Category Archives: SEAFOOD RECIPES

FRIED TOFU AND SHRIMP OR CHICKEN CHOW MEIN

Yes I know, I already have an Asian inspired recipe on this site that is very similar to this one. However, it (Seafood and Fried Tofu Low Mein) has a few different ingredients and takes a bit longer to prepare. (It’s really good too!)

So one evening a few days ago I was in a hurry. I wanted chow mein but I didn’t want to spend much time in the kitchen. (You know, there are just some days like that!) So I went to one of my favorite sites for inspiration. And Nagi didn’t let me down. Of course I changed things up from her original recipe, but I still felt it only fair to acknowledge her contribution. You too might want to check out RecipeTin Eats. But back to this recipe.

I loved how easy this one-dish meal came together. And man was the chow mein good! But then I am absolutely crazy about fried tofu. I could eat it almost every day. And in combination with either a bit of shrimp or chicken, this dish is like the best chow mein you could ever hope to find in a restaurant. And not greasy. Not in the least!

So if you need to create a quick one-dish meal some evening, give this chow mein a try. It really is easy and fairly quick to prepare. Plus you can add as many veggies to this basic recipe as you desire. Don’t like tofu, leave it out. Want the chow mein to be meat free, leave out the chicken or shrimp. (The dish as written won’t ever be strictly vegetarian because oyster sauce actually does contain oyster extract or essence.) Want to make the dish GF, use rice noodles and make sure your soy sauce is GF. (GF Tamari is really good for that purpose.)

Anyway you prepare this dish, you are going to be pleased with the results. And this dish warms up beautifully. Which BTW, is almost essential here at Chez Carr. We simply don’t eat as much as we used to and planned-overs are now a regular part of our life.

Note: If you are still cooking for a large family, you just might want to double the recipe. And even then you still might not have any leftovers to warm up for lunch the next day. Believe me, I understand all too well. I still remember feeding my kids when they were teenagers. Leftovers! Huh! It was only a distant dream in those days. Now I’m living the dream, in many more ways than leftovers! Happy cooking my friends.

  • ¼ c. soy sauce
  • generous 1/3 c. oyster sauce
  • ¼ c. dry sherry
  • 2 T. cornstarch
  • 1½ tsp. sugar
  • 1 T. sesame oil
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp. Sriracha, or more to taste
  • 1 pkg. firm tofu, sliced and cut into cubes
  • 2 T. vegetable oil
  • 4-5 c. thinly sliced napa cabbage
  • 1 sm. carrot, chopped fairly small
  • 5-6 lg. uncooked shrimp, shelled and cut in thirds or ½ chicken breast, cut into small pieces
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 oz. chow mein noodles, cooked al dente
  • 4 green onions, sliced diagonally
  • 2 c. bean sprouts

Whisk the soy sauce, oyster sauce, dry sherry, cornstarch, sugar, sesame oil, black pepper, and Sriracha together in a small bowl. Set aside.

Gently combine the tofu cubes with 3 tablespoons of the chow mein sauce while you chop the veggies and shell the shrimp or cube the chicken.

When all of the ingredients are prepped, heat the oil in a wok or large non-stick fry pan over medium-high heat. Add the tofu cubes and fry until brown on at least 3 sides. (Reserve the sauce mixture remaining in the bowl after you remove the tofu.) Remove the browned tofu from the pan and set aside. Start noodles cooking.

Add the cabbage and carrot to the pan and stir fry until the cabbage starts to wilt. Add the shrimp or chicken and cook just until done. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.

Add the cooked noodles, (I lift them directly from the pasta water into the fry pan with a pair of tongs), fried tofu, green onions, bean sprouts, and sauce. (Don’t forget the sauce in which you marinated the tofu). Gently stir fry until the noodles are warmed through and sauce is thickened, about 1 minute. Don’t over-cook. Serve immediately.

 

SEARED SCALLOPS WITH A “PICCATA” SAUCE

One day while thinking about what I would serve for dinner, I thought about Chicken Piccata. But we had just had chicken the night before, and there really is such a thing as “too much of a good thing”. But the “piccata” part still lingered in my mind. So what about seafood in piccata sauce? Perfect!

And then, what about scallops for the seafood part? Again – perfect. So off to our local grocery store for some individually flash frozen scallops. (And yes, scallops that have been individually flash frozen are delicious. In fact, I have purchased “fresh” scallops thinking they would be better than those that had been flash frozen, just to find the fresh scallops seriously past their prime. Whereas, buying flash frozen scallops, I have never been disappointed.)

