Monday, December 14, 2015

Steamed Fish Custard--Khmer Inspired (makes 3 ramekins)

This dish is inspired by a popular custard dish called "amok" that I ate when my husband and I traveled in Cambodia. The custard usually contain fish but never coconut meat. While in Makawao (Maui) we met Hans who climbs coconut trees to harvest these tasty fruits. We brought 3 whole young coconuts from him and one of them had good soft meat. I decided to add texture to this dish by including some of the meat. You may omit the coconut meat if you do not want to include it or have access to it. I did not have access to an oven but I used what was available to me, which was an old electric wok.

partially cooked salmon belly
Partially Cooked Salmon Belly 

Ingredients:

2 garlic cloves, grated
1 Tbsp coconut water
A squirt of fish sauce
A large pinch of raw sugar
2 oz of salmon belly, sliced into 6 pieces, bones and scales removed
1 Tbsp of oil

Method:

Mix garlic, coconut water, fish sauce, sugar with the salmon.
Lightly saute the salmon in oil until just cooked. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Steamed Fish Custard--Khmer Inspired (makes 3 ramekins)

Ingredients:

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped or grated
1/2 pinky sized of turmeric, skin scraped off and grated
1/2 thumbnail sized of ginger, skin scraped off and grated
1/8 tsp curry powder
3 large eggs
200 mL coconut milk (about 7 oz)
A squirt or two of fish sauce
A large pinch of raw sugar
Water for boiling
1 recipe for Partially Cooked Salmon Belly (see recipe above)
1/2 cup sliced young coconut meat
1/2 small mild red pepper, de-seeded,julienned
2 young kaffir lime leaves, julienned

Method:

1) Whisk garlic, turmeric, ginger, curry powder, eggs, coconut milk, fish sauce and sugar together until well blended.

garlic, turmeric, ginger, eggs, coconut milk, fish sauce, sugar
2) Add enough water in a pan or wok to cover 1/3 of the ramekins.
3) Once the water starts to boil, decrease heat slightly so the water is gently boiling. Divide the salmon pieces equally into each ramekin. Pour the egg/coconut milk mixture equally into each ramekin. Scatter the coconut meat, pepper, and kaffir lime leaves on top.
4) Gently and carefully place the ramekins in the boiling water. Partially cover the pan or wok. Cook until the custard is set and the middle is slightly jiggly, approximately 15-20 minutes in gently boiling water.

my home-made kaffir lime (leaves)
and tear grass (beads) lei
(the tear grass came from
one of my hikes on Maui)

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Avocado with Roasted Peanuts and Agave Nectar (serves 2)

On places like Maui if you plant an avocado from a seed or young growth you may end up with a 30 foot tree with more fruits than you can ever eat. Our friends Sam and Frances have such a tree. Sam is a 96 year old WWII veteran with many interesting war stories. Every time we visit them he tells us about his world travel assignments. This visit Sam got a bit philosophical. He tells us that he plays solitaire to keep his mind sharp and he advises us to do what we enjoy because life is too short. He thinks that watching TV all day is very bad for the health. For years (on Maui) he worked on his garden daily up until recently. A task in which he found enjoyable.

Every time we visit them we always get some fresh avocados off their tree. These avocados are huge, about 1 1/2 times the size of the Haas. They are creamy and just so delicious. I can eat one or two every day and not get tired of them. If they are picked from the tree chances are they are not ripe yet. I usually put them in a bag in place for 3-4 days to speed up the ripening process. I would highly recommend checking on them daily or every 2 days for readiness to eat. If you forget they will rot and become moldy quickly, especially in the tropical heat and humidity. 

Here is a dessert using just 3 ingredients. Recently I roasted some peanuts and they are still fresh and crunchy. Use another kind of nut such as macadamia nuts if you prefer. A drizzle of agave nectar adds a nice sweetness that satisfies my taste buds. Add as much or as little of the peanuts and agave nectar as you wish. If you do not have agave nectar try adding honey or just raw sugar. This is a quick, tasty and healthy breakfast or snack.

