Seafood

Chawanmushi with Uni and Ikura

March 2018 Fam Din
There are some foods that after one bite, I find myself saying…

“Damn. That’s luxurious.”

And it doesn’t even mean having to use expensive ingredients – though, it definitely doesn’t hurt.

March 2018 Fam Din
A lot of times, that sentiment is evoked for me just based on texture.

Just think about how you feel when you take a bite of crème brûlée. Hopefully, if it is was prepared well, it should be thick and rich with a great mouthfeel. It should make you want to move your mouth around so that the creamy custard hits all of your taste buds and sensors.

March 2018 Fam Din
That’s exactly how I felt the first time I had chawanmushi – a traditional Japanese egg custard. I couldn’t even tell you the name of the restaurant I first had chawanmushi at. All I recall is that it was a tiny little spot we had stumbled into when we were in Osaka years ago. My friends and I didn’t speak a bit of Japanese but had somehow managed to order the most delicious bowls of soba. I guess we amused our host (and the fact that he was incredibly generous) because he brought out several dishes for us to try.

Chawanmushi was one of them.

I recall the bowl was simply adorned with fish cake slices and mushrooms but it was the custard itself that was surprising. It was incredibly light, beautifully silky while having a fresh sea flavor to it.

And that was it.

March 2018 Fam Din
Since then, I’ve enjoyed several variations of it—sometimes with chunks of seafood in the base, sometimes more veggie forward. But always oishi.

At our recent egg themed Fam Din, it was the perfect time make my own chawanmushi. The base of the custard is quite simple to assemble. All we did was combine eggs, seafood stock, dashi and bonito together. And because I’m obsessed with trying to use my sous vide device as much as possible, I put them in little mason jars.

After sealing the jars, I sous vide them at 176 degrees F for an hour. Before serving, we topped each with a sprinkle of Maldon salt flakes, fresh uni, a generous spoonful of ikura and some fresh scallions.

March 2018 Fam Din
Not only did the uni and ikura add to the decadence level and gentle seafood flavor but the little pops from the ikura were a fun little surprise. The Sous Vide Chawanmushi with Uni and Ikura was then served with two different types of Japanese rice crackers (one with wasabi, one without) for some added crunch and texture.

Next time I may add some big chunks of prawns and beech mushrooms to the custard, too. Or maybe even lobster or crab?

Options are endless.

March 2018 Fam Din
Perfect to serve at brunch or as a light appetizer, the beauties are sure to have you and your guests do a little happy food-shimmy.

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Chawanmushi with Uni and Ikura
Serves 6

Ingredients:

2 ounces dried bonito shavings
21⁄4 cups seafood stock
2 teaspoons dashi powder
3 large eggs
flaked salt
12 pieces fresh uni (sea urchin)
3-4 ounces fresh ikura (salmon roe)
sliced scallions/chives
serve with senbei (Japanese rice crackers)

In a small pot, combine the bonito shavings and seafood stock. Bring to a simmer and allow the shavings to simmer and steep for 5 minutes. Strain the stock in a bowl and discard the bonito flakes. Stir in the dashi. Allow to slightly cool.

In another bowl, whisk the eggs. You’ll want to ensure the yolks and whites have combined but do so gently as to not create too many bubbles. Pour in about one of cup of the heated broth while gently stirring to combine. Once incorporated and slightly tempered, add the rest of the stock and gently stir.

Divide the custard mixture, pouring through a fine mesh strainer, between six 4-ounce mason jars. Try not to shake or disturb the custard too much as you want to avoid air bubbles. Seal the jars tightly with their respective lids.

Submerge the jars in a secure container of water (pot, food safe bin, etc.)  that has been heated to 176 degrees F. Sous vide the custards at the 176 degrees F temperature for one hour. Once done, carefully remove the jars from the water bath allow to slightly cool. If you prefer not to sous vide, cover each dish/jar and steam for 15-20 minutes.

