“This is literally the best crab dip I’ve ever eaten!” I said, incredulous. In the past when I’ve eaten “the very best crab dip,” I was sitting at Chandler’s with a view of the Seattle waterfront and not in the cab of my minivan.
Yet there I was, the kids and I had barely gotten into the car and already the bagel chips had been yanked open and the Gemini Fish Market crab dip was being passed around as we sat in front of Top of the Hill Market.
A couple of months ago, Gemini Fish Market opened in an unbelievably small corner of our favorite market, Top of the Hill, and started selling the freshest seafood and sauces in town alongside the best produce and my favorite butcher, Shawn and Ted’s Meat Market.
As a result, our family has been preparing and enjoying some spectacularly simple, yet amazing seafood. I would love to take credit for this culinary adventure but really it’s all because of Gemini’s amazing seafood and the advice of Dave Gipson – a classically trained chef who also happens to be a Gemini Fish Market employee.
Dave patiently explained the best way to prepare their succulent and sweet sea scallops — lightly salted and peppered, delicately browned in butter. Amazing crab-cake balls that when flattened and cooked in olive oil and smothered in a slightly spicy house-made Gemini Umami sauce (a mixture of mayo, Sriracha hot chili sauce, lemon juice and soy sauce) made our mouths water, as did countless other seafood delicacies.
The other day I had a chance to speak with Jim Oswalt, Renton resident and owner of both the original Gemini Fish Market in Issaquah and now the satellite store at Top of the Hill.
“How did you attract such a well-trained chef like Dave to work at Gemini?” I asked, explaining my appreciation for the knowledge our family had learned from Dave.
“I like to surround myself with people who can keep it simple for the novice chef or take it to the next level with the most educated palates.” Jim said. He added “a vast majority of people in general like seafood and eat it when they go to a restaurant, but are freaked out about preparing it themselves. It’s necessary for us to have guys behind the counter that know food, are passionate about food, and can convey to the customer how to prepare it and what to pair it with.”
I’m not the only member of the family picking up seafood cooking tips at the new Gemini location. Ever since Amelia, my culinarily adventurous 9-year-old daughter, ordered the clams at the Red House, she’s been excited to make clams all by herself. So, I sent her over to Dave, where she ordered a pound of fresh clams and discussed their preparation.
Here’s Amelia’s recipe:
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup of water
Set stove to medium/high heat . . . wait a few minutes to let boil
Put clams in with the pot of water and chicken stock and let simmer for a few minutes
Gemini serves amazing house-made dips, spreads and sauces that are made fresh daily at its Issaquah location. Seafood from all over the country is air freighted to its downtown Issaquah location so it’s two days out of the water as opposed to five (or longer) as is the case with trucked in seafood.
“We get deliveries every day. It’s more expensive but we prefer to buy fresh and wild seafood without antibiotics and hormones. We have a smaller footprint in our Renton location, so we really want to get the word out and see what people want to see at the new location. We want people to know that we can prepare specialty orders from our main store and drive them up to Renton. Customers just need to tell us what they want and we’ll get it for them.”
Apparently business is booming.
In the beginning, the satellite Gemini Fish Market was open only on Fridays and Saturdays. Now they are open seven days a week.
I love suggestions! If you know of people or places in Renton that surprise, delight and inspire the community, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also follow Carolyn on her blog, www.pippimamma.com.
Gemini Fish Market at Top of the Hill Market will celebrate its official grand opening on Saturday, March 9. There will be tents and live crab and the Top of the Hill produce and Shawn and Ted’s meat market will participate as well. 425-757-0649.
Steamed Manila clams in pesto
2 lbs. live Manila clams
2 cups water
½ cup white wine
2 T bsp. green onions chopped
1 T bsp. fresh parsley chopped
1 T bsp. Old Bay seasoning
1 T bsp. garlic minced
1 T bsp. shallots minced
1 T bsp. olive oil
2 T bsp. pesto
Sauté shallots and garlic in olive oil 2-3 minutes over medium high. Add green onion and parsley for the last minute. Add wine and water and bring to a boil toss in the clams and reduce heat to medium
Cover with a tightly fitting lid. Let steam for approximately 7-8 minutes or until clams open.
Remove clams to a serving bowl and reserve 1 cup of the broth in a ramikan or bowl
Add the pesto to the broth and mix well. Pour half pesto dipping sauce over the clams and save the rest for dipping.
Serve with crusty bread
Add 1 cup of heavy cream or half and half and a some shredded parm. Reduce for 20 minutes or so over low heat and it makes a killer pasta sauce topped with the clams.