When it comes to Chilau Seafood Sauce – I’m not sure if I’m more enamored with its flavor or its story.
The creator of Chilau (pronounced chi-lah or shalla) Seafood Sauce is self-described “spice artist” Michael Anderson, who writes on his website that his grandmother’s most legendary dish was crab chilau – a robust, tomato-based seafood stew.
Originally introduced in Tampa, Fla., in the 1920s by Cuban immigrants, the dish was further shaped by regional Italian, Spanish and African American influences.
Everyone who makes it has their own interpretation, and Michael’s family makes it with blue crabs, corn on the cob and smoked sausage, and serves it over spaghetti with Cuban bread.
Sauce Needed (and Won) Grandma’s Approval
In 2016, Michael spent months working on a chilau sauce recipe, and when he felt he had nailed it (and his grandmother approved), he launched a Kickstarter project to get it bottled and into stores. Our grocery specialist discovered the sauce and met Michael at a Specialty Food Show earlier this year, and we’re so glad she did. Our markets are among a handful of stores where you’ll find Chilau Seafood Sauce outside of Florida.
Made from scratch with tomato paste, peppers, onions and seasonings, it’s a concentrated flavor enhancer to use in countless dishes. For seafood stew, use one part chilau sauce to two parts of another base like stock, cream or tomato sauce. Simmer with your choice of seafood and veggies for 15 minutes, and serve over pasta or rice with crusty bread.
We have all three flavors – Original, Citrus and Gumbo – and there are plenty of recipes with videos to inspire you on Michael’s website, like Shrimp ‘n Grits and Seafood Gumbo with Dungeness Crab, Shrimp and Smoked Sausage.
Clams, Mussels and Oysters Shine this Month
If I’ve talked you into trying this sauce, you’re going to want some great seafood. Good news – it’s an ideal season for live clams, mussels and oysters.
When waters are too warm or too cold the quality of shellfish is compromised, which is why shellfish from our local waters are so good in October. Our live clams and oysters are from the Hood Canal area, and our mussels come from the waters of Penn Cove on Whidbey Island. Our suppliers know how persnickety our seafood managers are when it comes to quality, so they hand sort to ensure we don’t receive any that are cracked or open.
I just heard that Alaska’s fresh spot prawn season is starting up. These big, meaty shrimp have a sweet, clean, delicate flavor and supple texture, and I’m told by our seafood experts they don’t need to be deveined. Speaking of perfect timing for seafood stew, we have Humane Harvest Pacific Cod from Blue North on Big Board Buys this week!
Speaking of big, meaty shrimp … Michael Anderson has a great YouTube video from his Kickstarter campaign in which he creates an amazing chilau with friends (with impressive shrimp, for one!). If you can’t get an invite to his place, you can recreate the star attraction and get truly inspired with this video!
Our very own cheese whiz, Shauna Howell, offers up a cheese worth discovering.
You say salty like it’s a bad thing. Not when it comes to Locatelli Pecorino Romano, salty sheep-milk goodness from Italy; Sardinia to be exact, and the Lazio Province (which includes Rome) to be even more precise.
Pecorino Romano dates to ancient Roman days, and it’s rumored that Pliny the Elder loved it. Who exactly started that rumor is a mystery but that’s the story.
Locatelli was founded in 1860 and we think it’s simply the best Pecorino Romano around. Briny, sharp and made with 100 percent pure sheep milk, this dry cheese will the add the perfect nuance to Grandma’s ravioli recipe. I like to eat it in small chunks drizzled with wild honey and plum compote. On Big Board Buys this week it’s the best price you’ll see all year.
Marketing Manager Sue Transeaux joined Town & Country Markets 23 years ago, working in Bulk Foods at the market on Bainbridge Island. She’s always watching for what’s fresh, delicious and inspiring in our markets.