Archives for category: seafood


A Valentines Day dinner to die for. Or just a regular dinner to die for, as we had this a week ago, but I think this is one of those dishes that should be reserved for a unique night. It’s elegant, decadent and relatively simple.

And kind of expensive. My eyes about bulged out of my head and my heart nearly gave out when I got to the register and I finally looked at the price tag on the salmon steaks — $30?! Oh, crapcrapcrap. Matthew is going to kill me! Not only was the salmon $10 a pound (I bought an extra one that is now sitting in the freezer, waiting to be eaten as another decadent dish), but the lamb stew meat I bought for another dish was $10/lb — making it $30 as well! Attack of an aneurysm. I’m sorry, but that kind of expensive meat buying does not normally happen in this household. Whoopsies. Thankfully Matthew did not kill me, but simply skewered me with one of those looks men perfect when their wives buy something that wasn’t, per se, in the budget.

HOW. EV. ER. This meal was absolutely mind-blowing. Which means I was forgiven! Whew. The salmon steaks were perfectly done, and the peppery, lemony, hint-of-mustardy lemon sauce that is drizzled on top is perfectly simple and utterly amazing. Put all of that on top of the wild mushroom risotto (which I had never made before and will definitely make again!) and you’ve got love on a plate.

I added these fantastic lemon/mustard Brussels sprouts to the dish (it is my favorite Brussels sprout recipe and always will be — for now) and the whole thing felt like we were at the classiest restaurant in Bloomington. Or New York City, for that matter! That’s right. It was that good. Make it for your special person tonight! Or on Valentines Day, whichever works.

Fresh Salmon with Tricolored Peppercorn Sauce
from “More Recipes from a Kitchen Garden”
serves 4

1/2 lemon
salmon steaks or fillets to serve 4
2 1/2 Tbsp butter (don’t substitute)
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp finely crushed tricolored peppercorns

Squeeze juice from lemon half over salmon and barbecue or broil salmon until cooked all the way through (anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes, depending on thickness of salmon steak). Do not overcook!

Melt butter, then add mustard and lemon juice. Remove cooked salmon and top with finely crushed peppercorns. Drizzle melted butter sauce over salmon and serve immediately over top risotto.

Wild Mushroom Risotto
minimally adapted from Three Many Cooks
serves 6

1 cup dried mushrooms (I used chanterelle because that’s what I had but feel free to use any kind)
1 quart plus 2 cups reduced sodium chicken broth, more if needed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium-large onion, diced
Kosher salt, to taste
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp tricolored peppercorns, ground
2 cups Arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano (or up to 1 cup)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Put dried mushrooms in heatproof bowl and add 3 cups boiling water. Let steep until hydrated and soft (roughly 30 minutes). Drain mushrooms, reserving liquid, and roughly chop.

Heat broth and 2 cups mushroom liquid in pot over medium heat and simmer. Cover, reduce heat to low, and keep liquid simmering during risotto process.

Heat olive oil in Dutch oven, or heavy-bottomed pot, over medium high heat, then add onions. Sprinkle with salt and sauté until translucent (roughly 5-7 minutes). Add garlic, cook for one minute. Add pepper and rice, stirring often to toast the rice (roughly one minute). Add white wine and stir continuously until liquid is nearly absorbed.

Add ladleful of simmering stock to rice and stir until mostly absorbed, or when you drag your wooden spoon across bottom of pot, you see no excess liquid. Add another ladleful of stock and stir until absorbed, repeating the process until rice is tender and creamy (roughly 20-30 minutes). Make sure to stir continuously so that rice does not stick or burn on the bottom of the pan.

Most likely you will use all of the stock, though more or less may be needed. Stock added to the risotto must be hot for it to cook correctly.

When risotto has finished cooking, add chopped mushrooms, Parmigiano and butter, stirring to combine. Spoon onto plate, then place salmon on top and add butter sauce to top everything off. And try not to preen and prance about when said special person asks you to become their personal chef (because most likely you already are).

Maybe I should have called this blog “soups, stews and other soup/stew-related dishes” because it’s true that I post quite a bit of those kinds of recipes. I never used to be a big soup eater, especially the brothy variety. I never felt completely satisfied after finishing a bowl, and Matthew felt the same way. Lately, however, that seems to be a lot of what we eat and they always end up hitting the spot.

I’m also big on making (and subsequently photographing and blogging about) meals that don’t require multiple side dishes to complete the perfect dinner trifecta — grains, veggies, protein. I prefer all three of those things to come together in one meal, be it a stew over rice/polenta or a soup. So that’s probably the main reason for the overload of the latter on this blog.

