Shrimp Salad with Avocado and Grapefruit

March 5, 2016

Two of my favorite ingredients are shrimp and avocado, so I was sure that I would love this recipe (but I only liked it). ATK published the recipe as part of their collection of “light” recipes; in fact there is not a drop of olive oil added. Instead, they add a bit of the avocado to the blender which gives the final dressing the impression that I added mayonnaise; a classic Shrimp Salad ingredient. Brilliant trick, and they succeed in obtaining a great, healthy dressing without sacrificing flavor. However, the recipe does not realize its full potential. The bitter grapefruit over powers the other flavors. 2 grapefruits are too much, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt was insufficient. But don’t let these criticisms stop you from making this recipe, 3-1/2 stars. Definitely worth the effort of segmenting the grapefruit.

Delicious salad without any added oil

Delicious salad without any added oil

The 10-year-old recipe was poorly written on the website, with a few errors and omissions (I known its like the pot calling the kettle black; but I only do this for fun). Originally the recipe was part of ATK book; “The Best Light Recipe.” I have noticed that their books are not as refined as are the recipes from their magazine.

Issues / Comments:

  1. The recipe as shown on the Cook’s Illustrated website was missing the peppercorns; I discovered by searching the web that it was to include 1/2 teaspoon.
  2. The Cook’s Illustrated website says to but the snow peas crosswise. But later I noticed that their photo shows them sliced lengthwise.
  3. The recipe doesn’t mention anything about collecting the grapefruit juice, but I read far enough ahead in the recipe to segment the grapefruits over a shallow bowl.
  4. Instead of using Bibb lettuce as called for in the recipe, I substituted romaine that I already had in my refrigerator.

Rating: 3-1/2 stars.
Cost: $8.
How much work? Medium.
How big of a mess?  Medium.
Start time 5:00 PM. Dinner time 5:45 PM.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here. The descriptions of how I prepared it today are given below:

Shrimp Ingredients:
1 lemon, halved
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 pound shrimp (21 to 25 count per pound)

Salad and Vinaigrette Ingredients:
2 medium pink grapefruits
1 avocado (large)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from 1 lime)
1/2 teaspoon honey
1-1/2 teaspoons minced ginger (from 1″ piece)
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint leaves
2 ounces snow peas
16 leaves Bibb lettuce

  1. If necessary, peel and de-vein the shrimp. Add 3 cups of water to a medium saucepan. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice of lemon into the pot, also add the squeezed lemon halves. Add 1 bay leaf and 1/2 teaspoon peppercorns. Bring up to a boil over high burner, and let boil for 2 minutes.
  2. Remove the pan from the burner and add shrimp. Cover; allow to sit off the heat for 8 minutes. Meanwhile prepare a medium bowl filled with ice water.
  3. Empty the shrimp into a colander, immediately moving the shrimp into the ice water, and allow to cool for 3 minutes. Discard lemon halves, bay leaves, and peppercorns. Drain the shrimp and put in a large, dry bowl.
  4. Peel the grapefruit and carefully segment the grapefruit and remove pith, being careful to collect any of the juice (you’ll eventually need 1/4-cup). You can add the grapefruit segments into the bowl with the shrimp as you go.
  5. Add 1/4-cup grapefruit juice (add enough water to equal 1/4 cup) to blender, along with 1/4 of the avocado, 2 tablespoons lime juice, 1/2 teaspoon honey, 1-1/2 teaspoons ginger, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Process in blender until smooth; about 20 seconds. Taste the dressing and adjust with up to an additional 1/2 teaspoon honey and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
  6. Prepare the remaining ingredients, adding to the bowl with the shrimp as you go. Chop 1 tablespoon fresh mint leaves. Cut the snow peas lengthwise into 1/8″-wide strips and remove the strings. Dice the avocado into 1/2″-cubes. Wash and dry the bibb lettuce.
  7. To serve, arrange the lettuce onto 4 serving plates. Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl with the shrimp; top with dressing from blender and carefully toss until evenly coated. Even divide among the 4 plates and drizzle any of the dressing left in the bowl on top of the salad.

Shrimp Scampi

February 6, 2016

Finally! Chris Kimball has badly needed to update his 16-year-old Shrimp Scampi recipe, which used just 1 tablespoon of vermouth and lacked lemon flavor. Over those 16 years I have adapted his old recipe, and published my own personal updates about 6 months ago. I felt that that recipe was much more well-rounded.

After adding them back to the reduced sauce

After adding them back to the reduced sauce

Today’s recipe is an even greater improvement. The biggest news with this recipe is a change in cooking technique; poaching the shrimp in homemade stock rather than sauteing them. By replacing the ever-so-slight caramelization of the shrimp, with a much more aggressive caramelization of the shells. Today’s recipe offers more tender shrimp and better flavor of the sauce; a win-win. 5-stars.

