Seafood · Sponsored

Crispy Fish Sliders + New Foodventures with King’s Hawaiian

Crispy Fish Sliders on Kings Hawaiian Rolls

Happy Earth Day Folks!

I am thrilled to be sharing that I have the honor to join the wonderful o’hana at King’s Hawaiian as one of their Featured Bloggers. As y’all know, I’m OBSESSED with the ono King’s Hawaiian products & since my visit with them back in August, I have gained the utmost respect for the organization and the Taira O’hana.

Check out my first post here where I share my experience with Aloha ‘Aina and a fun recipe for Crispy Fish Sliders.

Stay tuned for more posts to come! Alohas!

Appetizers/Small Plates · Salads · Seafood

Spicy Crab & Avocado Salad

Spicy Crab & Avocado Salad

More times than not, I’ve got a lot to say about everything. And when it comes to food– fuggedaboutit!

But then there are times when I take a bite of something and there are really just no words needed. Like with this Spicy Crab and Avocado Salad. MMMMMMM!!!!!!

Spicy Crab & Avocado Salad

TONS of sweet lump crab meat, paired with the creaminess of avocado, a slight crunch from the serranos and a kick of spice. Perfection!

Okay, okay. Maybe I do have a few words but trust me, one bite and you’ll know exactly what I mean.

By the way, in case you’re wondering–Why do I call this a “crab salad”? Well…the same reason why they call chicken salad, “chicken salad”. And yes, I may be trying to avert the question. 🙂



Spicy Crab and Avocado Salad
Serves 2


5 ounces cooked lump crab meat
1 scallion, diced
1 teaspoon finely minced serrano pepper
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 teaspoon hot sauce
½ tablespoon lime juice
¼ teaspoon Old Bay Seasonings
kosher salt and pepper to taste
1 large avocado, halved and seeded
garnish with chives and additional Old Bay Seasonings

In a bowl, gently combine the crab, scallion, serrano pepper, mayonnaise, hot sauce, lime juice and Old Bay Seasonings. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper. Refrigerate the crab mixture for 30 minutes.

Spoon half of the crab mixture into each of the avocado halves. Sprinkle with a dash of Old Bay Seasonings and top with chives. Enjoy!

Pastas/Noodles · Seafood

Lobster Macaroni and Cheese because it’s my Blogiversary!

Lobster Macaroni and Cheese

My how time flies……

In the past three years, I left a comfortable job and moved to a brand new city. My family has welcomed a few new additions and have had our share of ups and downs. I’ve celebrated milestones with friends and loved ones and have stumbled upon great adventures.

And of course, three years ago I started this blog.

Lobster Macaroni and Cheese

I can hardly believe how a quick decision one “wine-induced” night has catapulted me into a wonderful world of food and self-exploration.

Lobster Macaroni and Cheese

This experience has introduced me to the food blogging community—a group of folks who are so supportive and generous. And I have been extended wonderful projects to participate in–which I still find so mind boggling! Not too shabby for this home cook 🙂

Lobster Macaroni and Cheese

After three years, I am still so grateful. Thanks to my loved ones who serve as my steady food testers and inspiration.

And Thanks to you All for your continued support of The Culinary Chronicles. I promise, there’s a lot more to come.

ps. To celebrate, try out my Lobster Macaroni and Cheese. Comforting and a bit decadent…just how I like my food.

Happy Foodventures!


Lobster Macaroni and Cheese
Serves 6


¾ Pound Elbow Pasta
2½ Cups Whole Milk
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
4 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
4 Tablespoons All Purpose Flour
2 Cups Gruyere Cheese, shredded
1 Cup Sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded
1 Cup Fontina Cheese, cubed
½ Teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
1/8 Teaspoon Freshly Grated Nutmeg
Kosher Salt, to taste
Black Pepper, to taste
10 Ounces Cooked Lobster Meat, tail and claw
½ Cup Toasted Panko Breadcrumbs
¼ Cup Parmesan Cheese, finely grated
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Tablespoon Fresh Chives, diced

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Heavily salt the water and cook the pasta for 8-10 minutes until it is just shy of al dente. Drain well and set aside.

