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Archive for the ‘Fish’ Category

Pesto Salmon in Phyllo

In Fish on June 18, 2010 at 11:50 am

So easy, and quite impressive-looking!

Okay, guys. This one is not only delicious, but easy too. And it’s a great way to disguise the fact that you’re serving cheap frozen salmon. Nobody will know the difference. I swear. This dish looks very impressive on a plate, like you’re at a spa or a country club something, but nothing could be easier.

The hardest part is getting the hang of working with phyllo dough. Just keep your hands and the counter dry, and you won’t have a problem. Take off rings, trim fingernails, and be vewy, vewy gentle. And honestly, if you do get a hole in a sheet, it will be covered by another sheet, so it’s okay.

The combination of the pink salmon, white cream cheese, and green pesto looks beautiful in cross-section. I served mine with roasted asparagus to enhance the colors of the dish, but serve it with whatever you want. A tomato salad might be nice.

Pesto Salmon in Phyllo


2 salmon fillets (fresh or frozen – nobody will know, I swear!)

4 tablespoons cream cheese

4 tablespoons pesto

8 sheets phyllo dough

4 leaves basil

cooking spray


Preheat oven to 350. Use convection if you have it.

Unroll the phyllo dough, and make two piles of four sheets each. Spray in between the layers with cooking spray and smooth them together gently. I SAID GENTLY!

Place a piece of salmon near one end (not AT one end. Near.), and top with half the cream cheese, then half the pesto, then half the basil.

Like this. See? I used frozen fish because I suck at skinning salmon. Suck.

Fold the short end (on the right) up and over the fish, then fold up the sides. Roll the whole shebang down towards the other end until you have a neat little packet. It will be cute, so be prepared. Do it again on the other one.

Place both packets on a cookie sheet and bake for about 20 minutes, or until the dough is golden around the edges. It will be beautiful, trust me.

So happyyyy togeeeetheeerrr.......


Thai Red Curry Fish and Shrimp

In Fish, Seafood on March 18, 2010 at 6:09 pm

Coconut milk makes everything better!

I love Thai food so much! Really, anything that involves coconut milk is tops on my list. Whenever the Mr. and I are discussing the possibility of takeout, I always mention Thai, and he always says no. He’s afraid of it. He thinks it’s all so spicy that it will blow his colon clean out the back of his shorts. I try to tell him that they’ll make it as spicy or as mild as you want it, but he doesn’t believe me.

I decided to prove it to him instead. I figured if he came home from work and the only edible thing in the house was red curry, he would have no choice but to try it. And he did. And loved it. Of course. I made it pretty mild, using only a tablespoon of curry paste, but feel free to add more if you’re adventurous. If you’re new to red curry, start with one tablespoon and taste it, and gradually add more until the heat is at your perfect level. See? Customizable, once again!

Thai Red Curry Fish and Shrimp


2 tablespoons canola oil

2 cups chopped bok choy

14 ounces coconut milk

1 tablespoon (or more) red curry paste

2 tablespoons brown sugar

dash fish sauce

1/2 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined

2 6-ounce Mahi fillets

4 tablespoons dried basil


Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add bok choy and saute 5 minutes or until tender. Remove from pan and set aside.

In the same pan, over medium heat, combine coconut milk, curry paste, brown sugar, and fish sauce. Simmer gently, stirring frequently, until thickened – about 5 minutes.

Stir bok choy into sauce. Empty sauce into a bowl and set aside. Keep using that same pan.

Coat fish and shrimp with basil, and saute over medium heat until shrimp is no longer translucent, and fish flakes easily with a fork.

Add sauce back into pan, toss to coat, remove from heat.

Serve over jasmine rice.

Close your eyes as you ride the dream that is red curry. Go ahead, drink the sauce…

Big Fish Sandwiches with Rosemary Potatoes

In Fish, Sandwiches, Vegetables on February 17, 2010 at 5:45 pm

Who likes onions on their fish? ME!

So I was shopping for seafood the other day, when my eyes and my heart were arrested by the most beautiful tilapia fillet I’ve seen in a loooong time. It was big, pale, perfectly formed…so I elbowed the old ladies in from of me out of the way so I could get to it first. I was so proud of it! I carried my new purchase home, and I was astonished by how light it felt – like a feather! I looked at the sticker, and it said it was a little over a half pound. Zoiks! Despite it’s size, it was a very loose, airy fillet, I supposed. And I needed to feed two gorillas with it. Hoboy. What to do?

Fish sandwiches to the rescue! Fill ’em up with bread an lettuce, and they won’t realize they get a paltry 1/4 pound of fish each! But fish sandwiches are so repetitive – lettuce, tomato, tartar sauce. Boooring. So I decided to experiment a bit, just to see what would happen. As it turns out, this was one of the good ones! Oh, it was delicious. A beautiful melange of flavors. Divine. And rosemary potatoes, to boot! Go to it!

