Charcuterie has long been a staple on restaurant menus — classic, French preparations of smoked, cured or otherwise preserved meat (mainly pork), such as Sausage, Ham, Bacon, Pâté, Terrines, Galantines, Crepinettes and more. But recently, a number of eateries have expanded their garde manger repertoire (foods produced in a cold kitchen) to include charcuterie made of under-the-sea delicacies, including fish, lobster and shrimp. Genius, no?
It actually makes a lot of sense amongst increasingly health-conscious diners (and especially appeals during warmer seasons), to swap in light, fresh seafood for dense, gamey cuts of beef, pork, rabbit or duck, in thick, potted Pâté, aerated Mousses, slow-cooked Confits or fat-poached Rillettes. And it’s not too far a cry from traditional methods used to conserve fish — smoking, salting, brining, pickling — traditionally found in Jewish appetizing shops.
Being that chef Ben Pollinger specializes in seafood at his sprawling Midtown spot, Oceana, it’s no wonder he’d want to transform it into a full-on charcuterie plate. Three delicate, candy-colored morsels include a sliced Lobster Terrine; a veritable mosaic of pink-rimmed tail meat, oily, orange ribbons of Smoked Norwegian Fjord Trout, and a crispy Toast, spread thickly with a paste of Smoked Norwegian Mackerel. And at Drew Nieporent’s newest, critically acclaimed venture, Bâtard, Austrian-born chef, Marcus Glocker, reimagines tender, braised tentacles of Octopus as a kind of Pastrami, which are crusted with spices such as coriander seed and peppercorns, compressed, and served with a slick of whole grain mustard, shreds of melting ham hock, and floury new potatoes.
David Waltnuck was definitely ahead of the curve when he popularized the Seafood Sausage at Chanterelle, all the way back in the ‘80’s. So it’s unsurprising that he revived it at his well-received Flatiron comeback, élan; rosy links of lobster, shrimp, scallops and sea bass, bound with cream, brandy and port, grilled, and served on a bed of creamy, gently-seasoned sauerkraut. Over in the East Village, the all-day café, Maiden Lane, offers an assortment of frequently seafood-centric, cured, pickled, smoked or canned snacks, meant for pairing with wine and beer. So check out the cloud-like, dippable Mousse of Salmon Roe and Crème Fraiche, tins of Cod Liver packed and stored in its own oil, and Smoked Trout Rillettes; cubes of heavily salted fish slowly cooked in fat, ground into a paste, and served as a spread, strewn with scallions and marcona almonds.
RedFarm has come up with its own brand of charcuterie, that simply defies definition; the wholly unique Shrimp-stuffed Chicken. A quirky galantine of both prawns and poultry, it’s made by rolling a whole, deboned, cured and dried bird around a paste of chopped shrimp, then coated in dehydrated rice, roasted, and sliced. And over in Brooklyn, the Clinton Hill stalwart, Locandi Vini & Olli, presents a clever board of Italian Charcuterie Del Mare; including dried Octopus Soppressata, flavored with pistachio and pink peppercorn, and chewy Tuna Salami, paved with bread crumbs and grana padano cheese.
So keep your eyes peeled for beyond-red meat charcuterie the next time you go out to eat because seafood-studded Sausages, fish Pâtés and cephalopod Terrines are definitely all the rage!
120 W 49th St., btwn. 7th & Avenue Of The Americas
239 West Broadway., btwn. Walker & Beach Sts.
43 E 20th St., btwn. Broadway & S Park Ave.
162 Ave B., btwn E. 10th & 11th Sts.
529 Hudson St., btwn. 10th & Charles Sts.
Locanda Vini & Olli
129 Gates Ave., btwn. Cambridge Pl & Grand Ave.