“I have men at the docks who send me photos of what they’ve just caught and ask how much of it I want,” says Chef Justin Ferguson, when asked about sourcing seafood for the extensive menu of Superior Seafood and Oyster Bar. With connections like that, it’s no wonder their flavors shine at this uptown New Orleans restaurant that opened earlier this year.
Justin has a history of seafood, from growing up eating it to cooking it in restaurants in Boston, Baton Rouge, and now New Orleans. “It’s our heritage,” he says, “and it’s delicious and abundant.” Using local food is important to Justin, as well as a challenge for a restaurant that seats 300 at full capacity. Choosing quality over convenience is not the easy choice, but it’s one he believes in. This commitment shows in the ever-changing menu that highlights Louisiana’s beautiful seafood and produce.
While he admits to eating his share of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches during the few hours when he’s not at the restaurant, Justin loves to experiment with Italian food at home, be it a seafood risotto with saffron or a twist on a New Orleans classic.
A self-proclaimed perfectionist, Justin constantly works to improve the menu, recipes, and restaurant. “It takes at least a year to hit your groove at a new restaurant, so every day is about focusing on what you can make better.” Based on the full crowd for dinner, it looks like he’s on the right track.
- 4 large tomatoes
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 1¾ cups grated Parmesan cheese, divided
- 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
- 24 cups water
- 2 tablespoons salt, plus more to taste
- 1 pound angel hair pasta
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 8 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- ½ cup diced shallot
- 16 extra-jumbo fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined
- ¼ cup diced andouille sausage
- 8 ounces cooked crawfish tail meat
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
- ¼ teaspoon chopped fresh thyme or lemon thyme leaves
- ½ cup butter
- Garnish: grated Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley
- Preheat smoker with hickory or pecan wood chips to low heat (250° to 300°). In an oven-safe baking dish, smoke tomatoes for 30 to 45 minutes.
- In the work bowl of a food processor, purée smoked tomatoes. Strain purée through a sieve into a large bowl; whisk in cream, 1 cup Parmesan cheese, and paprika; set aside.
- In a large pot, bring 24 cups water to a full boil over high heat. Add 2 tablespoons salt and pasta; cook pasta until al dente. Drain and keep warm.
- In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat; sauté garlic, shallot, shrimp, andouille, and crawfish for 2 to 3 minutes. Add red pepper, thyme, and a pinch of salt, and cook 30 seconds more. Add 3 cups reserved tomato mixture, and bring to a simmer.
- Add cooked pasta, remaining ¾ cup Parmesan cheese, and butter; combine until cheese and butter are melted. Divide among 4 bowls, and garnish with additional Parmesan cheese and parsley, if desired.