Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Monkfish Liver Pâté

monkfish liver pâté on toasted baguette slices with a sprinkle of Hawaiian lava sea salt
I enjoy eating monkfish liver but unfortunately for me they are rarely available. I was more than thrilled when my friend Ralph messaged me that he had some livers for me! One of his fisherman friends caught the monkfish off the coast of New England. After I pulled out all the visible parasites I wrapped the livers up and put them in the freezer. Now it is time to create a pâté with some of them. I thawed the livers in the refrigerator overnight. Although they have been in the freezer they still taste fresh. I think these livers are mild in comparison to canned tuna fish. My husband agrees that this pâté is delicious with toasted baguette slices with either a dollop of caviar or a sprinkle of sea salt on top...and of course, the drink of choice is good sake! Thank you Ralph and your friend for the tasty livers!

If interested you may check out my previous post, Fried Monkfish Liver. This post has a photo of the parasites that I was referring to earlier. While cleaning the livers the parasites may catch some of you off guard especially if you are not looking for them or have never seen them before. Don't be too concerned about them...particularly if you are planning on serving your guests these good looking hors d'oeuvre for the upcoming holiday season. After a good freeze and a few pulses in a food processor I can assure you that your guests and even you will not notice them. As my husband often likes to remind me,"it's just extra protein"! I am glad I am married to a fearless man! 

Here are two excellent links I found on sake.
Sake 101:  A Beginner's Guide to Sake and Fifty Best Sake.

monkfish liver pâté on toasted baguette slices with a dollop of caviar on top
Monkfish Liver Pâté

Ingredients:

5 monkfish livers (about 10 oz), washed well, removed any visible parasites, veins and membranes removed
1/2 cup of any good sake (Japanese rice wine)
1/2 cup beef marrow (from 1-lb beef bone marrow)
2 shallots, finely chopped (about 1/3 cup)
1 thumbnail size ginger, grated (about 1/2 tsp grated)
2 garlic cloves, grated (about 1 tsp)
1 small bunch of scallions, green parts only, chopped (about 1/3 cup)
4 dried shiitake mushrooms, hydrated in warm water, stems removed, finely chopped (about 1/3 cup)
1/4 cup whipping cream or heavy cream
2 tsp fish sauce (I used the 3 crabs brand)
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp freshly ground white pepper

Method:

1) Soak the livers in sake for about 15-20 minutes. Do this first while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
2) Wash the beef bone marrow in cold water. Gently boil the bones in a little water for about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and gently wash the bones. Add the bones back in the pot and put in enough water just to cover all the bones. Gently boil the bones for about 5 minutes or until the marrow can be removed easily. Remove the marrow and place it in a pan.
3) Heat the pan with the marrow over medium high heat. Add shallots, ginger, garlic, scallions and mushrooms. Saute about 3 minutes or until everything is soft. Break the marrow into small pieces with the spatula. Turn heat lower if the pan gets too hot.
4) Pour in the liver and the sake. Cook for about 15 minutes or until the sake has been cooked off. Try to break the liver into small pieces with the spatula.

still too much liquid
5) Add heavy cream and season with fish sauce, sugar and pepper. Cook for about another 5 minutes and turn off heat. Let everything cool down.

at the end of cooking it should look somewhat like this
6) Once the contents have been cooled down a little then blend everything in a food process.
7) Portion the finished pâté in small glass jars or ramekins. Use plastic wrap over the ramekins to prevent the pâté from drying out. Keep refrigerated. Serve warm or cold.

*If you have a hand-held blender then you may want to use a pot instead of pan to start cooking beginning at step 3.
*If you cannot remove all the veins or membranes do not worry too much since this pâté will not be too smooth.
*Once the pâté has been kept in the refrigerator you can take it out and leave it at room temperature for about 15 minutes in order for it to spread easily.
*You certainly can substitute salt for the fish sauce if you think it may help reduce the fishy smell.  

