Posts Tagged 'Seafood'

Ceviche Pescadero

Dr. O and I usually get an itch to travel in the summer, and this summer was no exception. Last month, we packed up and headed down to Rancho Pescadero, a hip slice of paradise on the Pacific coast of Baja California.

While I was awfully excited about spending time at the pool and the beach with my sweetie, I have to admit that I was most excited about the food. I had heard amazing things about the resort chef, Rodrigo Bueno (yes, really, his name is Chef Bueno), who had moved on to Rancho Pescadero after a stint at One & Only Palmilla (which we visited in April, coincidentally). His dishes center around super fresh local seafood and produce pulled from Rancho P’s on-site organic garden, so I knew we were in for a treat.

We sampled a number of amazing dishes in the restaurant, including an unforgettable corn and panela cheese salad, shrimp risotto, halibut in coconut-tamarind broth, rib eye with salsa verde, roasted chicken, and Thai curry. While dinners were divine, some of my favorite food at the resort came poolside. Fish tacos, chicken tinga stew burritos, shrimp quesadillas, guacamole and salsa… All were beautifully presented and beyond delicious.

How’s this for a view from the dinner table?

As Dr. O and I were lounging the afternoon away at the pool with yet another order of the best ceviche either of us had ever had, Chef Bueno came around with samples of a mango-chile sorbet. While we enjoyed our frozen treat, Dr. O told Chef Bueno how much he enjoyed the ceviche and that he wanted me to try to make some after we returned home. On the spot, Chef Bueno offered us a cooking class at 5 p.m. that day so I could learn just how he does it. Pretty cool, right?

Making ceviche with Chef Bueno

We showed up and I got to work under Chef Bueno’s gentle guidance. (Dr. O decided to take on the all-important job of photographer and chief taster.) As a perfectionist, I’ll admit to being mildly frustrated by the process of making ceviche. My knife skills are less than perfect, and there was quite a bit of intricate knife work. (With all the slicing and dicing, Chef Bueno says to give oneself 90 minutes to make ceviche for 10 people.) Also, I tend to be a by-the-book recipe follower, and making ceviche is more of an intuitive process. Still, I had a great time in Chef Bueno’s kitchen; the cooking class was a highlight of the trip for sure. And my ceviche might not have been gorgeous, but it sure was delicious.

After we finished our class with Chef Bueno, Dr. O and I took notes about what we learned. This is the recipe according to my notes and memory. (Chef Bueno, if you read this, feel free to correct me!) Go with the flow and adjust ingredient quantities to taste… The end result will be worth it!

Ceviche Pescadero
Serves 4 as an appetizer

Ingredients:
8 oz. fresh, firm white fish (we used halibut)
4 limes
3 – 4 Roma tomatoes
1/2 medium white onion
1/2 serrano pepper
1/2 medium cucumber
Leaves from one small bunch cilantro
Olive oil
Clamato
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 avocado
Tortilla chips

Method:
Cut the halibut into 1/4-inch slices. Cut each slice into 1/4-inch strips and then cut crosswise to finely dice the fish. Place the fish in a small bowl. Squeeze the limes over the top of the fish. Transfer the fish and lime juice to a plastic bag. Seal and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, finely dice the tomatoes and onion and place in a large bowl. Using your knife, remove several wide lengthwise strips of skin from the cucumber. Cut the cucumber lengthwise into 1/4-inch slices, avoiding the center (seeds). Cut each slice into 1/4-inch strips and then cut crosswise to finely dice the cucumber; add to bowl. Gently stir the mixture to combine, checking for balance of ingredients. (If you need more red, add tomato; if you need more green, add cucumber, etc.) Chop the cilantro and mince the serrano pepper and add to the bowl. Add a splash of Clamato, drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.

At the end of the 30 minutes, add the fish and lime juice to the ingredients in the bowl. Season again with salt and pepper to taste. (This step is important since the fish was not previously seasoned.) Transfer ceviche to serving dish.

Peel, pit, and thinly slice avocado; arrange over ceviche. Serve with chips, preferably poolside!

Finished! (And we still let Dr. O hold it like he made it…)

This ceviche is heavenly. It’s fresh and limey, with great texture from the onion and cucumber, and a hint of heat from the serrano. I could eat it every day (and practically did during our time at Rancho P). Thanks, Chef Bueno, for tasty food and a great experience!

The quality of the fish you use plays a huge part in the recipe’s success. All you coastal people have a definite advantage. In Colorado, our best shot at fresh fish is river fish; Chef Bueno said this recipe definitely would work with trout. He also suggested having fun with the ingredients based on what you have and what’s in season. Adding mango and coconut milk (and subtracting the Clamato, I assume) is one variation we discussed.

TIPS: Don’t over-marinate the fish, as it will become chewy. Also, once the fish is marinated and the ceviche is assembled, be sure to serve it within about four hours for best taste and texture. Curious about how ceviche “cooks” and how to select the best fish? Check out this helpful article.

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Soy-Glazed Salmon with Watercress Salad

It’s a momentous day, dear readers.  For the second time in this blog’s 33-month history, I’m posting a salmon recipe.

I pride myself on being the kind of person who will eat just about anything, but salmon and I have a rocky relationship.  There is nothing – nothing! – like a top-quality piece of salmon sashimi (especially if it comes from here).  When I was fresh out of college, I would prepare it en papillote for dinner on a regular basis.  I’ve also enjoyed barbecued salmon on occasion. (I think the grill can dry it out a bit so it isn’t quite so rich.)  At this stage in the game, though, I sometimes have a hard time with oven-baked, just-opaque, unctuous salmon.

