Pomegranate Orange Salsa

INGREDIENTS:

5 large pomegranates, seeded
5 large oranges, peeled and trimmed into segments
1/3 cup fresh cilantro chopped
5 green onions, ends trimmed thinly sliced
4 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cumin
3-4 tablespoons fresh jalapeno chili minced, seeded
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

METHOD:

Break pomegranate into large chunks. Immerse chunks in a bowl of water and break apart to release seeds. Discard membrane and skin. Drain seeds; pat dry.

Cut orange segments into chunks and place in mixing bowl. Add pomegranate seeds, and the remaining ingredients. Adjust seasoning. Serve or cover and chill until the next day.

Serve with grilled fish or with tortilla chips.

Yield: 12 servings

Seared Salmon with Rhubarb-Ginger Marmalade

This showstopper main course looks like it takes a lot more effort to prepare than it does! The slightly sweet, tangy sauce is sublime with salmon.

INGREDIENTS:

3/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon grated peeled ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped
1 lb. rhubarb, stalks only, cut into 1-inch pieces
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon canola oil
Four 6-ounce salmon fillets with skin
4 ounces pea shoots or watercress

METHOD:

Combine water, sugar, ginger, allspice and vanilla bean and seeds in a large saucepan. Add the rhubarb and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat slightly and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is reduced and has a jam-like consistency, about 20 minutes. Remove the vanilla bean. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Heat a nonstick skillet with oil over medium high heat. Season the salmon with salt and pepper. Cook, turning once, until lightly browned, 6-8 minutes, depending on fillet thickness.

To serve, spoon one-fourth of the rhubarb sauce onto each plate. Top with the salmon and lightly scatter pea shoots or watercress over salmon.

YIELD: Serves 4

Abalone with Beurre Blanc Sauce

Here is a classic preparation for abalone — the key to preparation is to not overcook the abalone. Prepare the buerre blanc sauce first, and then quickly sauté the abalone.

INGREDIENTS:
Buerre Blanc
2 large shallots, finely chopped
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons dry white wine
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 cup butter, cut into 16 pieces
Salt and pepper

Abalone
1/2 cup flour
Salt and pepper
1 egg, beaten well
12 abalone medallions, tenderized*
4 tablespoons butter melted
1 lemon, cut into wedges

METHOD:

For Sauce:
In a small sauce pan, combine the shallots, vinegar and wine. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer mixture uncovered until liquid is reduced to about 2 tablespoons.

Whisk in the cream and reduce heat to low. Simmer mixture, whisking occasionally, until liquid is reduced to about 3 tablespoons.

Add butter one piece at a time, whisking constantly. When the butter is blended in, add another piece, still stirring constantly. Continue adding one piece at a time, whisking constantly until all of the butter is incorporated. The sauce should be pleasantly warm and should thicken. If it becomes too hot and and breaks (drops of melted butter appear), remove the sauce pan immediately from heat and whisk vigorously. When the temperature of the sauce cools slightly, return to heat and continue adding and additional pieces of butter. Whisk continuously until desired thickness is achieved.

Strain sauce if desired. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve sauce as soon as possible. It can be kept warm in sauce pan, but it must be whisked and kept on very low heat to avoid separation.

For Abalone:
Place flour in shallow bowl or plate. Season with a dash of salt and pepper. Place beaten egg in a shallow bowl or plate.

Dip prepared abalone meat in beaten egg.

Lay abalone in the flour and coat both sides, shaking off excess flour.

Heat sauté pan over medium heat and melt the butter. When it’s bubbling, add the abalone to the pan and cook for 15-30 seconds per side. The coating of the abalone should turn golden brown. The abalone meat will become tough if it is over-cooked.

Serve on a plate with a lemon wedge and spoon the beurre blanc sauce over the abalone.

YIELD: Serves 3 – 4

*If you purchase abalone from H & H Fresh Fish Company, the abalone has already been tenderized and is ready to cook.

How to Tenderize Abalone

Abalone is a large mollusk that is as delicious as it is tough. If you’re not buying pre-tenderized abalone, you’ll have to do the “tenderizing” yourself.

  1. Start by trimming away the dark, curly edges, which tend to stay tough. Then, slice it into thin 1/4 inch slices.
  2. Place a piece of plastic wrap or parchment paper on your cutting board, then place the abalone pieces on it, and top with another piece of plastic wrap or parchment.
  3. Using a wooden mallet or the back of a heavy spoon, gently pound the strips to flatten them slightly. Be careful not to pound too hard — you don’t want to shred or tear the meat. The abalone is now ready to eat or cook.

If you enjoy abalone raw, serve the chilled abalone with a spritz of lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil, or a bit of soy sauce with a dab of wasabi.

Orange and Chipotle-Marinated Fish Fillets

INGREDIENTS:

Grated zest of 1 orange
1/3 cup fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 chipotle chili in adobo sauce, minced
1 large clove garlic, peeled and minced
1 1/2 lbs. snapper, flounder or halibut cut into 4 serving pieces
1/8 teaspoon salt

METHOD:

Combine the grated orange zest, orange juice, lime juice, chili and garlic in glass baking dish. Add fish, cover and refrigerate 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 450°F.