When it’s time to serve, remove the lids and sprinkle each with a few pinches of salt flakes (we like Maldon for the texture and flavor), 2 pieces of uni, a spoonful of ikura and some scallions/chives. Serve with your choice of senbei on the side.

 

Adapted from Nomiku blog

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Pork · Seafood

Sichuan Wontons in Chili Oil Sauce – Happy Lunar New Year!!!

Sichuan Wontons with Chili Oil Sauce
Friends, today is the beginning of Tết – the Vietnamese Lunar New Year!

As with every new year, I’ve done all the rituals like scrubbed down the house, prepared an altar of traditional Tết goodies and went to the bank to get crisp “new money” to stuff all the bags of lì xì for the munchkins.

Sichuan Wontons with Chili Oil Sauce

Man…I miss the good ol’ days when I was the one collecting stacks of lì xì. Now, Cô Nam just doles out the red envelopes.

Being a grown up is seriously overrated. But at least there’s still all the good food!

Sichuan Wontons with Chili Oil Sauce
Every year I look forward to eating copious amounts of fried Bánh Tét with Dưa Món. Bánh Tét are steamed sticky rice cakes and are cylindrical in shape. Bánh Chưng are essentially the same but are shaped as squares.

The savory ones are filled with pork belly and mung beans. Although they can be eaten just as is, I prefer it fried so the crust is nice and crispy but the interior is still soft. SOOOOO good! And of course, it’s best eaten with a side of Dưa Món – pickled veggies.

Sichuan Wontons with Chili Oil Sauce
Bánh Tét/Bánh Chưng are not something my family make—well, at least not since I’ve been alive!

It’s REALLY a time consuming process and it’s one of those things that if you’re going to go through the efforts to make a few, you might as well make 100. But that would take you foh-evah!

So like most Vietnamese folks nowadays, we buy ours. But we still like to cook other traditional Tết dishes.

Sichuan Wontons with Chili Oil Sauce
But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve started to include some dishes in my yearly rituals that we didn’t grow up eating for Tết. And dumplings definitely top that list!

Sure, our Chinese kin definitely prepare and eat a variety of dumplings as a part of their Lunar New Year traditions. They’re eaten for luck because they symbolize wealth and richness as their shape resembles Chinese gold ingots.

But hey–if it can bring luck and taste delicious, why not adopt the practice, right?

Sichuan Wontons with Chili Oil Sauce
I’ve shared a few of my favorite dumpling versions with you before like:

Sichuan Wontons with Chili Oil Sauce
But for this year’s Tết, I thought I would share with you my Sichuan Wontons with Chili Oil Sauce.

They. Are. So. Dang. Tasty.

But what’s the difference between a dumpling and a wonton?

Honestly I’ve found that the answer changes depending on the person you’ve asked. But generally folks tell me that dumplings are often quite plump and are steamed or pan-fried. Wontons are most often boiled and served in soups or a broth. The wrappers (or skins) are also supposed to be really thin and since they aren’t filled as much as the former, it allows the soup/broth/sauce to stick to the excess dough. That way, you can just slurp them up!

Oh…and some say that wontons only use square wrappers and dumplings use a round shape. But really… you can call them whatever you want —because I’ll take ANY version of them.

Sichuan Wontons with Chili Oil Sauce
These Sichuan Wontons are filled with a 1:1 ratio of pork to shrimp. And unlike my other dumplings, I don’t add much filler other than aromatics. No cabbage, no mushrooms—just protein and few other things.

Why?

Because the co-star of this dish truly is the Chili Oil Sauce that it’s pretty much bathed in. The sauce starts off with my homemade Sichuan Chili Oil. Does it have to be homemade? Well…technically no. But it makes SUCH a difference. And not only is my recipe super easy but it lasts a long time in your fridge!

The chili oil is then combined with soy, Chinese black vinegar (there’s really no substitute for it), sugar and a couple of other items. Simple right? That’s because the homemade oil is so aromatic that it needs very little else!