Addendum:
It is best to serve the pâté same day if possible since the taste is much better. I kept a portion in the freezer as a test to see how it will taste later. After thawing it in the refrigerator I find the taste to be quite fishy and not as good as when freshly made.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Hákarl (Icelandic Fermented Shark Meat)

Hákarl (Icelandic Fermented Shark Meat)
Have you ever eaten or heard of hákarl or Icelandic fermented shark meat? I was introduced to this Icelandic delicacy by our friends Julia and Andy. Julia visited Iceland for her friend's wedding and returned home with a small container of this exotic meat for us to taste and smell. A small group of us sampled these ammonia smelling meat cubes (outside the house) followed by gulping down several shots of vodka...hoping to mask the smell and prevent any after taste. For some reason no one seemed to be too thrilled for a second bite. Andy and Julia wrapped the container tightly in layers and gave me the rest to take home. I think secretly they were overjoyed to have a recipient for the leftovers. For some people the smell is strong and perhaps even a bit offensive--some have described it as "rotten or gangrenous" meat. When I tasted the meat I realized I ate something similar in my past but I could not put my finger on it. On the drive home I realized during my previous trip back to Vietnam my cousin Khiem made me some dried sting ray. If you like hákarl then you may enjoy my Grilled Dried Sting Ray (or Kho Ca Duoi Nuong). Although the dried sting ray did not have as strong a taste or aroma. My cousin Ngoc made a nice tamarind sauce but omitted the fish sauce. Below is a recipe for the sauce that is inspired by my mother. She thinks the tamarind fish sauce would go well with it. You can dip the meat in the sauce or coat the meat in the sauce and serve it as I did. Although I did not grow up eating either the
hákarl or dried sting ray I did not mind them. I would eat them again if given a chance. Luckily the weather outside is warm so we opened all the windows and doors to air out the smell in our home before we can accept any future guests. Hopefully my neighbors don't call the police because they smelled decomposing flesh!

Below are are few interesting links on hákarl:

Hákarl
http://www.worldatlas.com/articles/icelandic-cuisine-hakarl-iceland-fermented-shark.html

Hákarl (Icelandic Fermented Shark Meat) in Tamarind-Fish-Chili-Sauce

Ingredients:

About 1/2 cup cubed Hákarl (Icelandic Fermented Shark Meat), roughly 3-oz
1 recipe of Tamarind-Fish-Chili Sauce (see recipe below)

Method:

Make the Tamarind-Fish-Chili Sauce and mix in the Hákarl (Icelandic Fermented Shark Meat) until all the meat has been coated. Add more chili pepper if interested.

Tamarind-Fish-Chili Sauce 

Ingredients:

About 3 Tbsp water
About 1 Tbsp tamarind pulp
A squirt of chili pepper
About 1/2 tsp fish sauce
About 1/2 tsp brown sugar

Method:

Heat water and tamarind pulp in a small pot or pan. Avoid boiling. Mash the pulp gently to remove as much of the tamarind as possible. Strain the liquid and scrape the back of the bottom of a strainer to remove as much tamarind sauce as possible. Return the liquid and tamarind sauce into a clean pan or pot. Add chili pepper, fish sauce and sugar. Stir until the sugar has dissolved.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Chicken and Shrimp in Oyster Ginger Sauce (serves 4-5 as part of a shared meal)

Chicken and Shrimp in Oyster Ginger Sauce
A few months ago I visited my friend Joannie and her beautiful family. Joannie and I go way back. We met while we were both working for Sears (department store) during my high school years. After we left Sears our lives took us in very different paths in different states but somehow we managed to keep in touch through the years. When I visited I cooked a simple dinner for them. This Chicken and Shrimp in Oyster Ginger Sauce was one of the dishes that I made. Joannie was unsure whether her children would eat anything that has a strong ginger taste. Typically I prefer this dish with a mega-dose of ginger. However, for Joannie's family I made it mild using only a small amount of grated ginger. I think her family must have liked it because they ate it all! When you make this you can certainly add as much or as little of the ingredients as you prefer. I normally serve this with steamed rice with a side dish of steamed vegetables or fresh vegetables such as cucumber, tomatoes, lettuce and other herbs.

You can make this using just shrimp or chicken without mixing the two. You may substitute chicken with pork if interested. Recently my mother gave me a similar dish but she used pork riblets and it was delicious. Below are a few similar posts.

Ginger Braised Pork Spare Ribs
Sauteed Frog Legs in Ginger and Garlic Oyster Sauce
Sauteed Shrimp, Shiitake Mushrooms and Ginger

Also, if you like the Grateful Dead then you will surely enjoy this amazing tribute band known as DeadBeat. Joannie's husband Brian is in this band. The last few times we saw the band played both in New Hampshire and Massachusetts venues Brian was the lead singer. You may check out their website and listen to a few songs they have posted on-line. And if you are interested in writing any fan letters you can contact them on-line!! Thank you Brian and your band for entertaining us!!


