The Seafood and Cheese Food Myth

Melinda D. Teston

What’s wrong with seafood and cheese appearing together in the same dish? Does cheese really make seafood taste funky? Food Network star, and Italian chef extraordinaire, Scott Conant appears to have a pet peeve about this, but is he right? If cheese really does make seafood taste funky, a lot of famous dishes shouldn’t have been invented, mush less become famous. A case in point would be lobster thermidor. In his second battle, Iron Chef Japanese Komei Nakamura made a version using blue cheese; the tasters loved it, and Nakamura won. Celebrity chef Bobby Flay asserted on TV that he likes mussels with blue cheese, and on Triple D, Guy Fieri enjoyed linguini clams sprinkled with parmesan (an Italian dish, Scott). And what about the following famous dishes: seafood gratin, seafood risotto, and seafood fondue? OK, so maybe Chef Conant is really talking about cheese and, specifically, fish. For that I have Iron Chef Cat Cora making baracuda chips for fondue, and fish with marscapone in Paris on Anthony Bourdain’s 100th episode.

An interesting ancedote presented itself recently. I was in Tijuana, Mexico, having some dental work done, and I went to eat lunch at a sushi bar. Afterwards, I was still craving a little something so I went to a hole-in-the-wall eatery and ordered a quesadilla. While I was eating, it suddently dawned on me what I was doing: adding cheese to my fish!

Hasn’t Scott Conant ever had a fish sandwich at a burger joint with a slice of American in it? Hasn’t he ever seen Giada de Laurentis, who’s more Italian than he is, sprinkle fish with parmesan? I may be able to think of something that isn’t improved by adding cheese (chocolate, maybe?), but fish isn’t it. Personally, I’m a big fan of seafood, including fish, in creamy cheesy sauces. Have you taken sides on this issue yet? Or maybe you haven’t thought about it and this article will inspire you to try your hand at fish and cheese. If you like it, let Scott know!

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