Oswald Rivera

Author, Warrior, and Teacher

Category: shellfish (page 1 of 4)

PULPO GUISADO (Stewed Octopus)

In my culture, octopus is considered heaven sent because of its nutrition and value.  Just like squid, it is something that we relish. We bake it, we broil it, and we even make it as salad. Yet, in our family, the favorite was stewed octopus that we served over steamed white rice. But you can also pair it with pasta or couscous, or quinoa.

In the old days octopus could only be found in Latino, Greek, Asian or Portuguese neighborhoods.  Today it’s readily available in most markets, fresh or frozen, and already cleaned. If fresh, the skin should be firm and elastic to the touch, and it should be purplish pink. If the color is brownish or brownish purple, skip  it.

Octopus is cleaned just like squid in that the head cavity is flushed out. Before cooking, octopus should be rinsed in water and drained thoroughly. The mouth, a hard piece underneath the body and that looks like an eye, should be cut off and discarded. Now you’re set to go.

(Stewed Octopus)


2½ to 3 pound baby octopus
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium green bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 teaspoon fresh chopped oregano leaves or ½ teaspoon dried
2 teaspoons fresh chopped basil or 1 teaspoon dried
Salt and ground black pepper to taste


  1. Place octopus in a heavy kettle or Dutch oven and cover with water to cover. Bring to a boil, cover pot, lower heat and simmer for 25-30 minutes. At this point the octopus should be pink and slightly tender. Remove octopus from kettle, drain and cut into bite-sized pieces.
  2.  Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a deep skillet. Add bell pepper, onion and garlic. Sauté over moderate for about 5 minutes.
  3.  Stir in tomatoes, oregano, basil, salt and pepper.  Cook 3 minutes more.
  4.  Add octopus meat. Cover skillet and simmer over low heat for another 10 minutes.
    Yield: 4 servings.


This is a simple recipe that contains scallops (which we love) and spinach. Yes, spinach. I know, think of the old Popeye cartoon: “I’m Popeye the sailor man, I’m strong to the finish ‘cus I eat my . . .” You know the rest. I like spinach. I even liked it when I was a kid back at PS 75 in Harlem. And, believe me, I got hassled by my peers because of it. Kids are not supposed to like spinach. Well, some of us do.

You will note that for this recipe, we used frozen spinach. But, if you can get fresh spinach, you can use it as well. In this case, use 1-2 pounds fresh spinach, washed and trimmed. Steam the spinach for 3 minutes and drain. Then chop and toss with butter.

What makes this recipe good is that it’s a spur of the moment thing, and it works with any variety of greens, be it spinach or broccoli, or even okra. You can serve the scallops with any vegetable you want. With some crusty bread, a good wine (white or red), it’s superb. If you want to mix it with rice, quinoa, couscous or noodles, it’s still a definite winner.


4 (10-oz.) packages frozen spinach
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds sea scallops, rinsed and patted dry
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
½ cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar


  1. Cook frozen spinach according to package directions. When done, toss with the butter and keep warm.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add scallops and sauté for 1½ minutes on each side. Season with salt and pepper. Add the wine and balsamic vinegar, and braise for 3 minutes.
  3. To serve, place spinach on a warm serving platter. Arrange scallops on top and spoon some cooking juices over them.
    Yield: 6 servings.


I’m always on the lookout for good scallop recipes. Mainly because they are so easy to prepare. So, today, we have a recipe of scallops sautéed with garlic. I did a post back in 01/30/15 on scallops cooked in garlic butter. It was more of scallops cooked in a sauce that included butter, lemon juice, and oregano.  This dish is different in that it has garlic, breadcrumbs and parsley. Along with salt and pepper, that’s it. Also, I would recommend bay scallops.

The trick to cooking  scallops is to never overcook them. When they’re done, their usual ivory color turns opaque.

This time around we served the scallops over yellow rice; but you can pair it with any grain or even pasta. Have fun.



1 pound bay scallops
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 tablespoons seasoned bread crumbs
2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Rinse scallops under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels.
  2.  Heat olive oil in large skillet or fry pan and sauté the garlic for 30 seconds.
  3. Add scallops and stir fry until they become opaque. Depending on their size, this will take 5 to 7 minutes.
  4. Add bread crumbs and cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add the parsley and cook 20 seconds. Remove and serve immediately.
    Yield: 4 servings.



This is one of those recipes that’s created at the spur of the moment. You look and see what you have in the fridge and cupboard, and create something—and give it a fancy name. Like “pomodoro.” Which, in Italian, simply means “tomato.” Nevertheless, some of the best meals are created this way. As the one given below. All you need is a couple of cans of crabmeat and some spaghetti or linguini, preferably whole-wheat.



