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He is 28, but his culinary resume reads like a seasoned 40-something. Washington, D.C. native Executive Chef Barton Seaver, a StarChefs.com Rising Star of 2006 and recently nominated as a Rising Star Chef by the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington, of Hook was taught at an early age about the importance of food.

Dinner in the Seaver home was a seven nights a week family affair. Eating dinner with his family was a communal celebration and involved shopping for the freshest ingredients at local markets, instilling this value in him at a young age. Mac and Cheese was never just out of the box, but prepared with a homemade bamel cheese sauce and pasta made from scratch. Summers spent at a family friends hog farm on the Chesapeake Bay, along with crabbing and going with his father to buy fresh seafood from local fisherman, taught Seaver the importance of supporting local purveyors and using quality and fresh ingredients.

According to Seaver, "Seasonality and locality made sense to me early on." Seaver began his professional career working for popular D.C. restaurants such as Ardeo, Felix, and Greenwood. After years of invaluable kitchen experience, Seaver made his way to Hyde Park, New York, where he trained at the renowned Culinary Institute of America. During his schooling, he spent time in the kitchens of Tru restaurant and The Dining Room at the Ritz Carlton under Sarah Stegner in Chicago.

Upon graduating with honors, he immediately took a fellowship position at C.I.A. as a graduate teacher in both the meat and fish classes. Working in this hands-on environment taught Seaver the importance of proper handling and techniques of exceptionally fresh products, all the while giving him direct access to sources of fish through the eastern seaboard ports. Under the guidance of Chef Corky Clark, he learned to appreciate underutilized species of fish and became a proponent of sustainable ocean products.

Seaver is a certified sommelier through the Sommelier Society of America and is continuing his studies with Wine and Spirits Educational Trust in London. Recently, he was asked to join the Board of Directors of DC Central Kitchen as the culinary force behind the non-profits educational programs. Additionally, he is also active in the Slow Food movement, and recently cooked at the bi-annual Slow Food Terra Madre conference in October 2006 in Italy. Other organization involvements include the Chefs Collaborative, the James Beard Foundation, the National Restaurant Association, the International Seafood Conference, Chefs Congress, a culinary resource to the Environmental Defense Fund, and the Seafood Alliance. As a firm believer in the idea that chefs are the keepers of food culture, he is publishing a monthly article for the online newsletter for StarChefs.com.

In an effort to educate fellow industry members, Chef Seaver will address the issue of sustainability from the perspective of a chef offering solutions to common problems they face in their profession such as buying decisions and their responsibility as the definers of what is fashionable eating. Monthly columns are archived on the StarChefs.com website with new articles posting on the 15th of each month.

How to Cook Calamari

This video will show how to cook calamari.

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How to Cook Calamari

Ingredients

1 pound of fresh calamari
2 cloves of garlic
3 tablespoons of oil
1/2 pound of red skin potatoes
1/4 pound of green beans
2 heads of Furze
2 large handfuls of basil leaves
1/4 cup of walnuts toasted
1 lemon

Instructions

1. Dice the potatoes up into small pieces and boil them in salt water. Snip the green beans into inch long segments and then drop them into boiling salted water for 30-45 seconds. Use the inner heads of the furze and clean the basil.


2. Toast the walnuts in an oven set to 300-350 degrees. Put the walnuts in a collander over the sink to get rid of the skin. Put the garlic in a blender with a little vegetable oil. Add the basil and a little salt and cover it up on low speed to puree. Put in the walnuts and largely pulse it. Set the basil walnut pesto to the side.


3. Chop off the tentacles of the calamari and pull out the head and stomach as well as the quill, the ink and the beak.


4. Saute the calamari in a pan with a little cooking oil. Season with salt. Cook it for a minute and a half.


5. In a separate bowl, prepare the salad. Add the vegetables and the basil walnut pesto to the furze lettuce. Mix the salad together and then plate it. Place the calamari on top of the pesto salad and squeeze a few drops of lemon over top.