But, a couple of things to look out for in flash frozen scallops – ice crystals or evidence of freezer burn. If either of these two things are present, walk away. But if the scallops look good, go for it. It is best to defrost the scallops overnight in the refrigerator. But if you are like me, and usually only have a short time before wanting to cook these delicious babies, seal them in a freezer bag and place the bag in a bowl of cold (never warm or hot) water until they are defrosted.

Then assemble and measure all of your ingredients before you even think of turning on your stove, because the whole process of cooking the scallops goes very quickly. (You really don’t want to be squeezing the lemon juice while the scallops are cooking, for example.)

So some evening when you feel you are worthy of a special dinner, make this simple dish as your reward for good behavior. Believe me, if I could fix this dish for some of the politicians currently in office, with their promise that they would begin acting in a more dignified and concerned manner, I’d leave on a jet plane this afternoon. But promises from Washington DC seem to be about as reliable as a chocolate teapot or a support bra without under wires! So I guess I’ll just leave that sleeping dog lay and fix this dish for the more deserving. So, hope you give this recipe a try. And if you love Chicken Piccata, there’s a pretty darn good recipe already on this site.   

  • 1 lb. fairly large sea scallops (about 10)
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 T. unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 T. dry white wine
  • 2 T. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 T. capers, drained
  • 2 tsp. chopped parsley, opt.

Pat scallops dry with a paper towel and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add seasoned scallops and sear for about 2 minutes on each side. The bottom and top should be a lovely golden brown.

(You don’t want to cook scallops too long or they will be tough. It’s actually better to cook them a bit on the underdone side.)

Transfer the scallops to a serving plate and cover loosely with aluminum foil to keep warm.

Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in the same skillet. Add garlic; cook for 1 minute. Whisk in the white wine and remove skillet from heat. Whisk in the lemon juice and capers.

Spoon sauce over scallops, garnish with parsley, and serve immediately.

 

 

SMOKED SALMON CHOWDER

Once in a while serendipity comes to visit, and if I am paying attention, I take advantage. That’s what happened when I decided that the menu for our next JazzVox pre-concert meal would include a soup, a stew, and a chowder. (Also Roasted Rosemary Cashews, a quinoa salad, two kinds of homemade bread, and a cake to round out the lineup.)

I knew the stew had to be Beef Stew. Not a very pretentious name, but my stew is not a humble offering. Nothing starting with lean bacon and containing red wine and rosemary need take a back seat to any other dish even if its name is terribly common.

The soup I am choosing to serve is vegan, containing curry and lots of delicious veggies. (If it works out, I’ll be posting the recipe in the next few days.) For the chowder, I decided a creamy seafood based chowder would be delicious.

I rarely make seafood chowders, mainly because Mr. C. is not fond of potatoes. (And potato is kind of the quintessential ingredient in seafood chowders.) So I promised him, that whatever I came up with, potatoes would be secondary to the seafood. I also promised him that the potatoes would not be mushy. (I knew I could achieve tender, not mushy potatoes by steaming small potatoes whole, then cutting them into very small chunks. Not adding them until the last part of the chowder cooking time would also help keep the potatoes firm.) So then, what kind of seafood chowder?

For Christmas my father-in-law had given us a 6-ounce chunk of smoked salmon (the serendipity part). And there it was, quietly sitting on a shelf in my pantry waiting to be devoured (the me paying attention part).

So I went on line and started researching smoked salmon chowder recipes. I learned a lot. I already knew how to make cream soups, so based on my knowledge and some parts and pieces from several on-line contributors, I came up with this recipe.

This is definitely not an in-your-face smoked salmon flavored chowder. It’s more of a well-balanced dish that should appeal to sophisticated palates. You might even say that it is a “gentrified” chowder. (And no, I am not trying to be cheap frugal in limiting the amount of smoked salmon in this recipe. I’m simply trying to provide you with the ideal smoked salmon chowder experience!)

So, since winter is upon us, I suggest you give this chowder a try. It is easy to prepare, and really, really tasty. Perfect for a cold, rainy weeknight dinner or weekend lunch. Great with warm sour dough bread or oyster crackers.  

