Sui Gao Noodle Soup – Happy Birthday Dad!

Dad's Birthday

Our family is filled with lots of May babies—-Mom, cousie, sis-in-law, yours truly….and today is DAD’S BIRTHDAY!!!

Dad's Birthday

Dad’s family is originally from the Đà Nẵng and Huế area of Việt Nam—which in my opinion, has DEE BEST food in the country!

The son of a mason, Dad entered the Vietnamese navy and became quite the head honcho. And after our family came to the states, he enrolled at the University of Minnesota (GO GOPHERS!) and became an engineer.

Dad's Birthday

Anyone know what a layout engineer oversees?

Yeah… neither do I. :) I’ve asked Dad to explain it to me a billion of times over the years but my non-science, non-mathematical mind can’t process stuff like that.

But he was awesome at it—and did I mention that he draws the best cartoons/pictures for his grand kids?

Dad's Birthday

There were definitely a lot of perks being the youngest of five kids–particularly since by the time I started junior high, my seester closest in age to me was already in college. Yes, Dad and Mom were still strict with my upbringing but quite honestly, by the time they got to me, they definitely loosened the reigns. Not to mention all of the extra treats I got since the older kids were, well…. older. :)

Weekend breakfasts at McDonald’s (to this day, one of my favorite guilty pleasures), excursions for sweet potato-shrimp fritters in Little Saigon……

Dad's Birthday

And one of my childhood favorites–excursions to Sam Woo Restaurant (三和), which now is a popular, thriving restaurant chain.

Sui Gao

Sam Woo is known for their Hong Kong and Cantonese style cuisine. But despite their endless menus (both from their Sam Woo BBQ Restaurant and Sam Woo Seafood Restaurant), I’ve always gravitated towards their roasted suckling pig and dumpling noodle bowls.

Sui Gao

The luscious roasted pork is lightly seasoned with five spice and topped with it’s beautifully crisped pork skin. Seester calls it “meat candy” and I’m 100% on board with that.

Sui Gao

As for their noodle bowls, I mostly see folks ordering their standard wonton noodle soup or duck noodle soups. Both are very good, but really….it’s all about their Sui Gao Noodle Soup. Often also seen as “shui kao”, “sui gow”, “sui kow” or “sui gaw”.

Sui Gao

So what’s the difference between “wontons” and  “sui gao”?

There are a ton of different explanations to this but when I asked one of the times I was at Sam Woo, they told me that sui gao, or water dumplings” should be much larger in size than standard wontons.

Sui Gao

Second, I was told that along with minced shrimp, there must be “fat” included in the filling. After a little more digging, I realized that he meant lard or chopped pork fat—both can be found in the butcher section of almost any Asian grocery store.

As for me, I opt to skip on the lard and use a fattier ground pork. I find that it still provides just enough moisture and flavor as the lard.

Sui Gao

Lastly, they told me that sui gao should have minced water chestnuts for crunch and mushrooms for richer flavor.

Are these the only differences? Well, based on my Sam Woo intel, those are the major differences. But whatever it is…they are freaking delicious.

Sui Gao

So to celebrate Dad’s Birthday, I wanted to share with you all my version of Sui Gao Noodle Soup. It’s hearty yet somehow light at the same time…and really, at the end of the day, it’s like having a comforting hug in a bowl.

Sure, it does take a few steps to make but you can definitely make large batches of the sui gao and freeze them for a rainy day. But best of all, while I was folding the dumplings, I couldn’t help but reminisce on all of the wonderful times Dad would take Mom and I for a large bowl of sui gao with roasted pork on the side.