 

 

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Transcripts

Barton Seaver: Hey, I am Barton Seaver and we are finishing off our dish of calamari. We are using fresh calamari. We have just cleaned up our products, that's sitting here on the cutting board, ready to saut. Now my favorite way to prepare this is on a grill. Calamari, and specially when it has this light purplish skin to it, picks up so much of that seductive rich smoky flavor that I love so much. Now I don't have to grill inside. So we are going to be sauting it today which is absolutely great as well.

Now what you want to do is, get a pan super super hot. You are going to be doing this in small batches. What we are going to do, is just to make it fit into the pan a little bit better here. Let's just cut these right in half. Now we have got the heads what's also known as the tents, and then we have got the body, and this is my favorite here, especially these long segments with the fins. They are so pretty once they are done up.

So I am going to take a little bit of cooking oil. Throw that in our pan. You really don't need a whole lot, probably about just one teaspoon in there, because again, you really want the pan to be doing a lot of the work with the direct contact of the heat. The oil is just sort of facilitating it not to stick. So you want to wait until this gets really to the smoking point, which will be there just in a second.

Now as this is sauting, we have our vegetables over here. Now these vegetables have just come out of the water, just a few minutes ago before we started this, so they are little bit warm, which is how you want them. If you cook them ahead of time, just throw them in the microwave, just to put a little heat on them, because what happens, is once you put the basil on to the warm potatoes and green beans, the flavor and the aromas of the basil just completely bloom. Fills the room, it's absolutely essential to the sort of the perfection of the dish.

So we are going to get our calamari started here. You can see that oil is very very hot, and we are going to do this in some smaller batches, not all at the same time. Now when I am doing this, I am going to lay the calamari away from me. So that I don't splatter myself with oil here. Be very careful. Now this is going to splatter a little bit, so we are just going to have to take our time with it. We are also throwing one of our tent's heads, and we will season up the other side of it as well. Don't be afraid of the salt. Salt is very good and the calamari is going to take a little bit more of the salt than you would expect.

So while that's going, we are going to finish up our salad over here. So in a bowl I have got our furze. Now we have got our potatoes here. I am going to mix a few of these warm potatoes in there, we have our green beans. Then we are going to take a spoonful of this brilliantly green basil walnut pesto here, and you want to season this pretty generously, because the potatoes need a lot of salt, green beans as well need a lot of salt, and then the furze, bitterness can also take a lot of the salt.

So you want to mix this up pretty well, wow, this calamari is sauting smells fantastic. Now calamari, people are often lot of afraid of cooking, because it ends up being very rubbery and hard to eat, but with this fresh calamari like this, it doesn't end up being rubbery and you cook it very quickly.

Now as you see, we are finished mixing our salad, isn't that just beautiful? So we are going to go ahead and plate this up. Then when we got that plated, the calamari is probably ready to flip over here. You see that beautiful purplish color, this is great. You want them sort of push down the tentacles a little bit as well. Make sure they get some of this crispy, crunchy texture right on the edges there.

Now the calamari will roll over, and you can see that these fin areas are difficult to get cooked. So you got to sort of cook them in turn. So this dish is almost done. The calamari really only takes a minute or two to cook. So it's great for a weeknight dinner, or a quick lunch, and also this travels pretty well. If you make the whole salad and you take this sauted calamari and you slice it up, it's a good picnic lunch as well.

So we will just press that down to really make sure we get that cooked all the way throughout, inside of the head here is the densest area of the calamari. So that's going to need the most heat. Wow! This is really good. So I am just going to flip the calamari over one more time to get that presentation side extra extra crispy, and a little bit extra charred. so we are going to turn our heat off here. Now when you go to plate them, this little bits of juice inside of it is going to come out, so gently put that there.

Now we have got that on top of the pesto salad, and that salad is just blooming with the aroma of the basil, just absolutely gorgeous. So we are going to take a little bit more of the basil right on top of that hot calamari, just a couple little drops of it. There you go.

Now I like to serve this with a little bit of lemon, so squeeze just a few drops of lemon over the top of it. I think lemon and seafood, it's hard to imagine any kind of seafood that's not made better by lemon. Well, in fact, it's hard to imagine any food that's not made better by lemon. So just a few drops of that over the top of it. Here is your fancier calamari with a basil walnut pesto salad with green beans and potatoes over furze. Enjoy!