For those not familiar with New Orleans-speak, that means Marnon is ready for a rollicking culinary adventure in The Big Easy, where she will compete with world-class chefs and dine out on the town, savoring plump, juicy oysters and olive-packed muffaletta sandwiches.
It won't be Marnon's first visit to the Deep South. She interned for six months at one of New Orleans' finest eating establishments, Gautreau's Restaurant.
But the pinnacle of her trip will be the seafood cook off on Saturday, she said. "I'm looking forward to seeing what other people make. I'll get to be a spectator as well," Marnon said.
The Louisiana governor challenged all U.S. states with seafood industries to compete in the cook off, and 15 governors accepted the challenge. The chefs will compete on a stage at the Gulf Coast Seafood Pavilion.
Among Marnon's competitors are Winston Groom, author of Forrest Gump, representing Alabama, and Paula Deen, a chef from cable television's Food Network, representing Georgia.
Speaking of the Food Network ... one of its crews was in town on Wednesday filming Marnon at work in her kitchen for a future television special on the seafood cook off. "The contest will draw lots of media attention to Alaska seafood," said Ray Riutta, executive director of Alaska Seafood Marking Institute.
For more information on the contest, hosted by the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board, click to www.greatamericanseafoodcookoff.com. Recipes can be obtained from the Web site.
Stefani Marnon's seafood recipes
PAN SEARED WILD SALMON WITH A FENNEL, ONION, WHITE BEAN SALAD AND AN ORANGE-TOMATO SAUCE
6 8-ounce filets of salmon
2 T olive oil
WHITE BEAN SALAD:
2 cans white beans, drained
1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1 T fennel top greens, minced
small red onion, thinly sliced
3 T olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Mix together and set aside.
ORANGE TOMATO SAUCE:
2 cans whole tomatoes
1 orange zest
1 orange juice
salt and pepper
Bring to a simmer in a saucepan.
Puree, strain and keep warm on the stove.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Heat olive oil in a hot sauté pan, sear salmon flesh side down for 3 minutes or until golden brown.
Turn fish over and finish cooking in the oven for 5-7 minutes depending on thickness of fish. (If you are not using oven-ready pans, transfer fish to a cookie sheet or pie dish to put in the oven.)
Place about a 1/2 cup of beans in the middle of the plate, pour 2-4 ounces of sauce around the beans and top with the salmon. Garnish with fennel tops. (Optional)
The following is another of Marnon's favorite Alaska seafood recipes. She said smoked black cod is one of Murkowski's favorite meals:
SMOKED BLACK COD CITRUS SALAD
4-ounce smoked black cod
1 grapefruit, 1 orange, 1 lemon and1 lime, peeled and segmented, reserve the liquid
1 tsp dijon mustard
salt and pepper
1 head red leaf lettuce
1/2 red pepper
Whisk together citrus juice, mustard, oil and salt and pepper. Set aside.
Mix together citrus segments, lettuce, pepper and onion.
Heat up saute pan with 1 T oil and sear black cod flesh side down. When golden brown, turn over and cook for another minute.
Mix dressing with salad, top with the black cod and serve.
HALIBUT CHEEKS WITH A LEMON-BUTTER-CAPER SAUCE
4 halibut cheeks, or 2 7-ounce halibut filets
1 lemon, juiced
1 T capers, chopped
1/4 cup tomatoes, diced
1 T dijon mustard
1/4 stick butter
Pan sear halibut cheeks in pan. Finish cooking in oven.
Remove halibut from pan and on the stove (but with no heat) deglaze the pan with lemon juice, then add capers, tomatoes and mustard. Mix in the butter until thick and creamy. If the butter doesn't melt, add to heat for just a second.
Pour sauce over halibut.
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