Dad's Birthday

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD!!!!!  Heo Yeahhh! <3

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Sui Gao Noodle Soup
Makes 6 bowls with additional dumplings

Ingredients:

Sui Gow Dumplings (makes approximately 40-45 dumplings):
½ pound shrimp, shelled and devined
½ pound ground pork
½ heaping cup finely chopped shiitake mushrooms
4-5 water chestnuts, rinsed and minced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1½ tablespoon finely minced garlic
2 scallions, chopped
2 tablespoons finely minced cilantro
1 teaspoon rice flour or cornstarch
1 tablespoon mirin
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
½ tablespoon sesame oil
1 package sui gao dumpling wrappers (round dumpling wrappers)
cornstarch

Other:
2 quarts shrimp stock
1 quart chicken stock
2 inch knob fresh ginger
½ small white onion
½ teaspoon black peppercorns
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
12 ounces fresh Chinese egg noodles
1 small bunch bok chok, trimmed and washed
4 ounces beech mushrooms or oyster mushrooms
chili oil
sesame oil
1 scallion, chopped

Prepare the sui gao. On a cutting board, chop and mince the shrimp until it becomes a paste. Transfer to a large bowl and add the remaining items (except the wrappers and cornstarch) for the sui gao filling. Mix all the ingredients until thoroughly combined. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.

Prepare the broth. In a large stock pot, add the shrimp and chicken stock. Add in the ginger, onion, peppercorns, soy sauce and fish sauce. Bring the liquids to a boil and lower to a simmer. Allow the broth to simmer for 20 minutes. Taste and add more soy sauce as needed. Keep warm.

While the broth simmers, prepare the sui gao. Lay one sui gao wrapper on a flat surface. Dip your finger in water and moisten the edge of the wrapper. Place about 1 tablespoon of the filling in the center. Pick up the sui gao and fold it in half. Firmly seal the edges by pinching and pressing the edges together—try and remove as much excess air as possible. Place the filled sui gao on a baking sheet sprinkled with cornstarch or lined with parchment paper to avoid them sticking to the pan. Repeat until all of the filling has been used.

Bring another large pot of water to a boil. Boil the egg noodles according to the package until al dente. Remove the noodles from the pot (saving the boiling water) and drain in a colander. Divide the noodles amongst six bowls.

Using the same pot of boiling water, add 7-8 sui gao dumplings. Once the water comes back to a boil, lower the heat to medium. Boil the sui gao for about 7-8 minutes until they float on the surface of the water, stirring every minute or so. Transfer to a platter and cover to keep warm. Repeat until all the sui gao have been cooked.

To serve, bring the broth to a rolling boil. Drop in the bok choy and mushrooms into the stock. Allow the vegetables to cook for 45-60 seconds and then divide them amongst the six bowls. Top each bowl with 3-4 sui gao dumplings and ladle the hot broth into each of the bowls. Top each bowl with a drizzle of chili oil, sesame oil and scallions. Serve immediately.

*If you would like to freeze the sui gao, place the baking sheet directly into freezer for 4-5 hours after you have assembled them. Be sure that the dumplings are in a single layer and are not touching each other. Once the dumplings have frozen, you may transfer them to a sealed container. They can be kept in the freezer for a few months and should be cooked frozen. Add 1-2 additional minutes to the cooking time when boiling the frozen dumplings.*

Clams with Ginger and Lemongrass

Clams with Ginger and Lemongrass

Does anyone else pretend like they’re on a cooking show when you’re in the kitchen?

You know, talk out loud as if you’re narrating your own show….

Or try to race against the clock to cook/bake something in 5 minutes….

Just me???

Oh…..ok.

Well, if you did ever time yourself, these Clams with Ginger and Lemongrass would be the perfect dish because they’re done in flash! You can easily be in and out of the kitchen in less than 15 minutes—even faster if you have your fishmonger clean your clams for you.

And for the record, I not only time myself when making this dish but also talk to my puggle as if she was the audience in my live cooking show. She thinks I’m hilarious.

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Clams with Ginger and Lemongrass
Serves 2

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons peanut oil or vegetable oil
1 tablespoon finely minced garlic
2 tablespoons minced shallots
2 fresh lemongrass stalks, tender inner white bulbs only, minced
1 tablespoon ginger, minced
2 Thai Bird chilies, sliced
½ cup dry white wine
½ tablespoon fish sauce
2 scallions, cut into 1″ pieces (more for garnish)
1½ pounds little-neck or Manila clams, scrubbed and cleaned
cilantro

Heat a wok or large skillet over medium heat and add the oil. Once the oil is hot, add the garlic, shallots, lemongrass, ginger, and chilies–stir-fry for 30 seconds. Carefully stir in the wine, fish sauce, and scallions.

