Anyone who has taken a cruise ship to Turkey has probably spent at least a day in the port city of Kusadasi. We actually flew into Izmir and then spent a week in Kusadasi using it as our home base as we explored as much of the west coast of Turkey as possible. We also used it as an opportunity to relax for a couple of days before continuing on to Istanbul and then Bulgaria. While there are certainly plenty of historical sites to visit that are just day trips, spending time in the city of Kusadasi is worthwhile if you enjoy sitting by the water and watching the sunsets.
We stayed in a resort that was outside of Kusadasi, but they offered a shuttle that would take us downtown near the port, which we took advantage of a couple of times. The weather was much warmer in Kusadasi then it was as we traveled north, so it was definitely a beach experience. We ate our fair share of seafood, tried some fresh ice cream as well as gelato, and of course had several glasses of wine. There are many different restaurants, all with views of the Aegean Seas and the beaches with people wading and swimming near the shore.
Since we usually have trips that are “travel” and others that are “vacation”, it was really nice to have a trip that was actually a little bit of both. Because of all of the cruise ships that do dock at Kusadasi, you do need to pay attention to how many ships are in the port as that does increase the crowds, especially towards the end of the day when they return from their tour of Ephesus, which is where most people on the cruise ships visit. You can also take a day trip to the Greek Island of Samos, but we chose not to do that on this particular trip. We will definitely have fond memories of Kusadasi as we really enjoyed our time sipping on wine and watching the sun set across the water.
We enjoy eating a variety of seafood when we travel and often cook them at home as well. Seafood is very versatile and can take on different flavors, which makes it something that can be used in every cuisine. There are also so many different types of fish and other seafood that means that even if you don’t like the taste of one type of seafood, there is probably something out there that you will enjoy. We have made many different seafood recipes over the years, but here are a few of our favorites.
Fresh Seafood Paella with Clams, Mussels, and Shrimp – Like many people, we really enjoy paella because it is versatile and not particularly complicated to make. Obviously, we associate paella with the time that we spent in Spain, but we’ve also had it in resorts in Mexico as well as the Caribbean. The key to making seafood paella is making sure that you are using the freshest seafood possible. The other key is using short-grain rice such as Bomba or Calasparra. Fortunately, these days those are also available online if not in a store near you. Even though it is a simple dish to make and very rustic, it is perfect for a gathering where you can simply put the paella in the center of the table and let people serve themselves. Although we limited it to seafood, you can definitely add chicken thighs or sausage to make the dish even more hearty.
Salmon Oscar – During our trip to Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, we had a very delicious meal that the restaurant called Salmon Chesapeake. It was salmon topped with lump crab meat with a cream sauce. For our attempt to replicate this meal, we went with a cross between a Veal Oscar and a stuffed flounder. We love Hollandaise sauce with salmon, so we decided to use that as our sauce, which worked out really well. This isn’t a complicated recipe at all, but it looks and tastes wonderful, so it is a perfect dish for entertaining. We ate it as a weeknight dinner with some asparagus, which made for a perfect combination.
Seared Sea Scallops with a Lemon Butter Sauce – Sea scallops can be a little expensive depending on the time of year, but it certainly worth splurging on for a special occasion. The important thing with cooking scallops is to use a hot pan so that the outside gets seared while the inside stays tender. Lemon butter and capers go extremely well with scallops and just to make the dish even more luxurious, we also added saffron. Simple and yet delicious.
Shrimp Fra Diavolo – Shrimp Fra Diavolo (Brother Devil) is an Italian inspired dish that is spicy and delicious. We served it over a bed of angel hair pasta, but when we had leftovers a couple of days later, we simply served it with a side of garlic toast. If you don’t want it too spicy, you can reduce the amount of red pepper flakes, but this meal is meant to pack some heat. It is one of those easy and yet elegant dinners that can be done on a weeknight or served for a weekend dinner party. It could probably be done with another type of shellfish, but shrimp really holds up well to the flavors and is easy to cook.
Pan-Fried Tilapia – Because tilapia has such a mild flavor, there are plenty of options to serving it, from sauces to cooking techniques such as baking, poaching, and pan frying. It is also an inexpensive fish, making it a great option for families on a budget. We chose to bread the tilapia and pan fry it, which helped add to the flavor of the meal.
Baked Jumbo Lobster Tail – There are several ways to prepare lobster tails and all of them create a tasty meal, but we chose to bake the lobster tail because of the presentation. We ordered our lobster tails from a company in Maine that ships them overnight and allows you to pick the size of your lobster tail. The lobster tails that we selected were between 12 and 14 ounces, which definitely made for a hearty meal. Regardless of the size of your tail, butterflying them and then baking them not only makes them more attractive but also helps the meat cook more evenly. We’d highly suggest that you try this method if you get a chance to cook fresh lobster tails. We served our lobster tails with a lobster bisque and crab cakes with a roumelade sauce.
Crab-Stuffed Flounder – Flounder is a mild, flat fish that is often stuffed. Lump crab meat makes for an excellent stuffing as it just adds to the flavor of the fish. In order to ensure that the fish isn’t dry, we made a quick, homemade hollandaise sauce to accompany it as well as the asparagus that we served with it. This is really a fairly simple dish, but it is certainly something that could be made for an elegant dinner or even to feed a crowd.
Regardless of what style of seafood you enjoy, there are obviously plenty of options for how to prepare it. No matter where you live, there are going to be some sort of fresh fish options available for you to choose from. It is also possible to have seafood shipped to you as well if you can’t find what you are looking for at your local grocery store.
Flounder is a mild, flat fish that is often stuffed. Lump crab meat makes for an excellent stuffing as it just adds to the flavor of the fish. In order to ensure that the fish isn't dry, we made a quick, homemade hollandaise sauce to accompany it as well as the asparagus that we served with it. This is really a fairly simple dish, but is certainly something that could be made for an elegant dinner or even to feed a crowd.
Heat 2 tablespoons of butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat, add the celery and onion and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute.
In a bowl, combine the lump crab meat, panko, egg, celery, onion, garlic, thyme, and a pinch of Old Bay. Use your hands to make sure that the stuffing is fully mixed.
Heat an oven to 375 degrees.
Lay the flounder flat and put 1/4 of the stuffing in the center of each filet. Roll the flounder around the crab stuffing and place on a baking sheet with the ends of the fish, where it overlaps, facing down. Spread butter over the top of the fish and sprinkle with a pinch of Old Bay seasoning.
Cook the fish for 30 minutes or until thoroughly cooked. Serve with prepared hollandaise sauce and vegetable of your choice.