Fish Sandwiches – Experiment 1


1/2 pound tilapia fillet

1/2 cup onion sliced THIN (as in, you can read through it.)

salt, pepper, basil

4 thick slices bread, lightly toasted

2 tablespoons pesto

1 Roma tomato, sliced thin

2 large leaves of lettuce (I used iceberg, use what you have)

1 tablespoon tzatziki


Rub the fish with salt, pepper, and dried basil. Really coat the sucker.

Saute onions in olive oil over medium-high heat for a couple of minutes, until they get tender, then push them to the cooler side of the pan (only you know where that is on your particular pan. If you cook often, it’s that side you curse when you’re making eggs), and add the fish. Don’t flip the fish too often – you want to sear each side nicely, and the middle will remain moist and delicious. Cook until opaque.

Keep the onions separate from the fish! Never the twain shall meet! Otherwise you’ll have a devil of a time trying to separate them.

Now let’s build our sandwich:

Lay out two slices of bread. I had a homemade loaf that I hacked two honkin’ slices off of, therefore, I am superior.

Spread each slice with 1 tablespoon pesto. Nice and thick, you know. It’s flavoricious.

Divide the tomato slices evenly between the two sandwiches, and arrange directly on top of the pesto. You’ll thank me for this.

Fold the lettuce leaf as necessary to fit, and place that on top of the tomato.

Cut the fish into large, rough chunks, and place on top of the lettuce.

Remember the onion? Now’s the time! Divide them equally between the two sandwiches, artistically scattering them across the top of the fish.

Drizzle each with a bit of tzatziki, add the top piece of bread, and you’re good! Better than good, in fact. You’re excellent.

Yes, they are delicious.

Rosemary Potatoes


about 2 pounds petite red potatoes, quartered lengthwise

1/3 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon dried rosemary

salt and pepper to taste


Soak the potatoes in ice water for an hour or so. I don’t know why (ask a chemist), but it helps tremendously.

Meanwhile, combine the oil, rosemary, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Don’t be shy with the salt and pepper – remember potatoes tend to absorb salt, so if you don’t care a snap of the fingers for your arteries, be generous.

When the potatoes have finished soaking (wouldn’t you love a nice soak right about now?), add them into the bowl with the oil mixture, and give it a good toss. Make sure everything is nice and coated.

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, shiny side DOWN. Dump the potatoes onto the baking sheet, oil and all – but DON’T SCRAPE THE BOWL! Don’t wash it yet either. We’ll need that later.

Arrange the potatoes skin-side down, and make sure they don’t touch. Tedious, yes, but it makes a difference. Don’t they look like brave little soldiers all lined up?

Roast them at 425 for about 45 minutes. Don’t get alarmed – they’re supposed to get all brown and bubbly!

When they’re done, transfer the potatoes back to the dirty bowl from earlier – there should still be some oil and bits of rosemary sticking to the sides – and give them a brief toss. This kind of pumps up the flavor quotient a bit.

And now you’re done! Go enjoy the velvety softness of you potatoes. You’re welcome.

Who Loves Fish Cakes?

In Fish on February 11, 2010 at 5:45 pm

I could easily become addicted to these.

Okay, attention all fish cake aficionados: let me query you. Last night, I had an inexplicable craving for fish cakes. What do I mean by inexplicable? I mean I’ve never actually had them before, nor have I ever felt a burning desire to have them. So you tell me where that craving came from.

Anyway, being a fish cake virgin (I ought to wash your mind out with soap!), I had no recipe or old family/regional tradition to fall back on. I live in South Florida – our regional seafood tradition is reservations at Joe’s Stone Crabs. I did grow up in Delaware, where we borrow quite a bit of cuisine and vacation real estate from the Chesapeake Bay area, so I’ve had awesome crab cakes before – but seeing as how lump crabmeat is about $18 for 8 oz and Maryland blue crabs (my favorite crab) are running $55 per bushel, I figured I couldn’t satisfactorily explain the expense to Mr. Gorilla.

So I searched the internet for fish cake recipes. I skipped over any that had mayo (blart!), were deep fried, or looked like they were mostly filler. I finally came across what seemed like a good one on All Recipes, so I made it. I have to say I was a little underwhelmed. I mean, yeah, they were good – Mr. Gorilla kept looking at me and grunting his approval through a full mouth (and he ate ten of them), but it wasn’t quite what I was looking for. I couldn’t really taste the fish, and there seemed to be WAY too much onion in there for my taste. Almost more like onion cakes.

Now, I did not use salted cod, because I had Swai. Maybe that was the issue. And maybe they’re supposed to have a ton of onions – when I mentioned to the Mr. that I’d probably cut the onion by half next time, he swallowed convulsively and asked why. Apparently he liked them that way.