Add in the clams, stir the contents, and cover with a lid. Allow the clams to cook for 4-5 minutes or until the shells have opened. Plate the clams and garnish with scallions and cilantro. .

 

Pan-Seared Mahi Mahi with Coconut-Cilantro Rice

Pan-Seared Mahi Mahi with Coconut-Cilantro Rice

So here’s the problem I have after EVERY Thanksgiving.

Do I now try to eat lighter the weeks leading up to Christmas to make up for the gazillion calories I inhaled during Thanksgiving weekend?

Or………

Do I not let leftovers go to waste and continue on with the turkey, potatoes, casseroles, mac n’ cheese, and desserts until they’re all gone?

First world problems.

Pan-Seared Mahi Mahi with Coconut-Cilantro Rice

Eh….let’s be honest. I’m going to continue shoveling in the last of the leftovers and THEN jump over to something lighter and easy to whip up.

Which works out fantastic because our friends at The Saucey Sauce Co. had sent me a care package awhile back with a variety of yummy goodness that can be used as ready-to-go sauces or marinades. They’re a family owned group (yay for family!) that base many of their products on their Asian/Vietnamese heritage. You can find them at their online store but they’re also branching out across the country to some great retailers!

 

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I love using the sauces to marinade chicken breasts and fish because it’s all ready to go. I’ve also tossed some chicken wings in rice flour, deep fried it and then tossed them in their Sweet Ginger Sauce — so good!

 

Pan-Seared Mahi Mahi with Coconut-Cilantro Rice

I happened to pick up some gorgeous mahi mahi fillets while at the store because they looked wonderfully fresh and I like the “heartiness” of the fish. When I got home, I grabbed my trusty bottle of Spicy Garlic Sauce and added some lime zest and ginger for a bit more brightness. (On a side note, I always add a bit of additional fresh herbs or other aromatics when using bottled products. I think it greatly enhances the flavor and adds that needed zing.)

After coating the fish with the marinade, I placed it in the fridge for about an hour so that it could work its magic.

Saucey-sauce magic.

 

Pan-Seared Mahi Mahi with Coconut-Cilantro Rice

Once the fillets have had its fill of magic, I pan-seared the fish on a screaming hot cast iron skillet to get that super crunchy skin. And like I said on the Pan Seared Black Cod post, do not — and I mean DO NOT, try to flip the fish before it’s ready. It’ll let you know when the time is right when you can slide a spatula underneath it.

Trust me.

To serve with the mahi mahi, I made a fragrant coconut-cilantro rice. The recipe below tells you how to make it on the stove but if you have a rice cooker, just throw it all in machine and let it do its thing.

The fish turned out so delicious! The mahi mahi was able to soak up the slightly sweet, slightly spiced marinade but it wasn’t overpowering at all. And you can definitely use any other fish of your choice if mahi mahi isn’t your thing.

The perfect, easy, scrumptious weeknight meal.

And as always, much thanks to our friends at The Saucey Sauce Co.!!

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Pan-Seared Mahi Mahi with Coconut-Cilantro Rice
Serves 2

Ingredients:

½ cup The Saucey Sauce Company’s Spicy Garlic Sauce
1 teaspoon finely minced fresh ginger
2 teaspoons fresh lime zest, divided
2 mahi mahi fillets, skin-on, de-boned (5-6 ounces each)
1 cup uncooked jasmine rice
½ cup coconut milk
3/4 cup coconut water (or water)
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
pinch kosher salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
whole cilantro leaves and lime wedges for garnish

In a shallow dish, whisk the Spicy Garlic Sauce, ginger and 1 teaspoon lime zest together. Place the fish in the dish and coat both sides. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and marinate for 45-60 minutes in the refrigerator. Take out of the refrigerator about 10 minutes before cooking to take the chill off.