Caramelization from the empty shells; not the shrimp

Caramelization from the empty shells; not the shrimp


  1. Chris Kimball recommends serving with crusty bread. But to make a meal out of this I recommend serving with pasta, potatoes or rice.
  2. Extra-large shrimp (21 to 25 per pound) can be substituted for jumbo shrimp. If you use them, reduce the shrimp cooking time in Step 10 by 1 to 2 minutes.
  3. Chris Kimball says he prefers untreated shrimp, but if your shrimp are treated with sodium or preservatives (such as sodium tripolyphosphate) then skip the brining in Step 3.

Rating: 5-stars
Cost: $12.
How much work? Medium.
How big of a mess?  Medium.
Started: 5:10 PM.  Ready:  6:00PM

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here.  The descriptions of how I prepared it today are given below:

Brine Ingredients:
3 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 pounds shell-on jumbo shrimp (16-to-20 per pound)

Sauce Ingredients:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup dry white wine
4 sprigs fresh thyme
3 tablespoons lemon juice, plus 1 lemon cut into wedges for serving
1 teaspoon cornstarch
8 garlic cloves, sliced thin
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

  1. The best way to defrost shrimp is to leave them in a covered bowl overnight in your refrigerator; The next day rinse then with cold water. If you didn’t defrost your shrimp last night, fill a large bowl of cold tap water. Put shrimp in colander and submerge in cold water. After 10 minutes change the cold water and allow another 10 to 20 minutes to defrost. Peel (and devein) the shrimp, reserving the shells for Step 2.
  2. Start to boil water for pasta, potatoes or rice. Starting at the beginning is imperative because it can take longer to prepare than the actual scampi.
  3. If your shrimp are treated with sodium or preservatives (such as sodium tripolyphosphate), skip the following brining steps (and add 1/4 teaspoon of salt to the sauce in step 12). To brine your shrimp, add 1 quart (4 cups) water to a large bowl and dissolve 3 tablespoons salt and 2 tablespoons sugar. Add shrimp to brine, cover, and refrigerate for 15 minutes.  Remove shrimp from brine and use paper towels to pat them dry.
  4. Put a 12″-regular skillet over high burner and pre-heat 1 tablespoon olive oil until it begins to shimmer. Add shrimp shells and cook for 4 minutes, stir frequently, until the shells and skillet start to brown.
  5. Briefly remove skillet from burner; reduce burner to medium. Add 1 cup white wine and thyme springs. Once the bubbling is over, put skillet over medium burner and gently simmer for 5 minutes; stirring occasionally.
  6. Meanwhile, thinly slice 8 cloves of garlic. Chop your 1 tablespoon of parsley. Cut 4 tablespoons of butter into 1/2″-pieces.
  7. Strain mixture through a colander into a medium bowl; discard the solids. You should be left with 2/3-cup of liquid.
  8. In a small bowl, mix together 3 tablespoons lemon juice and 1 teaspoon cornstarch.
  9. Wipe out your skillet using paper towels. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil, sliced garlic and 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes to skillet, and set over medium-low burner for 3 to 5 minutes; until the edges of the garlic begin to brown.
  10. Add the 2/3-cup of reduced wine to the skillet and increase burner to high until it comes up to a simmer. Reduce burner to medium. Add raw shrimp to liquid, cover with lid, and cook for about 5 minutes; stir occasionally. When the shrimp are opaque, use a slotted spoon to remove shrimp to a medium bowl.
  11. Continue to cook sauce over medium burner and add lemon juice (from Step 8). Cook for just 1 minute to allow to slightly thicken.
  12. Remove skillet from burner and add 4 tablespoons of butter and 1 tablespoon chopped parsley.  If you did not brine your shrimp than add 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and adjust according to taste. Return the shrimp to the pan along with any accumulated juices. Toss to combine, cut 1 lemon into wedges, and serve with the lemon wedges separately.


Miso-Marinated Salmon for Two

October 14, 2015

After reading Chris Kimball’s description, I googled “Miso-Marinated salmon” to see why this recipe usually takes 3 days. More or less, that extended time allows the flavors to penetrate into the fish. But the longer the fish marinades the more the fish tends to dry out. So Chris Kimball’s 24-hour limit is there to ensure “silky and moist” fish. While the caramelization of the outer-crust delivers delicious flavor, I did feel that the miso/mirin/sake flavors did not penetrate the fish. The subtle flavor did allow the fish to be the star of the show, based upon the perfect texture of the fish. 4-stars

Looks more flavorful than it tastes

Looks more flavorful than it tastes

During my googling I noticed that many recipes call for Toasted Sesame oil; something not included by Chris Kimball. But he hit the nail on the head when he calls for broiling the fish 8-inches from the broiler element. A distance that allows for the fish to both caramelize and cook evenly at the same time.


