Posts from the ‘Fish’ Category

A bit on buying fish…

If you go into your local fish market looking to supply yourself with some fish for dinner tonight…smell it before you buy it…if it smells like an anchovies armpit, its safe to say that fish is not fresh and certainly not delicious. Try to find another fish from the green list on the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch pocket guide below. If you can’t find any available fish that doesn’t smell gross, put your money away and figure out something else to eat…its seriously not worth spending your money on fish that isn’t fresh, seriously!!

(To download the Monterey Bay Seafood Watch Guide for your pocket, click HERE)

In general, use your senses and your judgement, they are your best tools.

If the fish looks pale and sad, its probably not fresh.

If it looks soft and mushy, its probably not fresh.

If it says “Organic” then its probably been swimming in its own shit for its entire life and won’t taste good.

If the people working at the market are not helpful and don’t seem like they care about you or don’t know what they are talking about, find another place to buy fish. Fish mongers should be knowledgable and helpful and if they aren’t, they probably aren’t dealing with good, fresh fish to begin with (and they suck at their job).

Always ask what’s really fresh today. If its a trusted fish market, you’ll be pointed in the right direction.  If your fish monger immediately suggests the most expensive fish and it fails your judgement and senses test, just leave the store. If they seem annoyed by your questions, again, leave the store. They should be more than willing to answer your questions and educate you. After all, that is their job.

Eqiuped with the Monterey Bay Seafood Guide and a few of the tips listed above, you should enjoy a life full of delicious seafood and void of stinky anchovy armpit seafood…

**Side Note** Just read the FDA is considering approval of genetically modified Salmon (as I type these words…steam is erupting from my ears in frustration)…more on this B.S. as the story develops…FML

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P.E.I. Mussels w/ Chorizo & Crispy Oven Baked Fries w/ Sweet & Spicy Dipping Sauce

This recipe was supposed to be my very first post…but there were no good mussels to be found anywhere so I had to make some pasta. But now I got me some…and they are amazing. The mussels from Prince Edward Island in Canada are exceptional…big, meaty, plump and tender and somehow have the least amount of grit in them, which makes for a more pleasant eating experience. Best of all, P.E.I mussels, a top quality ingredient is $3-4 a pound. I buy 1 pound per person so a meal for two costs me $6 in mussels! That’s as inexpensive as it gets so take advantage of it. Make sure you try and get a piece of chorizo with every bite…its ridiculously delicious!

Oven Fries Ingredients:

I think I prefer these fries to deep fried fries. If done well, they are every bit as delicious and possibly even better.

2 Russet Potatoes (good rule of thumb, buy 1 potato per person)

Olive Oil

Paprika

Salt & Pepper

Sweet & Spicy Sauce:

Heaping Spoonful of Mayo

Heaping Spoonful of Ketchup

1 Teaspoon of Siracha Sauce (Asian chili sauce)

1 1/2 Teaspoons of Honey

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The fries will take 40 minutes to cook so start them first. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Scrub your potatoes under water to get some of the dirt off them and dry them off. Slice the potato in half and then cut into wedges. Put the wedges in a bowl and run under cold water until the water runs clear. This helps to wash away a lot of the starch in the potatoes and it helps them crisp up when they cook. The longer you keep them in water, the better but you can use them right away.

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spread the fries out. Add oil, salt, pepper and paprika and toss to cover. Space them out on the baking sheet so most of the surface of the potatoes are making contact with the foil so they get nice and crispy. Throw them in the oven and bake for 40 minutes turning them half way through cooking. After about 40 minutes or when they look browned and crisp, take them out of the oven and plate with the dipping sauce.

Sorry for not having any pictures for the sweet and spicy dipping sauce, didn’t know if it would come out good so I didn’t shoot it. It turned out to be so good so I kept it. To make it, add a heaping spoonful of mayo and a heaping spoonful of ketchup, about a teaspoon of Siracha sauce and about a teaspoon of honey in a bowl and mix to combine. Taste it and adjust…if its too spicy add more honey, if its too sweet add some spice…you want a nice balanced sweet and spicy sauce.