While the fish marinates, prepare the rice. Combine the rice, coconut milk, coconut water (or water) and salt in a heavy bottom pot. Bring the liquids to a boil and then lower the heat to a gentle simmer. Cover the pot and allow to cook for 18-20 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat with the cover still on and allow to sit for about 5 minutes. Once the time is up, add the cilantro and remaining lime zest. Using a fork, fluff the rice and set aside.

Choose a skillet that can handle a high level of heat (ie. cast iron, stainless steel, etc.) Heat the skillet over high heat so that it becomes screaming hot. Once it reaches the desired temperature, add the oil and swirl it around the skillet. Carefully place each fillet, skin side down into the oil. Using a spatula, gently press down on the fillets so that they don’t curl up on the sides. Cook the first side of the fish for about 3 minutes — depending on the thickness of the fillets. Be careful not to flip the fish before the skin has crisped up and formed a crust. Once the first side has cooked, about 2/3 way through, flip and cook for an additional 2 minutes.

Remove the fillets from the skillet. Use paper towels to gently blot any excess grease off of the fillets and plate on two separate plates. Add a large scoop of the rice on each plate and top each fillet and rice with the fresh cilantro leaves. Serve each plate with a piece of lime wedge that should be squeezed over the fish before eating. Serve warm.

Enjoy!

 

 **Disclosure: I did receive products from The Saucey Sauce Co., but as always, my opinions are my own.**

We’re 5 Today!! Plus Bacon & Shrimp Cheesy Grits and a $100 AmEx® GiftCard GIVEAWAY!!

Bacon & Shrimp Cheesy GritsMan, oh man!

We’re F-I-V-E today!!! For real, for real— as in, I’ve been rambling about food, family, and absolutely random things for 5 YEARS!

Holy Moly!!!

Bacon & Shrimp Cheesy GritsThese past five years have been filled with quite the Foodventures and every foray into the kitchen still brings surprising successes, utter failures and always new takeaways. It’s never a dull moment!

And I kind of dig how my palette has changed over the years. Dishes I used to despise are now the ones I crave and are obsessed with making. Things I used to think I couldn’t live without are now nowhere to be found in my kitchen.

Bacon & Shrimp Cheesy GritsWhich is why for our 5th blogiversary, I opted to make this utterly decadent, stick-to-your-ribs Bacon & Cheesy Grits. Because believe it or not, I used to hate grits. Well…anything of that similar texture. Oatmeal, porridge, cream of wheat— all of it. Bleh!

But then one day, I woke up and the sun was shining, the birds were chirping, the forest animals were frolicking and a bowl of shrimp & grits somehow magically appeared in front of me.

And my life was changed. Luscious, cheesy, goodness. Mind blown.

So I’m pretty certain you’ll love them too. Not to mention it’s super easy to make.

Bacon & Shrimp Cheesy GritsAnd because y’all have stuck with me throughout these past few years and have followed my random musings, we’re having a fantabulous (did I just use that word??) $100 American Express® GiftCard GIVEAWAY for one of our lucky readers. I don’t know about you but it may come in handy with the holidays coming up.

Want to know how to win?

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There are six (6) different ways for you to enter!  Please be sure to leave a separate comment for each indicating which of the below you did: This Giveaway has ended- THANKS!

  1. Leave a comment sharing what dish do you now love but didn’t like before;
  2. Subscribe to The Culinary Chronicles & get automatic emails when new posts are published (If you already Subscribe, leave a comment indicating so);
  3. Like our Facebook Fan Page (If you already “Like” us, leave a comment indicating so); or
  4. Follow @CulinaryChron on Twitter (If you already Follow us, leave a comment indicating so); or
  5. Follow our boards on Pinterest (If you already Follow us, leave a comment indicating so); or
  6. Follow us on Instagram (If you already Follow us, leave a comment indicating so

The deadline to enter is Monday, November 17th at 5pm (PST) and the winner will be notified the next day. This Giveaway has ended- THANKS!

And with that dear friends, thanks again for all of your support and here’s to another five years of delicious and entertaining Foodventures!!!