  1. I made the version for only two people, because my older son won’t eat seafood. But the main recipe is for 4 people.
  2. While Chris Kimball says that the fish needs as little as 6 hours to marinate, I would suggest going for a full 24 hours to marinate. Even with 24 hours that flavors are subtle; given that the traditional recipes take up to 3 days.
  3. Because fish is so delicate, it’s important to use fillets of similar thickness so that they cook evenly. It is recommended to buy a large center-cut fillet (between 1-1/2 and 2 pounds, if serving 4) and cut into equal pieces.
  4. Any shade of miso can be used: yellow, red, or brown types can. But the recipe calls for the sweet, fruity flavor of white miso.

Rating: 4-stars.
Cost: $9.
How much work? Low.
How big of a mess? Low.
Start time 6:00 PM. Ready at 6:20 PM. (plus 24 hours)

Chris Kimball’s original recipe for is here. My descriptions of how I prepared it today are given below:

1/4 cup white miso paste
2 tablespoons sugar
1-1/2 tablespoons sake
1-1/2 tablespoons mirin
2 (6- to 8-ounce) skin-on salmon fillets
Lemon wedges

  1. In a medium bowl, add miso, sugar, sake, and mirin. Whisk together until sugar and miso dissolve; the mixture will be thick.
  2. Dip each fish fillet into the mixture to cover all sides of flesh (you can skip the skin). Set in a baking dish with the skin-side downwards, and empty any extra mixture over the fish. Cover with plastic wrap and put in refrigerator for 24 hours (bare minimum of 6 hours).
  3. Set an oven rack so that it is 8-inches from the broiler element. Pre-heat broiler.
  4. Put a wire rack in a rimmed baking sheet, cover rack with aluminum foil. Use your fingers to scrape away the miso mixture from the fish, and move skin-side down on to the foil. Be sure to leave 1″ between the pieces of fish.
  5. Broil salmon for 10 to 14 minutes; rotate 180-degrees after 6 minutes. The fish will be ready when the center of the fish reads 125-degrees on an instant read thermometer.
  6. Serve passing with lemon wedges.

Shrimp Scampi

July 18, 2015

Chris Kimball has a basic recipe for Shrimp Scampi. The result is perfectly cooked and flavored shrimp. However his recipe has one problem huge problem; it yields barely enough sauce to flavor the shrimp with nothing left over for the accompanying pasta (or potatoes as I served it today).  While his original recipe calls for 2 pounds of shrimp, I’ve adjusted the recipe down to use just over 1 pound of shrimp, which is ideal for 3 people when serving with over a bed of pasta or potatoes. Also, instead of using 1 tablespoons of vermouth, I reduce 1 cup of white wine down to 1/4 cup. Even though this recipe yields more than twice sauce as Chris Kimball’s original recipe; I still find that there is never enough sauce.

Just enough sauce to complement the bed of garlic, cheese mashed potatoes.

Just enough sauce to complement the bed of mashed potatoes.

I posted Chris Kimball’s version of Shrimp Scampi over 5 years ago, but it bears very little resemblance to the Shrimp Scampi I’ve been making over the subsequent years.


  1. Chris Kimball says to cook the shrimp for just 1 minute; stirring occasionally. However, I find that my shrimp always needs more cooking time. So in general, I’ve switched to using his technique to for cooking longer on one side of the shrimp to promote a little caramelization. The residual heat of the shrimp will finish cooking the second side after being removed from the skillet.
  2. I prefer to use cilantro instead of parsley, which I think is too muted. However, I use whichever I already have in my kitchen.
  3. Instead of 1 tablespoon of Vermouth, I reduce 1 cup of dry white wine down to 1/4 cup. It concentrates the flavor of the wine, and by using cilantro (instead of parsley) I do not miss the subtle herb flavoring of the vermouth.
  4. I increased to 3 tablespoons of lemon juice, which I think makes the scampi brighter and more flavorful.
  5. I usually serve this over a bed of angel hair pasta, but today I served it over some extra creamy mashed potatoes.

