Archive for the ‘Seafood’ category

Beer batter for frying fish

July 1, 2020

I am trying for the traditional English “fish ‘n’ chips” style here. Can be used with any firm, white-fleshed fish such as cod, haddock, mahi, etc. This will coat 2 to 2-1/2 lbs of fish. Great for fried onion rings, too.

1 c flour
¼ c cornstarch
1 tsp baking powder
½ TB salt
½ tsp black pepper
Optional seasoning (see below)
1 egg
1 bottle of beer, no need to use something fancy

Seasoning ideas (use one):

  • 1 TB Old Bay seasoning (my favorite)
  • 1 TB paprika
  • ½ TB garlic powder
  • ½ TB chili powder
  • 1 tsp dry mustard

Thoroughly mix all the dry ingredients. Stir in the egg. Add about ¾ of the beer and whisk to get a smooth, thin batter. Add more beer or flour as needed to get the right consistency. Let sit for 20 min before coating the fish. Dip the fish, let excess drip off, then drop the fish into your 365o oil. Fry until golden brown all over, then remove to a rack to drain. Serve as soon as possible.

Plaki (Greek fish in a pouch)

February 17, 2020

There used to be a wonderful Greek restaurant in our town that served the most delicious plaki. When they closed we decided to try to develop our own recipe. This is what we came up with, and while it strays from the traditional recipe a bit, it sure is good! And it’s a great dish for company. Serve with crusty bread to sop up the juice, a green salad, and (of course) white wine.

The amount of vegetables can be varied. You can use less, say 1/2 c per fillet and you will get the flavor, or as we like to do about 1-1/2 c per fillet and you will have your veg dish cooked along with the fish.

You can use any firm, white-fleshed fish, such as cod, haddock, snapper, flounder, etc. Try to get fillets that are about 1 inch thick.

Preheat oven to 400o

Four single serving-size fish fillets, or 2 larger fillets cut in half crosswise
Thinly julienned fennel bulb, onion, and carrot (see note above)
½ c roughly chopped kalamata black olives
Olive oil
1 lemon, cut into 8 thin slices

4 sheets of parchment paper, each large enough to wrap 1 fillet

Mix the julienned vegetable and the olives in a bowl. Use roughly equal amounts of fennel, carrot, and onion—it’s not critical—but we are fennel-lovers and always add extra. Dribble with olive oil, maybe 2 TB, and season with S&P. Mix.

Place 1 fillet on each piece of parchment and season. Mound the veg mixture equally on them. Drizzle with a bit more oil and lay 2 lemon slices atop each. Wrap up the parchment paper and secure with wooden toothpicks. Place on a cookie sheet and bake for 25-30 min. Place 1 pouch on each diner’s plate, cut open with scissors, and serve.

Variation: Add ½ c drained, diced tomatoes and/or 2 cloves minced garlic to the veg mixture.

Jamaican Fish Stew

April 22, 2018

This is a winner on many fronts. Very flavorful, it is a good way to feed fish to people who aren’t fond of fish in simpler presentations. Leftovers do well, also. You can use pretty much any white-fleshed fish: cod, haddock, mahi, etc. as long as the fillets aren’t too thin. Serve with white rice.

2 lbs fish in 2 inch chunks
2 limes
1 large or 2 small onions
4 cloves garlic
1 hot pepper such as Scotch bonnet
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp dried thyme
1 can unsweetened coconut milk
3 TB tomato paste
4 tsp white or cider vinegar
1-1/2 tsp sugar

Dust the fish with salt and pepper and sprinkle over the juice of the limes. Set aside.

Coarsely dice the onion and slice the garlic. Put in a skillet with a bit of oil and the whole pepper (see note below), pepper flakes, thyme, and a bit of salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat until the onion is just starting to color. Add the coconut milk, tomato paste, vinegar, and sugar and cook slowly for about 10 minutes. Add fish and any remaining marinade. Stir and cook slowly until fish is cooked thru, perhaps 5-7 minutes. Adjust salt and add a touch more vinegar and/or sugar if you think necessary. Remove whole pepper and serve.

Note: For more heat, cut the pepper in half before adding.

 

Fishcakes two ways

May 4, 2016

These are different from the typical fishcake as they use raw rather than cooked fish. I find them particularly good with more flavorful fish such as bluefish or mackerel, but you can use pretty much anything. I offer two approaches, one with an Oriental twist to the flavors and the other more traditional.

2 c finely minced or ground raw fish
1/2 c dry breadcrumbs
1 egg
Salt to taste

For traditional flavor:

1/3 c mayonnaise
1/3 c finely chopped onion
1 egg
1 tsp Old Bay seasoning
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

For an Oriental flavor:

1 tsp finely minced raw ginger
1 small garlic clove finely minced
1/3 c finely chopped scallion, white and some of the green
2 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp ground white pepper

Mix all ingredients and form into four 1/2 inch thick patties. Let sit in fridge for at least an hour to firm up, then pan fry in 1/8 inch oil until cooked thru and browned on both sides.

