Pan-Seared Halibut

halibut with pear gastrique

Although there apparently isn’t a distinct halibut season, the first half of summer is when these wonderful fish seem to be most abundant. So around this time, I can grab some fresh halibut, and you can bet it’s headed for my plate, pronto.

Halibut is a firm white fish with a mild flavor, which makes it perfect for pan searing and it works well with a light fruity gastrique and the earthy flavor of chopped fresh Brussels sprouts sauteed with bacon and shallots. For this recipe, I made the gastrique using pear nectar and topped it with slices of pear that were sauteed in a little butter. 

The dish is simple and easy to prepare. The fresh ingredients are what makes it sing.

The recipe serves four, but it’s easily adjusted up or down.

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Seafood Paella

Seafood Paella

Paella is a wonderful summertime one-dish meal prepared on the grill. It evokes the essence of Spanish cuisine and is full of luscious seafood flavors tinged with smoky aromas and just a little spiciness.

To make the paella properly, you’ll need a paella pan, which is designed for use on an open fire or grill.

This version isn’t perfectly authentic. Personally, I’m not fond of dealing with peeling shrimp or messing with mussel and clam shells, so I pre-steamed the shellfish and peeled and deveined the shrimp before placing them into the paella mix, but you can do the more authentic version by skipping that step and placing the unpeeled shrimp and clams and mussels into the rice (just remember to remove unopened shellfish before serving). Some versions also include chunks of chicken, which is browned in the pan right after the sausage and added back to the mix when the sausage goes in. In truth, paella is kind of free form, meaning that you can make it from just about any combination of meat and seafood. I’ve even seen vegetarian versions.

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Miso Salmon

miso salmon

Salmon is both a quick and easy meal, whether for lunch or a full meal. And this miso salmon is definitely at the top of that list. The only tough part is getting a good salmon, and while that’s generally easier than it once was, getting a really good salmon from Alaska or the northwest coast still can be a problem sometimes. Generally, I try to stay away from farmed salmon, in part because they often use color enhancements to make the fish look better in the case. I get why they do it, but well, it doesn’t sit right with me. 

So when I can get good salmon, the miso salmon is one of those “go to” recipes I often use, because it requires only a little marinade and a bit of time in the oven. At that point, your pretty much done. It’s really fast and gives you plenty of time to focus on a great side dish if you’ve got something special or just want to get a quick meal on the table and be done with it. The marinade does have only one ingredient — the miso — that can be difficult to find, but honestly, with online shopping, it’s really not hard. And the miso can last a long time if kept pretty well in the fridge or the freezer.

Give this a try the next time you need something in a hurry.

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Red Snapper with Cilantro, Garlic, and Lime

red snapper with cilantro

Once in a while, there is nothing quite like a really fresh red snapper. You almost never want to do too much to it — in part because it can quickly mess up a really good fish dish and in part, because you honestly don’t want to play around too much with something that can be so very special as a good red snapper. I’ll often play around with cod or something similar, but I want a good ocean fish — like a red snapper — to smell and taste like it came right from the sea.

This recipe, which actually came in part from a Gourmet magazine, uses almost nothing to make it stand out. The fish is cooked with just a little salt and pepper. The rest of the recipe involves making a Southeast Asian kind of gremolata that uses cilantro, garlic and lime rather than the traditional parsley and lemon. Just that little change in the gremolata makes all the difference and turn the fish into a soaring triumph.

And best of all, when you walk in the door, the main dish can be on the table in about 20 minutes, start to finish.

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Pad See Ew (Pork, Seafood, BBQ)

Pad See Ew

It took me a good long time to come up with my own Pad See Ew. Not that the recipe was too easy, but I tried for a year or more to get the recipe perfectly, and that really drove me about half nuts. And that, my friends, is where the trouble was. Too understand how that happened, here’s the story:

The story begins with a small little restaurant nearby that sold the best Pad See Ew I’d ever had. I loved the stuff. It was juicy, had these big broad noodles, and had an amazing smoky taste I have never had anywhere. So, of course, the lovely restaurant wasn’t about to let  this little secret out, so for better than a year I went looking for that smoky flavor, only to find myself right back to where I started (and don’t start on the those amazing broad noodles, which can be found but not easily). 

In the end, it was apparent: I wasn’t going to figure out the amazing flavorings from the restaurant, so the next step was to figure out my own little taste and give that a try. This one is a little different in the taste, of course, but it’s easy and very straight forward to make. And as soon as I can find those damn broad noodles, I’ll include those as well, but for now the thinner noodles will have to do.

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Glazed Pan Seared Cod with Carrot Ginger Broth

Glazed Pan Seared Cod with Carrot Ginger Broth

This recipe for pan seared cod is the latest in a series of recipes in which I’ve been trying to develop and make use of wine-based broths made from single vegetables in conjunction with seafood. The experiments started with the grilled halibut in tomato broth recipe I posted a while back, borrowed from Bahn Mi Boys Restaurants in Toronto. And I’m not sure what’s next, but I’m discovering that these single vegetable broths are very versatile and make for some very pretty presentations.

The broths take some time to create, but they can be made a day or two ahead of time, so the prep time for the meal can be very short if necessary. The flavors in the broth are bright and concentrated and offer a perfect complement to the sweet umami rich flavors from the glaze on the fish.

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Shrimp with Sriracha Lime Dip

Shrimp with Sriracha Lime Dip

I’m always on the lookout for interesting small plates I can make for a special lunch or as a first course for a more elaborate dinner. Shrimp are always a good bet for that. I actually devised this Shrimp with Sriracha Lime Dip in response to the need for a small light dinner entrée, but I think it actually would work better as lunch or an appetizer, so I’ll offer it up here in that capacity. If you use about a pound of shrimp, it will make four nice portions easily.

The shrimp themselves are straight forward. Use your favorite marinade or your favorite rub to make a marinade, and after half an hour or so in that, give them a quick sauté in some butter or olive oil. For this version, I used Mangia’s Shrimp Mojo, which for me has the perfect balance of flavor and heat. I didn’t want the shrimp themselves to be too spicy. The real bang comes from the dipping sauce.

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