In a small saucepan, add the milk and bring to a slow simmer.

Meanwhile, in a large pot, melt the butter and vegetable oil together over medium-low heat. Sprinkle in the flour and whisk for about 2-3 minutes to allow the flour to cook. Whisk in the hot milk and continue to stir until the sauce thickens. Remove the pot from heat and add in the Gruyere, Cheddar Cheese and Fontina. Stir until the cheeses have melted and then add in the red pepper flakes, nutmeg, kosher salt and black pepper. Add in the pasta and lobster and stir until thoroughly combined. Pour the mixture into a greased 9×9 inch baking dish. Sprinkle the top with Panko and Parmesan Cheese. Drizzle the olive oil over the top and bake in a 400 degree F oven for 25-30 minutes until the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven and sprinkle the chives over the baked dish.

Seafood · Vietnamese

Chả Cá Thăng Long (Vietnamese Style Fish with Turmeric & Dill)

Cha Cá Thang Long (Vietnamese Style Fish with Tumeric & Dill)

Chả Cá Thăng Long (also known as Chả Lã Vọng and Chả Cá Hà Nội) is an infamous Hà Nội dish. At it’s originating roots from the 100+ year old Chả Lã Vọng restaurant, turmeric marinaded fish is first grilled and then fried table-side. It’s served with tons of fresh dill, other herbs, crush peanuts, and rice noodles.

It wasn’t until I was in college that I began to truly appreciate this dish with it’s complex, yet well balanced, flavors. In Orange County, I would order it as a treat when I was out with my parents in Little Sài Gòn. The only popular place to get Chả Cá Thăng Long at that time was from Viễn Đông Restaurant where it would come out on sizzling cast iron plates. Now, Chả Cá is pretty readily available at many Vietnamese restaurants.

Cha Cá Thang Long (Vietnamese Style Fish with Tumeric & Dill)

Traditionally, in Hà Nội, this dish is made with cá lóc –or snakehead fish. Which, on a random note, was my dad’s nickname in the navy. 🙂

Here in the states, most restaurants will make it with catfish or other firm white fish. But mom also used to make it with salmon, too.

If you’ve never had Chả Cá before, you may be surprised to see how much fresh dill is used. But trust in the process because it’s the plentiful dill and turmeric that makes this dish so special.

Cha Cá Thang Long (Vietnamese Style Fish with Tumeric & Dill)

Typically, Chả Cá is served with Mắm Nêm—a very pungent, fermented anchovy sauce. I love the stuff but it’s definitely a flavor to get used to—even if you are Vietnamese! As such, you see this dish also served with a standard Nước Chấm which is much more mild compared to its counterpart.

Not up to mixing up a batch of your own Mắm Nêm? No worries, I buy mine premixed and bottled. Mắm Nêm is just one of those tricky things that I seem to never be able to get the right ratios down. 🙂

Cha Cá Thang Long (Vietnamese Style Fish with Tumeric & Dill)

At home, you can cook Chả Cá in several different ways. Either on a grill (or grill pan), underneath the broiler, or simply pan fry like I did. But be sure to get all the crispy brown bits in your bowl because that’s what is packed full of yummy flavor.

Thanks for reading!

Cha Cá Thang Long (Vietnamese Style Fish with Tumeric & Dill)

On a side note, I’d like to dedicate this post/dish to our Mom who instilled in us the love for cooking and sharing food with loved ones. She would have turned 70 this coming Tuesday. Wasn’t she lovely? 🙂

Happy Mother’s Day and Happy Birthday, Mom! We miss you and love you!


