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Archive for the ‘Fish & Seafood’ Category

This weekend I shopped, but for baking stuff, so when it came to cooking today’s lunch I had to go with the three things I had on hand (you will see the Campari tomatoes from last week). I could’ve done an episode of 5 ingredient fix… It turned out to be soo yummy and creamy I am in love with it and am taking some for lunch tomorrow.

FISH À LA “WHATEVER-IS-IN-THE-FRIDGE”

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 2 tilapia loins, cut in cubes
  • 1/4 onion, chopped
  • 4 Campari tomatoes, quartered
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 c white wine (I used Chardonnay)

Prep:

Heat one tablespoon oil in a medium temperature and fry the onion. Add the tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes soften a little. Add the parsley and garlic. Mix well. Remove from heat and pour into bowl. Return the pan to the flame, add second tablespoon oil and when hot, add the tilapia cubes. With a pair of tongs, turn tilapia so that all sides are white and seared. Return tomato mix to pan. Add salt and pepper to taste. The mix will look creamy. Add the wine and let it reduce until the creamy texture returns.

Pescado c:jitomate y cebolla

(apologies for the less-than-stellar picture, I forgot to take a picture of the plated version before eating it :D) It may not be the best-looking thing, but trust me, it was good.

Notes

Because tilapia is such a delicate fish, it will cook quickly. As you see from my picture, several of my cubes broke apart, so be careful if presentation matters.

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My mom once remarked that she must have been Thai in another life because she loves their food and culture so much. If that was the case, I certainly was her daughter back then too, as Thai food is high up in my ranking, probably right after Mexican and Peruvian. This being the case, I have been in search of the perfect Pad Thai recipe, one that would give me the closest at-home-results to the stuff you get at your favorite Thai place (in my case it’s Bangkok Cuisine in Austin, TX).

So, I searched and searched and nothing. Then came the January Issue of Bon Appetit** and in it a special for Thai food, including Pad Thai. I couldn’t get my hands on tamarind paste the first time I tried the recipe and substituting it proved fatal. It is key to the final flavor of the dish. Last night I went for round two, since I now had the tamarind paste. With my own little tweaks (double the sauce, one extra egg, no radish, cilantro)…it was perfection, and I knew I had found my recipe.

PERFECT PAD THAI

Yield: 3-4 servings

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces pad thai rice noodles
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 6 medium shrimp, peeled, deveined (double on shrimp if you are not using tofu)
  • 2 tablespoons 1×1/2×1/8″ slices pressed tofu
  • 1.5 cups bean sprouts
  • 2 teaspoons tamarind paste mixed with 5 tablespoons water
  • 3 tablespoons  Thai fish sauce (the Thai version is called nam pla)
  • 3 tablespoons simple syrup
  • 8 chives, cut into 1/2″ pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoons ground dried Thai chiles (substitute with Mexican dry chiles de árbol if you don’t have Thai ones)
  • 2 tablespoons crushed roasted, unsalted peanuts
  • 2 lime wedges
  • chopped cilantro leaves, to taste

Prep:

  • In a small bowl, mix the tamarind paste, simple syrup and fish sauce
  • Heat water in a large pot and when warm, turn off heat and add noodles, making sure they are submerged. Let them soak until soft but not mushy, about 10 mins. Strain and set aside.
  • Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a wok or large pan over medium-high heat. Add eggs and cook for about 30 seconds. Add shrimp and cook, stirring, until shrimp and egg are almost cooked through, 2–3 minutes. Remember that over-cooked shrimp are rubbery, so don’t overdo it.
  • Add the tofu if you are using it. Cook for 30 seconds.
  • Add the noodles and cook for one minute and then add the tamarind paste mix. Mix and stir-fry until the noodles are well-coated and have absorbed the sauce, about one minute.
  • Add the chives, chiles and 1/2 of the peanuts, mix well and serve.
  • Sprinkle with the rest of the peanuts and the cilantro leaves. Sprinkle with lime before eating.

‘xcuse the photo quality. I got wrapped-up in the cooking I didn’t take any “steps” photos, and then I was so hungry I almost forgot to take the picture of the final result, so this is an iPhone one.

NOTES

When I don’t have Thai chiles, I use Mexican dried chiles de árbol, which is what I did last night, about 1 and 1 and 1/2, with most seeds discarded.

I am a big fan of doing mise-en-place, getting all the stuff ready and chopped beforehand. In Thai food, this is key, as once you start cooking, things move fast. Hence my thing of mixing all the sauce ingredients ahead of time.

The magazine recipe called for sweet radish but I didn’t find any, so I skipped it. Loved the recipe as is, but of course will put it in if I ever find it to see what the changes are.

**You may have noticed, many of my posts are about stuff I cook from BA, most of the time with modifications. I try to cook at least one thing per month from the magazine.