 

Cold-smoked salmon (lox)

March 12, 2015

This a real treat and can be used for a lot of things beyond the traditional bagels and lox. You probably know that it is quite expensive to buy, but it is surprisingly easy to make at home, with one caveat: you need a smoker. And not just any smoker, but a cold smoker that exposes the food to smoke without heat. That’s what makes lox special, the fish is cured and smoked but not cooked. Some people rig up home-brew contraptions that can work perfectly well, but I went the easy way and got a Bradley smoker with the cold smoke attachment. It gets a lot of use around here, not only for lox but for more common hot smoking to make BBQ pork, bacon, smoked chicken, smoked bluefish and mackerel, and so on.

I buy the Atlantic salmon fillets at Costco. It’s good quality and very reasonable. This recipe is for a single fillet of about 3-1/2 to 4 pounds, but it can easily be doubled. Start by rinsing the fillet and laying it on a cutting board. Trim off the ends to “square off,” trim off the thin belly meat, and cut in half crossways (not strictly necessary, but a whole fillet is a tight fit in the smoker). Check for pin bones, the small embedded bones that run along the midline, by running a fingertip over the meat. Costco fillets typically have these already removed, but if you find any you just yank them straight out with tweezers.

Prepare the cure by mixing thoroughly together 1 c kosher salt, 1 c light brown sugar (or use 1/2 c each dark brown and white sugar), and 4 tsp ground white pepper.

Take a non-reactive pan, such as a glass baking dish, that is just a bit bigger than one of the salmon pieces. Spread about 1/2 c of the cure on the bottom of the pan and lay a salmon piece on it. Distribute another cup of the cure over the salmon and lay the 2nd piece on top. Cover with the remaining cure and use your fingers to pat some cure onto the ends of the salmon pieces. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20-36 hours, flipping the salmon over about halfway through. The cure will draw lots of liquid out of the salmon, just leave that in the pan. A shorter cure gives a somewhat more delicate and less salty result, while a longer cure firms the fish up more and make it a bit saltier. I have settled on 24 hours for my taste preferences.

Note that there are lots of ways to experiment with the cure. You can add additional spices, for example, such as mace, ground cloves, allspice, and ground bay leaf. You can use a less sugar and more salt. Some people like to drizzle a bit of scotch, rum, or bourbon over the fish while it is curing (just a little – a few TB at most).

The first photo shows the salmon just starting the cure, before the top layer of cure has been added. The second shows the fillets in the smoker.

Salmon002Salmon001

When the cure is complete, the salmon will feel firm when poked in the thickest part. Discard the cure. Rinse the fish under cold water, pat dry, and place on a rack in the fridge, uncovered.  Let dry for at least 6 and up to 24 hours. Fire up your smoker and add the fish. Remember, the temperature in the smoker should never go above 80 degrees, and I think results are best when the entire smoking process is carried our at 60 degrees or below. This is why cold smoking is a cool weather activity–when the outsize temperature is 90 degrees it’s impossible to maintain the desired smoker temp!

I find fruit woods, such as apple, cherry, or pear, the best for smoking salmon. I don’t like hickory as much, and mesquite is just too string, in my opinion.

Keep the fish on smoke for at least 4 hours and up to 7. Again, here’s a place where your personal taste comes into play–the longer the smoking, the stronger the smoke flavor will be.

The fish keeps for at least 2 weeks in the fridge, closely wrapped in plastic wrap. It also takes pretty well to freezing.

Weeknight paella

October 3, 2014

Traditional paella is a wonderful dish, with all the seafood and sausage, but it is hardly quick to prepare. This simplified version is very tasty, with easily available ingredients, and can be done in less than an hour.

1/2 lb shell-on shrimp
1/2 lb bay scallops (or use all shrimp)
1 medium onion, chopped
3 TB olive oil
2 c arborio, carnaroli, or similar rice, unwashed
Big pinch saffron
6 plum tomatoes

Peel the shrimp and put shells in a saucepan with some water. Bring to a simmer for 10 minutes, strain, and add water to bring up to 3-1/2 c. Set aside. Devein the shrimp and, depending on their size, cut crossways into 2-3 pieces. Peel the tomatoes and cut each into 4-6 wedges.

Heat the oil in a heavy 10″ skillet that has a cover. Add the onion and stir for a few minutes until softened. Add the rice and stir for a few minutes until coated with the oil. Add shrimp stock, saffron, shellfish, and salt/pepper to taste. Stir then bring to a simmer. Arrange the tomatoes on top and cover. Cook at a low simmer, undisturbed, for about 15 minutes. Check the dish at this time – if too moist, cook with the cover off for a few minutes. If dry with not-quite-cooked rice, add 1/4 c water, cover, and cook for a few more minutes. Remove from heat and let sit, covered, for 5-10 minutes. Serve.

Gravlax (cured raw salmon)

August 25, 2013

I believe this dish is Swedish in origin, certainly Scandinavian. It is similar in some ways to traditional lox (cold smoked salmon) except that is it just cured, not smoked. Most recipes I have seen call for curing a whole fish, or at least a whole fillet, a process that takes several days. You then slice it thinly for serving. Excellent, but this recipe starts with thin pieces of fish and requires only about half a day of cure – a real bonus when you are pressed for time. I am not sure this is truly traditional as I do not see olives and olive oil being common in Sweden hundreds of years ago! One piece of this makes a nice appetizer, two make a light main course. Buttered toast is traditionally served with this, but rye bread, crackers, etc. can all be used.

