Travel: Mystic Connecticut

A couple of weekends ago, K and I embarked on our annual summer road trip. There are so many beautiful towns, hamlets, and villages around we’re never short on a list of places to choose from. This year we decided on Mystic, Connecticut. To say that we’re primarily out to discover a new place would be a lie, as we’re really just out for our fill of some delicious, fresh east coast seafood.

Driving in to town on a narrow two lane road you pass a number of historic colonial homes, some of which have been turned in to museums. Many of them are still beautifully preserved.

Turns out we picked one of the hottest days of the year for our little jaunt, so our first stop was a seafood shack near the seaport where we sat by the water and snacked on fried whole belly clams.

Every bite bursts in your mouth and imparts a really deep flavour, so much better than fried clam strips.

Trying out the fisheye lens on the olloclip, I think I need more practice…

The Mystic Seaport is a large interactive museum where you can get tours of old ships, see a number of exhibits and visit a series of gardens. As much as we wanted to see some of the gardens, we weren’t interested in most of the museum and thought the $24 entrance fee was a bit steep.

Instead we walked along the bridge across the Mystic River and in to downtown, where there are lots of little shops, some restaurants and a few galleries.

After all that time in the heat we decided we needed to find a spot indoors to rest. The S&P Oyster House was calling our names.

We whiled away the rest of the afternoon here, sipping cold beers and looking out on to the river.

Mystic is about a 2 hour drive from New York City and perfect for a day trip. I recommend going on a cooler day as you’ll be spending a lot of time outdoors.

Recipe: Shrimp and Fish Cakes

I had some great fish cakes at a restaurant about a month ago and decided to try and recreate them. The ones I had were battered and deep-fried, which I’m sure had something to do with why they were so good, but since seafood cakes (crab, etc.) are usually coated with breadcrumbs I think these will be just as tasty.

For 8 cakes, you will need:

½ lb white, flaky fish such as cod or haddock
½ lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 medium potatoes, peeled and boiled until tender
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs or panko
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
zest of two limes or lemons
¼ tsp chili powder
salt and pepper, to taste

Roughly chop the shrimp. Some recipes call for the shrimp to be processed, but I prefer the taste and texture of chunks of shrimp in the cakes.

Steam the fish fillets for 7-10 minutes until just cooked. Remember that the fish will cook a little more when the cakes are fried, so you don’t want to overdo it now. Allow the fish to cool for a few minutes and then flake.

While the fish is steaming, slowly fry the onions and garlic until golden.

In a large bowl, mash the cooked potatoes, then add the flaked fish, onion and garlic, lime zest, worcestershire sauce, mustard, and chili powder. Season liberally with salt and pepper and combine.

Be careful not to mix too much, you want the potatoes to remain fluffy so the cakes are light.

Taste and adjust seasoning as needed, then fold in the shrimp.

Form the mixture in to patties and then coat with breadcrumbs. Fry over medium heat for 3-4 minutes on each side, depending on the thickness.

Serve with a lime (or lemon) wedge and your choice of sauce – remoulade, mustard, tartar sauce, or some spicy mayo.

I had a couple with a big salad and it was an excellent lunch. I’ll definitely be making these again; they are so easy, and the majority of the ingredients are staples. They would probably work just as well with some good quality frozen fish and shrimp too, so it’s a good recipe to have on hand.