Chả Cá Thăng Long (Vietnamese Style Fish with Turmeric & Dill)
Serves 4


For Fish:
1 Pound Firm White Fish, cut into 2 inch pieces
3 Tablespoons Vietnamese Fish Sauce
1 Teaspoon Turmeric Powder
1 Tablespoon Fresh Garlic, finely minced
½ Tablespoon Fresh Ginger, finely grated
2 Tablespoons Shallots, finely diced
1 Tablespoon Fresh Dill Fronds, chopped (for marinade)
¼ Teaspoon Black Pepper
4 Scallions, sliced into 2 inch segments
1 Small White Onion, sliced
1 Large Bunch of Dill, without stems
3 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil, divided

½ Cup Peanuts, toasted and roughly chopped
Fresh Dill Fronds, chopped
Red Thai Chiles, diced
Chili Paste
Nước Chấm (fish dipping sauce) or Mắm Nêm (fermented anchovy dipping sauce)
1 Package Vermicelli Noodles, boiled according to package directions

In a large bowl, mix fish sauce, turmeric, garlic, ginger, shallots, dill fronds, and black pepper. Add fish and mix well. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.

In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of oil. Cook the white onions until lightly golden. Add 1/3 of the dill and ½ of the sliced scallions. Sauté for an additional 1-2 minutes. Plate the onions, scallions and dill on a serving platter.

Remove fish the refrigerator and drain off the marinade. Using paper towels, pat off any excess liquids. Using the same skillet, heat the remaining oil to medium high. Pan fry the fish—about 3-4 minutes on each side until the fish is evenly browned. Plate the fish on top of the bed of cooked onions, scallions and dill. Immediately top with the remaining fresh dill and scallions. Sprinkle peanuts on top and serve immediately with vermicelli noodles and sauces.

**This is my submission to Delicious Vietnam #13, a monthly blogging event celebrating Vietnamese cuisine which was started by Anh of A Food Lover’s Journey and Hong & Kim of  Ravenous Couple. For more information, please visit Delicious Vietnam**

Pastas/Noodles · Seafood

Quick and Easy Shrimp Scampi

Quick and Easy Shrimp Scampi


There are days that I will happily labor for hours in the kitchen for a mere component to one dish. And then there are days that I can’t even look at the kitchen, let alone want to cook a meal.

But does that mean I should settle for something mediocre in taste?


This delicious and full flavored Shrimp Scampi will have you in and out of the kitchen in 15 minutes. True Story.

With its bright citrus notes (from the lemon and parsley) to the succulent-garlicky shrimp, you’ll never need take out again.

ps. And if you’re still feeling a little indulgent from the Holidays….throw in some sweet halved grape tomatoes, use whole wheat pasta and replace the butter with olive oil. 🙂


Quick and Easy Shrimp Scampi
Serves 2


½ Pound Linguine
½ Pound Large Shrimp, cleaned and peeled
2 Tablespoon Fresh Garlic, minced finely
1 Teaspoon Lemon Zest
½ Teaspoon Dried Chili Flakes
¼ Cup Fresh Lemon Juice
¼ Cup Fresh Parsley, chopped
2 Tablespoon Unsalted Butter
3 Tablespoon Olive Oil
Kosher Salt and Pepper to taste
*½ Cup White Wine (optional)
Lemon Slices or Parsley Springs for Garnish (optional)

Cook linguine according to the directions on the package, reserving a few tablespoons of the starchy pasta water.

Season shrimp with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, melt butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and chili flakes and sauté for 2 minutes. Add shrimp and lemon zest. Cook shrimp on both sides until they turn pink—approximately 1-2 minutes on each side. Add lemon juice and parsley. Toss in cooked linguine, adding a tablespoon at a time of the pasta water until you reach desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with additional lemon slices or parsley springs.

**If you would like a more saucy pasta dish, remove shrimp from skillet once they have turned pink. Add in ½ cup white wine and turn the heat to medium-high. Reduce the liquids for 4-5 minutes. Return shrimp to the pan and follow the rest of the recipe.

Pork · Poultry · Seafood

Cook’s Illustrated Paella

Spanish Paella prepared in a Dutch Oven

I’ll tell ya…..the holidays were quite productive in our kitchen. From sweets to savories to old time classics and new Foodventures. What a whirlwind!