Sichuan Wontons with Chili Oil Sauce
And if you’re REALLY fiery, after you’ve sauced the wontons, you can add a few extra dollops of the Sichuan Chili Oil everything. You can sure bet that I do—but perhaps dial it down a bit if you’re serving little ones.

There are also several different ways to fold wontons as I’ve shown above but I generally just go for the standard “ingot” fold as I’ve described in the recipe.

Sichuan Wontons with Chili Oil Sauce
And with that dear friends, let Bella and I wish you all Chúc Mừng Năm Mới!!! May the Year of the Dog be filled with happiness, good health, prosperity and endless Foodventures!

ps. Bella believes EVERY year is the Year of the Dog.

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Sichuan Wontons in Chili Oil Sauce
Makes approximately 80 wontons

Ingredients:

For the wontons:
4 scallions
1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves
1 small shallot
½ cup fresh cilantro
1 pound shrimp, peeled and roughly chopped
1 pound ground pork
2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine or other preferred rice wine
2 tablespoons soy sauce, more to taste
2 tablespoons fish sauce, more to taste
1 tablespoon sesame oil
½ tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
80-100 square wonton wrappers

For the sauce:
4 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons Chinkiang Black Vinegar
½ tablespoon sugar
4 tablespoons homemade Sichuan Chili Oil (both the oil and flakes)
2 garlic cloves, finely grated
½ teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon minced scallions

For garnish:
chopped fresh cilantro
chopped scallions
toasted sesame seeds

Place the scallions, ginger, cloves, shallot and cilantro in a food processor. Pulse several times until all of the ingredients have broken down and become roughly the same minced texture. Add the shrimp and pulse until everything has combined and the shrimp has turned into somewhat of a paste. Add the pork, Shaoxing wine, soy sauce, fish sauce, sesame oil, sugar and pepper. Pulse just until the ingredients have fully combined.

Test the filling for seasoning by taking a small spoonful of the mixture and pan fry in a nonstick skillet for 1-2 minutes on each side. Taste and if needed, add more soy sauce or fish sauce to the uncooked filling.

Begin assembling the wontons. Place one wonton wrapper down on a flat surface so that it points towards you. Dip the tip of your finger into water and moisten the top two edges of the wrapper. Place about 1 heaping teaspoon of the filling in the center of the wonton wrapper. Fold the bottom corner (the one nearest you) over the filling so that it meets the top point and forms a triangle. Press down to seal the edges of the triangle while pressing out any air that may have been trapped inside. Add a dab of water to the two outer corners of the triangle and fold in so that they meet. Press corners together to firmly seal. Place the wonton on a baking sheet and continue until all the filling/wrappers have been used.

Prepare the sauce by whisking all the ingredients together in a bowl until the sugar has dissolved. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the wontons to the pot (no more than a dozen or so at a time) and lower the heat so that it’s at a steady but not rapid boil. Constantly stir so that they do not stick together. Allow the wontons to cook for about 3 minutes or until the wrappers become translucent and the filling has cooked through. Use a large slotted spoon or kitchen spider to remove and drain the wontons. Transfer to a serving dish and spoon the sauce over the wontons. Garnish with scallions, cilantro and sesame seeds. Serve immediately.

Seafood

Tomato-Fennel Mussels

Mussels

Tomato-Fennel Mussels.

Let me tell you, Folks. This is the kind of dish that I want to enjoy a big ol’ bowl of while sitting on my balcony …. watching the ocean waves roll onto the sand with the sun just barely setting. Oh–and of course with a fantastic chilled glass of Sancerre in hand.

Perfection, right?

September 2017 Fam Din

Only problem is–although the beach is just a short bit away, there are a bunch of pesky buildings and homes blocking my view. How inconsiderate of them, right?

Oh….and I also don’t have a balcony.

So instead, I’ll just sit on the living floor while diving into this scrumptious bowl of mussels and watch whichever show I’m binge-watching on Netflix at the moment.

Pretty much the same right? Just splitting hairs, really.