  • 12 oz. small white or fingerling potatoes, peeled
  • 8 T. (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • ½ lg. yellow onion, small dice
  • 2 stalks celery, small dice
  • 2 lg. garlic cloves, finely minced
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 T. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3 c. water
  • 3 T. tomato paste
  • 3 c. half-and-half
  • 1 c. whole milk, or more as needed
  • 8 oz. (1 lg. pkg.) cream cheese, room temperature, cut into 1″ chunks  
  • 5 T. capers, rinsed and drained
  • 12 oz. smoked salmon, chopped into small pieces
  • 2 T. chopped celery leaves
  • kosher salt, if needed

Steam the whole potatoes until they are just barely done. (After the water comes to a boil, it takes 15-20 minutes.) Remove from pot. When cool, cut into small dice. (I personally hate large chunks of potato in my chowders. So I cut the potatoes into a really small dice.) Set aside.

Melt the butter in a heavy soup pot. Add the onion and celery; cook until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic and black pepper; cook for one minute.

Whisk in the flour and let it cook for one minute. Whisk in the water and tomato paste. Continue whisking until the mixture is smooth and thickened. Stir in the diced potatoes; bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and stir in the half-and-half, whole milk, cream cheese, capers, and smoked salmon. Heat slowly until almost simmering. Add more milk if required to reach desired consistency.

Remove from heat, adjust seasoning, and stir in celery leaves. Serve hot with crusty sour dough bread or oyster crackers.

 

SHRIMP APPETIZER OR MAIN COURSE SALAD

I love shrimp salad. But I don’t much care for the tiny, pre-cooked shrimp that are labeled “salad shrimp”. I prefer the nice big guys, lovingly sautéed just before adding to whatever version of a shrimp salad I happen to be preparing at the time. And yes I do know that the biggies are more expensive, but I’d rather have less shrimp if push comes to shove.

So, when good friends Jim and Margo invited us to dinner a couple weeks ago, and I asked what I could contribute, Jim said “how about an appetizer salad?” I said “how about a shrimp salad” and he said yes!!

So this is the result.

And if I do say so myself, it turned out pretty darn tasty. Plus it was very easy to prepare. (I just love it when a recipe comes together and it works! But believe me, that doesn’t always happen. Sometimes I try a dish, and although it is edible, it’s not something I ever want to serve again or pass on to my readers.)  But this recipe is a keeper. It’s terribly elegant when served as an appetizer and just plain wonderful when served as a main dish salad.

Speaking of main dish salads, I simply must tell you about eating a salad for dinner while on our recent trailer trip to British Columbia. (You can stop reading now if all you care about is this recipe. But if you want to hear a bit more about our recent trailer trip, continue reading at your own peril.)

As the pictures below show, we had a fabulous campsite at BCs Juniper Beach Provincial Park on the banks of the Thompson River. Ideal setting with the river so close, but not the ideal backdrop for a quiet dinner. I say, not quiet, because just across the river the main east/west line of the Canadian Pacific Railroad runs about 30 trains over any 24 hour period. And on the side of the river where we were camped, the Canadian National Railroad runs another 30 or so trains a day on their own east/west main line. So in case you are mathematically challenged, that’s a total of about 60 trains blasting our camp site with noise during every 24 hour period. And these are not dainty little trains. These are all incredibly long mother bear trains! Mr. C. counted the cars on a good number of the trains. The longest was 230 cars long! I kid you not! The average size was only about 150 cars long. Only! And many of the cars we counted had a second container on top of the one that was riding the rails. We didn’t even bother counting the second tier freight cars. It was just too overwhelming.

We were at Jupiter Beach for three nights and the trains won, hands down! Before camping at this park, I absolutely adored the clickety-clack of trains, especially at night. But after this episode with the trains from hell, I feel like a new mother just having gone through a difficult childbirth and saying to herself and anyone else who would listen, that never again would she subject herself to such an experience! But I suppose, like childbirth, the memory of “the trains” will fade and I will once again be able to look at a train and not flinch. I hope so. Because for 73 years I have loved trains with a passion. I hope to get back to that place, but frankly only time will tell. (Mr. C. thinks I’m suffering from PTTD (Post Traumatic Train Disorder), and I think he may be right. But good news. I recently read that gin helps with this disorder, so that’s encouraging. If gin truly is the wonder treatment, I should be fine in no time. I’ll let you know if it works.) Enjoy the recipe.