Despite my qualms, the recipe for Soy-Glazed Salmon with Watercress Salad from the July/August 2010 issue of Everyday Food caught my eye.  (Major props to the food stylist who made broiled salmon look so good I couldn’t resist it.) There was some gorgeous wild caught sockeye salmon on sale at my grocery store recently, and 20 minutes of preparation time made the recipe a perfect weeknight meal.  I decided to give it a go.

The ingredient prep required segmenting 2 oranges (click here for a how-to), so I did that first.  I set the segments aside to use in the salad and squeezed the juice from the membranes into a small bowl.  (They should yield about 3 tablespoons.)

Next, I made the salmon glaze, which would also become part of the salad dressing.  In the small bowl with the orange juice, I added 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and 3 teaspoons of honey, whisked everything together, and seasoned to taste with coarse salt and freshly ground pepper.  In a large bowl (which would become the salad bowl), I whisked together 1 tablespoon of the glaze with 1 teaspoon of honey, 1 teaspoon of rice vinegar, and 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. I set the bowl with the dressing aside.

I heated my broiler with the rack 4 inches from the heat and lined a rimmed baking sheet with foil.  I seasoned 4 salmon fillets (the recipe suggested 6 ounces each, but mine were 5 ounces) with salt and pepper and broiled them for 5 minutes.  I removed the fish from the oven, brushed them with the glaze, and then broiled them until they were opaque throughout (2 more minutes).  I brushed the salmon with the glaze once more after I removed the fillets from the oven.

To finish the salad, I added the orange segments, 12 ounces of watercress (thick ends trimmed), and half of a small red onion (thinly sliced) to the dressing and tossed to combine.  I seasoned the salad with salt and pepper to taste and served it alongside the salmon.

Soy-Glazed Salmon with Watercress Salad

I’m delighted to report that the salmon was pretty tasty.  The glaze was fantastic, and it made the fish incredibly flavorful.  I’ll admit that I enjoyed the drier ends of my fillet more than the center, but that’s just me.

I loved every element of the salad except for the most central one: the watercress. I’d never tried it before, and it’s really just too bitter and the stems are too woody (even after a significant trim) for my taste.  I ate it, and I would certainly eat it if someone served it to me, but I wouldn’t seek it out.  Next time, I’ll probably make the salad with arugula.

TIPS:  Removing the skin from fish before cooking is one of my least favorite chores.  Thankfully, leaving the skin on works well with this recipe.  I broiled the fillets flesh side up, and the cooked fish easily flaked away from the skin.

Pappardelle with Sauteed Scallops and Peas

I really enjoy scallops. Dr. O doesn’t. (I think it’s a texture issue, more than anything.) I’m sure if that’s what I really wanted to cook for dinner, he’d be a good sport, but I honestly prefer to prepare things we’ll both enjoy.

I was really excited, then, to find the “Cooking for One” recipe in the October 2007 issue of Everyday Food: Pappardelle with Sauteed Scallops and Peas.

Let’s get past the foreign-sounding ingredients and the potential horror of cooking with seafood. If you like scallops, this recipe is GOOD. And FAST. I literally had this on the table in 15 minutes, and I tend to be a leisurely cook.

I think the key to this recipe is quality ingredients. I really reaped the benefits of living in a bigger city with this one – certain things are just really difficult to find in smaller towns. I headed over to Central Market and picked up 1/4 pound of fresh (not previously frozen) sea scallops.

raw_scallops.jpg

I also needed pappardelle (wide, ribbon-like noodles) for this recipe, which I was never, ever able to find when we were living in Lincoln, Nebraska. Central Market had two kinds from which to choose. Two kinds! Pappardelle comes in these little “nests,” which I thought was so cool. Each nest is one ounce, so that makes portioning things out pretty easy.

uncooked_pappardelle2.jpg

Beyond the scallops (4 oz.) and the pappardelle (2 oz.), the ingredients were simple: 1/2 cup frozen peas (thawed) , 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley, and 1 tablespoon butter (divided).

I started by cooking the pasta according to the package instructions. When that was finished, I drained it (reserving 1/4 cup of pasta water for the sauce) and returned it to the cooking pot with the peas. To that, I added the lemon juice, parsley, and 1/2 tablespoon butter. I tossed the mixture and added the pasta water gradually to create a thin sauce. After seasoning with salt and pepper, I put a lid on the pot to keep things warm and set it aside.

To cook the scallops, I started by patting them dry with a paper towel. This helps them adhere to the pan and brown more easily. I heated the other 1/2 tablespoon butter in a small skillet over medium, seasoned the scallops with salt and pepper, and dropped them in. Three minutes on one side, one minute on the other, and they were done. I scooped the pasta out of the pot and added the scallops to my bowl.

pappardelle_w_sauteed_scallops_and_peas.jpg

This meal was really delish, and it felt nice to put something special on the table just for me. The portion size was perfect too.

TIPS: Remember to save that 1/4 cup of pasta water! I’m used to just dumping everything into the colander, and I nearly forgot to do this. If you do forget, just run some tap water as hot as you can and use that instead. You’ll be missing a little salt and a minuscule amount of starch, but you’ll be fine.

Also, if you have a small stainless steel or cast iron skillet, I’d recommend using that over a non-stick skillet. The scallops will brown much easier.

I seem to have a knack for picking recipes that haven’t been posted on the Everyday Food Web site lately… Sorry. I’ve included exact ingredient amounts and cooking times in this post, but feel free to e-mail me (or post a comment with a request and your e-mail address) if you would like a more step-by-step version of the recipe. If you have the October 2007 issue of Everyday Food, the recipe is on page 61.




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