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Reviewed by Asher Syed for Readers' Favorite
Seafood by Johanna Harlen is a full-color cookbook that zeroes in on the delights of the sea, complete with crisp and glossy photography by both the author and her son, Chef Craig. The cookbook begins with an overview of Harlen's inspiration and how the composition came to be. Readers and aspiring seafood home chefs are then given a spectacularly detailed recipe collection that is broken down into several parts and includes items most might not anticipate in a seafood cookbook, such as cocktails, alongside a bounty of dishes as wide-ranging as the sea itself. These include recipes such as conch fritters and fish pies, lemon coconut squares, and mojitos.
I feel like I hit the cookbook lottery with Seafood by Johanna Harlen for a couple of reasons. The first is that I live in the British Isles and seafood is not only one of the most plentiful proteins available but also because I am South Asian and was wonderfully surprised to find dishes that tasted like home to me. The first thing I made, before I'd even gone through Seafood in its entirety, was Paratha. For those who do not know, it is a pastry-like flaky 'tortilla' that we use as a 'scooper', as my wife likes to say. The recipe is simple but the execution has always eluded me, and Harlen made my heart and belly happy when I finally made my first homemade Paratha! Another we quickly whipped up was the Mauritian fish samosas, perfectly seasoned exactly as the recipe called for and so good that we made them two nights in a row. The recipes are perfect. The writing is exceptional. The photography is smart and, overall, this is a cookbook worthy of pride of place on any countertop.