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I love it when one can have the best of both worlds. Check out Saveur Magazine’s Smoked Salmon Quiche. Yu-um!

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For a long time, I wasn’t a fan of capers. I encountered them in Colombia, the first time I ate ajiaco, which is usually topped with them. Did not like them at all and stored them in the “no way” file. I guess I was too young to appreciate the flavors, or maybe though the years of developing a palate, but I went through years of avoiding them like the plague.

That was the story until last fall, when I was cooking a special meal that included a tomato-caper relish. In the tradition of “things we do for love”, I decided to not leave out the capers, but include them, and just… you know… Suck it up. Boy was I in for a surprise. Not only did I like them, I loved them. Thank goodness for growing up and re-tasting things (this list includes figs, eggplant and lots of cheeses).

Today’s recipe is an adaptation from the March 2011 Cooking Light. I didn’t find arctic char at the store, so I used salmon instead and in a stroke of brilliance, my sous-chef added dill to the salmon before cooking, an addition that I found increased the flavor profile immensy. In the end, I found the meal to be flavorful and light, and mostly: Quick and easy.

SALMON FILLETS WITH ORANGE-CAPER RELISH

Yield: 4 people

Ingredients

  • 1  cup  orange sections
  • 2  tablespoons  slivered red onion
  • 1  tablespoon  chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1  tablespoon  capers, minced
  • 1  teaspoon  grated orange rind
  • 1  tablespoon  fresh orange juice
  • 1  tablespoon  extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1  teaspoon  rice vinegar
  • 1/8  teaspoon  ground red pepper
  • 4 (6 oz) salmon fillets
  • 1/2  teaspoon  kosher salt
  • 1/2  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • Dill
  • Olive oil

Prep:

Combine the first nine ingredients in a bowl, mix them gently and refrigerate until ready to use.

Sprinkle the salmon fillets with salt, pepper and dill.

Heat a heavy, or cast-iron skillet under medium-high heat and add olive oil, enough to evenly coat the bottom of the skillet, but don’t overdo it. Once oil is hot, add salmon fillets, skin side down. Cook for approximately 3-4 mins per side or until they are done. Since this varies by the thickness of your fillet, watch them. You don’t want to overcook them and get them all dry.

Serve fillets topped with the orange-caper relish. We accompanied them with white rice and mushrooms and a side salad that had an orange-champagne vinegar dressing. To keep all the flavor profiles together, you know?

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Cebiche

Growing up with a Peruvian grandmother has wonderful perks, the first of which is the at-home, direct classroom experience to that marvelous cuisine. With her, mom and dad, who also makes a very yummy one, I got accustomed to great-quality fish cebiche. Not only that -and my apologies to anyone reading this who has an allegiance to other cebiches- but my personal feeling has always been that Peruvian cebiche is the best of the many varieties you can find.

When thinking about the menu for the Easter spring lunch I cooked with my friends, I wanted something that would be fresh and cool, because I knew the weather would be steamy. What better for that, then, than a nice cebiche.

SOLE CEBICHE

Yield: About 8 servings

Ingredients

For the cebiche

  • 1 lb fresh white fish fillets  (a meaty, boneless one, such as tilapia, sole or halibut), cut up in cubes
  • 1/2 to 3/4 white onion, julienned
  • 15 key limes or 7 regular limes, juice expressed
  • 1 tsp ají amarillo paste  or half a fresh one, seeded and diced in small pieces
  • 1 tsp ají panca peruano, or half a fresh one, seeded and diced in small pieces
  • 5 or 6 ice cubes
  • salt and pepper to taste

For the garnish

  • 8 medium-sized leaves romaine lettuce
  • one large sweet potato, cooked, peeled and sliced in half circles
  • 2 cups canchita, Peruvian roasted dry corn.

Prep:

  • Wash the onion with water and rinse. Repeat.
  • In a glass bowl, add the onion and fish and wash with water twice.
  • Add salt and pepper.
  • Add the lime juice and pepper pastes (or the fresh diced ones). Mix well.
  • Adjust spiciness and salt, if  needed.
  • Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes to an hour, stirring contents every 15 minutes or so before serving.

To serve:

In a small bowl arrange the lettuce leaf, a couple of sweet potato wedges and some canchita at the bottom.

Top with cebiche

Serve immediately

NOTES: For info on ají amarillo and ají panca, see the notes on this recipe

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Growing up, my Peruvian grandmother would frequently cook a shrimp stew-ish dish called “Chupín de Camarones”, the Spanish spelling for a Shrimp Cioppino. Back then, I couldn´t stand the thing. My family knew my grandma spoiled me, and that fact became very evident whenever she made chupín, because she would make steak just for me so I had something to eat instead of the soup. My dislike for the dish changed, though, and I´m not so sure when. All I know is I started liking it, and now I feel very silly for having turned up my nose at it for so many years.