On one particular evening, we were able to check off another dish off my “must make” list—PAELLA! We turned to Cook’s Illustrated version of Paella since it didn’t require the traditional paella pan but used a heavy dutch oven instead. It was perfect because although I love the look of paella pans I don’t have the storage space to keep them.

We were all very happy with the end results of the dish. Especially because we achieved the coveted soccarat–the crunchy rice that forms at the bottom of the pan!

I did have two “uh-oh” moments that were completely my fault. First, we added much more seafood than the recipe called for. When it comes to seafood in my family—more is better. As a result of the extra seafood, we had so much excess liquid in the pot. We ended up having to spoon out some of the liquid because too much moisture equals no soccarat.

The second challenge we needed to problem solve was that I left the lid on during step 6. The lid trapped the steam into the pot and would have never allowed the lovely soccarat layer to form. Per my sister’s quick thinking, we took off the lid and returned the pot into the oven under the broiler setting. The paella was left under the broiler until it browned and then we switched it back to the stove (lid off!) to complete step 6. PHEW! Luckily it all worked! Lesson learned.

This Paella was just a Pot of Goodness. You’re going to want to make this one. For Reals. Like right now.

Just learn from my mistakes and read each step carefully 🙂

Cheers Friends!


From Cooking at Home with America’s Test Kitchen 2006

This paella recipe calls for making it in a Dutch oven (the Dutch oven should be 11 to 12 inches in diameter with at least a 6-quart capacity). With minor modifications, it can also be made in a paella pan. Cured Spanish chorizo is the sausage of choice for paella, but fresh chorizo or Portuguese linguiça is an acceptable substitute.

Soccarat, a layer of crusty browned rice that forms on the bottom of the pan, is a traditional part of paella. In our paella, soccarat does not develop because most of the cooking is done in the oven. We have provided instructions to develop soccarat in step 5; if you prefer, skip this step and go directly from step 4 to step 6.—the Editors of Cook’s Illustrated


1 Pound Extra-Large Shrimp (21 to 25 per pound), peeled and deveined
Salt and Ground Black Pepper
Olive Oil
8 or 9 Medium Garlic Cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press (2 generous tablespoons)
1 Pound Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs, each thigh trimmed of excess fat and halved crosswise
1 Red Bell Pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut pole to pole into 1/2-inch-wide strips
8 Ounces Spanish Chorizo, sliced 1/2 inch thick on the bias
1 Medium Onion, chopped fine (about 1 cup)
One 14.5 Ounce Can Diced Tomatoes, drained, minced, and drained again
2 Cups Valencia or Arborio Rice
3 Cups Low-Sodium Chicken Broth
1/3 Cup Dry White Wine
1/2 Teaspoon Saffron Threads, crumbled
1 Dried Bay Leaf
1 Dozen Mussels, scrubbed and debearded
1/2 Cup Frozen Peas, thawed
2 Tablespoons Chopped Fresh Parsley Leaves
1 Lemon, cut into wedges, for serving

1. Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position; heat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Toss the shrimp, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, 1 tablespoon oil, and 1 teaspoon of the garlic in a medium bowl; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed. Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper; set aside.

2. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add the pepper strips and cook, stirring occasionally, until the skin begins to blister and turn spotty black, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the pepper to a small plate and set aside.

3. Add 1 teaspoon oil to the now-empty Dutch oven; heat the oil until shimmering but not smoking. Add the chicken pieces in a single layer; cook, without moving the pieces, until browned, about 3 minutes. Turn the pieces and brown on the second side, about 3 minutes longer; transfer the chicken to a medium bowl. Reduce the heat to medium and add the chorizo to the pot; cook, stirring frequently, until deeply browned and the fat begins to render, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer the chorizo to the bowl with the chicken and set aside.