  • 1 T. unsalted butter
  • 1 lb. lg. uncooked shrimp
  • ½ tsp. seasoned salt
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 celery stalk, finely diced
  • ½ c. finely diced red, yellow, or orange bell pepper (or combination of peppers)
  • juice of ½ lg. lime
  • 2 T. mayonnaise
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. Old Bay Seasoning
  • dash hot sauce or 1 jalapeño, seeds and veins removed and finely diced
  • 1 tomato, seeded and diced
  • 1 Hass avocado, diced
  • romaine or Bibb lettuce leaves

Heat the butter in a medium-large fry pan. Add the shrimp and sprinkle on the seasoned salt. Sauté until the shrimp are just done. Do not overcook. Remove the pan from heat and set aside. Rough chop the shrimp when they are cool.

In a medium sized bowl combine the shallot, celery, bell pepper, lime juice, mayonnaise, salt, pepper, Old Bay Seasoning, and dash of hot sauce/diced jalapeño. Let stand for at least 5 minutes to allow flavors to blend. Taste and adjust seasoning. Gently fold in the chopped shrimp, tomato, and avocado. Adjust seasonings and serve as an appetizer either wrapped in lettuce leaves, heaped on one lettuce leaf, or over cut salad leaves. (See picture above.) Or serve as a main dish salad (see picture below) with whatever amount of cut lettuce you want stirred in with the other ingredients.

 

CHINESE SPICY ORANGE SHRIMP

I think I have previously mentioned that I love Cooking Light – the magazine that is! (I like cooking light too, but I don’t always succeed in that arena.) So for a dinner party I hosted recently, I decided to cook Chinese food. OK, American Chinese food. Although I know traditional ingredients like tripe, chicken feet, and bitter melon are available in Seattle’s International District, it’s too far to drive just to obtain a few authentic products. (Oh who am I trying to kid. I wouldn’t cook with tripe, chicken feet, or bitter melon if they were personally delivered to my front door by Ming Tsai himself!)

So what’s left – BBQ Pork, steamed dumplings, fried rice, etc. Basically the usual suspects found in every Chinese restaurant around the world. (Except China, of course.)

So call me plebian if you must, but I do dearly love American Chinese food. Well, maybe I better qualify that statement. I love good Chinese food. Defined by me as containing no MSG and just a modicum of oil, the exclusive use of low sodium tamari or soy sauce, super fresh veggies and meat, and a whole lot of restraint shown when adding salt.

So when I came across this recipe from the August 2007 issue of Cooking Light while setting my menu, I knew from just reading the ingredient list that this dish would be a winner. And it sure enough was! I changed/added a couple of ingredients, but basically it remains yet another example of the wonderful recipes that can be found in Cooking Light. (And no, I am not on the Cooking Light payroll, nor do I receive a free subscription. My words are unsolicited, which by definition make them 100% accurate. Right???) But back to the issue at hand.

As you know, citrus works very well with seafood. And something about the orange zest and juice along with the other ingredients work well to enhance the flavor of the shrimp rather than detract from it. And we’re talking only 2 teaspoons of oil in this recipe. Hurray for that!

So if you too love Chinese food, I suggest you try this delicious shrimp recipe. It is definitely a quick and easy dish to prepare, making it perfect for any night of the week. Served with Chinese Salt and Pepper Beans and steamed brown rice, you have a dinner that will please your entire family. Just remember to start your brown rice first. It will take longer to cook then both of the other recipes.

And if you haven’t learned to love brown rice yet, try using low sodium broth in place of the water when you cook the rice. Also, and I can’t believe I am going to put this in writing after railing above about too much salt, but a tiny pinch of salt and some freshly ground pepper will also add to the overall flavor of the brown rice. (Sorry to go all pettifogging on you when it comes to the issue of salt, but rest easy. I’m working on the problem!) Enjoy the shrimp. Thanks again Cooking Light for this delightful recipe.

  • 1 lb. peeled and deveined uncooked large shrimp
  • 1 T. cornstarch, or more as needed to coat the shrimp
  • 1-2 tsp. orange zest
  • ½ c. orange juice
  • pinch kosher salt (unless using regular soy sauce)
  • 2 T. low sodium tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 T. honey
  • 1 T. rice wine vinegar
  • ½ tsp. Sriracha or chili sauce, or more to taste
  • 2 tsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 T. minced fresh ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ c. chopped green onions

Place shrimp in a medium bowl. Sprinkle with cornstarch; toss well to coat. Set aside.

