The triple threat titans have a tough task in each episode of Bobby’s Triple Threat. Not only do they need to outcook celebrity guest stars like Michael Symon and Esther Choi, but they need to bring their best dishes in each and every round.
Coastal California Fresh Style
For titan Brooke Williamson, that means using her California upbringing and showcasing fresh ingredients with her signature “coastal California fresh” style.
“I grew up with a vegetable garden, going to farmer markets, I have a massive amount of respect for the farmers who provide our produce in California,” she explains in the video above. “And I have a massive amount of respect for the produce itself.”
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Williamson says she believes in showcasing ingredients at the peak of their prime, whether it’s produce or some of the “really beautiful seafood” that comes from the ocean. At the end of the day, those same ingredients are what inspires her. She notes she has numerous fruit and vegetable trees in her front yard, so inspiration often strikes just by stepping outside and seeing what is growing best.
“The food I’m most inspired by is the food of the moment,” she adds.
The best of the ocean
When it comes to working with some of the freshest ingredients the ocean has to offer, Williamson has a soft spot for shellfish. The former Top Chef winner is a fan of all the shellfish goodness the West Coast has to offer, but in the video above, she chats about her top 5 ingredients.
These oval-shaped clams are one of the most common Pacific clams around and are often found in pasta dishes or steamed with some simple white wine and garlic. Williamson says they’re also one of the most versatile clams, and she loves them for their sweet and meaty taste.
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This clam variety is longer and meatier than a Manila clam, and many love to fry them up and serve with an aioli or tomato sauce for dipping. They’re long and lean and can be steamed or cooked into a chowder as well. Williamson warns that although many uncooked clams and mussels open before dying and should be discarded, a razor clam also opens up to breathe. Give them a slight squeeze before cooking so that you don’t mistake breathing for dying, she advises.
If you’ve come across rock shrimp at the grocery store or via your local fishmonger, chances are they’ve been shelled. That’s because this aptly named, deep-water shrimp has a rock-like shell that’s tough to crack. Rock shrimp have a sweet and meaty taste that’s closer to lobster than shrimp, and they’re also hard to overcook, which is why they’re so great in stews and soups.
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This common shrimp is the same variety you find often in the grocery store, and it’s typically served in salads, pastas, and other shrimp-based dishes. Williamson notes that blue shrimp is sweet and doesn’t have that metallic, iodine flavour you can sometimes find in other shrimps. That also makes cooked and chilled blue shrimp perfect for a shrimp cocktail.
There’s an ongoing debate over whether East Coast or West Coast oysters are best, but Williamson stands firm on her West Coast preference. She notes these oysters tend to be creamier and sweeter than their brinier counterparts (but to each their own!). Kumamotos are one of her favourites, and she notes they’re a great starter oyster thanks to their creamy texture. Serve them on the half shell, or they also pop right open on the grill.
Brooke Williamson’s Pasta with Steamed Mussels
Mussels are another one of this chef’s favourite ingredients. Not only is the meat delicious, but she says when they’re steamed properly, the broth they develop is liquid gold.
According to Williamson, the best way to cook mussels is to cook them quickly. Get the pan hot and then gently fold the mussels in so that if you’re serving them traditionally, in the shell, the shells don’t break. Continue to stir them gently in order to evenly distribute the heat.
When you’re ready, deglaze the pan with a bit of flavour, like broth or wine. Be sure to cover the pan so that you’re steaming the mussels and not overcooking them. Then, when they’re nearly ready, add the rest of your ingredients.
In the video above, Williamson shows us how to whip up warm and tangy steamed mussels complete with roasted cherry tomatoes and a red cashew pesto. She mixes it all together with some pasta and butter to help that sauce stick, then finishes it off with a touch of salt and some lemon juice.
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For more hot shellfish takes, check out Williamson’s videos above. Then, be sure to get more tips from all the titans by tuning Bobby’s Triple Threat on Food Network Canada. Stream Live or On-Demand with STACKTV. Try it free today!