In an unassuming seafood stand, Chef Ricky Moore is hard at work filleting fish and mixing up batter while seafood sizzles on a frying pan. Only one other employee is taking orders as hungry patrons wait patiently for the freshest, most sustainable seafood in the Triangle.
The line is always long at Saltbox Seafood Joint located in Durham’s historic Little Five Points neighborhood, and you better get there early. It’s common to hear, “Dang! You got the last piece of flounder,” from the patron standing behind you in line. Chef Ricky gets his seafood delivered fresh from the coast of North Carolina, and when he runs out, he’s out.
Saltbox Seafood Joint was inspired by the classic fish camps and waterside seafood shacks that you can find across the United States. With over 20 years of fine dining restaurant experience, Chef Ricky believes that ordinary, simple food can be extraordinary when executed at the highest level.
Chef Ricky is always looking to contribute to causes when he’s able, and believes a community is centered around being close-knit. He enjoys helping the people he sees every day, whether it’s in line at Saltbox Seafood Joint or out and about in his community. We are so grateful that Chef Ricky will be at our Taste For a Cure Chef’s Gala. Make plans to attend on April 30, 2017 to taste some of his tasty, local seafood options. In the meantime, try Chef Ricky Moore’s recipe at home for “Capon Margo” North Carolina Seafood and Vegetable Salad.
*photo credit: Stacey Sprenz Photography
“Capon Magro” NC Seafood and Vegetable Salad
Recipe by Ricky Moore, Chef and Owner of Saltbox Seafood Joint
The recipe for cappon magro is one of the most elaborate and interesting recipes from Liguria. It is fairly old as well. Served only on the tables of families of fishermen on Christmas Day, this sort of seafood salad probably gets it name from cappone (capon in Italian). Traditionally on Christmas, wealthy families in Italy serve capon for lunch and this seafood dish can be considered a fisherman’s substitute.
The rich ingredients and elegant presentation of this dish today, however, dates back to the Baroque period when the personal chefs of rich families in Genoa made the dish richer, serving it on days of magro, or the days the Catholic Church said that meat should not be eaten.
1 large round loaf of good crusty bread
2 cups water
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 pounds Triggerfish fillet or flounder
1/2 pound green beans
1 carrot, thinly julienned
2 stalks celery, thinly julienned
8 cauliflower florets, trimmed
1 large rutabaga
1 large red beet
1 large potato
1 cup extra virgin oil olive plus 3/4 cup
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
8 large shrimp, peeled and deveined (save 3 with the head on to garnish the top of the salad)
1 pound clams
8 green Ligurian olives plus 12
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and drained plus 2 tablespoons
4 anchovy fillets, rinsed and patted dry plus 8
2 eggs plus 4 hardboiled
1 bunch parsley, finely chopped to yield 1/4 cup
1 clove of garlic
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1 thick slice country bread, crust removed take from first step soaked with 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Cut dome off of bread. Remove bread from the base part, leaving a wall of crust. Place base in oven and bake until quite hard, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, heat water, onion, bay leaf, peppercorns, and vinegar to boil and add cod. Poach 3 to 4 minutes, or until just cooked through. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Set boiling water and ice bath up. Blanch consecutively the beans, carrots, celery and cauliflower, refreshing and maintaining each individually. Place rutabagas, beets, and potato in boiling water and boil 20 minutes, or until they are done, and remove them to separate bowls. Peel each and cut into festive slices. Dress each if these 7 components separately with Ligurian oil and lemon juice and lightly season with salt and pepper.
Remove the triggerfish and flake into large pieces. Dress with Ligurian oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper.
Steam first the shrimp and then the clams over the court bouillon and allow them to cool. To make the sauce, remove the pits from the 8 green olives and place the flesh in a food processor. Add 1 tablespoon capers and anchovy fillets, 2 eggs, 1 bunch chopped parsley, garlic clove, 2 tablespoons pine nuts and the vinegar soaked bread. Blend in the processor until smooth and then slowly add remaining 3/4 cup olive oil until you have formed a thick, creamy mayonnaise. It should still be quite sharp.
To assemble the dish, lay the bread disk in the center of large round plate. Build a pyramidal structure using first the beans, then a dollop of sauce, then the cod,clams and so on, until all the ingredients have a layer on top of the bread. Garnish the base of the structure with quartered hardboiled eggs, anchovies, olives and capers.