Whisk together the orange zest, juice, salt, tamari, honey, vinegar, and Sriracha. Set aside.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add minced ginger and garlic to pan; stir-fry for 20 seconds or until fragrant. Add shrimp; stir-fry for 3 minutes or until almost done. Add juice mixture and green onions; cook 2 minutes or until sauce thickens and shrimp are done, stirring frequently. Serve immediately.

 

 

BAKED COD WITH CAPERS, KALAMATA OLIVES, AND GARLIC

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It’s a beautiful warm and sunny day here on Camano Island. As I am typing away, Max, one of my orange kitties is dozing on a towel on my desk, Mt. Baker is out in all its glory (I can see it from my den window), Mr. C is off golfing with a friend, and I have the day to myself. I don’t even have to cook dinner, because I have leftovers from last evening.

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Mommies little helper Max (16 months) – sound asleep

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Time to add his 2 cents worth

Usually I look forward to cooking our evening meal. But when what I have to look forward to, like some more of this delicious cod, I can easily forgo the pleasure of cooking for the taste treat I know is in store for me. And frankly folks, I can hardly wait for dinner and its only 9:58 am!

I am always looking for ways to cook fish that are not only tasty but good for us. And what I mean by “good for us” is that the fish isn’t fried or needs a caloric tartar or aioli sauce to provide additional flavor.

So when I went searching for another way to bake cod, I found 3 recipes that I found interesting. Two featured capers and Kalamata olives; the third lemon, garlic, and either fresh thyme or rosemary. So I took what I thought was a good combination of all three recipes and the following baked cod dish is the result.

And oh-my-gosh the cod was good. You could still taste the fish, but the topping was just a perfect augment. Of course, it didn’t hurt that I started with fresh cod. And baking it at 475 degrees (which was recommended in one of the recipes) was genius. The fish was firm but still very moist.

So if you too want to add more fish to your diet, but don’t want to feel like in doing so you are adding a ton of unnecessary calories from frying, coating, or dipping your fish in tartar sauce, give this recipe a try. Obviously there are a few calories in the caper-Kalamata spread, but nothing compared to a breaded and deep fried piece of fish accompanied with tartar sauce.

Now don’t get me wrong. One of my favorite meals is fish and chips. But my stomach sometimes rebels when I feed it all that grease. With this recipe, there is no after dinner upset or guilt. And although you can’t measure the calories in guilt, it can still weigh you down. And not as in helping your scale show lower numbers, but as in a mind suffering from regret! So don’t let that happen to you. Try this recipe and relax. You are going to love serving this dish to your family. It’s quick and easy to prepare. And you are going to feel so good providing a healthy and delicious alternative to fried fish. A little happy dance before serving the fish would not be inappropriate! Neither would a nice glass of white wine!

  • 1 lb. cod fillet, bones removed and cut in portion sized pieces
  • 1½ T. lemon juice
  • 1 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp. paprika
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tsp. fresh thyme or rosemary, lightly chopped
  • 2 tsp. capers, drained and coarsely chopped
  • 2 T. chopped Kalamata olives

Place the cod in a lightly buttered 8×8 or 9×9 glass baking dish. Combine the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, paprika, garlic, thyme, capers, and olives together in a small bowl. Spread evenly over the cod.

Bake in a pre-heated 475 degree oven for 10-12 minutes or until the flesh is opaque in color. I serve the cod with plain rice, spooning the juices from the pan over the fish and the rice. Add a salad or veggie, and dinner is ready!

Note: Would be great with any firm, white fleshed fish.

CREAMY SMOKED SALMON PASTA

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As I have grown older, my stomach has started to rebel against certain foods such as those high in fat. And my lower GI tract, which until a few years ago was able to accommodate almost anything I sent its way, has now seemingly turned against me. So, contrary to the popular belief I once held, my brain is no longer in charge of my body. That happy distinction has now shifted to (you guessed it) my lower GI tract!  And just to confirm my long held belief that God has an ironic sense of humor, my taste buds remain unimpaired. So, my mouth still craves a buttery and creamy pasta sauce, while other parts of my body are praying that I can withstand temptation. Sometimes I feel like a royal battle is being staged in my body with no consideration being paid to what I still desire and need. (Perhaps that’s the true definition of growing old!)