DeadBeat at Stone Church in Newmarket, New Hampshire (2014)
Shrimp and Chicken in Oyster Ginger Sauce (serves 4-5 as part of a shared meal)

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp oil (canola, vegetables or use what you have available)
1 small yellow or white onion, peeled, cut into wedges 
About 2-oz ginger, peeled, a mixture of both grated and julienned
3 fresh or dry chili peppers (keep whole if you want less heat)
About 1 1/2 pounds chicken thighs, removed as much of the fat as possible, cut into bite size
About 1/2 pound shrimp, butterflied, de-veined (by removing the dark intestines)
2 large garlic cloves, peeled, grated
3 Tbsp oyster sauce
1 Tbsp dark soy sauce
1/2 Tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp sugar
1 bunch of scallions, green parts only, chopped (about 1/3 cup)
Freshly ground black or white pepper

Method:

1) Heat oil in a large pan over medium high heat. Add onion, julienned ginger, and chili. Saute for about 1-2 minutes or until the onion is soft.
2) Add chicken. Saute about 3 minutes or until the chicken is somewhat cooked.
3) Add Shrimp, garlic and grated ginger. Saute about a minute.
4) Season with oyster sauce, soy sauce, fish sauce and sugar. Saute about another 3 minutes or until the shrimp are cooked.
5) Turn off heat and add the scallions. Stir for about 30 seconds to mix all ingredients together.
6) Garnish with freshly ground peppers and more chopped scallions if interested.

ingredients with hand grater
*If you prefer more heat then slice the chili peppers in half.
*If you want to make the sauce thicker then make a mixture using a little cornstarch and a little water and pour this in the pan about 1 minute before done. 

Potato Salad (serves about 3)

Potato Salad
I have eaten many potato salads (some tasty and some not so good) but somehow I have never attempted to make any. I decided to make a salad with ingredients that I like and most importantly already have in my kitchen, to eat with my beer-battered fried cod. This is a rough estimate of the ingredients I used. This recipe is not overly sweet, sour or salty. Feel free to adjust the ingredients and add or omit what you want in your own salad. My husband likes this salad with lots of eggs and he thinks it is tasty.

Potato Salad (serves about 3)

Ingredients:

2 Idaho potatoes, boiled, peeled, diced into bite size
3 hard-boiled eggs, peeled, roughly chopped
About 1/3 cup chopped red onion
About 1/3 cup chopped "Bread & Butter" pickles
About 1/2 cup light sour cream
About 2 Tbsp mayonnaise
About 1 Tbsp mustard
A little squeeze of lemon juice
A little chopped fresh herbs (such as parsley, chives, tarragon, dill or any mild herbs)
A few pinches of salt

Method:

Mix all ingredients until well blended. May adjust the ingredients and season with salt according to your taste.

*The "Bread & Butter" are sweeter pickles and the jar I used labeled "no salt".
*I used Hellmann's real mayonnaise and Gulden's spicy brown mustard. 

Friday, November 11, 2016

Ivanka's Cucumber and Tomato Salad (about 4 servings)

Ivanka's Cucumber and Tomato Salad

This salad is inspired by my Czech-American friend Ivanka. I added tomatoes, red onion and mint leaves for colors, texture, and extra nutrients. This salad is simple but very tasty.

Ivanka's Cucumber and Tomato Salad (about 4 servings)

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp vinegar
2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp freshly ground black or white pepper
1 European cucumber, sliced
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
A few thin slices of red onion
A few mint leaves, hand torn or sliced

Method:

Mix the vinegar, sugar and pepper in a small bowl and set aside.
In a large bowl add cucumber, tomatoes, red onion, mint leaves and drizzle the vinegar-sugar-pepper mixture over everything. Toss everything well and serve.