Rating: 5-stars
Cost: $11.
How much work? Low.
How big of a mess?  Low/Medium.
Started: 5:00 PM.  Ready:  6:15 PM

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here.  The descriptions of how I prepared it today are given below:

4 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 pounds large shrimp (21-to-25 per pound)
1/4 teaspoon sugar
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
4 medium cloves garlic, minced
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup dry white wine
2 Tablespoons minced fresh cilantro leaves (or parsley)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  1. Put shrimp in a large bowl filled with cold tap water. Allow to defrost for 1 hour. To speed defrosting you can replace the water a few times.
  2. Put a large pot of pasta cooking water on stove, season with salt, cover and bring up to a boil. When water has come up to a boil, plan and start your pasta based upon the cooking instructions on your pasta. I like to use fresh pasta with this recipe, which cooks in only a minute or two.
  3. After the shrimp has defrosted, drain shrimp in a colander. Peel and devein shrimp; leaving the tails on to protect the narrower tail. Pat shrimp dry and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon sugar.
  4. Add 2 teaspoons vegetable oil to 12″ skillet and swirl to coat the bottom of the skillet. Pre-heat over high burner for 3 minutes until very hot, and the oil begins to smoke.
  5. Cook your shrimp in two batches, adding half the shrimp in a single layer. Cook for 3-1/2 minutes without moving or flipping. Empty shrimp into a clean bowl. While the second side will not appear to be fully cooked, it will finish cooking with the residual heat of the shrimp in the bowl.
  6. Wipe out you skillet using paper towels; and repeat with another 2 teaspoons oil and the rest of the shrimp.
  7. Turn down the burner to medium-high, add 1 cup of white wine and reduce for 5 minutes until thick; and has reduce to about 1/4 cup. Melt 3 tablespoon butter, add minced garlic, and saute for 30 seconds.
  8. Remove skillet from burner. Stir in lemon juice, minced cilantro, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper. Return shrimp and accumulated juices to skillet. Toss to combine; serve immediately.

Braised Halibut with Carrots and Coriander

May 30, 2015

I’ve been looking at this recipe for a few months now, all the time trying to find 1″-thick halibut in my local markets. I finally gave up, and used Chilean Sea Bass (which was still 10 miles from my home). The recipe shaves the carrots into thin ribbons so that they cook through quickly, and in the same 10 minute time-frame as the fish. The fish is par-cooked on one side in melted butter, so that it is cooks evenly. My one problem was that I ended up overcooking the fish; after 10 minutes of braising, the fish registered 120-degrees; then 3 minutes later it registered 165-degrees. Opps. While I lost some of the firm texture associated with this premium-fish, the flavors were nevertheless delicious. 4-stars.

Delicious dinner; but not worth the pricey fish.

Delicious dinner; but not worth the pricey fish.

The recipe is delicious; the carrots and wonderfully flavored and bold. However, the carrots over-power the delicate fish. It’s not worth the premium price of $23/lb, when most of what you taste is the delicious carrots. I will definitely make this recipe again; but maybe using $7/lb cod. Tonight, I ate the fish and the carrots in separate bites; both were delicious. In fact, the carrots might have even been more delicious than the fish.


  1. The main version of this recipe (which is here) serves 4 people. It would cost over $50. Chris Kimball has this “online extra” version that essentially cuts everything in half. That is the version I cooked today. My oldest son will not eat fish (and only eats carrots reluctantly).
  2. Chris Kimball says that striped bass or sea bass make a good substitute for Halibut. Look for fish that is between 3/4″ and 1″ thick. Next time I am going to look for a less expensive fish.
  3. I cooked today using my 10″-skillet because by filets were relatively long. The original recipe calls for an 8″ skillet.

Rating: 4-stars.
Cost: $26 for 2.
How much work? Low.
How big of a mess? Low/Medium.
Start: 5:30 PM. End time: 6:00 PM.

The original Cook’s Illustrated recipe is here. The recipe as I cooked it today is as follows:

1-lb skinless halibut fillets, 3/4″ to 1″ thick
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 carrots
2 shallots
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander seed
1/3 cup dry white wine
3/4 teaspoon lemon juice, plus lemon wedges for serving
1-1/2 teaspoons minced fresh cilantro

  1. Cut you fish into two 8-oz  fillets. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Peel the carrots, then shave then with vegetable peeler lengthwise into ribbons. Peel shallots, cut in half and slice thin.
  2. Set and 8″-to-10″ skillet over low burner and melt 3 tablespoons butter. Put fish in skillet, with the presentation side down, turning up burner to medium. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes until the butter begins to brown (fish should not brown), occasionally swirling the pan. Use a  spatula to carefully move fish to plate, with the raw side down.
  3. With the skillet still over medium burner, add shaved carrots, shallots, 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Stir often for 1 to 2 minutes until the vegetables are beginning to soften. Add 1/3-cup wine and bring up to a gentle simmer. Return fish to skillet on top of vegetables with the raw-side-down. Cover skillet and adjust burner to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook for between 10 to 14 minutes; until the fish measures between 135 and 140 degrees.
  4. Use 2 spatulas to remove fish and vegetables to serving platter; the carrots on the bottom. Tent loosely with aluminum foil while
  5. Add carrots, shallots, coriander, and 1/4 teaspoon salt to skillet and cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables begin to soften, 1 to 2 minutes. Add wine and bring to gentle simmer. Place fish, raw side down, on top of vegetables. Cover skillet and cook, adjusting heat to maintain gentle simmer, until fish registers 135 to 140 degrees, 10 to 14 minutes. Remove skillet from burner, and use 2 spatulas to remove fish and vegetables to serving platter (or individual plates). Tent loosely with aluminum foil while you finish the sauce.
  6. Put skillet over high burner and cook for 1 minutes until the sauce has thickened.
  7. Remove skillet from burner and stir in 3/4 teaspoon lemon juice (from one lemon wedge). Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper according to your taste. Spoon sauce over the fish and sprinkle with cilantro. Serve with lemon wedges.
Shave the carrots into ribbons with a vegetable peeler