Alohas <3

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Bacon & Shrimp Cheesy Grits
Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 pound shrimp, cleaned and deveined
1 tablespoon hot sauce
½ teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning (or other Cajun spice blend)
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon garlic salt
black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 scallions, chopped, more to garnish
3¼ cups low sodium chicken stock
kosher salt
1 cup grits
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
½ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese, more to garnish
3 slices bacon, diced
½ cup minced shallots
1 cup finely diced bell peppers (assorted colors)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
½ cup dry white wine
3-4 dashes Worcestershire sauce
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes

In a bowl, mix the shrimp with the hot sauce, Old Bay Seasoning, cayenne pepper, garlic salt, ¼ teaspoon black pepper, ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, olive oil and chopped scallions. Set aside.

In a heavy bottom pot, bring the chicken stock to a rolling boil with ¼ teaspoon kosher salt. Slowly whisk in the grits and cook until the grits have thickened and become tender. For quick grits, this will take about 5-7 minutes over medium heat. For regular grits, simmer for about 25 minutes. Once done, stir in 2 tablespoons unsalted butter and cheese. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Cover and keep warm.

In a cast iron skillet or other heavy bottom skillet. Slowly sauté the bacon until it becomes crispy and the fat has rendered down—about 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon and transfer the bacon bits to a plate covered with paper towels. Reserve one tablespoon of bacon drippings in the pan and discard the rest. Sauté shallots in the bacon drippings until translucent. Add the diced bell peppers and cook for an additional two minutes. Add the garlic and shrimp and cook until the shrimp just begins to turn pink—about 2 minutes. Remove the shrimp from the skillet. Turn the heat to medium high and pour in the white wine. Use a wooden spoon and scrape the bottom of the skillet to release all the brown bits. Allow the wine to come to a boil and reduce the liquid for 2-3 minutes. Stir in the remaining butter, Worcestershire sauce, and red chili flakes. Add the shrimp back into the skillet and allow the items to cook for an additional minute. Taste and season as needed.

Divide the cheesy grits amongst four bowls and top each mound with the shrimp mixture. Sprinkle each bowl with the additional cheddar cheese, scallions and crispy bacon. Serve immediately.

Spicy Shrimp and Sausage Pasta — Surf & Turf Made Easy!

Spicy Shrimp & Sausage Pasta
Now let me admit this to you.

Some girls love flowers delivered to their door and some gals love chocolate.

Me?

You’d have my attention with a nice bottle of vino or meat. :)

Yes, you read that correctly.

 

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So when our friends at Farmer John sent over a box of their latest Cheese & Wine Flavor Smoked Sausage, I squealed with joy.

Seriously…squealed.

Not only because I was so excited to try it out but we coincidentally were having our monthly Sunday Family Dinner just a few days after. Complete divine intervention since a part of our menu required for us to bust out our beloved habachi grills.

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It was perfect since our proteins mainly consisted of seafood (calamari, prawns, shellfish, lobster) and sausage was a much welcomed addition.

We sliced a few links up and threw them on the habachi which imparted even more of a smoky flavor. The sausage itself turned out to be a tad on the sweeter side (likely because of the wine) but it paired well with the salty-briny seafood.

So when it came time for me to use the sausage in a dish, I wanted to make sure to balance out the flavors.

Cue in spices, herbs and tomatoes.

 

Spicy Shrimp & Sausage Pasta

I played around with a few ideas and decided to use the browned sausage with a heavily spiced shrimp in a tomato sauce.

I finished the whole sha-bang with a mountain of fresh herbs and tossed it with linguine — a pasta that can hold up to a hearty sauce.

 

Spicy Shrimp & Sausage Pasta

It. Was. Delish.

Don’t believe me?

Well…shame on you!

Because it was.

Fo’ reals!

Spicy Shrimp & Sausage Pasta

The entire dish was then showered with a mound of freshly shaven parmesan cheese….and then I paused…..

Because when you make happy things in your kitchen, it deserves a moment of silence…

Followed by a serious dance-it-out session and a swig of chianti…or whatever you’re sipping on.

It’s completely mathematically sound.