Grav-1

One half-pound salmon fillet of highest quality
2 tsp salt
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 TB finely chopped shallots
2 TB chopped oil-cured black olives
2 TB best olive oil
1 TB chopped Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
1 TB lemon juice

Carefully remove the skin, bones, and sinews from the salmon. Cut into 4 equal pieces. Put a piece between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and gently pound with a meat tenderizer or heavy jar until quite thin, 1/8 inch or less – this fish will actually be translucent. Set aside, still in the plastic wrap. Repeat with the other pieces of fish.

Set out 4 small or 2 large plates depending on how you plan to serve the gravlax.

Remove the top piece of plastic wrap from the pounded fish (the fish will be sort of fragile, so be careful). Mix the salt and pepper together and sprinkle half of it evenly over the fish (all 4 pieces). Invert the fish onto the plates, salted side down, and peel off the remaining plastic wrap. Sprinkle the rest of the salt and pepper over, Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours.

Prepare the remaining ingredients, running the shallots under hot tap water for a moment to remove some of the harsh taste.

Half an hour before serving, take fish out of the fridge (tastes better if not icy-cold), remove the wrap, and sprinkle the olives, shallots, oil, and parsley over. Don’t add the lemon juice now or the acid will “cook” the fish and make it opaque (this is the principle behind ceviche, the South American dish of raw seafood that is “cooked” with an acid marinade). Just before serving, add the lemon juice (or pass lemon wedges at the table).

Note: Never throw away raw salmon skin! Brush lightly with soy or teriyaki sauce and broil quickly until a bit crisp for a lovely treat.

Smoked salmon, caramelized onion, and potato torte

May 14, 2013

A lovely dish for a fancy breakfast or lunch. I like to serve it with tomato slices and toasted bagels with cream cheese.

1 large russet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
large pinch each salt and sugar
1 large or 2 medium onions, peeled and cut into thin half-rings (about 2c)
2 TB butter or olive oil, divided
1/2c diced smoked salmon
6 large eggs
2 TB milk or cream

In a non-stick skillet, cook the onions, salt, and sugar in 1 TB of the butter or oil over medium low heat, stirring frequently, until nicely caramelized. This will take 30-40 minutes, they will reduce in volume by more than half and turn a lovely nut brown. You can do this ahead, even a day ahead. If you have done ahead and refrigerated them, bring to room temperature before proceeding.

In a 10 inch non-stick skillet, cook the potatoes slowly in the remaining 1 TB butter or oil, turning and shaking the pan now and then, until cooked completely through and slightly browned (use a thin-bladed knife to test them). Sprinkle a little salt over, then stir in the onions and salmon and distribute the solids evenly over the bottom of the pan.

Beat the eggs with milk or cream and salt and pepper to taste. Pour over the potato mixture and cook over medium-low heat until the eggs are mostly set – they will still be running in the center. Now you have 2 choices. One is to tip the pan so the uncooked eggs run out to the edges, then cover for a few minutes until they are set. The other is to run briefly under a preheated broiler.

You can serve right from the pan or invert onto a plate for a nice presentation – the bottom (now the top) should have attained a lovely brown shade.

Easy clam chowder

December 21, 2011

“Easy” because you don’t need live, in-the-shell clams—although you can certainly use them.

4 slices good, smoky bacon
2-6oz cans of whole or chopped clams
1 8oz bottle clam juice
1 c minced onion
2-3 c peeled and diced potato
2 TB flour
big pinch dried thyme
3/4 c milk
3/4 c heavy cream (or sub 1-1/2 c half and half for the milk and cream)
1/4 tsp ground white pepper

Drain the clams and set aside. Combine the liquid from the cans with the bottled clam juice and, if needed, add water to make 2 cups.

Dice the bacon and cook in your soup put until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon. Add the onion and potato to the fat remaining in the pan and cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring. Stir in the flour and thyme, and stir for a minute. Add the clam juice and simmer for about 10 minutes until the potatoes are tender and the soup has thickened. Add the cream, milk, clams, bacon, and white pepper. Taste for salt, although you probably won’t need any because the clam juice is salty. Bring just to a bare simmer (don’t boil!) and serve.

Shrimp and feta stew

November 3, 2011

This sounded like an improbable combination to me but it turned out to be excellent. Serve on rice or pasta.

1 lb medium shrimp, shelled.
1/2 c diced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 TB minced jalapeno or other hot green pepper (or to taste)
4 oz feta cheese, crumbled
1-16 oz can diced tomatoes with juice
1/2 c dry white wine
2 TB olive oil
1/2 tsp dried oregano

Sauté the onions in the olive oil until wilted. Add the garlic and jalapeno and sauté for another minute or so. Add the wine, tomatoes, oregano, and some black pepper. Simmer slowly until reduced and thickened, 10-20 minutes. Add the shrimp and cook, stirring, until just done. Remove from heat and stir in the cheese. Add salt if needed and serve at once.


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