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Mussels Ingredients:


2 Lbs of Fresh Prince Edward Island Mussels, Rinsed and De-bearded (or about 1 lb/person)

1  – 1 1/2 Cups of Good Quality Chorizo, Sliced into Half Moons

1 Spanish Onion

5 Garlic Cloves, Halved and Thinly Sliced

1 Cup of Good White Wine (One you’d like to drink)

2 Tablespoons of Cream

Handful of Flat-Leaf Parsley

A Knob of Butter

Salt & Pepper

Olive Oil

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First you’ve got to clean and de-beard your mussels. The beard is basically the mussels umbilical cord that attaches to things when they are growing. Its not yummy to eat so find it along the side of the mussel and just kinda yank it off. Also look for mussels that aren’t tightly shut…if they don’t close when you grab them then they are dead and need to be tossed. Then just go through the rest and scrub them under cold water with your thumbs. Toss them in a bowl of cold water and refrigerate it until your ready to use them.

Halve and slice the chorizo and garlic.

Chop the top off the onion, slice it in half, make vertical cuts across the onion then dice.

So your fries should be in the oven now and your mussels are prepped and ready to go. Your gonna want to start the mussels about 20 minutes before the fries are done so everything comes together at the same time.

Get out a heavy bottomed pot or a dutch oven and heat over medium-high heat. When its hot, add some olive oil and toss in the chorizo to brown. Once browned, use a slotted spoon to transfer to some paper towel then add the onions and garlic to the pot. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. After the onions and garlic are soft, add the wine and cream and cook for about a minute.

Add the mussels, give it a quick stir and then put the lid on and let the mussels steam for 8-10 minutes or until they are fully opened. Once cooked, add 3/4 of the chorizo and  3/4 of the parsley (reserving some to sprinkle on top when plated) and butter.

Plate the mussels in a bowl along with some of the yummy broth and sprinkle on the remaining chorizo and parsley.

All that’s is left to do is eat and enjoy…let me know what you think!

Crab Cakes/Remoulade Sauce/Arugula, Watercress, Shaved Carrot & Apple Salad w/ Lemon Vinaigrette

Don’t know where it came from but I got smacked with a craving for crab cakes. I looked around the internet to get the idea of how to make them and found some inspiration and came up with a vision for how I wanted to make them. Obviously you need a nice sauce for the crab cakes and since this was going to be my dinner, I needed something else make it a well-rounded dish. So I came up with this salad to go with it. Now…I want to be completely honest with you, my crab cakes were a little too wet in my mind. I think its because I kind of made up the measurements as I went along or maybe I made the cakes too big. This will happen sometimes…if I’m making up a recipe, it may not come out perfect the first time. But I don’t want to deter you from trying this out! Just adjust…that’s what makes you a good cook. If you make this and when you go to try and shape the cakes and they seem a little too loose for you, add some more breadcrumbs to try and tighten it up a little more. Also make a mini crab cake as a test before you make the ones your going to eat, if they come out too wet, you can adjust it without messing up the whole batch. Besides that little quip of mine, the flavors are there for sure. The diced apple in the salad and the crunch of the greens and the shaved carrot go really well with the crab cakes and the remoulade. I like the presentation as well, if you make this for a special occasion, it could be a real show-stopper…you might even get lucky…if its that kind of occasion!

Ingredients:

1 lb. Good Quality Lump Crabmeat (make sure you dig through it a little and make sure there are no bits of shells hiding in there)

1 Small Red Onion, Diced

1 Red Pepper, Diced

1 Yellow Pepper, Diced

1/4 cup Fresh Flat-Leaf Parsley, Finely Chopped

1 Tablespoon of Capers, Drained

1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce

1 Tablespoons Old Bay

About 1 1/2 cup Bread Crumbs

1/2 cup Mayonnaise

1 Tablespoons Dijon Mustard

2 Large Eggs

Frank’s Red Hot

Remoulade (Recipe Follows)

Arugula Watercress and Shaved Carrot Salad (Recipe Follows)

Salt & Pepper

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Get your ingredients prepared (remember, Mise en Place!!)

Take off the head of the red onion but leave the root attached. Slice it down the middle…the lay it flat make nice slices all the way across the onion. Put it in a bowl.

Cut off the top and a little slice of the bottom of the pepper then stand it up and give it one slice down the body. Take your knife and CAREFULLY trim off a thin layer of the inside making sure to take off the ribs and seeds. This makes the pepper easy to make into nice little cubes. If you want, cut the pepper into threes to help make life a little easier. Cut the pepper in to slices, try to make them as even as possible…then turn the strips keeping them lined up…then slice them into little cubes. Repeat with the other pepper. You just bumped your knife skills up about 10 levels!

Put the peppers and onion into a bowl…but keep some of it for plating, the colors will make my white dish pop!

Chop the parsley. You should probably save a tiny bit to sprinkle with the peppers and onions to garnish…such a freak.

Drain and chop the capers. Just throw them in with the peppers and onions (not the ones reserved for garnish!)