Spicy Shrimp & Sausage Pasta

And yes, all of the flavors balanced out perfectly.

The salty, sweet sausage paired well with the spicy shrimp. The acidic tomato sauce with its aromatics added the much needed punch to the dish. And the cheese—well, the cheese added love.

Obvi.

Much thanks again to our friends at Farmer John – we love ya!

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Spicy Shrimp and Sausage Pasta
Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

½ pound shrimp, cleaned and deveined
½ teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning (or other Cajun spice blend)
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
black pepper
½ teaspoon garlic salt
kosher salt
olive oil
1 pound smoked sausage (I used Farmer John® Wine and Cheese Sausages), sliced
¼ cup sliced shallots
1 tablespoon minced garlic
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
¼ cup white wine
1 28-ounce can crushed Roma tomatoes
5-6 fresh thyme sprigs
½ tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1 pound dried linguine
¼ cup chopped Italian parsley
1 cup parmesan (shaven, grated, etc.)

In a bowl, mix the shrimp with the Old Bay Seasoning, cayenne pepper, ¼ teaspoon black pepper, garlic salt, ¼ teaspoon kosher salt and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Set aside.

Heat 2-3 tablespoons oil in a heavy bottom, deep skillet (or pot) to medium. Add the sausage slices and brown on both sides. Toss in the shrimp and cook until they turn pink – approximately 2 minutes. Remove the contents to a clean bowl and set aside.

Add the shallots to the skillet and cook for a minute before adding the garlic. Cook for a minute and stir in red pepper flakes. Add tomato paste and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes. Turn the heat to high and pour the wine into the skillet. Use a wooden spoon and scrape the bottom of the skillet to release all the brown bits. Allow the wine to come to a boil and reduce the liquid for 2-3 minutes on the high heat.

Add tomatoes with its juices and bring to a boil. Once it comes to temperature, lower the heat to medium-low. Use the wooden spoon to crush and break apart any large pieces of tomatoes. Stir in the thyme and oregano and simmer the sauce, partially covered for 20 minutes.

While the sauce cooks, boil the linguine for approximately 10-12 minutes in heavily salted water until al dente. Drain the pasta and reserve ¼ cup of the starchy water that the pasta was cooked in.

Stir the shrimp and sausage into the simmered tomato sauce. Toss in the cooked linguine, coating the pasta well. If you want a looser based sauce, add a tablespoon at a time of the pasta water until you reach your desired consistency. Season with additional kosher salt and black pepper as needed.

Plate the pasta and sprinkle each dish with parsley and the freshly shaved parmesan.

Enjoy!

 

 **Disclosure: I did receive products from Farmer John, but as always, my opinions are my own.**

Pan Seared Black Cod with Anchovy-Herb Vinaigrette

Pan Seared Black Cod with Anchovy-Herb Vinaigrette

It’s been non-stop for me over the past few weeks and although I’ve had a fantastic time, this gal was starting to feel a bit run down.

I needed sleep.

I needed to give my party pants a break.

And I needed to get back in my own {tiny} kitchen.

Pan Seared Black Cod with Anchovy-Herb Vinaigrette

And that’s where I was all weekend long.

Well, it was where I was after I went to the store to stock up on fresh produce because I think the only green thing I consumed over our 4-day Vegas trip was the lime in my grey goose tonic.

Gluttony is my name.

Pan Seared Black Cod with Anchovy-Herb Vinaigrette

To fuel up for the weekend of cooking, I wanted something light but fulfilling–definitely some fish. Now my default is usually sushi or fish tacos when I get a hankering for fish but I then remembered a nearby fishmonger that I’ve been wanting to try – Catalina Offshore Products. They get their product every day directly off the boat from the fishermen — cannot get any fresher than that!

So I popped on in….drooled over all of their premium grade uni, oysters, sushi grade fish and chopped it up with some of their staff. AMAZING!!! For all of you folks in the San Diego area who may be wary about seafood—come here! They’ll put to rest any fears that you may have.

I somehow practiced some self restraint and only picked up a few fillets of their gorgeous black cod for lunch. Black cod is a tender fish that is a bit on the fattier side –think of sea bass– and incredibly delish.