Avocado with Roasted Peanuts and Agave Nectar (serves 2)

Ingredients:

Meat from 2 ripe large avocados
A few drizzles of agave nectar
About 1 1/2 Tbsp crushed Roasted Peanuts

Method:

Remove the meat from avocados, drizzle the agave nectar on top and sprinkle peanuts over everything.

avocados on tree
avocados
sunrise over Haleakala (2015)
Below are a few photos from one of the hikes that my husband and I took. This is known as Pipiwai Trail (in Kipahulu) to the 7 sacred pools. Along the hike we came across a large stretch of bamboo forest. It is beautiful but it is invading certain regions of Maui. Wherever you notice bamboo growing almost none of the other plants or trees can survive. This particular bamboo was planted years ago and is good for eating. It is not used for construction since it is too weak. According to one of the rangers, trekkers can harvest the bamboo shoots for consumption to help stall the invasion. The best bamboo shoot season is around April. Be sure to boil the bamboo to rid of the toxins before eating. This same ranger tells me he boils it twice and then soaks it in cold water to firm up. He tells me he keeps a stock of the prepared shoots in the freezer until ready to use. During this hike we encountered a fairly large banyan tree in the middle of our path. It's not as impressive as the tree in Lahaina but it's still quite amazing. At the end of the hike we were rewarded with a 400-foot waterfall. That is by far the tallest waterfall that I have ever seen. Despite the rain for most of our hike, the overall trail is still pretty spectacular. Be sure to bring some mosquito repellent, sunscreen, and plenty of water! If you get hungry there are some wild fruits such as coffee cherries and guavas you can eat along the way.

bamboo forest
that's me with the banyan tree
400-foot Waimoku Falls

Sauteed Taro Leaves with Ground Pork and Butterfish (serves 2-3 as part of a shared meal)

I cooked what I think is a really tasty dish and I can barely consume it. I am going to blog about it so that you do not make the same mistake that I did. This dish would have made a good meal if I had actually used taro leaves instead of the inedible elephant ear leaves. They both have heart shaped leaves except the taro leaf has the stem further in from the edge and the elephant ear has the stem on the edge. When I saw the leaves a brief thought entered my mind that these "taro leaves" looked a tad thick and off. I should have known it was too good to be true. I trusted that our friend who has been living on Maui for decades knew his taro well especially since it came from his own yard! He is a generous man and told me several times that I can harvest all of the leaves. I harvested them alright...washed each leaf carefully, removed the thicker veins, sliced them into strips and boiled them for a whole hour to get rid of the oxalic acid. If you eat raw or poorly prepared taro leaves you will immediate feel your mouth and tongue start to get this tingling prickling sensation which is similar to when I ate the initial few bites of this sauteed elephant ear with ground pork and butterfish. My immediate instinct was that after an hour of boiling the taro leaves, rinsing them and squeezing out the liquid were not enough. My next thought was that I cooked the wrong leaves! While surfing the web I came across Maui Jungalow, Taro vs. Elephant Ear (Telling Them Apart). It was not at all comforting to me knowing others have made the same terrible mistake. I hope this post will help prevent some of you from eating the wrong leaves!

When you use this recipe be sure to use TARO leaves! Eating the elephant ear probably will not kill you (since I am still alive to write this) but the sensation is quite unpleasant and can last for several hours. Long enough for me to consider the consequences and not repeat it in the future!

taro leaves
Not only did I cook the wrong leaf, but for this dish I also used a new type of fish that was not what it appeared to be. Butterfish or white tuna has been dubbed as an "ex-lax fish" by some people if one consumes more than a 6 ounce portion. The wax ester content from the fish can cause mild to severe gastrointestinal distress ranging from nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps to explosive diarrhea. There are quite a few on-line stories on this fish under the name escolar. Escolar is banned in Italy and Japan.

Sauteed Taro Leaves with Ground Pork and Hawaiian Butterfish (serves 2)

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp oil
1 thumb nail size turmeric, minced or grated
1 thumb nail size ginger, minced or grated
3 garlic cloves, minced or grated
1/2 medium Maui onion, chopped
About 0.45 lb ground pork (about 1 cup)
15 taro leaves, large veins removed, sliced into strips, boiled in water for an hour, strained, rinsed, and squeezed out the liquid
About 1 cup coconut milk
1 chicken bouillon
About 0.70 lb wild Hawaiian butterfish, cut into 2-inch cubes
About 1 tsp fish sauce
About 1/4 t sugar

Method:

1) Heat oil over medium high heat in a wok or large pan. Once the wok/pan is hot add turmeric, ginger, garlic, and onion. Saute about 5 minutes or until the onion is soft.
2) Add pork and cook until the pork is partially cooked, about 2-3 minutes.
3) Add the cooked taro leaves. Spread the leaves out evenly on the wok/pan. Cook about 2 minutes.
4) Add coconut milk and bouillon, saute about 2 minutes.
5) Put the fish on the bottom of the wok/pan and cover with the leaves to help cook the fish. Cook until fish is cooked (about 5 minutes).
6) Season with fish sauce and sugar. Remove from heat.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Vietnamese Braised Salmon Belly (serves 2-3 as part of shared meal)

Vietnamese braised fish or ca kho
This braised salmon belly is known as "ca kho" in Vietnamese. It is a classic and popular dish that is often eaten with steamed rice and fresh or steamed vegetables and herbs. Such a dish can last several meals. The savory liquid can be used to extend by more than one meal as a dip for steamed vegetables. I have never seen salmon belly sold in stores in the Mainland (US). I was lucky to come across some on Maui. The belly is great for this particular dish because it has a lot of fat and this prevents it from drying out even when cooking for prolonged period of time. I like garlic so I use a lot of it. You can scale down if you prefer less garlic breath! I also season this dish according to my taste. When you make yours just season it to your own personal taste.

Vietnamese Braised Salmon Belly (serves 2-3 as part of shared meal)

Ingredients:

1 lb salmon belly (preferably with de-scaled skin on), cut into 2-inch pieces
4 garlic cloves, smashed and chopped
1 Tbsp fish sauce
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp oil
1 1/2 tsp raw sugar
About 1/4 cup coconut water

Method:

1) Marinade the salmon with garlic, fish sauce and soy sauce for 15-20 minutes in the refrigerator.
2) Heat oil in a small pot over medium high heat.
3) Once the oil is hot add the marinaded fish. Cook for 5 minutes on each side.
4) Sprinkle raw sugar over the fish and add coconut water. Cook until the liquid is reduced by about half to a third. May season further with fish sauce, soy sauce and sugar according to your taste before turning off the heat.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Seasoned White Crabs 2 Ways (raw and lightly sauteed)

Located at the deli counter at Foodland (grocery store) on the island of Maui there is a huge selection of fresh and delicious poke (seasoned raw seafood). One type is white crab poke. I ate some directly from the deli and find it too salty. The ingredients for the crab poke consists of sectioned crab body with some legs, sambal (chili pepper), kim chee mixture, nuts and sesame oil. These crabs remind me of the salted raw tiny crabs found in the southern part of Vietnam especially in Soctrang and Chau Doc known as "ba khia". I like to eat the raw crabs but I prefer to add a few extra ingredients such as a sprinkle of raw sugar and a squeeze of lime juice. Once these 2 ingredients are mixed in the crabs the taste is more balanced and is 'ono' (that's tasty in Hawaiian). By the way this is how ba khia is also eaten by some people in Vietnam!

ba khia or Khmer salted crab
(Chau Doc, Vietnam)
Another way to eat these seasoned crabs is to lightly sauté them. I discovered this by accident. I had some crabs left over in the refrigerator from a previous day. I prefer to eat raw seafood same day or not at all since the freshness is gone and there is a higher risk for bacteria growth. Instead of discarding perfectly good crabs I add the seasoned crabs (straight from the store) with a sprinkle of raw sugar (for a pound of the crab poke I used about 1 teaspoon of sugar) and sauté with a little hot oil. Adjust the sweetness to your taste. I remove the crabs once they are just cooked. These crabs are tasty with plain rice. 

white crab poke with sugar and lime
lightly sautéed white crabs

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Avocado and Pinepapple Gold Smoothie (makes 2 drinks)

A friend brought us an avocado. It's about 2 times the size of the Hass avocado. I had some cut Maui Gold pineapple in the refrigerator so this was the most obvious drink to make this morning. This smoothie is thicker than normal since I added more fruit solids than liquid. With only 1/8th of a pineapple used in the blend, the avocado has the stronger flavor in this drink. Add more pineapple if you prefer less avocado flavor. When it comes to smoothies you can add whatever fruits you have available and it will turn out delicious!

