Carlo Lamagna’s Marinated Oregon Seafood
“I seem to no longer explore within the confines of a certain cuisine. I can’t help but draw upon the accumulation of my experiences with food.”
STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY MATT MORNICK
Clyde Common is a beacon in Portland’s culinary scene. Opened in May 2007, the spacious restaurant/bar is a great place for face-to-face conversation with friendly strangers, spot-on service, cocktails that seem to disappear without a trace, and cuisine that makes your palate sing. It takes a team of smart, hardworking, and talented people to bring together this kind of experience, and Lead Chef Carlo Lamagna is at the center of it all, bopping along to the restaurant’s soundtrack as he joyously runs the kitchen.
Raised with traditional Filipino flavors, trained in French cooking, and having traversed most of Europe, Carlo’s experience, humility, and genius come through in his creations. I sat down with Carlo to understand his approach in the kitchen and the genesis of his latest creation, Marinated Oregon Seafood.
“People often ask what kind of food or cuisine do I like to cook,” says Carlo. “I seem to no longer explore within the confines of a certain cuisine. I can’t help but draw upon the accumulation of my experiences with food. This dish represents a combination of all my experiences, with the freshest seafood the Northwest can offer.”
Carlo lived in the Philippines during the formative years of his childhood. “Every weekend, our family would gather at my grandmother’s house,” he recalls. “Though I didn’t know it at the time, my father and his siblings were outstanding cooks. It was not uncommon for our family to regularly have meals based on whole-animal cooking. It wasn’t a novelty. It was the norm growing up. We had to completely use an animal, and took great care to grow and harvest vegetables.
“One afternoon, my uncle made a grilled catfish dish,” Carlo continues. “During the preparation, he set aside all the charred catfish heads. He then mixed fresh spring water, garden tomatoes and onions, fresh mangoes, and a little salt. He added the catfish heads, gently mashed up the contents, and handed out small bowls for everyone to sip the water and nibble on the tomatoes and fruit. The light-charred fish taste had such refreshing flavor. It may seem odd, but at the time, I was fascinated by how six simple ingredients muddled and left to sit could taste so vibrant. I distinctly remember sipping the water from a tin bowl, with a grilled catfish head staring at me, and thinking, ‘Wow, this is delicious!'”
Inspired by that experience, Carlo created a dish for Clyde Common called Marinated Oregon Seafood. It includes tomatoes, cucumbers, a rye cracker, garlic aioli, a paprika-based marinade, albacore tuna, mussels, Oregon bay shrimp, and octopus, with tomato water as the bright, binding element.
“I love the rich flavors of traditional garlic aioli found in Spain, made with garlic and olive oil,” says Carlo. “The paprika-based marinade and rye cracker tie to memories of eating mussels out of a can with Ritz crackers as a kid. And the seafood bounty connects to little vignettes throughout my life. Each ingredient is intentionally woven together to create a balanced result, a short story we want to convey to our guests.”
A crisp rosé would pair well with the tomato acidity and seafood flavors; Carlo recommends Cameron Wines Ramato. This dish is ideal for spring time back-porch cooking. Try the consommé with fresh tomatoes, frozen tomatoes, or as an alternative, try the dish with a citrus consommé.
1014 SW Stark St.
Portland, OR 97205
West Coast photographer Matt Mornick specializes in photographing food, people, and travel. His portfolio is available at mornick.com.
Marinated Oregon Seafood
Serves 4 (individually plated) | Prep time 90 minutes | Assembly time 5 minutes
This recipe is inspired by the seafood bounty offered by the Pacific Northwest. It may seem tedious, but it is well worth it. The shelf life of the seafood is extended as long as it is submerged in the oil.
1 cup raw octopus, sliced
1 pint white wine
1 quart water (or as much as needed to cover the octopus)
2 bay leaves
Salt to taste
6 cloves garlic
Combine all ingredients except the octopus and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and add octopus. Cook until tender. Shock in ice bath.
1 quart grapeseed oil
3 tablespoons smoked Hungarian paprika
1 lemon, juice and zest
1 orange, juice and zest
1 onion, sliced against the grain
4 bay leaves
1 cup mussels, steamed and picked
1 cup Oregon bay shrimp
1 cup prepared octopus
8 ounces albacore tuna loin
Combine all marinade ingredients in a pan and infuse at a low heat for 20 minutes. Cool to room temperature. Mix the mussels, shrimp, and octopus in a bowl and pour just enough marinade to cover. Let sit overnight in refrigerator.
Season the tuna loin with salt and pepper and sear on high heat on all sides, leaving it rare in the middle. Slice into 8 pieces, place into a container, cover with a reasonable portion of marinade, and let sit overnight in refrigerator.
5 heirloom tomatoes, fresh or frozen is fine
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons salt
1 sprig tarragon
Combine all ingredients and blend in a blender until smooth. Place a basket strainer, quadruple-layered with cheese cloth, above a deep container with at least 6 inches of clearance between the bottom of the strainer and the bottom of the container. Pour blended mixture into the basket and let drain overnight in a refrigerator. The next day, take leftover solids and discard or make tomato sauce. Reserve the clear liquid.
As an alternative to the tomato consommé, try a citrus consommé.
Citrus Consommé Alternative
2 cups blood orange juice
1 cup Cara Cara orange juice
1/4 cup Meyers lemon juice
Salt to taste
Mix all these juices together and strain in a chinois or basket strainer lined with a coffee filter. This will take about 45 minutes. Make sure you season the liquid before straining so there is no sediment. The liquid will not be completely clear like a traditional consommé, but it will be clean and crisp.
2 egg yolks
1 whole egg
2 garlic cloves
1 cup canola oi
1 tablespoon lemon juice
In a blender, combine yolks, whole egg, and garlic cloves. Blend to create a puree. Slowly drizzle canola oil until fully emulsified, adjusting consistency with lemon juice and seasoning with salt.
Tomatoes and Cucumbers
20 mixed heirloom cherry tomatoes
2 English cucumbers
Score the bottom of each tomato and place in a basket strainer over the sink. Pour boiling water over them at least twice to loosen the skin without cooking the flesh. Peel with a paring knife. Skin should release easily. If it doesn’t, continue pouring boiling water until the skin is easily removed. Using a small melon baller, extract individual rounds of cucumbers. If a melon baller is unavailable, simply slice into bite-sized pieces.
Assemble the Dish
Strain seafood from marinade and combine octopus, mussels, shrimp, tomatoes, and cucumbers in a bowl. Divide mixture in equal parts into 4 bowls. Place about 2 slices of tuna in each bowl. Slather a rye cracker with aioli and top with edible flowers. Nasturtiums, calendulas, honeysuckles, or johnny jump ups will do. Pour about one half cup of consommé into each bowl and finish with sea salt to taste.