You got you things in place now. DO IT!

Heat about 2 tablespoons each of extra virgin olive oil and butter in a small pan on medium-high heat. Add the peppers, onions, capers and parsley. Season with salt and pepper and add the hot sauce, the worcestershire, the old bay toss it to combine and cook till soft, about 10 minutes.

Let that cool down and start to make the crab mixture.

Cover and throw it in the fridge for like 20 minutes. Remember, mine were too wet, if yours comes out the same, add more breadcrumbs.

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Remoulade Sauce:


1 cup Mayonnaise

1 Tablespoon of Capers, Roughly Chopped

1 Shallot, Roughly Chopped

2 Garlic Cloves, Roughly Chopped

4 Baby Cornichons (or 1-2 Big ones, they are just pickles if you don’t know what they are)

1 Lemon, Juiced

½ Cup Flat-Leaf Parsley, Roughly Chopped

½ Chives, Roughly Chopped

Salt & Pepper

I have this 3-in-1 food processor, hand blender and an automatic whisk (which is worthless and I never use). If you have a blender, use that. Prep all the ingredients then add them into the food processor, give it a good zap zap zap! Taste it to check seasoning. If you need to add a little lemon juice, add some. Put it in the fridge and then and let it sit till your ready to plate that goodness.

Chop the chives, parsley and garlic.

Chop the cornichons and capers.

Chop the shallots. I’m going to dice it because my blender isn’t that powerful so I’m trying to help it along, if you have a good blender, just roughly chop.

Through it all in the blender with the lemon juice and the mayo, blend together. Throw it in the fridge.

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Arugula, Watercress & Shaved Carrot Salad & Diced Apple w/ a Lemon Vinaigrette

1 Bunch of Baby Arugula

1 Bunch of Watercress

¼ Cup Chopped Flat-Leaf Parsley

1 Carrot

1 Lemon

1 Tablespoon Dijon Mustard

1 Fuji Apple (or whatever Apple you want, who cares)

½ Tablespoon of Honey

3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Salt & Pepper

So I always saw Jamie Oliver making vinaigrettes in empty jars because then you can visualize the 3-to-1 Oil-to-vinegar ratio that makes a vinaigrette. Even though I didn’t use vinegar, I though the technique would still work. I tried it here and I was shaking it real hard but it never seemed to emulsify. So I decided to transfer it to a bowl and use a whish to create an emulsion and it worked. Maybe I’ll try it again next time, but I’d suggest using a bowl, adding all the ingredients except the oil. Start whisking and slowly add the oil until you’ve got an emulsion. Readjust the seasoning and you soon will make the most awesome vinaigrettes. But this is how I made this one…

Squeeze about a half the lemon or use the full one if there wasn’t much juice in it. Add the mustard, the honey, salt, pepper and the olive oil. Shake it like a crazy person and try to get the emulsion. If you look closely at the last picture below, you’ll see that it looks kind of broken and when I looked inside, it was too loose when I wanted it to be a little thick. If it sounds like you made the same mistake I did, just pour it in a bowl and use a whisk.

Shave the carrot with a vegetable peeler and dice the apple. Toss with the arugula and watercress and enough of the vinaigrette to coat but don’t leave the salad drowning.

Get your crab cake mixture out of the fridge and heat some butter and olive oil in a non-stick pan on medium heat. Form the mixture into patties and cook for about 4-5 minutes on each side or until they brown nicely.

Start thinking about plating. Grab your remoulade sauce and spoon it on to a plate and spread it into a big circle. Place a crab cake on top of the sauce then gently bunch a handful of the salad on top of the crab cake.

That’s it, serve this up for a date and you’ll blow minds (you may want to perfect your crab cake mixture before actually make this for a date, or you may not blow minds)

As usual, if you make this, email me at scusato@gmail.com and tell me what you think, how it went and what you might do differently. Enjoy!