September 2017 Fam Din
I love making mussels. They’re super easy and quick to whip up for guests or if you’re dining solo. And as far as seafood goes, they’re a great bang for your buck!

I usually make Spicy Mussels in White Wine or Belgian Beer Mussels with Frites as they’re both so low maintenance but these Tomato-Fennel Mussels really do bring such a different profile. Just as easy but the addition of the fennel, crushed tomatoes and clam juice create a rich and an intensively flavorful sauce–particularly when the liquor of the mussels join the party. They smell divine while bubbling away and are perfection when you serve it with toasted baguette or ciabatta to soak up all that goodness. In fact, the sauce is thick enough (but not too thick) that it can be served over linguine or other long stranded pasta.

Whatever the setting you end up having these mussels at, you’re going to love them!

ps. And if you’re anything like my Seestrah, add a few threads of saffron when you pour in the tomatoes. She’s fancy like that! ❤

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Tomato-Fennel Mussels
Serves approximately 4-6

Ingredients:

1 small fennel bulb with fronds
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup diced white onions
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ cup dry white wine
1 8-ounce bottle clam juice
1 28-ounce can San Marzano tomatoes, crushed
4-5 fresh thyme sprigs
2 dried bay leaves
5 pounds black mussels, scrubbed and debearded
kosher salt
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

Cut the fennel bulb from the stalk, reserving the fronds. Dice the bulb and roughly chop the fronds. Set aside separately.

Heat a large, heavy bottom pot over medium heat. Add the olive oil, butter and swirl around the pot. Once the oil begins shimmering and the butter has melted, add in the onions and chopped fennel bulb. Stir and cook for 4-5 minutes until softened but not browned. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes and cook for an additional minute until fragrant. Pour in the wine and allow the liquids to come to a boil. Keep stirring until the wine nearly evaporates.

Pour in the clam juice and can of crushed tomatoes with its juices. Stir in the thyme sprigs and bay leaves. Partially cover the pot and allow everything to come to a rolling boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the ingredients for 10-15 minutes stirring once or twice during that time.

Uncover the pot and turn up the heat to medium. Once the items starting bubbling, add in the mussels. Stir a few times so that they become coated in the tomato sauce and place the lid back on the pot. Allow the mussels to steam for 5-7 minutes until they have all opened.

Remove the lid, stir the mussels around a few times and taste the sauce. Add additional salt as necessary. Discard of the thyme stems and bay leaves. Fold in the fresh parsley and half of the chopped fennel fronds. Transfer the mussels and the sauce into a large serving dish. Garnish with the remaining fennel fronds and serve with warm bread.

Seafood

Decadently Creamy Risotto with Pan Seared Garlic Shrimp and Peas

Shrimp & Peas Risotto
I know, I know.

I already have a Shrimp Risotto recipe posted on the blog. And it’s wonderful, tried and true.

But y’all…it’s not THIS Shrimp Risotto.

Shrimp & Peas Risotto
Because as much as the other one was delicious, I really kicked it up a few notches with this Creamy Risotto with Pan Seared Garlic Shrimp and Peas.

Shrimp & Peas Risotto

Like most situations, I just can’t leave things be.

I’m constantly tweaking recipes. Sometimes out of necessity because I’m missing an ingredient or two and sometimes because I just want to change things up.

Shrimp & Peas Risotto
So what did I do different?

A few things like use shallots and leeks. But the big game changer was the addition of peas and heavy cream.

Shrimp & Peas Risotto
My usual risottos are rich and creamy just by nature of the slow cooking and constant stirring of the rice to release the starches. But this particular day, I wanted things extra decadent and added a few splashes of heavy cream at the end.

Shrimp & Peas Risotto
How did it turn out?

Freaking brilliantly.

Shrimp & Peas Risotto

Velvety perfection.

And the peas added a nice punch of freshness and texture.

Shrimp & Peas Risotto

It makes me happy just looking at it.