4. Add enough oil to the fat in the Dutch oven to equal 2 tablespoons; heat over medium heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 3 minutes; stir in the remaining garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the tomatoes; cook until the mixture begins to darken and thicken slightly, about 3 minutes. Stir in the rice and cook until the grains are well coated with the tomato mixture, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the chicken broth, wine, saffron, bay leaf, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Return the chicken and chorizo to the pot, increase the heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil, uncovered, stirring occasionally. Cover the pot and transfer it to the oven; cook until the rice absorbs almost all of the liquid, about 15 minutes.

5. Remove the paella from the oven (close the oven door to retain heat). Uncover the paella; scatter the shrimp over the rice, insert the mussels hinged-side down into the rice (so they stand upright), arrange the bell pepper strips in a pinwheel pattern, and scatter the peas over the top. Cover and return to the oven; cook until the shrimp are opaque and the mussels have opened, 10 to 12 minutes.

6. Optional: If soccarat (see headnote) is desired, set the Dutch oven, uncovered, over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, rotating the pot 180 degrees after about 2 minutes for even browning.

7. Let the paella stand, covered, about 5 minutes. Discard any mussels that have not opened and the bay leaf, if it can be easily removed. Sprinkle the paella with the parsley and serve, passing the lemon wedges separately.


Spicy Mussels in White Wine

Spicy Mussels in White Wine

You often hear that you should eat “light” during the warmer months. And in truth, I totally agree with that. But I don’t necessarily define “light” as in portion size—I equate it to eating by the season. For example, you won’t catch you me whipping out my lovely dutch oven in the middle of July to make stews. Instead, you’ll find me preparing weekday meals that are easy and will not leave you with the feeling of needing to find the nearest cave to hibernate for the next 4 months.

The following Mussels dish is the perfect example of such an ideal summer dinner. Quick, not heavy on the tummy, and most importantly—NOT light on flavor. It’s also quite fabulous since we were able to use the Early Girl Tomatoes and Flat Leaf Parsley that we grew–SCORE! Pair it with a nice loaf of warm, crunchy sourdough bread to sop up the great broth and you’re in for a treat. And heck, a chilled glass of Pinot Grigio won’t hurt either!

So with that Friends—Here’s to Eating “Light” on the TUMMY but not on the YUMMY! 🙂


Spicy Mussels in White Wine
From Bon Appetit

1/3 Cup Olive Oil
1/2 Onion, thinly sliced
4 Large Garlic Cloves, chopped
2 Teaspoons Fennel Seeds
1 Teaspoon Dried Crushed Red Pepper
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1 Cup Dry White Wine (can substitute with Clam Juice or Vegetable Stock)
2 1/4-inch-thick Lemon Slices
1/2 Cup Chopped Fresh Parsley or Sweet Basil
2 1/2 Pounds Fresh Mussels, scrubbed, debearded
1/2 Cup Chopped Seeded Tomatoes

Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, fennel seeds, crushed red pepper and salt; sauté until onion is light brown, about 4 minutes. Add wine, lemon slices and 1/4 cup parsley; bring to boil. Add mussels. Cover pot and cook until mussel shells open, stirring once to rearrange mussels, about 6 minutes; discard any mussels that do not open. Using slotted spoon, transfer mussels to large shallow bowl. Boil broth in pot until reduced to 1 cup, about 3 minutes; season to taste with pepper. Pour broth over mussels. Sprinkle tomatoes and remaining parsley over.


Macadamia Crusted Tilapia

I’ve been cooking/baking a lot with Macadamia Nuts. Sure, I’m slightly swayed by recent visits to Hawai’i but not only are these nuts delicious but they also have health benefits, too. Deemed a “high energy food” chopped with protein and fiber, these nuts are good and good for you.

In an effort to mimic one of my favorite dishes from Asian Fusion restaurants, I decided to try my hand at lightly breading some tilapia. By mixing crushed macadamia nuts with panko breadcrumbs, I got a wonderfully crispy coating on the fish without that over greasy taste. A squeeze of lemon juice over the top and it almost had me feeling like I was back on the islands.

Need a little Island flavor in your week? Try this Macadamia Crusted Tilapia…..quick, easy, and delicious!