Here it is, in honor of my visit to my mom´s. It may seem like a very long list of ingredients and very labor-intensive, but trust me, IT´S WORTH IT.

CHUPÍN DE CAMARONES

Yield: 6-8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1/2 kg (about 1lb) whole raw shrimp (preferably river-grown).
  • 1/2 kg raw shrimp tails
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp oil (canola or vegetable)
  • 1 medium-sized onion, chopped
  • 3 beef steak tomatoes (or 5 plum), chopped
  • 3 heads garlic, mashed
  • a dash oregano
  • 2 leveled tbsp ají panca peruano or ají amarillo peruano *
  • 1 tbsp huacataya leaf paste **
  • 1/3 c white rice
  • 1/4 c frozen green peas
  • 4 red potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 2 ears of corn (preferably white), cut in  1-inch length pieces
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 can evaporated milk
  • 50 grs (about 3 oz) queso fresco, cubed
  • salt and pepper to taste

Prep:

  • Bring 12 c of water to boil in a large pot. Add the tsp of salt and add the shrimp. Cook for about 6 minutes and lift them out with a slotted spoon. Keep the water in the pot.
  • In a separate pan heat the 2 tbsp oil and when warm, sauté the onion, tomatoes, oregano, garlic, ají and huacataya paste. Let cook until onions are translucent and tomato is soft.
  • Add sautéed elements to the shrimp water. Bring to boil, add the rice and peas, lower temperature to medium and let cook for about 15 minutes.
  • Add potatoes and corn. Cook until both are soft, about 10-15 minutes.
  • Return shrimp to pot.
  • Bring soup to a full boil, add eggs, one at a time, breaking them right over the soup and stirring immediately after each one.
  • Add the evaporated milk and queso fresco.
  • Taste and add salt and pepper to taste right before serving.

Serve very hot.

NOTES:

* Ají panca and ají amarillo are Peruvian  hot peppers, found in most international supermarkets in a glass jar. You may also find them in powder, and if that´s the case, add only one tablespoon of it. These peppers add mostly flavor and color, and though they are spicy, they’re not too strong. My mom sometimes uses both ajís when she makes chupín. When getting panca, make sure it’s that (the picture is a long, dark red and long pepper). Do not get “rocoto”, which is another kind of pepper, bright red and round.

** Huacataya is known in English as black mint. It´s typical of the Andes and added to a lot of Peruvian and Bolivian dishes. I think it can also be found in international supermarkets. If you cannot find it, omit it, as it´s flavor is very unique and I have no idea what you can substitute it with.

Also, make sure you remove the shrimp after 6 minutes, or you will over cook them and they will taste like rubber. You may cook them peeled or with the shell. I find that cooking them with the shell adds more flavor to the broth.

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There’s an italian restaurant in Alexandria called Landini Brothers. On their menu is a delicious Linguine alle vongole bianche, white linguine with clams.  This weekend, I decided to cook my own version at home in an attempt to replicate it. Why? Because it’s one of my weaknesses and I frequently crave it.  I find it very addictive and can never get enough of it. Kind of what love sometimes is like.  So, in honor of Valentine’s day, that semi-imposed holiday for love, I give you:

A short-cut version* of Linguine alle vongole

* It’s “short-cut” version because I used canned clams. There’s a longer, purer, obviously better version, with fresh clams. But seeing as I just got a manicure, I wasn’t about to scrub and shell clams. Next time, perhaps. 🙂

For two people

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp butter (or olive oil if you want to go the “healty” way ;’) )
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 an onion, minced
  • 1/8 c (5g) minced fresh flat-leaf parsley (dry works too, but remember to adjust quantity)
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 can minced clams (save the juices)
  • 1/4 c cooked peas (optional)
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 8oz (250g) dried linguine
  • salt
  • 1/2 a lemon

Prep:

  • Bring water to boil and cook the linguine according to package directions. Usually, linguine will cook in about 8-9 minutes, so try to time it so you add the pasta to the water after your onions have softened (see below). That way, your sauce will finish cooking at about the same time as the pasta.
  • Melt the butter in a pan, reduce the heat so it doesn’t burn.
  • Add the onion and cook until it softens, about 8  minutes. Add the garlic, parsley, and pepper flakes. Mix.
  • Keeping the flame low, add the peas, the minced clams and their juice, along with the wine. Add salt to taste.
  • Bring up the flames just enough so the mixture comes to a boil, the liquid is reduced a bit and the clams and peas have warmed up. Turn burner off.

Mine looked like this:

  • Serve on top of the linguine, adding some parsley leaves, some pepper and Parmesan cheese. I also find that adding a splash of lemon brings out the flavors, but it’s entirely a matter of taste.

Final product:

Next time, I will use a flat plate. In a bowl, the clams fall to the bottom and the top noodles have almost no sauce. Also, I added the peas to give it some color and a vegetable, but it works just the same without.

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