Avocado and Pineapple Gold Smoothie (makes 2 drinks)

Ingredients:

1 large avocado or 2 small (Haas) avocados
1/8 pineapple Gold (may add 1/4 pineapple)
About 1/4 cup yogurt
About 1 cup milk
About 4 ice cubes

Method:

Put everything in a blender and blend until smooth.

early morning view from
Pukalani Terrace  (Maui, 2015)

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Wild Coffee & Tropical Fruit Breakfast Blend (makes about 4 1/2 cups or 2 servings)

breakfast--my Maui style!
If you are a coffee drinker then you drink what is extracted from the roasted seeds. However, have you ever considered eating or drinking the fruits? This outer layer of the coffee fruit does not have caffeine but it makes a nice smoothie that is full of fiber and probably anti-oxidants. While on a hike with my husband and a couple of friends on the island of Maui we harvested some wild guava and red cherry coffee beans. We ate most of the guava during our hike and took the coffee beans home. Once home I squeezed each fruit to remove the seeds. I soaked the seeds in water to ferment them for a day, then dried them to make coffee later. I was amazed how healthy looking these coffee trees were; insect and fungus free. These trees seem to thrive very well in the wilderness. Here is a smoothie using carnation instant powder given to me by my brother Dan. However, you can add pretty much anything you prefer to concoct your own special blend. 

After I wrote up my mini post I did a search on-line seeking out a good article on coffee fruit. Here is an interesting one: Discover Coffee Fruit, Nature's Wasted Superfood. I particularly like the notation that there may be some youthful benefits to the coffee pickers!!

strawberry guava on tree
(tasty and very fragrant)
wild coffee
freshly harvested wild coffee
red coffee cherry fruits (above)
coffee seeds squeezed out (below)
Wild Coffee & Fruit Breakfast Blend (makes about 4 1/2 cups or 2 servings)

Ingredients:

1/2 cup wild red cherry coffee fruits (seeds removed)
6 wild ripe strawberry guava (preferably tree ripe)
About 1 cup ripe papaya (preferably tree ripe)
1/8 pineapple (see post on How to Prepare a Pineapple)
2 apple bananas (or about 1 williams banana--found in most stores in the Mainland US)
1/2 Tbsp brown sugar (optional)
1 1/2 cup milk (may use soy milk)
About 4 ice cubes (more if interested)
1 packet Classic French Vanilla Flavor Carnation instant breakfast essentials*

Method:

Put everything in a blender and puree until smooth.

*Instead of the instant breakfast essentials you may use half to one cup of yogurt.

sunset view from Pukalani Terrace (Maui, 2015)

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Paul's Calamondin Limeaide (makes 1 glass)

My husband has a mild cold with lots of sneezing, runny nose and a sore throat. I think he is over-worked. Even though he is supposedly on vacation he has been working remotely every morning. He just needed some good rest and vitamin C. I made this drink especially for him with organic calamondin limes that he planted and harvested and a dollop of agave nectar. The result is surprisingly tasty. The calamondin limes are round, about an inch in diameter, very aromatic and are mildly sweet and sour in comparison to the regular limes. Prior to cutting them open I like to roll each lime on a hard surface with my palm to help soften it and for easy squeezing. Every batch of lime will yield a different quantity of juice depending how much water the tree had been receiving. For the ones I have, 3 limes yield about 3 tablespoons of juice. Add as little or as much of the ingredients as you prefer. I like mine with a little stronger lime taste.

Here is a little more info on Calamondin from Wikipedia.


Paul's Calamondin Limeaide (makes 1 glass)

Ingredients:

Juice from 3 calamondin limes (about 3 Tbsp)
About 1 Tbsp of agave nectar (more or less depending on your taste)
Water to fill the glass (about 1 1/2 cup)
A few ice cubes

Method:

Mix the juice and nectar before adding water and ice.

organic calamondin limes

Monday, November 2, 2015

Sweet Dumpling Squash Soup (makes about 18 cups)

My neighbor, Marshall gave me a few organic farm grown sweet dumpling squash. I have never cooked or eaten these squash before so I did not know what to expect. Having made soups from roasting acorn and butternut squash numerous times over the years I decided to make a similar type of soup. I was impressed to find it is quite tough to cut into the squash because the skin and flesh are almost woody. I used a heavy duty cleaver to split each one open and then chop into pieces for easy roasting. Half way through chopping them I was sure that I had damaged my kitchen counter. Thank goodness my counter was stronger than I thought and handled the abuse well! I would advise you not to use your best knifes to cut them. I roasted the cut pieces at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes. After 30 minutes the flesh was tender but I added another 10 more minutes of roasting time to help soften it further. My husband and I removed the flesh from the shell using both a knife and spoon. We found that either utensil works well. The roasted flesh is sweet hence the name "sweet dumpling"! You may make this soup vegetarian by using vegetable stock instead of chicken. Season the finished soup with salt if interested. I thought it was tasty without the additional salt.