I chose to pan sear the fillets because it’s quick and gives the fish a lovely crunchy crust without overcooking the meat. And the secret to pan searing fish? You’ve got to get the skillet/pan screaming hot before adding the oil and do not —let me repeat…DO NOT mess around with trying to flip the fish around a gazillion times. You’ve got to let it crisp up on the first side and then when it’s ready, meaning when you can slide a spatula underneath it without any resistance, then flip it!

Pan Seared Black Cod with Anchovy-Herb Vinaigrette

Because I’m obsessed with anchovy paste lately, I decided to make a quick herby vinaigrette with anchovy paste for that much needed acidity to cut the natural fattiness of the fish. And for all of you anchovy haters — get over it! The paste adds a subtle, salty, sea flavor that I’m sure you wouldn’t guess it was anchovy if I hadn’t told you.

For reals…..

Since I was aiming for a lighter dish, I served my fish with these gorgeous heirloom tomatoes that I also tossed in some of the vinaigrette. They were beautiful and sweet. But if you’re looking for a little starch — a sunchoke puree or even garlic noodles would be the bomb-diggity.

Yeah….I just went there.

The finished dish is a show stopper if I dare say so myself. Crisp and tender fish with bright acidity from the vinaigrette. And guess what? If you get your act together, this beauty can be done in 20 minutes…..25 minutes if you want to take a leisurely approach.

Fantastic if you’re having folks over or just when you want to make yourself something delish. Because let’s face it, I don’t care if you’re just learning how to cook, an intermediate cook or chef extraordinaire —the food you create should make you want to smile and do a little happy dance.

And this little number made me do both….times 100.

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Pan Seared Black Cod with Anchovy-Herb Vinaigrette
Serves 2

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon anchovy paste
2 tablespoons minced shallots
1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
1 cup roughly chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon roughly chopped Italian parsley
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 cup champagne vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt
black pepper
2 black cod fillets, skin-on, de-boned (5-6 ounces each)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3-4 fresh thyme sprigs
2 cups heirloom cherry tomatoes, quartered

Combine the anchovy paste, shallots, garlic, herbs, lemon juice and vinegar in a blender and blend at medium speed for about 20 seconds. With the blender running on low, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until the vinaigrette has become emulsified. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Score the skin side of each of the fish fillets and use paper towels to pat them dry. Season the fillets with kosher salt and pepper.

Choose a skillet that can handle a high level of heat (ie. cast iron, stainless steel, etc.) Heat the skillet over high heat so that it becomes screaming hot. Once it reaches the desired temperature, add the oil and swirl it around the skillet. Carefully place each fillet, skin side down into the oil. Using a spatula, gently press down on the fillets so that they don’t curl up on the sides. Toss the thyme sprigs into the oil on the side of the fish –this will help flavor the oil.

Cook the first side of the fish for about 3 minutes — depending on the thickness of the fillets. Be careful not to flip the fish before the skin has crisped up and formed a crust. Once the first side has cooked, about 2/3 way through, flip and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Remove the fillets from the skillet.

Toss the tomatoes in a few spoonfuls of vinaigrette. Plate 1/2 of the dressed tomatoes on each plate. Top each mound of tomatoes with a cod fillet. Drizzle the fish with additional vinaigrette. Serve immediately.

Cá Nướng {Vietnamese Roasted Fish}

Cá Nướng {Vietnamese Roasted Fish}

Cá Nướng is a really common Vietnamese dish of roasted fish. And although it’s most often made with catfish because of its firm and somewhat fatty flesh, you can use any fish that can hold up to high heat while still staying moist.

When given the choice, I recommend roasting a whole fish. Not only does it help retain moisture but you’ll almost always get a better flavor when you cook your proteins bone-in.

Cá Nướng {Vietnamese Roasted Fish}

This is when it’s so nifty to have a trusted fishmonger — or in my case, an Asian grocery store, nearby. The latter almost always has live catfish on hand (so you’ll know it’s super fresh) and both options can do the dirty work for you –which I totally appreciate as I hate cleaning fish.