Shave the carrots into ribbons with a vegetable peeler

Pan Seared Scallops

May 16, 2015

For year’s I have been watching Gordon Ramsey yelling in Hell’s Kitchen about rubbery or raw scallops. While watching with amusement, I also clearly remember my only personal failure to make scallops four years ago. So when I saw that the current issue of Cook’s Illustrated (May/June 2015) included a recipe for Pan Seared Scallops, I was excited to try this “new recipe”. After already purchasing everything for this recipe, I realized they just republished the same recipe from 2009.

Great sear and delicious; but overcooked

Great sear and delicious; but overcooked

Getting a great sear using a residential, gas range requires pre-heating the skillet on your most powerful burner for upwards of 4 minutes. I was a little uneasy pre-heating my non-stick skillet to such a high temperature (health concerns here).  If you have a cast iron skillet you should use that. Otherwise, the recipe is very straight-forward. Cook the scallops for 1-1/2 minutes per side in a screaming-hot pan. After flipping, baste with melted butter while the second side cooks. Unfortunately, the basting technique tilts the skillet removing from direct contact with the flame. The cooled pan takes longer for the second side to sear. The bottom line if this: You have a choice between searing the second-side or cooking to only 115-degrees. Mine cooked to 130-degrees.

The results were delicious; to me they seemed perfectly cooked, even at 130-degrees. The browned butter was delicious and helped attain great caramelization. I only cooked half my scallops today; and want to try one of these sauces when I cook the second half; Lemon Brown Butter or this Orange Lime Vinaigrette,


  1. The recipe calls for dry sea scallop, which means that they are not treated with sodium tripolyphosphate (STP). I was disappointed to find out that the scallops packaging (from behind the fish counter in my supermarket) didn’t list the ingredients. I bought then frozen and they gave up so much liquid as they defrosted that I assume they were wet. Therefore, I brined the scallops as directed in Step 1.
  2. The recipe says to remove the tendons. I’m not 100% sure what those are, but I didn’t see anything on my scallops that could be removed.

Rating: 4-stars.
Cost: $25.
How much work? Low/Medium.
How big of a mess? Low.
Start: 5:30 PM. End time: 6:15 PM.

The original Cook’s Illustrated recipe is here. The recipe as I cooked it today is as follows:

1-1/2 pounds dry sea scallop, 10 to 20 per pound
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Lemon wedges

  1. Remove tendons.  If you can only find “wet” scallops, Add 1 quart cold water, 1/4 cup lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons table salt to a medium bowl. Soak scallops for 30 minutes.
  2. Put scallops on a baking sheet that is lined with a clean dish towel, then put a second clean towel on top of scallops and softly press down to blot away any liquid. Allow then to stand at room temperature for 10 minutes so that the towels will dry out the scallops as much as possible.
  3. Season both side of the scallops with salt and pepper. Set a 12″ non-stick skillet over high burner, add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil a pre-heat for 4 minutes until the oil just begins to smoke. Add half the scallops to the pre-heated pan with the flat side down; laying down in a clockwise pattern (so that you can flip them in the same order you set them down). Cook for 1-1/2 to 2 minutes per side, without moving them, until they become well browned.
  4. Just before flipping, add 1 tablespoon butter to the skillet.
  5. Use tongs to flip the scallops and cook the second side, and tilt skillet so that butter runs to one side. Use a large spoon to baste the scallops with the melted butter as they cook. They only need to cook for between 30-seconds to 1-1/2 minutes. The sides of the scallops should be firm and the centers should still be opaque; and measure 115-degrees.
  6. Tent loosely with aluminum foil while you make the second batch. Use paper towels to wipe out the skillet and repeat the cooking process with the remaining scallops.
  7. Serve as soon as the second batch is ready with lemon wedges or an accompanying sauce.

