TJ’s Has Some Class At DUO

by Jon Alexis          photos by Robert Bostick

Texans – we can slow smoke a brisket to perfection. Why are we still scared of cooking seafood at home?  Take it from someone who isn’t a chef: Fish is easy. But shellfish? Even easier.

So I jumped at the opportunity to partner with Yolanda Banks for a shellfish cooking class in her series of “Fresh is Fabulous” cooking classes at DUO All Things Culinary.  

We all (should) know the health benefits of eating the FDA-suggested 2-3 servings of fresh fish per week. Fresh fish is a great source of lean, heart-healthy protein.

Maybe you don’t like fish. I bet you like shellfish: lobster, crab, clams, mussels, crawfish, scallops. And that’s ok: while not as loaded with Omega-3’s as finfish, shellfish are still a great source of lean protein densely packed with nutrients.

Not to mention delicious.

We started with Bluepoint Oysters two ways. I demonstrated safely shucking a raw oyster. Yolanda contrasted the brininess of the raw oyster with a bright Cucumber Yuzu Mignonette. Diced cucumbers, yuzu juice, honey, fresh ginger, cilantro and spices took minutes to prepare and added a welcome Asian flare.

Charbroiled, BBQ’ed and roasted oysters are so easy to do at home. Have your fishmonger do the hard work putting your oysters on the half shell. Yolanda arranged each oyster on salt (to keep them steady) and topped with rendered pancetta, spinach, grated parm, Pernod and more. Bread crumbs on top of that, a dash of oil and in a hot oven for 10 min.

They were slurped before we made it across the room. Are you catching that you get a delicious meal at a DUO class while learning to prepare the dishes? And plenty of wine?

Our next dish was Maryland Crab Cakes. I’m from Virginia Beach. Yolanda spent serious time in Baltimore. We are the people you want telling you what goes in a crab cake: crab meat with a little mayo, mustard, crushed saltine and egg. Loose patties went under the broiler until golden brown. A guest asked “what restaurants have the best crab cakes in Dallas?” We both laughed and said “none compare to what you can make at home.” One taste and everyone agreed.

Yolanda’s “Fresh is Fabulous” concept is wonderful – use real ingredients (nothing processed, nothing “light” or “low fat”) and concentrate on balanced flavors.

No dish exhibited this better than her Thai Red Curry Mussels. And no shellfish is a better example of just how nutritious shellfish can be than mussels. Mussels have the amount of same protein as beef but a fraction of the saturated fat AND 340% of your daily Vitamin B12.

Yolanda added oil, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, shallots and red curry in a stock pot, then coconut milks, fish sauce and lime. She tasted after adding each ingredient, showing students how to get balanced, defined flavor. By the time we added the mussels the broth could have been an award-winning soup.

We also made Shrimp & Creamy Grits…but if you wanted to learn about every dish, you should have registered for the class!

Don’t make that mistake for the next one. Keep up with DUO’s cooking class schedule at their website.

TJ’s offers free seafood cooking demos regularly, and partners on cooking classes around town.  Join TJ’s email list  for all seafood cooking class info.


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Filed under chefs, Classes, Dallas, Duo, fun with food, Jon Alexis, Seafood

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