Regardless, I have decided that I am going to fight for my rights. I still want to enjoy creamy pasta sauces, but I must respect the fact that my brain GI tract probably knows what’s best for me in the long run. Hence, this recipe.

So if you too love pasta, but are trying to reduce the amount of fat in your diet, may I suggest this recipe the next time a creamy and rich tasting pasta sauce calls your name. With this recipe, you can actually listen next time it happens!

  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 2 lg. finely chopped shallots (about ½ cup)
  • 1 c. dry white wine
  • ¾ c. light sour cream (Tillamook “light” sour cream is really very good)
  • scant 2 T. fresh lemon juice
  • ½ tsp. dill weed, or more to taste
  • ¼ tsp. kosher salt  
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • ¾ c. frozen petite peas brought to room temperature
  • 4 oz. smoked salmon, cut into small chunks
  • ½ c. grated Parmesan cheese + more for passing  
  • 12 oz. pasta*, cooked al dente (reserve about a ½ cup of the pasta water)

Heat oil in medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add shallots; cook 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add wine and simmer until reduced to about ½ cup, about 6 minutes. Whisk in the sour cream, lemon juice, dill weed, salt, and pepper. Cook for about 1 minute or until the sauce is hot. Stir in the peas, salmon, and Parmesan cheese. Remove from heat and add the hot al dente pasta and about ¼ cup of the hot pasta water. (Add more pasta water as required.) Adjust seasoning and serve immediately. 

*penne, farfalle, orecchiette, conchiglioni (seashell shaped), farfalloni (bow tie shaped), etc.

And remember, you never want your cooked pasta to wait for your sauce to be done. If anything has to wait, be sure it’s the sauce.

CEDAR PLANKED SALMON

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When it comes to BBQing, I am so far behind most of my friends that it is really quite embarrassing. But I have vowed to catch up, or at least become semi-proficient with a long handled spatula and welding gloves! (Actually I would consider myself blessed if I could just became less intimidated by that scary black covered appliance that lives on my deck.) But I’ll tell you, with this recipe now in my repertoire, I am well on my way to becoming at least a passable griller. (It also doesn’t hurt that Mr. C. bought me a beautiful new Webber for my birthday. At least now I have a BBQ with automatic starters for the burners and internal workings that aren’t half rusted away! Ah the joys of living near salt water.)

So if you too are even slightly intimidated by your BBQ, this recipe is ideal. First of all the salmon tastes amazing. And by using a cedar plank, you don’t even have to set the fish directly on the grate. Is that great or what?

No mess to clean up, unless of course you forget to soak your cedar plank before placing it on the BBQ. Then you and the fire department might have a huge mess to clean up. But forewarned is forearmed as the saying goes.

So get that BBQ out of mothballs, shoo any resident critters out and away, and get ready for one of the best ways to enjoy salmon ever invented by someone other than me. (I got this recipe from my dear friend Linda, who got it from her cousin (I think) Lynn, who found it somewhere…………) I modified the recipe slightly, but to whomever it was who gave birth to this recipe originally, I salute you. It is the best grilled salmon recipe I have ever found.

  • 2 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 T. unsalted butter
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1½ T. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 T. Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp. capers or rough chopped green olives
  • ¼ tsp. kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1 tsp. dried dill weed
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne
  • 3 lb. salmon fillet
  • cedar plank(s) – soaked for 1-2 hours 

Sauté the olive oil, butter, garlic, lemon juice, mustard, capers, salt, pepper, basil, dill, and cayenne together for 5 minutes over medium-low heat. Set aside. 

Heat grill to 350 degrees. Set salmon skin side down on soaked cedar plank. Slather the olive oil mixture all over the top of the salmon.

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Place plank(s) on BBQ. Shut lid and depending on thickness, BBQ for 20-30 minutes or until the internal temperature in the thickest part of the fish reaches 135 degrees. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature. No sauce or aioli required.   

Please Note: Do not use cedar from Home Depot, Lowes, or any lumber yard. The cedar sold for building purposes is treated. Use cedar planks that you either cut yourself or buy from a grocery or kitchen store specifically packaged for the purpose of using with food. Thanks Jim for this very valuable bit of information.

 

SHRIMP AND FRIED TOFU PAD THAI

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The other evening I had just an overwhelming hankering for Pad Thai. But having never made it before, I had to go to the internet for help. I only knew that whatever else the dish contained, mine had to have bite sized pieces of shrimp, crispy cubes of fried tofu, and of course rice noodles.