Pan Roasted Halibut w/ Creamy Lemon and Spinach Farro w/ Toasted Pine Nuts

I’d dare to say that most of you don’t know what Farro is. Understandable. If you do, then you should agree with me that it’s an amazing thing. It’s a delicious grain that is hard to find in a lot of major supermarkets. I get it at specialty stores like Agata & Valentina’s on 79th and 1st and you might be able to get it at Whole Foods. It may be difficult for you to track down but you should definitely try. If you don’t find it anywhere near you, just buy it on Amazon, you could get a 3 pack of Roland Semi Pearled Farro from Italy for $21, do it, it’ll last. I first learned about it about 6 months ago and it immediately became one of my favorite things to eat. Every recipe online said to soak it for couple hours then boil it for another couple hours.  I’m not about to do that, no way, no how. To me, it looked like Arborio rice (risotto rice) so I thought to cook it like risotto. First time I used it I made Red Wine “Farrotto”, ridiculous. But I drink white wine more than red so yesterday I made the following recipe with spinach. I usually use Kale or Swiss Chard but they’re a pain in the ass sometimes to clean. Spinach is easy. I personally think its best with Kale, booming with health and deliciousness. Put a piece of fish on top and you’re a pro. I guarantee, once you try this recipe, Farro will be a staple in your kitchen! Looks hard to make? Its actually stupid how easy it is!

Serves 2 w/ leftovers

1 8-10 oz Wild Halibut fillet, cut into two pieces (Arctic Char is the best fish to use in my opinion but it looked pale, disgusting and not fresh at all at the market so I pulled an audible and grabbed Wild Halibut, go with whatever looks fresh, don’t settle for crap)

1 cup of Semi pearled Farro

1 large bunch of Organic Spinach (Make sure it’s cleaned, if not, clean it…feel free to use Kale, Swiss Chard, or any other leafy green…try something new for a change)

1-2 cups of White Wine that you like to drink

1 Onion chopped

4-6 cloves of Garlic, halved and thinly sliced (The more the better!)

½ cup Toasted Pine Nuts

1 Lemon

4 cups of Vegetable Stock, on standby

A heaping pinch of Red Pepper Flake (Optional, I like it but I forgot to use it here just add it w/ the onions)

A drizzle of Agave Nectar or Honey (Optional, adds a little sweetness)

Salt and Pepper

A knob of Butter (I happened to have truffle butter, so I used that amazing shit)

First and foremost, get your stuff in place (see Mise en Place in the previous post) Slice cloves of garlic in half, peel off the paper, then thinly slice it (always be practicing your knife skills)

When you chop an onion, keep the stem connected and slice the top off. Slice in half, making several slices cross-wise up the onion, then slice it vertically, then run your knife through the onion to chop…it’s hard to explain…just look at the pictures.

So you got your onions and garlic prepped, just measure out your pine nuts and you got all your stuff in place and your ready to bang this dish out!

Put you big skillet on medium-high heat and when its hot, add a 3 count of olive oil, the chopped onions and sliced garlic and cook them until soft.

Add the Farro and try to get every grain nice and covered in oil.

Once the Farro gets nice a toasted (Do not burn it!), squeeze half of a big juicy lemon in, no seeds, and then add a cup or two of the white wine. When the wine starts to evaporate, add about 3 cups of the vegetable stock, no need to measure it, just use your judgment. If later you find you need more, you can always add it…its no problem. Keep and eye on it and cook, stirring every now and then, until it doesn’t taste raw in the middle. It supposed to be a little chewy, that’s one of the characteristics of Farro, its kind of why I love it!

While that cooks, toast the pine nuts in a dry pan (I encourage you try and show off and practice tossing, its part of what makes cooking fun). I like the use the same pan I intend on cooking my fish in. Just wipe the pan out with a paper towel when its done. Reserve 1/3 of pine nuts to sprinkle onto to finish the dish.

Keep checking the Farro and after about 20-30 minutes, it should be pretty cooked, if you can taste its still not cooked, let it go longer and if it needs more moisture, add more stock. When you think the Farro only needs a few more minutes, start prepping your fish. Since Halibut is a diesel sized fish, I usually ask for one nice sized filet and I cut it down the middle into two easy to cook pieces. Season with salt and pepper.

Place the same pan you toasted the nuts on medium-high heat,  add a lug of olive oil and drop the fish in the pan and season the other side with salt and pepper. Don’t fuss with them, let’em sear until they get some nice color, about 2-3 minutes a side in a nice preheated pan. Check the doneness by sorta peeking into the center of the fish and if it looks just undercooked, get it out of the pan because its perfect. Let it rest and it will continue to cook through and be moist and delicious.

If you planned it right, once you leave your fish out to rest, most of the stock should be absorbed and the Farro should be just about done. Add some of the Agave or honey, the spinach, 2/3 of the pine nuts, a knob of butter (I’m using truffle butter, oh yes!), a big ole handful of Parmesan cheese and season to taste. To plate, make a nice mound of Farro and top with the Halibut, one more squeeze of lemon, a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of the remaining pine nuts.

Cook this recipe tomorrow and tell me how it went, what you think and what you might do different!