Ivanka's Vienna Schnitzel (serves 4)

Ivanka's Vienna Schnitzel
My Czech-American friend Ivanka shared with me another wonderful dish...this time it is Vienna Schnitzel. It is similar to the Japanese chicken or pork katsu that is often served with tonkatsu sauce typically found on a Japanese restaurant menu across the United States. Perhaps the Japanese were inspired by the European schnitzel. Ivanka tells me in Czech Republic they use more pork than chicken or veal. She pounds the meat flat. Once I saw her improvised this technique using a hammer because she did not have a meat mallet or meat tenderizer. Well, it worked and they came out delicious! She would dredge the pounded meat in flour, next dip it in an egg batter and then lastly coat with breadcrumbs. Most Europeans serve the fried meat simply with lemon slices. However, sometimes she uses a brown sauce on the side which is not typical. Other side dishes for the schnitzel may include potato salad or boiled potatoes, cucumber salad, dumplings, sauteed sauerkraut or red cabbage in bacon, caraway seeds and fresh garlic. She buys her sauerkraut in a jar, drains it, washes it in water, and cooks it. At the end of cooking the sauerkraut she adds a little sugar so it is not sour. Sometimes I prefer schnitzel with steamed vegetables, steamed rice and a combination of light soy and lemon juice sauce. However you decide how to serve it I am sure it will turn out tasty. My husband tells me this is the best schnitzel he has ever tasted...perhaps he is a little biased?! Thank you Ivanka for your friendship and for sharing your recipes!


meat, flour, egg, and breadcrumbs
breaded meat
Ivanka's Vienna Schnitzel (serves 4)

Ingredients:

4 thin pieces of pork slices (about 1 pound)
About 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 large egg
1 Tbsp milk
A pinch of salt
A pinch of pepper
About 3/4 cup store-bought breadcrumbs (Italian style)
1 lemon, washed, cut in wedges

Method:

1) Place a slice of pork in plastic and pound it (using a mallet, meat tenderizer or even a hammer) as flat as you can get it. Put it aside. Repeat with the other pieces.
2) Spread all-purpose flour on one plate.
3) Break an egg in a bowl. Use a fork and lightly whisk in milk, salt and pepper.
4) Spread the breadcrumbs on the another plate.
5) Dredge the pork slice in flour first and shake off excess flour. Next dip it in the egg batter and let some of the egg mixture drips off. Then lastly drop it into the breadcrumbs. Shovel the breadcrumbs with your fingers to coat both sides of the meat. Repeat for the other pieces of meat.
6) Fry the coated meat in hot pan with a little oil. Avoid overcrowding the meat in the pan. I use medium high heat. You may turn the heat down a little if the pan gets too hot. Fry until both sides are golden brown. You may have to wipe the pan with a paper towel clean before frying the next batch. Do this carefully so you do not burn your fingers. Frying time takes about 6-8 minutes depending on how thin your meat is and your heat source. Serve with lemon wedges.

*For this recipe I used thin cut pork sirloin cutlets.

This salad is inspired by my Czech-American friend Ivanka. I added tomatoes, red onion and mint leaves for colors, texture, and extra nutrients. This salad is simple but very tasty.

Ivanka's Cucumber and Tomato Salad
Ivanka's Cucumber and Tomato Salad (about 4 servings)

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp vinegar
2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp freshly ground black or white pepper
1 European cucumber, sliced
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
A few thin slices of red onion
A few mint leaves, hand torn or sliced

Method:

Mix the vinegar, sugar and pepper in a small bowl and set aside.
In a large bowl add cucumber, tomatoes, red onion, mint leaves and drizzle the vinegar-sugar-pepper mixture over everything. Toss everything well and serve.

Boiled Potatoes

Boil potatoes with the skin intact until you can pierce a fork into the middle. Avoid cooking too long or the potatoes will become too mushy. Peel the skin and roughly cut each potato into bite size. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt if interested.

*I used Idaho potatoes but you may use another type. The potatoes were large so I used one for 2 servings.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Saba Sashimi (appetizers for 1-2)

saba sashimi
From my previous post How to Prepare Fresh Caught Mackerel for Sashimi, I mentioned that my parents went out to sea with their friends and fished for mackerel. They saved some for me which I turned into saba sashimi! Actually I am not sure what to call it but saba sashimi sounds good--it's a cross between sashimi and ceviche. Whatever this dish is, it is delicious according to my husband. Here is the recipe. Adjust by adding more or less of the ingredients depending on your taste. I used store bought Ponzu Citrus Seasoned Dressing & Sauce and added a few extra ingredients to pull everything together. I like how this dish turns out and I would definitely make it again.

Saba Sashimi (appetizers for 1-2) 

Ingredients:

2 prepared mackerel fillets (see How to Prepare Fresh Caught Mackerel for Sashimi post), washed well in cold water, patted dry with paper towels, cut into about 1/4 inch pieces
A little chopped scallions (green parts only)
A little finely diced onion
A little grated fresh ginger
A little lemon zest
About 5 fresh mint leaves, cut into small strips

Method:

Sprinkle a little of scallions, onion, ginger and mint over the mackerel pieces and serve with Ponzu Sauce (see below).