And don’t be surprised to see your once silver/black catfish “turn” white when it comes back cleaned for you. Many fishmongers will scrub the catfish skin to remove the dark outer layer. Although it’s completely edible, the darker skin does make your fish taste a tad “fishier” so the extra scrub down is a good thing.

Cá Nướng {Vietnamese Roasted Fish}

I’ve adopted my eldest seester’s method of preparing Cá Nướng which is not only easy to do but is rather simple when seasoning the fish. A lot of folks will use a variety of aromatics and spices to marinate it. But since you’ll typically dunk the roasted fish into a nước chấm (dipping sauce), you can stick with a minimal preparation before cooking the fish as the sauce will provide the extra flavor punch.

Cá Nướng {Vietnamese Roasted Fish}

Cá Nướng can be served over rice, with vermicelli noodles, inside a bánh mì (sandwich) or how we typically like it —cuốn bánh tráng (wrapped in rice paper).

The rolls are filled with tons of fresh herbs and veggies that when combined with the roasted fish, is absolutely amazing. They have tons of different textures, knock-out flavor and are deliciously light on the tummy.

Cá Nướng {Vietnamese Roasted Fish}

Serving your Cá Nướng as spring rolls is also a fantastic way to entertain family-style and would be a prefect al fresco dining option during the upcoming warm months. Your guests will love making their own rolls and adding their favorite items inside.

And don’t let the ingredients list and recipe fool you. It may seem like a lot of different components but it’s not difficult at all. You can also prepare many of the components in advance to cut down on prep time.

Easy and delish……Total Nguyen-Win!

 

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Cá Nướng {Vietnamese Roasted Fish}

Ingredients:

¼ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup chopped scallions
1 whole catfish (2-3 pounds), cleaned/scaled with head removed
1 teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 scallions stalks
½ cup fried shallots
¼ cup roughly chopped peanuts
1 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro leaves

For Nước Chấm dipping sauce:
¼ cup nước mắm (fish sauce)
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup  fresh lime juice,
2 tablespoons warm  water,
1 finely minced garlic clove
1 teaspoon chili paste, more to taste

Serve with:
1 package bánh tráng (dried rice paper sheets)
lettuce leaves
1 small cucumber, thinly sliced
1 cup đồ chua (pickled carrots and daikon slices)
fresh mint leaves
fresh Vietnamese cilantro leaves
fresh Thai basil leaves
whole Thai chiles
lime wedges

Prepare scallion oil (hành mơ):  In a sauté pan, slowly heat the vegetable oil over low. Add the chopped scallions. Cook the scallions until they are wilted but still bright green–approximately 2-3 minutes. Pull from heat and allow the scallion oil to cool until room temperature.

Rinse the fish with cool water and pat dry with paper towels. Coat the fish with the scallion oil and season the exterior and interior with the garlic powder, black pepper and kosher salt. Stuff the fish cavity with the scallion stalks and prop it upwards on a baking tray. Allow the fish to marinate for 20 minutes.

While the fish marinates, prepare the nước chấm.  Whisk all the items together in a small bowl. Add chili paste to taste. Set aside.

Roast the fish in an oven heated to 400 degrees F for approximately 25-30 minutes or until the flesh is opaque and cooked through. Turn on the broiler of your oven and broil the fish for about 60-90 seconds to slightly crisp & brown the skin. Remove the fish from the oven and transfer to a platter. Top the fish with the fried shallots, chopped peanuts and cilantro leaves.

To serve the fish as a spring roll (bánh tráng cuốn), dip one rice paper sheet in warm water and place on a plate/flat surface. The rice paper will slowly become pliable. Lay one piece of lettuce in the middle of the sheet and top with some of the fresh herbs, đồ chua, cucumber slices and pieces of the fish. Spoon some of the peanuts and fried shallots on top. Tightly roll the bottom of the rice paper over the mound and then fold the sides in. Continue rolling the rice paper up until you’ve created a secured roll.

Serve the rolls and fish with the nước chấm. Ăn ngon!