But that’s OK because they are all YUMMY! Like this soup, for example. When I saw the original recipe online, I immediately thought “Oh, that would be so good with shrimp. And added veggies. And extra spiciness.” So I wrote down all of my changes and voila, delicious! It’s spicy, but still is packed with flavor from the vegetables and shrimp. Feel free to make any changes you’d like — add more or less of your favorite vegetables or experiment with different spices. You could even switch out the shrimp for tofu, chicken or leave it out altogether for a perfect vegetarian meal. This recipe is very versatile.

Spicy Asian Noodle Soup
inspired by The Daily Spud
serves 6

1/4 cup soy sauce
3 Tbsp fish sauce
1 lime, juice of
1/2 Tbsp tomato paste
3 tsp sriracha sauce
2 tsp Thai chili garlic paste
1 Tbsp lightly packed brown sugar
2 garlic cloves, minced
6 cups chicken broth, +/- 1 cup water
6 oz. thin rice noodles
2 cups cauliflower
1 large carrot, thinly sliced
2 cups packed kale leaves, shredded
3-4 cups napa cabbage, shredded
1 lb raw shrimp, deshelled (I used the 31-40 size)
cilantro, for garnish

In a bowl, mix together first eight ingredients (soy sauce through minced garlic) and set aside. In a large pot, add 6 cups chicken broth and bring to a boil. Add rice noodles, cauliflower, carrot, kale and soy sauce mixture. Lower heat to medium and cook until carrots begin to soften (roughly 5-8 minutes). Add napa cabbage and raw shrimp; cook until shrimp is pink (3-4 minutes). Add extra 1 cup water if necessary. Garnish with cilantro. Consume with abandon (and try not to lick the bowl).

I should not be writing this post. I’m at T-minus four days before my wedding and I have, oh, countless other more important tasks I should be doing. Like creating a timeline for the photographer, choosing which songs to play during the ceremony or stressing about the five additional people we just added to the guest list this late in the game. Heh, oops.

What I’d rather be doing: scouring all the food blogs I’ve missed reading because of wedding planning, editing the photos of yummy meals I’ve made and updating, updating, updating this blog. So here I sit, at 1 a.m., sneaking in a bit of “me” time and writing about a meal I made a few weeks ago that was fantastically aromatic, deliciously unique and downright TASTY. I’m so happy to finally share it, even amid this highly stressful/exciting/nerve-wracking/please-won’t-it-begin-so-that-it-will-finally-end time of my life.

A bit of forewarning on the dish — it is a tad labor intensive. However, it’s not as complex as it seems, despite the lengthy instructions, and TRUST me when I say the chowder portion of this recipe makes all the time you spent in the kitchen very rewarding. I don’t believe I’ve ever tasted anything like it and I wish I could have made this for  swarms of people so that they, too, could experience its deliciousness.

Mahi-Mahi with Couscous and Coconut-Vegetable Chowder
Slightly adapted from Epicurious

Mahi-Mahi:
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup water
1 large egg
1 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
4 pieces mahi-mahi
vegetable oil (for frying)
cousous, warm
chopped cilantro

Chowder:
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3/4 cup chopped onion
3 small limes, grated and juiced
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
1 tablespoon chopped jalapeño chile with seeds
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 cans unsweetened coconut milk
1 cup vegetable broth (I used chicken)
1 15.2-ounce bottle fresh carrot juice
1/4 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2  cups cubed, peeled sweet potato (from 1 pound)
2 cups baby Yukon Gold or baby tri-colored potatoes (about 9 ounces), scrubbed, halved lengthwise, then crosswise
2 cups stringless sugar snap peas, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large carrot, peeled, cut into matchstick-size strips

For chowder: In a large heavy pot, heat oil on medium heat. Add onion, lime peel/juice, ginger, jalapeño and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft. Add coconut milk, broth, carrot juice, brown sugar, fish sauce and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for one hour. Pour liquid through a fine strainer into another large pot, pressing on solids in the strainer to get all the flavor. Simmer in pot until liquid is roughly 4 cups.

While chowder is simmering, cook sweet potatoes in a large pot or saucepan of boiling, salted water until tender (roughly 6-8 minutes). Remove sweet potatoes, place in a bowl, and repeat process with baby potatoes, using the same liquid (roughly 10 minutes). Drain, add to sweet potatoes.

Bring coconut-chowder back to a simmer over medium heat; add cooked potatoes, sugar snap peas, and carrot. Cook in simmering liquid until vegetables are tender (roughly 5–7 minutes).

For mahi-mahi: Place flour in shallow bowl. In another shallow bowl, add water and egg and whisk. In third shallow bowl, add panko. Salt and pepper mahi-mahi, then dredge in flour, egg mixture, then panko. Pour enough oil to cover bottom of a large, non-stick pan and heat over medium-high heat. Add fish and cook until golden brown on both sides (roughly 3 minutes per side).