1 pound package whole- wheat linguini (or spaghetti)
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium-sized onion, peeled and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper (or to taste)
3 medium tomatoes, washed and diced
2 (6-ounce cans) crabmeat, drained and flaked
¾ cup black olives, rinsed and sliced in half
3 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil


  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook linguini or spaghetti, stirring occasionally, until tender (about 9-11 minutes), or according to package directions. Drain.
  2.  Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until translucent. Add garlic and cook 2 minutes more. Stir in crushed red pepper and cook for about 30 seconds.
  3. Add tomatoes, reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes. Stir in crabmeat and cook until it’s incorporated into the sauce, about 2 minutes. Stir in black olives.
  4.  Place pasta in a heated platter or serving dish, top with crabmeat sauce and garnish with basil. If desired, you can sprinkle the dish with  some grated Parmesan or Romano cheese. Serve hot with crusty bread and a good red wine, like chianti or cabernet—hell, serve with with whatever wine you like. My mom, of late memory, would enjoy all her meals with Gallo Sherry. And, if she couldn’t find Gallo sherry, it’d be Mogen David Heavy Malaga Red. In the Rivera clan, we never stand on formality. Just enjoy the dish.
    Yield: 4 or more servings.


In the southern part of Puerto Rico lies the fabled town of Ponce, which a has a coastal area known as “Los Meros.” This area, at one time, was home to a number of makeshift restaurants, some no more than tarp structures that sold beer, snacks and sandwiches. The sandwiches consisted of the local seafood like conch and octopus. When I would visit my parents in Ponce, the first thing we did was drive up to Los Meros and enjoyed their superb squid, another item on the menu. I know, you’re saying, “Yuck!Squid?” Yes, as in fried squid, the recipe that my family got most likely from a joint in Los Meros.

In my family we enjoyed this dish over rice, and the leftovers were used for sandwiches the next day. I’m just saying, give the fried squid a try. It is also very popular in the Mediterranean. We can’t all be wrong. You’ll be surprised how delicious this dish can be. You like fry chicken? you’ll love fried squid. I guarantee it.

Note that in this recipe you can use frozen squid. Today you can buy frozen calamares (or calamari) rings that are already cleaned and ready to cook. If you’re lucky enough to find these, half the recipe given is already done.

(Fried Squid)


3 pounds fresh or frozen squid
2 cups bread crumbs
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
¼ teaspoon oregano
3 eggs, well beaten
Oil for frying
Lemon wedges


  1. If frozen, thaw the squid. Whether fresh or frozen, remove the arms by cutting them from the head, and reserve them. Remove and discard the head, chitinous pen, and viscera. Wash thoroughly and drain. Cut the mantle into rings.
  2.  In a shallow bowl, combine the bread crumbs, salt, pepper and oregano
  3.  Dip the tentacles and mantle rings  in the eggs and then in the bread crumbs, coating well.
  4.  Deep-fry in a pan or skillet until golden brown.  Serve immediately with lemon wedges.
    Yield: 4-5 servings.



This recipe, I’m told, is Italian in origin. It’s simple enough,  sautéed scallops served over spinach. Nothing could be easier. And if you don’t like spinach, substitute another green. You’re only limited by your imagination. Enjoy.

The recipe calls for steaming the spinach (or whatever greens you use). If you don’t have a steamer (portable or otherwise), simple: in a pan, heat 1/3 cup water to a boil, add spinach, cover and steam as instructed. Drain, and continue with recipe as given.



½ pound spinach, washed and trimmed
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
4 tablespoons olive oil
18 large scallops (more or less)
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
½ cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar


  1. Steam the spinach for 2 minutes and drain. Chop the spinach and, while still hot, toss with the butter. Cover and keep warm.
  2. Heat olive oil in a saucepan or skillet over medium heat. Add the scallops and sauté for 1½ minutes on on each side. Season with salt and pepper. Add wine and balsamic vinegar, and cook for 3 minutes.
  3.  To serve, place the spinach on a serving platter, arrange scallops on top and spoon some cooking juices over them.
    Yield: 6 servings.




Mention squid and almost everyone goes “Yuck! Aaaag!” You get the message. Still, as mentioned in prior posts, squid (or calamari) is a dish favored throughout the Mediterranean and the Caribbean. It is also popular in Asian cuisine as well, as noted in the recipe given below. It’s simple and quick, and delicious, with a mild sweet taste.

We are fortunate that today, in most markets and stores, you can buy squid cleaned and prepared. So you don’t have to go through all the drudgery as in the old days when you had to cut the squid apart, scrape and discard the innards, remove the outer membrane and clean the squid thoroughly. When you buy cleaned squid, they come with tubes and tentacles. All you have to do is rinse them in water, slice and cook. That’s it. In this recipe, you add a little soy sauce, vegetable or peanut oil and a few drops of sesame oil. The natural accompaniment to this dish is plain boiled rice. This time around, we had some plantains on hand so we paired them with tostones, deep-fried plantains. For a recipe on tostones, check my post of 09/09/10.