Sweet Dumpling Squash Soup (makes about 18 cups)

Ingredients:

4 sweet dumpling squash, washed, sliced into 2-3 inch widths
64 oz of chicken stock (low sodium, low fat)

Method:

1) Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2) Place the squash slices in roasting pans in a single layer and into the preheated oven.
3) Bake for 30-40 minutes until the flesh is soft. Remove and let it slightly cool before handling.
4) Remove the flesh.
5) Puree part of the flesh with a few cups of stock at a time. Work in batches until complete.
6) Cook the puree flesh and stock in a large pot over medium high heat for about 25-30 minutes. Stir occasionally.

photo taken in Exeter, NH (2015)

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Sweet Autumn Soup (about 6 servings)

This sweet Autumn soup consists of sugar pumpkin, sweet potato, melanga, banana and coconut milk. It is inspired by these dessert dishes known as chè in Vietnamese that my mother sometimes made for us at home. There are so many classic chè dishes. Here I came up with a medley of different ingredients that I already have in my kitchen. I have never seen anyone make chè this way but this is my blog and I am going to make it my way! :D I diced up all of the vegetables and fruits and cooked it in water. After everything is soft I added a can of coconut milk and a little brown sugar. I used a hand masher and gently mashed the cooked vegetables and fruits still in the pot. This can be served hot or cold. 

Sweet Autumn Soup (about 6 servings)


Ingredients:

One small sugar pumpkin, skin and innards removed and discarded, roughly diced
One large sweet potato, skin removed, roughly diced
1 small melanga, skin removed, roughly diced
2 ripe banana, sliced
Water
A can of coconut milk (400 mL)
Sugar to taste

Method:

In a large pot add pumpkin, potato, melanga, and banana. Add enough water to submerge all the ingredients. Cook until the melanga and potato are soft (these will be the hardest ingredients). Once all the ingredients are soft add coconut milk and sugar to taste. Gently mash everything while still in the pot.

*Add as little or as much sugar as you prefer. I made mine by adding just a few tablespoons of sugar since the bananas were very sweet. Serve immediately since the banana tends to turn dark if sits too long. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Easy Method to Dry Parsley


I hate wasting food. When I have too much herb such as parsley I like to save it for future use. I find that I can easily dry and store them. I just chop the leafy parts and scatter it on the plates for a few days to air dry. Once it is completely dry store it in an airtight container. Wash the stems and save them in a bag in the freezer for future use. This is great for making stocks or soups.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Stir-Fried Gourd and Chicken in Oyster Sauce (serves 2 as part of a shared meal)




This summer my parents had a very productive year with a bountiful harvest ranging from different leafy greens, beans, and herbs from their garden. I have never seen them grow gourds but this year they harvested dozens of them. I was lucky to be a recipient of some of their organic home-grown gourds. On their way through this area they stopped for a visit and dropped off food and produce from their garden. I recently made a soup using one of the gourds. Today I have decided to make a stir fry with another. I was very surprised to find that the gourd tastes very much like cucumbers.

Stir-Fried Gourd and Chicken in Oyster Sauce (serves 2 as part of a shared meal)

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp oil
1 cup scallions, cut into 1 to 1 1/2 inch lengths
2 garlic cloves, smashed and chopped
6 oz chicken meat, sliced and chopped
2.6 lbs bottle gourd, peeled, de-seeded, sliced into bite size
2 Tbsp of vegetable or chicken broth
1 Tbsp oyster sauce
A pinch of sugar
A drizzle of fish sauce (about 1/4 tsp)

Method:

1) Heat a pan over high heat. Once the pan is hot add oil.
2) Add scallions and garlic once the oil is heated. Saute about a minute. Avoid burning the garlic.
3) Add chicken and saute about a minute or until the chicken is just cooked.
4) Add gourd, saute about a minute. Add broth. Turn heat to low. Saute about another 5 minutes or until the gourd is soft.
5) Season with oyster sauce and sugar. Cook another 30 seconds.
6) Add fish sauce and turn off heat.