But of course, I’m even happier inhaling it. ❤

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Creamy Risotto with Pan Seared Garlic Shrimp and Peas
Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tablespoons minced fresh garlic, divided
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, divided
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, roughly chopped
sea salt
black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
½ cup chopped shallots
1 cup chopped leeks, white and light green parts
4-5 cups seafood stock
1 cup Aborio rice
½ cup dry white wine
1 cup frozen peas
½ cup heavy cream
⅓ cup parmesan cheese, grated or shredded
additional fresh thyme to garnish

Combine the shrimp, 1 tablespoon garlic, ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes, and 1 tablespoon thyme leaves. Season with salt, pepper and place in the refrigerator covered for 30 minutes.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp. Cook for 1-2 minutes on each side until opaque. Remove the shrimp from the skillet. Chop half of the shrimp into large chunks while leaving the other whole. Cover and set aside.

In a heavy bottomed pot, heat remaining olive oil and butter of medium heat. Add the shallots, leeks and cook until tender and translucent.

While the aromatics cook, place the stock in saucepan and bring to a low simmer. Keep the stock simmering on the back of the stove.

Once the shallots and leeks have cooked for 5-6 minutes, add in the remaining garlic, red pepper flakes and thyme. Cook for 1-2 minutes and add the rice and stir until it is well-coated and opaque.  The rice may begin to slightly crackle as it lightly toasts. Pour in the wine and stir until it has nearly evaporated.

Ladle in about 1 cup of the heated stock. Cook and continue stirring the rice until it has nearly absorbed all the liquid. Add the remaining stock, about 1 cup at a time—stirring well in between each addition. Take care to allow the rice to absorb each addition of stock before adding more. You may not need all 5 cups as the risotto should be slightly firm and creamy once done. This process takes approximately 25 minutes.

When the risotto is done, pull it off the heat and stir in the heavy cream, chopped shrimp, peas and Parmesan cheese until fully incorporated. Taste and adjust with additional salt and pepper as needed. Plate each dish with a portion of the risotto topped with the remaining whole shrimp and additional thyme. Serve immediately.

Seafood · Soups/Stews

Our Seafood Cioppino – Happy Birthday Mom!!!

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Today is our Mama’s birthday and although it’s been 10 years since she’s been with us, not a day goes by when we don’t miss or think of her.

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That fiery spirit that her daughters and granddaughters inherited……

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That deep sense of family, love and loyalty……

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The affinity to talk to strangers and win them over in minutes….

MomandDad
That strong “will” (yes…I was trying not to say stubborn)…..

New Brighton
And that love to cook and explore new cuisines.

Kids
Of course there are dishes that I cannot help but miss her dearly when I make them. Like Thịt Kho Trứng (Vietnamese Caramelized Pork and Eggs), Thịt Bò Xào (Stir-fried beef), Mì Quảng (Turmeric Noodles) or even Korean Chap Chae —all dishes I used to ask her to make for me.

But then there are dishes like Seafood Cioppino, that although wasn’t her own, has now become a staple among my siblings every time we want to celebrate Mom.

River
At least a dozen years ago when I lived in San Jose, Mom came to visit me and sister P who lived in San Francisco. We spent the time walking around the city, shopping, and eating everything possible. And one night for dinner, P and I decided to make her a decadent, quintessential San Franciscan dish–Seafood Cioppino.

Mom and Nam
Cioppino is a seafood stew that originated in the Italian American communities of SF. It layers tons of aromatics with wine and tomatoes to make a fragrant stock. A variety of seafood is then cooked in the stock –which then deepens in flavor from the juices of the shellfish and seafood.

It’s incredible and we knew Mom would love it.

momanddad

While P and I spent hours in the kitchen that late afternoon charring the peppers, sauteing the veggies, simmering the stock, and cleaning all the seafood we had scored on Clement Street, Mom sat at the table watching us. She kept asking what we were doing—-and then, what we were going to next. Then she would say that we were going to a lot of trouble just for one dish.

But honestly, I think of everything we did during that visit, she loved that day the most. Chatting with her daughters while they cooked and fussed over her.

Of course, she loved the Seafood Cioppino too!