Macadamia Crusted Tilapia
Serves 2


2 Fillets of Fresh Tilapia
1 Cup of Macadamia Nuts, crushed
½ Cup of Panko Breadcrumbs
1 Large Egg
2-3 Tablespoons of Low-fat Milk
Kosher Salt, Garlic Powder, Black Pepper
½ Cup of All Purpose Flour (dredging)
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2-3 Lemon Slices

Create a dredging process. In one shallow bowl, place flour and lightly season with salt ad pepper. In second shallow bowl, beat large egg and combine with milk. In third bowl, combine macadamia nuts with panko breadcrumbs.

Take first fillet of Tilapia and pat dry with a clean paper towel. Lightly season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Place in first shallow bowl and lightly coat with the seasoned flour, gently patting off any excess flour. Slide the fillet in egg mixture and lightly coat. Finally, transfer fillet to the last shallow bowl and cover thoroughly with the macadamia-panko mixture. Gently press the breading to the fish so that there is an even coat.

Heat a large nonstick skillet on medium to medium-high. Add olive oil and carefully slide tilapia fillets in. Cook for 4-5 minutes on each side, until crust is golden brown and fish flakes by fork.

Serve with lemon wedges. Enjoy!

Pastas/Noodles · Seafood

Grilled Prawns with Orzo


Awhile back, our friend Carol had her photo of an Artichoke Orzo Salad showcased with Pioneer Woman and it reminded me of how much I love this Mediterannean-styled salad from our local deli. So for lunch the other day, I decided to make my version of this light and fairly healthy dish.

The BF and I really enjoyed the final product. It was fresh, bright, and deliciously savory–without leaving you with that heavy feeling other pastas often do. By using jarred artichoke hearts, I easily cut the prep time while adding in a great texture–not to mention, veggies. The use of both fresh mozzarella and feta cheeses gave the orzo an almost “decadent” flavor to compliment the warm grilled prawns.

Next time you’re in the mood for a pasta, give this recipe a try and hopefully–it will give you the feeling of eating while on some fabulous Mediterranean Island. 🙂


Looking for a Vegetarian dish? Leave out the Prawns or use firm tofu in lieu. Be sure to extend marinating time if using tofu.

Grilled Prawns with Orzo
Makes 4-5 Servings


20-25 Prawns (peeled, deveined, with tail on)
1 Teaspoon Lemon Zest
3 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
½ Teaspoon Red Chili Flakes
1 Teaspoon Salt

1 Cup Orzo (Before cooking)
1½ Cups Chopped Artichoke Hearts
½ Cup Chopped Sun Dried Tomatoes (preserved in olive oil)
¾ Cup Crumbled Feta Cheese
½ Cup Diced Fresh Mozzarella Cheese
¼ Cup Chopped Fresh Sweet Basil
Salt and Pepper to taste
Vinaigrette (see below)

2 Tablespoons Oil from the Sun Dried Tomatoes
4 Tablespoons White Wine Vinegar
1 Teaspoon Fresh Thyme Leaves
½ Teaspoon Dried Thyme
Salt and Pepper to taste

Prepare vinaigrette by whisking together the first 4 ingredients. Add Salt and Pepper to taste.

Cook the 1 cup of dried Orzo in salted water. Drain thoroughly and move to a large bowl. Immediately add Artichokes, Sun Dried Tomatoes and toss with Vinaigrette. Add ½ cup Feta Cheese and Sweet Basil. Toss lightly. Salt and Pepper to taste and chill for a minimum of 30-45 minutes.

While the Orzo is chilling, mix the Prawns together with Lemon Zest, Olive Oil, Chili Flakes, and Salt. Marinate for 10-15 minutes. On a grill pan at high heat, cook Prawns 1-2 minutes per side–being careful not to overcook. Move to clean plate.

Retrieve chilled Orzo and toss in diced Mozzarella and remaining ¼ cup Feta Cheese. Check seasonings and add additional salt and pepper as needed.

Plate Orzo on dishes and place 4-5 grilled Prawns on top. Garnish and serve.