Poached Cod with Miso-Ginger Vinaigrette

March 23, 2015

A few years ago I made this latin 5-star poached cod, and today tried an Asian variation. As before, the fish was perfectly cooked; moist and tender. The flavors were balanced, but the flavors were more subtle than the previous Latin variation. I simply added more sauce to my plate, and it worked out great. It did take me quite a while for me to find the white miso paste required for this recipe (which turns out to be in the refrigerated Asian section). I ended up going to an Asian supermarket. Overall, a delicious 4-star meal; but not as good as the 5-star Latin version.

Interesting Asian flavors

Interesting Asian flavors


  1. In Chris Kimball’s original recipe, he says to let the oil cool down to 180-degrees. Today I cooked the scallions for 4 minutes and had to wait about 5 minutes for the oil to cool down. When I made the Latin-themed version and I fried the jalapenos for only 2 minutes, I had to heat up the oil in step 5 instead of allow it to cool.
  2. Trying to find a flaky white fish that is a consistent 1″ thick is difficult. The thinner parts were almost as delicious, even if there were slightly over-cooked.

Rating: 4-stars.
Cost: $17.
How much work? Medium.
How big of a mess? Medium.
Started: 5:00 pm  Ready:  6:00 pm.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here.  The descriptions of how I prepared the soup today are given below:

4 skinless white fish fillets about 1″-thick.
Kosher salt
8 scallion whites
2 teaspoons cornstarch
3/4 cup olive oil
1/2 peeled onion
2 radishes, halved and thinly sliced
2 scallion greens, thinly sliced

6 scallion greens
8 teaspoons lime juice
2 tablespoons mirin
4 teaspoons white miso paste
2 teaspoons minced ginger
2 teaspoons pepper
1/2 teaspoon sugar

  1. Set a rack to both the middle and the lower-middle of your oven, and pre-heat to 250-degrees.
  2. Cut your fish into 6-oz pieces and pat dry using paper towels. Sprinkle each fillet with 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt. Allow to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes before cooking.
  3. Meanwhile, Slice the scallions whites into 1/4″ slices. Dredge your scallion whites in corn starch. Cut your onion if half, peel one half and save the second half for another day.
  4. Set a 10″ non-stick skillet over medium burner. Add 1/2 cup oil and pre-heat until shimmering. Fry scallion whites for 3 to 4 minutes until crisp. Pour the contends of the skillet through a fine-mesh strainer into a Pyrex measuring cup. Remove fried scallions to paper towel–lined Pyrex pie plate or casserole dish. Sprinkle with a little kosher salt. No need to wash the strainer yet.
  5. Increase amount of oil in measuring cup so that you have 3/4 cup, and pour back into the skillet (but off the heat). Put the onion cut-side-down in the center of the skillet. Allow the oil to cool to 180-degrees, which could take between zero and 8 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, prepare your ingredients for the vinaigrette. Roughly cut the scallion greens and add to blender. Add lime juice, 2 tablespoons mirin, 4 teaspoons white miso paste, 2 teaspoons minced ginger, 2 teaspoons pepper, 1/2 teaspoon sugar; but do not blend until step 10. (you’re still waiting to add some olive oil from the fish)
  7. Place fish with skin-side-up in oil, which should rise to cover about half-way up the fillets. Spoon a little oil over each piece of fish, cover your pan, and place on middle rack and cook for 15 minutes at 250-degrees.
  8. Remove covered skillet from oven and flip fish using two spatulas. Replace lid onto skillet and place on middle rack and continue to cook for 10 minutes longer until the internal temperature of the fish reaches 135-degrees. After 5 minutes of cooking put the fried scallions on the lower-middle oven rack to warm them through.
  9. When fish reaches desired temperature, place on serving platter and tent with aluminum foil.
  10. Add 1/2 cup of the olive oil used to cook the fish to blender. Blend for 1 minute on high-speed. Add any juices from fish that have accumulated to blender, adjust salt according to your taste. Blend for 10 more seconds on high-speed. Run vinaigrette through fine-mesh strainer and use a rubber spatula to press solids down to extract as much vinaigrette as possible.
  11. Place each fish fillet on individual serving place and top with fried scallions, radish slices and sprinkle with thinly sliced scallion greens. Drizzle vinaigrette around each individual piece of fish (not on-top). Serve remaining vinaigrette separately.

Sesame Seed Crusted Salmon with Sweet-and-Sour Chutney

November 17, 2014

About 6 months ago, I made this delicious, similar Sesame Crusted Salmon with Lime and Coriander, which was 4-1/2 stars. That success gave me high hopes for Today’s recipe, which is nearly 15 years old (the 4-1/2 star recipe was from March 2014). Unfortunately, today’s recipe was only 3 stars. Still edible, but just an average meal. Even considering the chutney, the recipe was too plain. The seasonings were generally warm, but I think that the vinegar in the recipe was a lackluster substitution for a more traditional citrus. The recipe lacked anything to brighten the dish. Part of the fault may lie in the age of this recipe; which is older than my 15-year-old son.