And can we just say how fabulous Mama was sitting in her satin pajamas, wearing her black Tahitian pearls while digging into a big ol’ bowl of Seafood Cioppino??

Fancy.

Shortly after Mom passed, I made a photobook for my family that included old pictures and our favorite recipes from her. And soon after, that one dish P and I made that one SF visit became “Mom’s Cioppino”—something that is lovingly made many times a year since.

Cioppino

I’ve posted tons of pics on Instagram and Facebook of our Seafood Cioppino and often get requests for the recipe. Whether it was too personal or maybe it was still too “soon”–I just wasn’t willing to share it yet.

Cioppino
After all of the years, it doesn’t get “easier” and I still miss her so much. But these days, I am able to share more things about her and now it’s rather perfect to share with you all this dish on her birthday.

Yes, there are many steps with the Cioppino and it does take some time —but the good news is, nothing is really difficult. And it’s the perfect dish to share with your loved ones when you can spend the day together in the kitchen making memories.

I hope you love it as much as we do.

Cioppino
We love you Mama and Happy, Happy Birthday!

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Seafood Cioppino

Serves 8

Ingredients:
Stock
2 red bell peppers
½ red jalapeno pepper
5 Roma tomatoes, halved
olive oil
1 medium sized white onion, diced
2 celery ribs, diced
1 fennel bulb, diced
2 large garlic cloves, smashed
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 750mL bottle white wine, such as a Sauvignon Blanc or mild White Blend
5 standard tomatoes (Mexican or Florida tomato), coarsely chopped
1 8oz bottle clam juice
½ cup tomato juice
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
sea salt
20 sprigs fresh thyme
6 springs fresh parsley
8 sprigs fresh tarragon
½ teaspoon saffron threads

Seafood (or a medley of your favorites)
2 dungeness crabs, washed and quartered
2 lobster tails, quartered
2 pounds mussels, debeared and scrubbed
2 pounds manila clams, scrubbed
1 pound firm white fish, such as halibut or mahi, cut into 1½ inch cubes
1 pound shrimp, deveined and shell intact
1 pound sea scallops, if they are large—cut them in half
½ pound calamari, cut into 1-inch rings

Garnish
chopped fennel fronds and parsley

Turn your oven broiler on. Place bell peppers, jalapenos and Roma tomatoes on a rimmed baking sheet and coat with olive oil. Broil the vegetables for 5-7 minutes, using tongs to rotate frequently until the peppers have charred and the skin has bubbled. Transfer the vegetables to a large bowl and cover securely with plastic wrap. Set aside for 20 minutes to allow the vegetables to steam.

Peel the skins off the peppers and discard along with the stems and seeds. Next, peel and discard the skins of the Roma tomatoes.

Place a large stock pot or dutch oven over medium heat on the stove. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil and allow the oil to begin to slightly shimmer. Add the onions, celery and fennel inside the pot and cook until they have softened and become translucent—you do not want them to brown. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes and cook for an additional minute until fragrant. Pour in the wine and allow the liquids to come to a boil. Add the roasted peppers, Roma tomatoes, chopped fresh tomatoes, clam juice and tomato juice. Add the thyme, parley, tarragon, bay leaf, ½ tablespoon sea salt and peppercorns. Allow the liquids to come a rolling boil, lower heat and simmer, partially covered for 1½-2 hours. The liquids will nearly have reduced by half.

Pass the stock to a fine strainer and discard the vegetables and aromatics. Pour the stock into a large clean pot, add the saffron threads and lower the heat to a simmer for several minutes to allow the saffron to bloom and flavor the stock. Taste the broth and add additional sea salt as needed. Bring the stock back to a boil and add in the crab and lobster—cover and cook until the shells have become pink and the flesh becomes almost fully opaque. Stir in the clams, mussels and cover the pot. Allow them to cook for about 2 minutes until they just begin to open. Gently stir in the shrimp, fish, calamari and allow them to cook over a simmering heat—avoid cooking the fish in a rapid boil as they will get tough. Once the last seafood items turn opaque, taste the broth again and adjust with additional sea salt and pepper as needed.

