On Facebook, I titled my pictures “Capon Magro,” but what I served was not an authentic Genoese salad of seafood and vegetables. It was a deconstructed and simplified idea of serving the same ingredients and featuring Italian flavors. Every time I see something extraordinary in Central Market’s seafood department, I have to celebrate it by making this modern a.k.a. Capon Magro feast! This time I was inspired by truly outstanding cuttlefish and shrimp species.
Served buffet style, this preparation is perfect for parties. It is heathy and beautiful, light and bright, a meal you’ll be happy to share with friends and family! The variety of fresh, blanched, grilled, marinated, pickled, roasted, broiled vegetables and seafood could be endless — whatever is available, the best quality, and preferred by your guests. Instead of traditional sea biscuits, I serve this salad with crusty toasts on the side. After trying a few ways to prep vegetables, I decided that quickly blanched or fresh, eaten with dipping sauce they are the best. Longer cooking, marinating overnight, or dressing vegetables seams too heavy for my taste.
Each seafood ingredient needs to be cooked separately, using the best method to preserve and emphasize its taste and texture.
These sea beasts are beautiful! It’s exciting to see them changing during the cooking. They are sold 70-90% clean, so you just need to cut off tougher edges and score them before cooking, that’s all. Asian markets sell them frozen and completely prepped for cooking. But, if you are lucky to get whole creatures, do it yourself. It is very easy — watch instructional videos by wonderful Bridget from Sydney Fish Market (Notes section below).
Having large Mediterranean cuttlefish, calamari, or octopus available in Central Texas is an event. Don’t miss it! Share Capon Magro or Pulpo a la Gallega tapas with your friends!
Prepare the cuttlefish. Score the flattened flesh and cut into bite-size pieces.
In a sauce pan, bring 1 gallon of water to boiling. Add enough salt to make it sea salty. Add 2 cloves, 5-6 black pepper corns, and 1-2 bay leaves. Cook 2-3 cuttlefish pieces at a time for 2-3 minutes. Cook baby octopuses for 2-3 minutes. Let them cool dow to room temperature and refrigerate in closed container till serving.
Strain the stock and store refrigerated or frozen for other preparations (for example, for cooking rice, potatoes, or beans).
Cook whole red shrimp in boiling salty water for about 3-4 minutes. Let them cool dow to room temperature and refrigerate in closed container till serving.
Prepare giant tiger shrimp. Remove heads, devein, and shell them. Brush them with melted butter and broil for 2-3 minutes. Let them cool dow to room temperature and refrigerate in closed container till serving.
Do not discard heads and shells! Use them for making rich shrimp stock, Strain the stock and store refrigerated or frozen for other preparations (for example, for cooking risotto, paella, bisque, etc.).
for dipping sauce
Chop one slice of baguette, eggs, and parsley. Place all the ingredients for dipping sauce — except olive oil, salt and pepper — into a blender jar. Blend until smooth.
Add olive oil to make an emulsion. Adjust to your taste with salt, pepper, and lemon juice.
Arrange cooked seafood on leafy greens.
Wash, dry, and slice vegetables to be served fresh. Slice and blanch other vegetables. Arrange fresh, blanched, and pickled ingredients around a bowl of dipping sauce. Add boiled eggs. Toast baguette slices. Enjoy!