Steward of the Sea

Chris Hastings celebrates undiscovered delicacies of the Gulf Coast. 

By Jan Walsh 

Photography by Beau Gustafson 










Hot and Hot Fish Club’s Chris Hastings never settles for the status quo. And he has a new source for seafood—the “bycatch” of line caught, wild, Alabama seafood. These fish are untargeted in species, maturity or size and happen across the rails of the fishing boats. By cooking and sharing them with us in his restaurant, Hastings is helping sustain the sea, while broadening our experiences and palates. In today’s cooking demo he prepares Gulf Coast baby octopus, Gulf lionfish and Gulf shrimp with black rice, romanesco sauce, saffron cream, crispy chorizo, and watercress. Hastings is executive chef and co-owner with his wife Idie, a chef herself of the Hot and Hot Fish Club. And while Hastings’ cuisine, talent, and accolades have gone “viral” over the past several years, he remains humble and approachable. We appreciate his taking time to cook for us, so we may share his recipe and techniques via video. 



Grilled Octopus

Grilled Head On Shrimp

Pan Seared Gulf Lion Fish

Black Rice

Preserved Lemon Vinaigrette

Romesco Sauce

Chorizo Powder

Crispy Chorizo

Saffron Aioli

Foraged Chickweed

Grilled Octopus


Grilled Octopus:

Octopus - cleaned

Vegetable stock


Place octopus in pressure cooker. Cook. Cover with vegetable stock. Cook for 15 minutes. Remove and shock. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place on grill to reheat before plating. 



Black Rice:

1 Cup black rice

1¾ Cup water 

½ Teaspoon shallots

1 Sprig of thyme

Pinch of saffron

Pinch of salt

1 Teaspoon olive oil

½ Cup diced bell pepper

2 Tablespoons shallots

1 Tablespoon thyme

2 Tablespoon butter

¼ Cup preserved lemon vinaigrette


Combine first six ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce and cover. Cook for 20 minutes. Remove, chill, and plate. Sauté bell peppers, shallots and thyme in butter. Add rice and reheat, Toss with preserved lemon vinaigrette. 


Spicy Romesco Sauce:

2 Roasted Bell Pepper (skin and seeds removed)

1/4 Cup toasted Slivered Almonds

2 T Tomato Paste

1 Slice of Bread

1/8 Cup water

1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice

3 Hydrated Chill Peppers

1 Cup Olive oil

Pinch of saffron

1 Roasted Garlic

Salt and pepper to taste


Procedure: Purée all ingredients in Vita Prep.


Saffron Cream:

1 Teaspoon saffron

1 Tablespoon hot water

¼ Teaspoon lemon juice

1 Cup crème fraîche


Procedure: Combine all ingredients and place in squeeze bottle.


Chorizo Powder:

1 Cup diced chorizo

1 Tablespoon oil

20 grams maltodextin

Pinch of salt


Procedure: Crisp chorizo. Strain oil and chill. Reserve crispy chorizo for garnish. Wisk chorizo oil, salt and maltodextrin. 


To Plate: Spread two tablespoons of romesco sauce on plate. Reheat one-half cup of black rice. Place on plate. Place grilled octopus (two ounces per plate), grilled shrimp (two per plate), and fish (two ounces per plate) on rice.  Toss foraged chickweed with one teaspoon of preserved lemon vinaigrette and place on top.  Garnish with chorizo powder, chorizo pieces and saffron aioli.