Ladle the seafood into a bowl and pour the hot broth over it. Sprinkle with chopped fennel fronds, chopped parsley and serve immediately with warm bread.

Enjoy!

Note: This stock can definitely be made ahead of time so double or triple the batch and keep some in your freezer for a chilly night!

Poultry · Seafood

Thai Inspired Shrimp & Chicken Larb Gai

Shrimp & Chicken Larb Gai
I must admit that I’ve been incredibly lazy in the kitchen these past few weeks. It’s been really warm and humid (for San Diego standards, that is) and the last thing I want to do is hang out over the hot stove for long periods of time.

And don’t even get me started about my utter disdain for dishes!

Shrimp & Chicken Larb Gai
So my “cooking” of late has really consisted of compiling ingredients (salads or sandwiches), charcuterie boards (AMEN!), or quick prep dishes such as stir-frys.

Because…you know…. EVERYTHING STIR-FRY and all.

Total shameless plug.

Shrimp & Chicken Larb Gai
But all self-promotion aside, stir-fry dishes are a total legit way to get something scrumptious in your belly with minimal cooking time. The majority of your efforts primarily go towards chopping the ingredients— easy peasy!

Shrimp & Chicken Larb Gai
This Shrimp & Chicken Larb Gai is a slight variation of my Pork Larb Gai which is a Thai minced pork salad. For the protein I went with a surf and turf approach as I love the flavor combo. For the ground chicken, you can go with breast meat but I prefer the flavor of dark meat. And if you want a really light approach, sub the chicken with ground turkey breast.

Shrimp & Chicken Larb Gai

Whichever protein you select, you’ll really love Larb Gai –-especially during the summer months. The dish is light yet fulfilling and is punched up with TONS of flavor from the fresh lime juice, bright herbs and savory sauce. I often have it over steamed rice but when I’m feeling extra lazy or when it’s warm out, I use it as filling for lettuce wraps. Either way, you’ll love it.

Enjoy!

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Thai Inspired Shrimp & Chicken Larb Gai
Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon warm water
4 tablespoons fresh lime juice, divided
3 tablespoons fish sauce, divided
1 teaspoon minced Thai chiles, divided
3 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/4 cup minced red onions or shallots
4-5 kaffir lime leaves, sliced into thin strips
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
1 pound ground chicken
½ pound peeled shrimp, cleaned and deveined
2 scallions, chopped
1 heaping tablespoon ground toasted rice powder*
1 cup thinly sliced red onion
1 cup fresh mint leaves, roughly torn
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, roughly torn
1 cup fresh Thai basil leaves, roughly torn

In a small bowl, create the sauce by whisking together the sugar and warm water until dissolved. Add in 2 tablespoons lime juice, 2 tablespoons fish sauce and ½ teaspoon minced chiles (more to taste). Set the sauce aside.

Heat the vegetable oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the minced onions, kaffir lime leaves, garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add ½ teaspoon minced chiles (more to taste), red chili flakes and cook for an additional 30 seconds. Increase the heat to medium-high and add in the ground chicken.

Using a wooden spoon, stir the chicken around the wok/skillet while breaking it apart to a crumbled consistency. Cook the chicken for 3-4 minutes and then add the shrimp Stir-fry for an additional 2 minutes until the shrimp becomes pink and opaque. Stir in the remaining fish sauce and scallions.

Remove the wok/skillet from the heat. Toss in the rice powder, remaining lime juice, sliced red onions, mint leaves, cilantro leaves, and Thai basil. Stir in a few spoonfuls of the sauce to taste. Plate the larb with extra fresh herbs, whole chiles, lime wedges, sliced cucumbers, and lettuce. Serve immediately with either steamed rice or whole lettuce leaves for wraps. The remaining sauce can be served alongside as a dipping sauce.