Ponzu Sauce

The sauce consists of a tablepsoon of store-bought Ponzu Citrus Seasoned Dressing & Sauce (Kikkoman brand), a squirt of Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce, a little chopped scallions (green parts only), a little finely diced onion, a little grated ginger and a little lemon zest.

*Addendum:
The Ponzu Sauce may be a bit sour which may be too much for some people. For the second batch I made a sauce using half store-bought Ponzu Citrus Seasoned Dressing & Sauce (Kikkoman brand) and soy sauce. For the third batch I made a sauce using store bought Sashimi Soy Sauce (Yamasa brand). My husband and I prefer this last sauce.

How to Prepare Fresh Caught Mackerel for Sashimi

How to Prepare Fresh Caught Mackerel for Sashimi

Over the last few years my parents and their friends would go on these exciting fishing excursions off the coast of Maine. The friends have a boat so they can go anywhere and anytime. They generally go when the mackerel are running and this year they caught a large cooler full of them. They gutted the fish and kept them either in the refrigerator to be eaten right away or in the freezer to be eaten at another time. They probably bled some of these fish briefly but only during the cleaning process...a method they typically do not practice since they generally eat these fish cooked. 

You bleed the fish when it is still alive by cutting the artery near the gills. You turn the fish with the belly up or facing you and cut either with a sharp knife or a pair of scissors deep into the tip of the upside "V" located between the gills. Let the fish bleed out for about 25-30 minutes on ice or in a cold place such as a refrigerator. This bleeding technique is used by the Japanese for sushi grade fish. It will help decrease the fishy odor when eating raw. After you bleed it then you can scale it and gut it. Luckily for me mackerel are scale-less. These mackerel that my parents gave me were kept frozen...ideal for eating raw. The process of freezing fish will make the environment less suitable for the parasites to survive. Although having said this you can never be too careful. If you have any health problems you should consult with your health care providers before consuming any raw seafood. One thing you should never ever do, no matter your health status is eat raw fresh water fish as they can carry harmful parasites that can infect you. If you are unsure on how to properly handle seafood to eat raw then let the experts do it and you should refrain from taking a chance. When I write "experts" I do not mean any fish mongers from any markets. Some supermarkets will have signs stating the fish is "sushi grade" but the workers may not have proper training in handling them. Poor handing of seafood, cross contamination of fresh water fish with sushi grade fish and eating any seafood or fish with parasites can cause you to become very ill or worse...dead.

I thaw 3 frozen mackerel (given to me by my parents) in a glass container in the refrigerator overnight for about 12 hours. After 12 hours I sprinkled about 1/4 cup of salt in the fish cavities and the exterior and kept them in the refrigerator for another 6 hours. Why thawing for 12 hours and salting for 6 hours you may ask. Well, I had to work...maybe even had to care for patients who had eaten poor handling of seafood for example! I fillet them into 6 pieces, remove all the bones that I could see and feel with my fingers, wash them well in cold water, and pat the pieces dry with paper towels. I then sprinkle another 1/4 cup of salt over the flesh of the fish. I refrigerate them for another 2 hours. I rinse the fillets several times in cold water to remove the salt. At this stage you can stick your nose close to the fillet pieces and there should be just a slight hint of the mackerel aroma. The final step is to submerge the pieces flesh down and skin side up in vinegar for about 2-3 hours in the refrigerator. The vinegar will "cook" the mackerel and makes the meat firm up. Hopefully after this treatment the fish should be a lot safer to eat. This post is for fresh caught mackerel, not for store bought mackerel. Remember, just because I eat this food does not mean it is safe for you to eat it too.

This time I fillet the fish by using a sharp knife starting from the head keeping my blade as close to the bones as possible and slicing in a steady position all the way down to the tail. I use this same method for the other side to get 2 beautiful fillets. You can keep the center bones to make a nice soup. See my previous post on How to Fillet Fish. Stay tuned for my next post on Saba Sashimi! YUM!

My father caught 2 fish on one line!
(Maine, 2016)
wild mackerel
(Maine, 2016)
salted fish fillets over 2 hours
fish bones (may use to make a broth)
after the salt has been rinsed off in cold water
mackerel fillets submerge in vinegar
after soaking 2-3 hours in vinegar--
the meat is firm and ready to eat