To plate, put couscous in a shallow soup bowl, add vegetable-chowder on top and place fish atop chowder. Sprinkle with freshly torn cilantro. Enjoy!

Having a hard time letting summer go? I’m not (good riddance, hot weather!) but if you are, you might find this summery dish to your liking, even with the entrance of autumn. It’s all about really fresh ingredients while retaining a quick, healthy and filling balance. If you’re really despondent about summer saying good-bye, make this on one of the few remaining Indian summer evenings that continue to crop up. I could see myself whipping this up in the dead of winter, however, and being completely OK with my non-traditional self.

I’m a huge fan of salmon but have always managed to muck it up when preparing it. My fillets always tended to come out hard, burned and overcooked, never soft and flaky. Well, this time the salmon gods were smiling on me because my fillet came out of the oven perfectly done. I’m still not sure exactly how I managed that (this was when the oven in our rental home would only turn on at 550 degrees) but I was grateful because the entire dish was amazing.

The dish comes from The Church Cook and when I initially saw the recipe, I immediately bookmarked it but figured I’d add another side dish to it. There’s really no need. Every bite is full of flavor, with the soft salmon, the crunch of jalapeno and corn, and the smooth taste of avocado. I was pleasantly full afterward. Can’t go wrong!

Salmon with Avocado Corn Salsa
Minimally adapted from The Church Cook

1-1/2 lbs salmon fillet
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt, pepper
2 ripe avocados, pitted and diced
2 ripe tomatoes, seeded and diced
2-3 ears corn, kernels cut from cob
2 green onions, finely sliced
1 small shallot, peeled and finely diced
1 jalapeno, chopped (you can seed this for less bite in your salsa)
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 lime, grated and juiced
salt, pepper to taste

Preheat broiler. Line a baking sheet with foil and place salmon on top. Pat salmon dry and season both sides with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place sheet a few inches away from broiler and heat for roughly 10 minutes. Make sure to keep an eye on the salmon to prevent overcooking. Smaller, thinner salmon fillets may cook faster.

For salsa, combine remaining ingredients and serve atop salmon. Note: salsa can be made a few hours ahead of time. Enjoy!

Yum. Every time I see this picture, be it 10 in the morning or 10 at night, I immediately want to make this dish again. Everything about the flavors melded well together, from the delicate fish with its crisp crust and the browned, slightly salted okra that popped in your mouth to the sweet and tart citrus vinaigrette that topped everything off.

Okra may just be leaving the farmer’s markets and grocery stores but I had to post this recipe before its season was over completely. This meal is very simple to make and even if you think you don’t like okra, give it a shot! It had been a long time since I had it but I could not get enough after one bite. The key is to get fresh okra — though I believe frozen okra would work here, too — and to sear it with a bit of canola oil, salt and pepper. Yum.

The dish was adapted from a post by Lisa is Cooking, who got it from Eric Ribert’s A Return to Cooking cookbook. I could not find mahi-mahi, so I used tilapia (I know, a far cry from mahi-mahi, but the end result was delicious anyway) and I guessed on the citrus dressing. I also placed everything on top of a bed of fresh mixed greens.

Sauteed Tilapia and Okra with Citrus Vinaigrette
Adapted from Lisa is Cooking
serves 4

canola oil
4 fresh tilapia fillets
salt, pepper, cumin
1 lb fresh okra, cut into 1/2-inch slices
2 medium tomatoes
1 tbsp dijon mustard (I used spicy brown, it’s what I had)
1 tbsp sherry vinegar (I used red wine vinegar, it’s what I had)
1 lime, zest and juice of
1 lemon, zest and juice of
1/2 orange, zest and juice of
1 shallot, chopped finely
1 tbsp fresh ginger, finely chopped or grated
3-4 tbsp canola oil
fresh mixed greens

Season both sides of tilapia fillets with salt, pepper and cumin. Heat large non-stick pan with 2-3 tbsp canola oil over medium-high heat. Saute fillets a few minutes on each side, taking care not to overcook. Make sure the pan and oil is hot enough so that a nice crisp layer forms on the outside of the fillet.

In another non-stick pan, heat up 1-2 tbsp canola oil over medium heat and saute okra until both sides are lightly browned. Season with salt and freshly-ground black pepper.

Dice and seed two tomatoes, set aside. Zest and juice lime, lemon and half an orange and place contents in bowl with mustard and vinegar. Add chopped shallot, minced ginger. Whisk in a few tablespoons of canola oil. Note: you can make the citrus dressing ahead of time and keep in fridge until ready. Before plating, add chopped tomatoes to the dressing and spoon over lettuce greens, okra and tilapia.