickles.
Greenpoint Fish & Lobster Co. (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
A rich pâté of smoked bluefish is one of a few choices diners get at this trendy nook doubling as a raw bar and fish market. Also on the platter, when available, are smoked mussels in chile oil and Arctic Char gravlax with sourdough toast points, capers, cream cheese, red onion and a sliced tomato. The Arctic Char is cured in-house with salt, brown sugar and dill.
Le Bernandin (New York)
Eric Ripert’s signature salmon rillette recipe, which calls for both freshly poached and smoked salmon, can be found in his highly regarded “On the Line: Inside the World of Le Bernardin” cookbook (Artisan, 2008). At his 3-star Michelin French restaurant, it’s available on the lounge menu and remains a popular choice. It’s also occasionally served as an amuse bouche in the main dining room.
PB Catch (Palm Beach, Fla.)
Certainly one of the more inventive seacuterie programs since adding it to the menu in 2015, PB Catch offers eight selections. But what’s even more fascinating about their creations—which include octopus torchon, smoked mussel piperade, scallop mortadella and jalapeño-cured hirasama—are the accompaniments. Most of them are house-made, with choices like pickled sweet corn, 1000 Island aioli, raspberry Dijon jam and peach mustarda.