1 pound cleaned squid
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons vegetable or peanut oil
Few drops of sesame oil


  1. Rinse squid under cold running water. Slice tubes and tentacles into bit-sized pieces.
  2.  Fill a large saucepan two-thirds full with water and bring to a boil. Drop the squid into the water and cook about 1 minute over medium heat, stirring lightly with a wooden spoon. The squid pieces will curl up like cylinders, and you can check for doneness by cutting through a piece. The squid should be opaque all the way through. Do not over cook or they will become tough.
  3.  Drain the squid and shake out any excess water. Transfer to a serving bowl, and toss with the soy sauce, oil, and sesame oil. Serve immediately.
    Yield: 4 servings.




This is one of the easiest shrimp dishes you can prepare. It’s from my first cookbook, Puerto Rican Cuisine  in America (Running Press). A quickie fix-up—with a little bit of rum added to it. Camarones con Cebolla was a family favorite back in Spanish Harlem, and it still holds up to this day. The shrimp is stir-fried just to doneness and smothered in onions. Few things can be more satisfying. This dish goes great with crusty bread or on rice.

(Shrimp with Onions)


¼ cup olive oil
2 medium onions, peeled and thinly sliced in rounds
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
2 pounds raw shrimp, shelled and deveined
3 tablespoons Puerto Rican rum (white or dark)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
¼ teaspoon dried tarragon
Salt and black ground pepper to taste


1. Heat oil in a large skillet or frying pan. Add onions and garlic and sauté over moderate heat until onion is limp and transparent.
2. Add shrimp, rum, lemon juice, tarragon, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring constantly until shrimp turns pink (3 to 4 minutes).
Yield: 4 servings.







In our family, we love shellfish. And one of our greatest treats is scallops.  In French, scallops translate as coquille St Jacques, which means the “Shell of Saint James.” Back in the Middle Ages a shrine was built to Saint James the Apostle at Santiago de Compostela in Spain. It is said that pilgrims who visited the site would wear a scallop shell in their hats as a symbol of their devotion. And that’s how we get the name.

What’s interesting about scallops is that they make a fine combination with any number of other ingredients. One of the best combinations is with cream. Add mustard to it and you have a match made in heaven. The trick is to use the mustard sparingly or it will overpower the dish. Once you have the right mix, it is a splendid dish fit for a  commoner or a king. Want to impress family and friends? This is the go-to recipe.  It will cement your reputation as a high class gourmand. Serve over noodles or, as we did it here, rice, it is a winner.



1 pound scallops, preferably bay scallops
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon chopped shallots
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 cup heavy cream
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon mustard, preferably Dijon
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley


  1. If sea scallops are used, cut them in quarters. If bay scallops are used, leave them whole. Set aside.
  2.  Heat butter in a skillet and add the shallots. Cook briefly, stirring. Add vinegar and cook until almost all the vinegar has evaporated.
  3.  Add cream and cook down over high heat until reduced by half. Stir in the scallops and salt. Cook, shaking the skillet so that the scallops cook evenly, about 1 minutes.
  4.  Remove from heat and stir in the mustard. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve.
    Yield: 4 servings.


Scallops are a favorite in our clan. Normally, we just pan-sear them in a little olive oil, adding salt, pepper and oregano. Back on the block we usually served it over steamed rice. Recently I decided to try baking the suckers. Also, I happen to have some leeks on hand; and added that to it, along with a red pepper (pimento) and Spanish green stuffed olives. It turned out to be a successful experiment, and quite delicious.

In our group, we prefer sea scallops which are larger (1½ to 2-inch in diameter) than the smaller bay scallops. There are those who prefer bay scallops since the are considered sweeter and more tender. My experience has been that bay scallops are better in stews and casseroles. But if you want to use bay scallops for this recipe, go right ahead. Just be aware that the baking time may be less.

This time around, instead of rice, we served it with pearl (also known as Israeli) couscous. So, here it is, Roasted Scallops with Leeks, Pepper and Olives.  As noted, we used green stuffed olives. If desired, you can utilize Greek Kalamata olives (in fact, we added some to this dish) or black olives. Add a good white wine, such as Chablis, Soave, or even a Rhine wine, some crusty bread, and you can’t go wrong with this one.



4 cups sliced leeks (about 2 large) white and light green part only
1 red or green bell pepper, cut into ½-inch strips
¼ teaspoon saffron threads
3 tablespoons butter
3 cups chicken broth or stock
2 pounds sea scallops, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 cup chopped pitted green olives (or a mix of green, black olives or Kalamata olives)
Freshly ground black pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
  2. Place leeks, peppers, saffron and butter in a large oven-proof sauté pan, deep pot or skillet (we prefer cast-iron). Pour in the chicken broth. Cook over medium-high heat until the leeks are soft and the broth boils down to about one third of the amount you started with, about 12-15 minutes.
  3.  Arrange the scallops over the leek mixture. Add the lemon  juice, olives and pepper. Place in oven and bake until scallops are tender, about 25 minutes.
    Yield: 4 servings.


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