One of the first recipes I found was from Jennifer Steinhauer. I added, subtracted, and generally had my way with her recipe, but the basic ingredients she used became the backbone for the recipe you find below.

Jennifer’s recipe, as did almost all the other Pad Thai recipes, called for tamarind paste. Now I live on an island with just one humble grocery store. And granted, our store does its best with the limited space it has, but I didn’t even bother looking for tamarind paste. So I researched substitutions. Apparently equal parts of fresh lime juice and brown sugar is close enough for practical purposes. (And in my case, practical purposes includes not having to drive all over the region looking for tamarind paste!)

So there is no tamarind paste in my recipe. And as far as my taste buds can tell, the basic flavor of a good Pad Thai sauce has not been jeopardized by the absence of this quintessential Pad Thai ingredient. (Plus from everything I read about tamarind paste, it’s a pain in the patootie to work with! And frankly, I no longer have the time or patience for high maintenance ingredients!)

So if you too love Pad Thai and would like to serve it at home, give this recipe a try. It has lots of wonderful flavor without being too loaded with fat or salt. And it’s a one dish meal. And if there’s any phrase I’m beginning to like more and more, it’s “one dish meal”. Of course in my case, that one dish should be a big old salad, not a plate of noodles. But one simply must listen to one’s own hankering every so often. How else are we to keep our souls alive if we neglect our bodies wishes all the time? Perhaps I should research that subject on the internet. (I’ll let you know if I find an answer that still allows me to eat Pad Thai once in a while!)

  • 8 oz. stir-fry rice stick noodles (the noodles are almost fettuccine-width)
  • ½ block firm tofu
  • 2 T. cornstarch, or more as needed
  • 1 T. sesame oil
  • 1 tsp. chili oil
  • 2 T. fish sauce
  • 1 T. granulated sugar
  • 1 T. brown sugar
  • 2 T. fresh lime juice
  • pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • ¼ c. water
  • 2 T. canola oil
  • 2 small garlic cloves, finely minced  
  • 2 tsp. minced ginger
  • ½ small carrot, grated
  • 1/3 c. finely chopped red bell pepper, opt.
  • 2 c. chopped baby spinach or shredded Napa cabbage
  • ¾ – 1 lb. uncooked large (16-20) shrimp, peeled, deveined, and cut into thirds
  • 2 lg. eggs
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1-2 c. bean sprouts
  • 1/3 c. chopped salted peanuts
  • 2 T. sesame seeds, opt.  
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges

Bring 6 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Remove from heat. Add the rice noodles; let stand for 8 minutes or until the noodles are soft but firm. (Basically al dente.) Rinse under cold water; drain well. Set aside.

Meanwhile, cut drained tofu into 1/4-inch slices and coat with cornstarch.  Combine the sesame oil and chili oil in a medium frying pan. Bring oil to medium heat and fry the tofu until both sides are a nice golden brown. Remove from pan and drain on a paper towel. When cool cut into bite size pieces. Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the fish sauce, granulated sugar, brown sugar, lime juice, crushed red pepper flakes, and water; set aside.

Set a wok or large fry pan over high heat for 1 minute, then add the canola oil and heat until the oil shimmers. Add the garlic, ginger, carrot, red bell pepper, and spinach; sauté for 30 seconds. Add the shrimp and sauté until almost cooked through, 1-2 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Add the noodles to the pan and stir-fry for 1 minute. Pour in the fish sauce and toss to coat the noodles. Cook until the noodles are hot, then push them to one side of the wok/pan and scramble the eggs in the remaining space. Add the reserved shrimp mixture, fried tofu chunks, green onions, bean sprouts, and half the peanuts. Toss to mix. Garnish with the remaining peanuts, sesame seeds, and lime wedges. Serve immediately.

 

 

SEAFOOD AND FRIED TOFU LO MEIN

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I love one dish, one pot meals. And I wish I could tell you this was one. (Well, it is a one dish meal. But as hard as I tried, there is just no getting around the fact that your kitchen help is going to have several bowls and a couple of fry pans to wash after dinner.)