I am more than a little embarrassed by my “worst ever” cell phone picture, which makes this average meal appear sub-par. That’s the reason I’ve hidden it at the bottom of the post.


  1. While it only takes a few minutes to make this chutney, prepare it before cooking the salmon (because the fish cooks so quickly). A little of this intensely flavored condiment goes a long way.
  2. Because I don’t have cardamom (and didn’t feel like buying a $10 bottle just for this recipe), I used equal parts cinnamon and ground nutmeg. Because the recipe only used 1/4 teaspoon I doubt that this substitution is to blame for the disappointing results.
  3. The recipe says to cook the salmon in Step 3 for 3 minutes for medium-rare and 3-1/2 minutes for medium.

Rating: 3 star.
Cost: $18.
How much work? Low/Medium.
How big of a mess?  Medium.
Start time 5 PM. Dinner time 6 PM.

The recipe for the Sweet-and-Sour Chutney with onions and warm spices is here. The recipe for the Pan Seared Salmon with Sesame Seed Crust is here. The descriptions of how I prepared both are given below:

Sweet-and-Sour Chutney Ingredients:
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon table salt
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped fine (about 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley leaves

  1. In a small bowl, add 1 teaspoon fennel, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, 1/2 teaspoon coriander, 1/4 teaspoon cardamom, 1/4 teaspoon paprika, 1/4 teaspoon table salt; mix and set aside. Finely chop 1/2 of a medium onion, which should yield about 1/2 cup.
  2. Set a medium-sized skillet over medium burner. Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil, then sauté onion for 3 to 4 minutes until soft. Add spice mixture from step 1, and sauté for  1 minute until fragrant.
  3. Turn up burner to medium-high and add 1/4 cup vinegar, 1 tablespoon sugar, and 2 tablespoons water. Cook 1-1/2 minutes until it reduces by one-third and attains a syrupy consistency. Stir in minced parsley, set aside until ready to serve salmon.

Sweet-and-Sour Chutney Ingredients:
1/4-cup sesame seeds
4 salmon fillets skin-on, about 6-oz each and 1″ to 1-1/4″ thick
3 teaspoons canola oil or vegetable oil

  1. Preheat a 12″ heavy-bottomed skillet for 3 minutes over high burner. Rub salmon fillets with 2 teaspoons canola oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spread sesame seeds in a pie plate, and press flesh sides of fillets in sesame seeds to coat.
  2. Add 1 teaspoon to pre-heated pan; swirl to coat. When oil begins to shimmer (but is not smoking) add the fish with skin-side down. Without moving the fish, cook for 30 seconds until pan regains its heat, then reduce burner to medium-high. Continue cooking for 4-1/2 minutes until skin-side becomes well browned and bottom half of fillets turns opaque.
  3. Carefully flip fish and cook for 3-1/2 minutes, again without moving, until they are no longer translucent and have become firm, but not hard, when gently squeezed.
  4. Remove fish onto serving platter or individual serving plates, being careful not to break sesame crust. Allow to rest for 1 minute. Pat with paper towel to absorb excess any fat from surface
  5. Serve immediately with the chutney.
Horrible cell phone picture; ok tasting salmon

Horrible cell phone picture; ok tasting salmon


November 13, 2014

Ceviche is one of my favorite things about visiting the Caribbean (see here, here, here, here, here, here and here). Of course, ceviche is “cooked” in citrus juice rather than being thermally cooked. While its important to understand the potential risks about eating “raw” seafood (see here), I personally have never allowed the slight risks from stopping me from enjoying ceviche. I rely on my judgement to select the right restaurant (not-to-cheap-price, cleanliness). I’ve also made something similar but gently cooking the shrimp.

Delicious, but heavy on the veggies

Delicious ceviche, but a little too heavy on the veggies

Frozen seafood cannot match the flavor and texture of fresh, Caribbean seafood, but it still work making at home. This version has more peppers and vegetables that I generally get in the Caribbean. It is more like a citrus seafood salad. It is still delicious. 4-stars. I served it with this Pernil.


  1. After waiting the 1 hour listed in my recipe, the ceviche still looked semi-raw. I wanted to wait until the entire exterior lost it’s brown, translucent appearance. Finally after 3 hours the shrimp appeared completely cooked.
  2. I exclusively used shrimp, but the recipe is written to also work with sea scallops, skinless fish fillets, or any combination. I believe that it would be important to cut them in very similar sized pieces, so that they will finish “cooking” at the same time.