*If you cannot find pre-ground toasted rice powder, you can easily make your own. Toast uncooked jasmine rice in a skillet over low heat until golden brown. Once cooled, transfer the toasted rice into a spice grinder and grind until you get a fine powder.

Pastas/Noodles · Seafood

Spaghetti Aglio e Olio with Dungeness Crab

Spaghetti Aglio e Olio with Dungeness Crab
More times than not, you’ll find me rummaging around my pantry and fridge without a plan in mind of what to cook.

Odd for a food blogger?

Well friends, if you’ve been with me for awhile—my quirkiness must have seeped through the screen by now. So there’s really no hiding my “offbeat” approach to things.

Flashback to yesterday night when I was on the verge of turning into a gremlin from hunger. A full blown GREMLIN I tell ya! And I knew I only have a few minutes to pull something together before I passed out on the kitchen floor.

I needed a quick pasta — STAT!!!

Spaghetti Aglio e Olio with Dungeness Crab 2
In dire moments when I’m short on time (or just lazy), pasta aglio e olio is heaven sent! It’s a staple pasta dish from Naples where you infuse good quality olive oil with tons and I mean TONS of garlic and a bit of red pepper flakes. After your pasta is cooked, you toss it in the infused oil and add some herbs and maybe some grated cheese. I do versions of pasta aglio e olio all of the time –sometimes adding a bit of anchovy paste or capers or even a bit of chorizo.

But imagine my utter glee when I remembered that I had some leftover Dungeness crab from the weekend. I seriously squealed “YAYYYYY!” when I saw it in the fridge and did a little dance…… yeah, it doesn’t take much to get a happy dance out of this gal.

Spaghetti Aglio e Olio with Dungeness Crab 3
I proceeded with my standard steps for pasta aglio e olio and at the end, tossed in some of the sweet crab meat and just a few pinches of grated parm. I piled a huge mound on the plate, sprinkled some more pepper flakes on top, fresh lemon zest, chives and to add that extra level of decadence for a Monday night–a drizzle of white truffle oil.

HUMINAH! HUMINAH! HUMINAH!!!!!!

It was fantastic! The wonderful sweet and sea flavor from the beautiful Dungeness crab mixed with the garlic punch and bright freshness from the lemon zest—along with the earthy oil. It was all somehow hearty and light at the same time.

Considering I was on the verge of turning into a ravenous monster before/during the cooking process, I hadn’t bothered to take step by step photos to blog about it. But once done, it looked, well–damn sexy! So I took about 37 seconds to snap a couple of pics before inhaling it.

Not only did I manage to suppress the gremlin from emerging but I rocked out a pretty awesome dish in about 15 minutes. That’s a rather successful Monday in this gal’s book.

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Spaghetti Aglio e Olio with Dungeness Crab
Servings: 2

Ingredients:

kosher salt, divided
5 ounces dried spaghetti noodles, or other long strand pasta
3 tablespoons quality extra virgin olive oil
1 heaping tablespoon minced garlic
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, more to garnish
½ tablespoon grated parmesan or pecorino cheese
4-5 ounces cooked Dungeness crab meat
1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
1 teaspoon fresh chopped chives
white truffle oil to finish*

Bring a pot of salted water to boil. Add the spaghetti noodles and boil for 8-9 minutes or until al dente. Drain the pasta and reserve ¼ cup of the starchy water that the pasta was cooked in.

While the pasta boils, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat in a large skillet. Add the garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes to infuse the oil. Swirl the skillet often to ensure that the garlic does not burn. Add the red pepper flakes and infuse for another minute. Carefully pour in the reserved starchy pasta water, turn the heat to medium-high and bring it to a boil. Whisk the items together and then toss in the pasta. Stir and toss for about a minute and sprinkle in the cheese and 2-3 generous pinches of salt.

Remove the skillet from the heat and gently fold in the crab. Plate the pasta between two dishes. Sprinkle the tops of each serving with lemon zest, chives and drizzle with white truffle oil. If you do not have truffle oil, drizzle with some additional quality extra virgin olive oil.

Enjoy!