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Posts from the ‘Fish & Shellfish’ Category

Griddle Scallops with Malanga Pureée and Chorizo Oil

IMG_5585 Beginning next week, I’ll be taking a pretty extensive cookbook research break that will keep me away from this site well into June, so I didn’t want to miss the chance to post one more time. In what might be the most boring premise for a reality television show ever – leading up to any trip, I stop buying food and try to only use what I have on hand. That left me with a few links of chorizo bought for garbanzos, an extra 2 pounds of malanga that never became fritters, and a half bunch of parsley because – well there’s just always parsley.

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Sea Scallops with a Malanga Crust

Every four years, my extended family gets together in South Carolina for a week long reunion.  Synced to both the presidential election (something to argue about) and the summer Olympics (something to look forward to), we always know when it’s coming.  This time I carved out a few extra days to visit nearby Savannah – a city I’ve had a crush on for a very long time. Read more

Harina con Cangrejo

Despite a lifetime of research, I’m always discovering something new in Cuban food.  While it reminds me not to take anything for granted, less pleasant is knowing that my nearest and dearest have been holding out on me.  That’s how I felt when I discovered that harina – cornmeal simmered to a creamy state and topped with peppery sofritos and poached or fried eggs, ham or chorizo, shimp or crab – was a Cuban comfort food staple that everyone was having but no one was talking about.  I’d enjoyed Italian polenta prepared this way, but I  hadn’t realized there was a take on it that was much closer to home – just not my home. Read more

Chiles Rellenos con Camarones al Chipotle

The weeks between Mardi Gras and Easter are defined by what you can’t do (or can’t do just yet) – light jackets but schizophrenic weather, longer days but dark morning commutes – a period of austerity before it’s all bunnies, baskets and tulips. While I’m far from orthodox, I do try to follow the no-meat on Friday rule during lent (though full confession I only seem to remember halfway through a turkey sandwich or mid-Korean barbecue).  With friends coming over, the timing was right for seafood. Read more

New Routine

I’ve spent the last couple of weeks under water.  Not that I’ve been unusually busy, I’ve just returned to my aqua girl routines in hopes of washing away the holiday excess – drinking water like it’s my job, swimming laps like I’m being chased by a shark, and looking to add more fish to my weekly diet.  Cooking fish has always made me nervous.  At best, I worry that I’ll let it go too long and over cook it, at worst, that I’ll poison everyone I love in one fell swoop.  I usually stick to the sushi grade varieties in the belief that if I’d just as soon eat it raw, there isn’t anything I can do to make it deadly.  Still, no one likes a rut and the guys at the fish store automatically move towards the salmon before I’ve even placed my order.  Sometimes I’ll change it to tuna or trout just to keep them guessing but I’m pretty sure it’s daring only to me.  After a few weeks of seeing pargo (snapper) on every Cuban restaurant menu in Miami, I thought it was time switch things up again. Read more

Arroz con Coco

Arroz con coco rates high on the long list of things I should have tried sooner.  A staple of Caribbean cooking, especially along the coast of Colombia, it’s essentially white rice cooked with coconut milk then served with fried fish, plantains, avocado.  Deceptively simple, I used equal parts canned light coconut milk and water for the first attempt, combining all the ingredients and bringing them to a fast boil.  The result was great if I was going for rice pudding but otherwise too sticky and un-fluffable.  Trying to get the proportions and the timing right, I used a second can and sautéed the rice with a little bit of oil before adding the liquid.  It may have worked but I let it go too long and the amount of rice was way off, so it burned before it cooked. Read more

Casquinha de Siri

Looking over Caribbean or Central American recipes, it’s no longer necessary to seek out Latin American markets or bodegas in search of specialty items.  Increasingly popular, all grocery stores are now Latin American bodegas (or at least have a booming selection of Goya products).  I could also order absolutely anything online but it doesn’t compare to finding it in a newly discovered shop or even better, bringing back a longed for ingredient from a trip.  Portuguese and Brazilian recipes pose there own challenges.  Too often lumped in with the rest of South America, it’s a combination of indigenous, Portuguese, and African influences whose unique ingredients can put it just out of everyday reach.  I can find guajillo chiles or aji amarillo within few blocks of my house but I have yet to come across dendê oil or malagueta peppers by chance, making it that much more exciting to find farina de mandioca on the lower east side. Read more

Tequila-Cured Salmon Gravlax

A friend from Seattle once described his family’s Christmas tree ritual.  Every December, they’d go to the woods, pick a tree, argue a little, cut it down, then bring it home where they’d have hot chocolate together.  A lovely story, but so wholesome, it seemed exotic.  Told to a bunch of urbanites who believed Christmas trees sprouted up spontaneously from the sidewalks in front of grocery stores once a year, we wanted to know if there was a designated “tree section” of the forest.  That’s the way I felt about making my own gravlax which I’d only bought pre-packaged and ready to serve (random connection I know but they’re both related to the Pacific Northwest).  I love sushi, ceviche and all things smoked and cured, but when it comes to fish, I relied on chefs and Nova Scotians to tell me when it’s raw and when it’s lunch.  This week I found a recipe for tequila-cured salmon topped with mango and lime relish that changed my mind. Read more

Grilled Tuna Steak with Roasted Tomatoes

I wish I had the ability to just stroll over to the farmer’s market, grab a couple of beets, some Swiss chard, and an apricot and turn it into a feast by finding inspiration in the season laid out under tents and weighing down tables.  But that would mean giving up the planning, the list, and the check off which I also love, especially the list. Read more

What’s Left?

I’ve always hated the word leftovers (though it’s invisible to anyone reading this, I’ve written that first sentence three times to avoid using that word to no avail).  I love the feeling of having bought, made and served just enough.  Though I dutifully store away the smallest amount that remains of any dish or ingredient, I resent it.  As someone who often cooks at home with an ongoing game of tupperware jenga going on in her refrigerator, it was time to reconsider how I used the (ugh) leftovers that were piling up.  My attitude started to change last week when I was making papas en salsa verde.  The recipe suggested serving them with refried beans.  With bags of frozen beans periodically jumping at me from the freezer, crashing to the floor, and threatening to knock out one of my yorkies, I decided to defrost some of the black beans I’d already made rather than start from scratch (too late) or open a can (too bland).  Having congratulated myself on completing a second recipe from my initial batch of beans, I decided to use the remaining salsa verde to try a third one for pipián verde, a tomatillo sauce combined with toasted pumpkin seeds.  Perfect for the last Friday before Easter, I decide to make it again tonight to end the Lenten season.  I still don’t like leftovers but I’m starting to like the idea of one dish becoming another and then another and then another… Read more

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