Now in my case, Mr. C is our after meal kitchen clean up crew. And he knows, from years of dish washing experience, that I have washed as many bowls and utensils as possible as I went along. But with this recipe, every part of the dish comes together at the very last minute. So there is no time to wash dishes, much less take a sip of martini (for that matter). (Not that I would have experience drinking a martini while fixing dinner you realize. Right! Only about 25 years of experience, but who’s counting……)

Anyway, regardless of the number of bowls and pans involved with this Lo Mein, you are going to love diving into a plate of this yummy homemade Asian inspired noodle dish. And unlike Lo Mein prepared in a restaurant, there is a lot less salt and fat, and not a sprinkle of MSG to be had. Plus you can make it with as many or as few veggies as you like. (When I fixed this last evening, I used the veggies listed below, because that’s what I had on hand. But next time I can see myself adding or substituting red bell pepper, those darling little corn cobs that come in a can, a small amount of broccoli, or maybe some re-hydrated dried mushroom pieces. This is a “clean your vegetable bin” kind of dish. In other words – the best kind of dish.)

So if you too are a Lo Mein lover, give this recipe a try. And to you or anyone else in your family who gets stuck with the dishes, please accept my apology.

Oh – one last thing. This is a Lo Mein, rather than a Chow Mein because the noodles are not fried. Same kind of noodles are used for both dishes, but in an effort to keep the fat content as low as possible, I decided the cooked noodles really didn’t need to be stir fried in additional oil. (Another positive proof that I am on your side in the quest for healthier eating.) Your welcome!

And yes I do know that tofu is not always used in either Chow Mein or Lo Mein. But we happen to love it. Plus it’s just one more source of protein. Actually, if you wanted to make this an almost* vegetarian dish, you could simply substitute vegetable stock for the chicken broth, and skip the seafood altogether. The tofu could absolutely hold its own as the requisite protein component. It’s good that way!

*Oyster sauce has a bit of oyster extract

Tofu:

  • 1 lb. firm tofu
  • 3 T. low sodium Tamari or soy sauce
  • 6 T. cornstarch, or more as needed
  • 2 T. vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil

Sauce:

  • 2 T. water
  • 2 T. cornstarch
  • 1½ c. low sodium chicken broth
  • ¼ c. oyster sauce
  • 3 T. GF low-sodium Tamari or low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 T. sesame oil
  • 2-3 tsp. Sriracha

Veggies and Seafood:

  • 2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
  • 1 large carrot, shredded
  • 8 thinly sliced white button mushrooms
  • 2 c. Napa cabbage, finely shredded or 1 c. finely shredded regular green cabbage
  • 2 large garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 2 tsp. minced ginger
  • 8 green onions, white and green parts, sliced
  • 12-15 peapods, sliced in 3rds
  • 1 lb. mixed seafood* (shrimp, scallops, calamari, etc.)
  • 2 T. vegetable oil (needed when veggies are stir-fried)

Noodles:

  • kosher salt
  • 6 oz. chow mein or Chinese egg noodles (I use Sun Luck chow mein noodles mainly because I can buy them at my local grocery store)

Preparation: (Complete each step below before actually cooking the Lo Mein)

Tofu – Remove the tofu from its watery container. Using paper towels, gently squeeze as much liquid as you can from the block of tofu. Cut into 32 pieces and place in a flat pan. Pour the soy sauce over the tofu cubes, turning as required to coat all surfaces. Leave for about 5 minutes.

When ready to fry, coat all sides with corn starch. Heat the vegetable and sesame oils in a large fry pan. Add the tofu cubes and fry until all sides are crispy and golden brown. Remove from heat and set aside until needed.

Sauce – Whisk together the water, corn starch, chicken broth, oyster sauce, Tamari, sesame oil, and Sriracha in a small bowl and set aside.

Veggies – Cut all the veggies as instructed above. Set aside. Combine seafood in a bowl and set aside.

Lo Mein assembly: In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the noodles according to the package directions. While the noodles are cooking, heat the 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a very large fry pan or wok. Add the celery, carrot, mushrooms, and cabbage to the hot oil and cook for 3-4 minutes. (You want the veggies to be crisp tender.) Add the garlic, ginger, green onions, and pea pods; cook for 1 minute. Finally add the seafood and cook until almost done.

Add the sauce and cook only until thickened. Drain the noodles and add to the fry pan along with the fried tofu. Remove from heat when all ingredients are hot. Serve immediately.

*You can use chicken, beef, or pork instead of seafood. Just add in place of seafood and cook only until done.