Cod and Clam Chowder (makes about 3 quarts)

cod and clam chowder with toasted baguette slices
cod and clam chowder with oyster crackers
and a sprinkle of ground black pepper

The cool autumn days are good for some piping hot chowder especially in this part of New England! Some clam or seafood chowders can be quite thick and heavy. I prefer my mine with a lighter, thinner consistency so I use clam stock and half and half. I find this technique to be more flavorful and less rich to digest. I saved the clam juice or stock in the freezer to make this. My chowder is also not so salty. However, feel free to add more salt or fish sauce if interested. I use a cast iron pot to make this chowder since I find it more economical by using less heat. Once you add the half and half avoid letting the contents boil. Turn the heat to low and let it slightly simmer. I prefer to eat my chowder alone or with toasted baguette pieces. My husband on the other hand, enjoys his chowder with oyster crackers. Of course, these crackers are quite deceiving since there is not a speck of oysters in them...as my father-in-law found out when he first came to the United States! In New England many places will serve their chowder with a small bag of these crackers. 

A beautiful autumn day
near my home (New Hampshire, USA, 2015)
looking up from my own back yard
(New Hampshire, USA, 2015)

Cod and Clam Chowder (makes about 3 quarts)


Ingredients

2 Tbsp oil (may also use half oil and half butter)
1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
2 celery sticks, finely chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
8 sprigs fresh thyme, pull some of the leaves off from the stems
1 bunch scallion, green part only, thinly sliced (about 1/3 cup)
2 Tbsp dried flat leaves parsley (see below)
5 cups clam stock (preferably home-made)
3 russet potatoes, peeled, cubed
12 oz cod fillet, cubed
About 1 lb steamer clams, cooked and meat removed (about 1/2 cup, may cut each in half)
About 1 lb littlenecks, cooked and meat removed (about 1/2 cup, may cut each into 2-3 pieces)
2 cups half and half
1 Tbsp fish sauce (or more according to your taste)
Ground black pepper, garnish (optional)

 Method

1) Heat a pot over medium heat. Once the oil is hot add onion and celery. Saute about 2 minutes until the onion is soft.
2) Add thyme stems and leaves, scallions and crumble in the dried parsley. Saute about a minute.
3) Add the clam stock. Once the liquid comes to a gentle boil turn heat to medium low. Cook for about 15 minutes or until the celery is soft.
4) Add the potato. Cook for about 45 minutes or until the potato is soft.
5) Once the potato and celery are soft to your preference then add the haddock and clams. Cook about a minute or two until the haddock is just cooked.
6) Add the half and half and season with fish sauce.

*You can substitute fish sauce for salt and vice versa.
*Use fresh parsley if have any. I had some dried up so I used this instead. I prefer to use parsley and thyme since they will not overpower the favor of this chowder.
*Littlenecks are clams. These have less sand and grits in them. The steamers have more sand and grits so you may want to rinse them after you have harvested the meat.

dried parsley
dried parsley

*If you have too much parsley it is quite easy to dry it for future use. Just chop the leafy parts and scatter it on a plate for a few days to air dry. Once it is completely dry store it in an airtight container.

Friday, October 16, 2015

My Maine Seafood Stew (serves 4-6)

This dish is inspired by a fisherman's stew known as cioppino. I have made this dish in the past and it was always tasty with or without the wine. This time I am using a variety of seafood--salmon, swordfish, lobster, shrimp, crab, steamers (clams), mussels and squid. The seafood is cooked in a tomato-red wine sauce with some of the mussel and clam juice. My parents stopped by on their way home to Maine. My sweet little brother left his wife and two kids to spend a week with my parents for my father's birthday. They flew to Denver, Colorado and drove over 2000 miles for some spectacular sight seeing. They also met up with their childhood friends (from Soctrang, Vietnam) and one of my brother's best friends (from Bangor, Maine). They tell me the mountains were amazingly beautiful and the birch trees have golden leaves at this time of the year. Happy birthday Pá!

happy birthday Pá!!
My Maine Seafood Stew (serves 4-6)

Ingredients:

3 roma tomatoes (seeds removed), roughly chopped
1/2 cup of parsley leaves and stalk, roughly chopped
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried red chili flakes
5 garlic cloves, smashed and diced
1/2 onion (about 1/2 cup) chopped
2 uncooked Italian sausages, sliced into bite size pieces
A few sprigs of fresh thyme
1 bunch of scallions (about 3/4 cup) chopped
2 roma tomatoes (seeds removed), chopped
1/2 lb swordfish steak, 1-inch cubed
1 salmon steak (about 0.8 lb), scaled
1/3 cup red wine (any good drinking wine)
1 cup clam/mussel juice*
6 oz Maine lobster meat
2 oz Maine crab meat
10 large shrimp (shells removed, tail intact, back scored to remove the black veins)
1/2 lb squid, cut into rings and/or scored and cut into bite size
8 large Downeast steamer clams (about 1.1 lbs), cooked and removed from shells, rinsed to remove grits and sand
1 lb mussels, cooked and removed from shells, rinsed to remove grits and sand
1/2 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
2 Tbsp good fish sauce
A large pinch of sugar

Method:

1) In a blender add 3 chopped roma tomatoes and parsley stalks and leaves. Puree and set aside.
2) Heat a large pan or pot over medium high heat. Add oil.
3) Once the oil is heated add chili, garlic, onion, and sausages. Saute until the onion is soft.
4) Add thyme, scallions, and 2 chopped roma tomatoes. Saute about 2 minutes.
5) Add swordfish, salmon, pureed tomatoes/parsley, wine and clam/mussel broth. Once the liquid comes to a boil turn heat down a little. Cook for about 5 minutes. Turn the salmon and swordfish cubes to cook the other side.
6) Scatter lobster, crab, shrimp, squid, clams, and mussels over the pan or pot. Cook until the salmon and swordfish are cooked through. Add parsley the last 5 minutes of cooking.
7) Season with fish sauce and sugar.

*I cook the clams and mussels in about 1/2 cup water for about 5 minutes or until the clams and mussels opened up. I carefully remove the juice and leave the grits and shell bits behind. If you do not want to do this you can also purchase clam juice from the store. 
*My mother tells me she would make this a little differently. She would saute the squid, shrimp, lobster, crab meat and swordfish cubes in garlic/onion and a little oil. Once the raw seafood is just cooked then remove them from the pot to set aside. Cook everything else and then return the cooked items to the pan/pot at the end of cooking time. This will add more flavor. However you decide to cook this be careful not to overcook the seafood.
*A few photos below were sent to me from my brother, Phu. He took my parents out to Colorado for a week long visit.



Thursday, October 1, 2015

Steamed Scallops on a Bed of Noodles (makes 4 appetizers)

Sadly I am eating my last bag of scallops in the freezer. It's time to contact Rimrack Fish for more of Mike Anderson's fresh catch! However, at the very least my husband and I are enjoying every bite of them! My friend and co-worker tells me her husband loves steamed scallops and noodles at one of the restaurants in Boston Chinatown. From her description of the dish I thought I should try it out and see for myself what she is talking about! I decided to come up with this dish inspired both by Sana's memory and my mother's steamed whole fish using scallion, ginger and bee hoon (in Teochew) or green bean thread noodles. Be sure to soak the noodles in water until pliable. This takes about 15-20 minutes. When the scallops are steamed just right they are sweet and moist. It takes about 5-7 minutes to steam them.

Seasoned Sauce for Steaming

Ingredients:

2 tsp broth base and seasoning (chicken flavored)
2 tsp water
2 tsp mirin (rice wine)
1 tsp soy sauce
A pinch of sugar

Method:

Mix all ingredients together until well blended.

ready for steaming
Steamed Scallops on a Bed of Noodles (makes 4 appetizers)

Ingredients:

1 small bundle of green bean thread (about 1.5 oz), soaked in water for 15-20 minutes to soften, drained
4 scallop shells or plates that can handle steaming
8-12 large whole scallops, tough muscles and grits removed, washed
1 green scallion blade, cut into 2 inch lengths, julienned
1 green scallion blade, chopped
About 4 thin slices of ginger, julienned
1 portion of the Seasoned Sauce for Steaming (see recipe above)

Method:

1) Divide the bean thread into 4 equal portions and place each portion onto the shell or dish.
2) Add 2-3 scallops on top of the bean thread.
3) Top with julienned and chopped scallions and ginger.
4) Drizzle the sauce over each shell or plate.
5) Steam over medium high heat for about 5-7 minutes or until the scallops are just cooked.