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I just came back from the Florida Gulf, visiting my partner Morgan.  It was an exotic tropical vacation for me, since I'm used to the dry climate of the Rocky Mountain foothills.  The Gulf is a very different world! 

In a lot of ways, the Florida landscape felt very alien to me - lizards clinging to the curtains, Spanish moss hanging from telephone lines, and the scent of saltwater forever on the air. 

The feel and flavor of the Gulf is so very different from my landlocked Rockies home, and the local food was a deliciously exotic treat. 

One word:  Seafood.  Oh my... peel n' eat shrimp, mango tuna tartare, oyster shooters, fried shrimp with hot sauce, raw oysters on the half shell, triggerfish tacos, spicy ginger shrimp ka-bobs, seared tuna with cilantro...

It's making me drool a little just thinking about all the seafood. 

Florida's local fresh produce is great year-round, too (a far cry from my beets and cabbage fare this winter).  Since it rarely gets cold there, you can get local vegetables (and fruit!) from the farmer's market in nearly all seasons.  Mmmm... oranges.  How I missed thee.

Between the many margaritas (hey, how often do you vacation in the Keys?), Morgan made me an all-local Florida meal, complete with seared cilantro tuna.  Now, normally I tend toward vegetarianism (or 'flexitarianism'), but I was not about to turn my nose up at fresh-caught local seafood from the Florida Gulf.  Can anyone say delicious?
Glorious, isn't it?

Now, this won't be such a thorough explanation as most of my other recipes, since Morgan (chef extraordinaire) did all the cooking, but I'll give you the basic meal overview as far as I can remember.

Cilantro Coated Seared Tuna
  1. Choose local, sustainably fished tuna, and thaw.
  2. Pan-sear tuna in olive oil, seasoning with sea salt, black pepper, and a little cayenne and fresh-squeezed lime juice.
  3. Once cooked through, roll the tuna in freshly chopped local cilantro, coating all sides.

Cheesy Vegetable Medley
  1. Choose local vegetables from the farmer's market (here, red onion, yellow & green zucchini, asparagus, and tomatoes) and chop or slice them as desired.
  2. Stir-fry the veggies in butter or olive oil (add the tomatoes last) until asparagus and zucchini are just tender.
  3. Grate pepperjack and sharp cheddar cheese over the vegetables and let melt.  Season as desired.

Homemade French Fries
  1. Select medium-large yellow potatoes from your local farmer's market, remove eyes, and scrub.
  2. Slice into fry-shapes, about 1 cm across and the length of your potato.
  3. Fry in olive oil in a shallow pan (no need to submerge in oil!), at medium-high heat, 'til cooked through and crispy.
  4. Transfer to a rack or paper towels to drain (like bacon, but nicer to pigs), and season with sea salt and black pepper as desired.

Ta-da!  You have now replicated one of the many delicious seafood meals I enjoyed while on the Florida Gulf.  If you visit the Florida Keys, or anywhere else with local seafood, I highly recommend you take full pleasure in all the fishy fare you can. 

Check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch recommendations to learn which types of seafood are the most ocean-friendly.  Just because it's local doesn't make it sustainable, especially when it comes to overfishing. 

What seafood is locally available in your area?  What's your favorite way to prepare it?  Got any fishy tips for this land-locked mountain girl?

You might like:
- Loco for Local: Spaghetti Squash Pasta
- Loco for Local: Winter Beet Casserole
- Loco for Local: Seasonal Pasta
- Farm Girl Rising

This post shared at Monday Mania, Your Green Resource, Seasonal Celebration Sunday, Sunday School, Creative Bloggers' Party, and Fight Back Friday!


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04/19/2012 6:27am

I love seared tuna and am bookmarking this to try too! Thanks for sharing this at Natural Mother's Seasonal Celebration Sunday! x

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