I spritzed them with lemon and served them with tartar sauce and salad – is that right? I feel like such an idiot about this, really. But here is what I want you guys to do:

Look at the recipe I used here, and tell me if it looks like a good one to you. Make it, if you want. The reviews seemed pretty good, so maybe I’m just not a big fan of fish cakes.  But what I want most of all is for you to send me a link to your favorite fish cake recipe. To me, the ideal fish cake would taste like actual fish, not have a ton of filler, be firm but tender, and be just barely holding together. The chunks of fish should be visible.

But that’s just my humble opinion, and I may not even like fish cakes.

I Try Swai – With Pestai! (oh, okay. pesto)

In Fish, Pasta on February 9, 2010 at 4:24 pm

What the heck is Swai? Delicious, that's what!

I love fish and seafood of all kinds. And my love is further validated by the nutritional value – yes, this is the only instance I can think of where a food I love is actually as good for me as I’d like it to be! But of course nothing is ever perfect. What ruins this love affair, you may ask? Twenty dollars a pound, that’s what! Yeah – swordfish, Mahi, even flounder, for heaven’s sake. Flounder’s a bottom feeder! It used to be cheap! Even my childhood favorite Red Snapper is so pricey, I just can’t justify it.

Going off topic for a second – speaking of Red Snapper, I was in Savannah, Georgia once when I was, oh, twelve years old or so. I had the best Red Snapper EVER at this place called the Boar’s Head Grill and Tavern. I mean, this was like twenty years ago, and the rapturous taste of that fish still lingers in my mind. Unfortunately, the Red Snapper doesn’t seem to be on the menu any more. Maybe it was a special or something, I don’t know. But if you ever go to Savannah, have a bite at the Boar’s Head. I swear they’re not paying me to say this – they have no idea who I am! I just remember it that well.

Okay, back to tonight’s dinner! So, fish is way too expensive. I’ve been trying to stick to the cheaper ones, but tilapia and shrimp soon get repetitive, and besides – they were out of tilapia last time I went shopping. I was all in a kerfuffle, because I had planned TWO fish dishes this week, and I needed fish, darnit! And the swordfish, frankly, didn’t look that great for $20. So, attracted by the $4.69 price tag, I noticed Swai. Hmm, I thought, what the heck is swai? I wanted to ask the fish guy, but he wasn’t my usual one, and apparently didn’t speak English. Kind of a point-and-smile situation. So I bought some.

I was a little nervous about this new fish! It looked too deliciously white and firm to be $4.69. So I did some research – apparently, Swai is basically Malaysian catfish. It seems that sometimes when you buy catfish, you’re actually buying Swai – check the country of origin before you buy. If it’s from the U.S., it’s catfish. If it’s from Asia, it’s Swai. Or something like that. I was a little disappointed, because I really only like catfish fried – I find it a little too mushy and fishy otherwise – and we’re trying to stay away from fried foods, here. If I wanted to consume a thousand calories, I’d have a burger, not fish.

I need not have feared, however! The Swai was fantastic! Maybe I’ve only ever had really crappy catfish, but I thought the Swai was WAY better. It was deliciously light, mild, and flaky, but firm enough to hold together. In taste, very similar to tilapia; in texture, very similar to a more delicate Mahi. Great! Now I know what to buy. I’m so delighted with myself! I love new discoveries!

As if discovering that I love a cheap new fish wasn’t enough, wait until you hear how easy it was to prepare. I don’t even need to put this in recipe form – it would be more confusing that way. Listen:

Marinate 2 Swai fillets in 3 tablespoons pesto for a couple of hours. Sautee over medium heat until opaque, and serve over linguine (which, of course, you’ve tossed with more pesto). That’s it!

I cheated, and used store-bought pesto. If you insist on being a purist and making your own, here’s how:

A true purist would use a mortar and pestle to crush the basil, but feel free to use a food processor. My stepdad does, and he makes the best pesto ever.

Anyway, you need a huge bunch of basil. How huge depends upon how much pesto you want to make – about six tablespoons of finished pesto covers a pound of linguine, but it’s nice to keep extra on hand to use on sandwiches and stuff. But even to make that much, you need quite a sizeable bundle of basil. Not these little supermarket plastic clamshell packages. I would say about five good handfuls of leaves.

A good pesto is just a matter of proportions. Your ingredients are basil, garlic, pine nuts, and olive oil. Maybe some salt and pepper if you wish. I never measure my pesto ingredients, I just keep throwing stuff in the blender until it feels and tastes right. The best technique is to grind up the basil first, then add the garlic (about 3-4 cloves) and the pine nuts and grind, then drizzle in the oil while still grinding until it reaches a nice consistency. Sometimes you get basil that’s not so flavorful, so you add more garlic. Or maybe you can’t find pine nuts, so you add walnuts. Or maybe you don’t like garlic, so you leave it out. I don’t know. There are so many ways to make pesto that the only wrong way is the way you don’t like.

Okay, my dears! Until tomorrow, have fun, and try Swai!