Rating: 4 stars.
Cost: $12.
How much work? Medium.
How big of a mess?  Medium.
Start time: 2:30 PM. Ready at: 6:00 PM.

The original Cook’s Illustrated recipe is here.  The recipe as I cooked it today is as follows:

1 pound extra-large shrimp (21 to 25 per pound)
1 teaspoon grated lime zest from 1 lime
1/2 cup juice from 4 limes
1/2 cup juice from 4 lemons
1 small red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and chopped fine
1 jalapeño chile (small), stemmed, seeded, and minced
1 medium garlic clove, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 1 teaspoon)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 scallions, sliced thin
3 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Ground black pepper

  1. If using shrimp, peel them completely, devein (if not already done), and use a paring knife to slice each shrimp in half lengthwise  (through the deveined groove in the shrimps back).
  2. If using scallops, remove the side tendon and cut into 1/3″-thick rounds.
  3. If using fish, remove any bones and cut into 1″ squares that are 1/3″-thick.
  4. Add the lime zest, lime juice, lemon juice, bell pepper, jalapeño, garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to a medium bowl. Stir until combined.
  5. Gently stir in the seafood, and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 60 minutes (it took mine 3 hours) until the seafood becomes firm, opaque, and it appears cooked. Stir halfway through the marinating time.
  6. Drain the mixture though a fine-mesh strainer, discarding the liquid. Leave it a little wet, and return to the bowl.
  7. Gently stir in the oil, scallions, cilantro, and sugar. Season with salt and pepper to taste before serving.

Stir-Fried Shrimp with Garlicky Eggplant, Scallions, and Cashews

November 2, 2014

Chris Kimball says that this recipe has two secrets that make it delicious. First, cooking the vegetables and shrimp separately allows you to cook the shrimp using lower heat. Not only can you cook the vegetable for longer, but the higher heat allows the eggplant and scallions to brown which adds a lot of flavor. Second, Chris Kimball says that soaking the shrimp for 30 minutes in salt, oil, and aromatics will yield tender (and deeply flavored) shrimp. Be sure to use the time that the shrimps is soaking to prepare all your vegetables. Overall, the recipe is delicious and takes less than an hour. The recipe did not yield enough sauce. I didn’t realize how delicious the sauce is until I tried to supplement it with plain soy sauce. If you are serving with rice, then you should increase the sauce. 4-stars.

Delicious combination of shrimp and vegetables

Delicious combination of shrimp and vegetables

Rating: 4-stars.
Cost: $13.
How much work? Medium.
How big of a mess?  Medium.
Start time: 4:00 PM. Ready at: 5:00 PM.

The Cook’s Illustrated original recipe is here.  The recipe as I cooked it today is as follows:

6 medium garlic cloves (used in two ways)
1-lb 21-25 sized shrimp
3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon table salt
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
2 Tablespoons oyster sauce
2 Tablespoons dry sherry or Shaoxing wine
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 Tablespoon white vinegar
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons cornstarch
6 large scallions
1/2 cup unsalted cashews
1 medium eggplant (about 3/4 pound)

  1. Peel (and devein) the shrimp and remove the tails. Peel and mince 1 glove of garlic (or pressed through garlic press). In a medium bowl, add shrimp, minced garlic, 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, 1/2 teaspoon table salt. Allow to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.  If serving with steamed white rice, begin to cook it now.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, add soy sauce, oyster sauce, sherry, sugar, sesame oil, vinegar, red pepper flakes, and cornstarch. Whisk to combine. Thinly slice 5 cloves of garlic , and thinly cut scallions whites.  Combine sliced garlic with scallion whites and cashews in small bowl. Cut the scallion greens into 1″ pieces and set greens aside separately. Cut eggplant into 3/4″ dice.
  3. Add 1 Tablespoon sesame oil to a 12″ nonstick skillet. Set over high burner and pre-heat until just smoking. Add eggplant and saute for 3 to 6 minutes until lightly browned. Add scallion greens and continue cooking for 1 to 2 minutes until greens begin to brown and eggplant becomes fully tender. Empty vegetables to a medium serving bowl.
  4. Add 1 Tablespoon sesame oil to now-empty skillet and pre-heat until just begins to smoke. Add garlic-scallion-cashew mixture and saute for 30 seconds until it just begins to brown. Add shrimp, and turn down burner to medium-low. Cook for 1 to 1-1/2 minutes, while stirring frequently, until shrimp turn lightly pink on both sides.
  5. Whisk soy sauce mixture to recombine and add to skillet. Turn up burner to high, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, continuing to stir constantly, until sauce is thickened and shrimp are cooked through. Return vegetables to skillet to heat through, toss to combine, and serve onto individual plates or re-using the vegetable bowl.
Ready to serve

Ready to serve

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