Discard marinade and arrange fish on baking sheet lightly sprayed with vegetable non-stick spray. Sprinkle lightly with salt and bake 8 minutes per inch of thickness, or until just cooked through.

Fisherman’s Calamari Linguini

calamari pasta

This dish is true San Francisco Italian fisherman’s fare — simple and fast to prepare.

INGREDIENTS:

1 1⁄2 lbs. squid, cleaned and patted dry
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic, crushed and finely minced
1 28-oz. can tomato sauce
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup water
1 cup white wine
1⁄ 2 cup chopped flat leaf parsley (reserve 1 tablespoon)
Salt
1 lb. fresh linguini, fettucini or spaghetti
Freshly ground black pepper
Fresh basil leaves, for garnish

METHOD:

Cut squid bodies into 1⁄2 inch “rings.” If using tentacles, cut them in half vertically. Set aside.

Heat olive oil and butter in a large sauté pan. Add minced garlic and cook over medium-high heat for about 2 minutes. Add tomato sauce, red pepper flakes, water, and white wine. Increase heat to high, and cook sauce for about 5 minutes, until sauce is reduced slightly and begins to thicken.

Add all but 1 tablespoon of the parsley to the tomato sauce. Lower heat, and simmer  uncovered for about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. About 5 minutes before the sauce is done, add fresh pasta and cook until done. Pour into colander and drain well.

Add calamari to tomato sauce, then remove pan from heat and allow to stand, covered, for 2 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add the drained pasta and toss well.

Garnish with remaining parsley and basil leaves, if using,  and serve.

Fresh Calamari Salad

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 pounds squid, tubes and tentacles, cleaned and patted dry
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cumin, lightly toasted*
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3/4 cup finely chopped and seeded tomato**
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
2 tablespoons capers, drained
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves

METHOD:

Cut the bodies (tubes) in half lengthwise and then into 1/2-inch wide pieces. Cut the tentacles in half lengthwise. Set aside.

Using a 6-quart saucepan with a steamer insert and lid, bring 1/2 inch of water to a boil in a 6-quart saucepan over high heat. Decrease the heat to maintain a simmer.

Place the squid in a steamer insert and gently set over the simmering water. Cover and steam for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the steamer basket from the pot and plunge the cooked squid into an  ice water bath to stop the cooking. Remove from the water and drain thoroughly. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, salt, black pepper, toasted cumin and red pepper flakes. Add the cooked squid, tomato, onion, capers and cilantro and toss until combined. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.

Serve over bed of fresh greens with a wedge of lemon and a crusty baguette.

* To toast the cumin, heat a small skillet over medium high heat. Add the cumin and stir-shake the pan until the cumin is very fragrant. This takes only a few seconds. Toasting the cumin enhances its taste and depth of flavor.

** If available, use a basket of multicolored cherry tomatoes, cut in half for a festive looking salad.

YIELD: 4 servings

SOURCE: Adapted from recipe by Alton Brown

Halibut with Sambal Vinaigrette and Wasabi Cream

This is one of my favorite dishes to serve for a light summer dinner at the height of halibut season on the Monterey Bay. Place the cooked halibut on a bed of watercress or mache, sauce, and finish with a sprinkle of toasted black sesame seeds. Serve with steamed bok choy and rice or cous cous.

INGREDIENTS:

For sambal vinaigrette
2 tablespoons rice vinegar (not seasoned)
3 teaspoons sambal oelek (Southeast Asian chile sauce)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/3 cup vegetable oil
Drop of sesame oil or hot chile oil, pinch of sugar

For wasabi cream
2 teaspoons wasabi (green horseradish) powder
3 tablespoons water
1/4 cup sour cream

For halibut
1 (2-lb) halibut steak (1 1/2 inches thick), skinned, boned, and cut into 4 pieces
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil

Accompaniment: pickled ginger

METHOD:

Make vinaigrette:
Blend vinaigrette ingredients in a blender until smooth. Season with salt.

Make wasabi cream:
Whisk together wasabi powder and water until smooth, then whisk in sour cream. Season with salt.

Make halibut:
Preheat oven to 400°F.

Pat fish dry and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle 1 side of each piece with parsley.

Heat a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet over high heat until hot. Add oil, then fish, parsleyed sides up. Sear fish until undersides are browned, about 1 minute.

Turn fish over and put skillet in middle of oven. Roast until just cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes.

Serve fish, parsleyed sides up, with a spoonful of each sauce. Garnish with a couple of pieces of pickled ginger.

SOURCE: From Highland’s Garden Cafe in Denver, Colorado, published in Gourmet Magazine, August 2000 

Seafood Gumbo

Shrimp etouffee with rice

Start the seafood gumbo stock very early in the day or better yet, make it the day before you plan to serve the gumbo. In true New Orleans style, serve gumbo with some crusty bread and an ice cold beer.

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 bay leaf, crushed
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 cups chopped celery
2 cups chopped onion
2 cups chopped green bell pepper
1 teaspoon minced garlic
3 tablespoons file powder
2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce
1 1/2 cups tomato sauce
7 cups seafood gumbo stock*
2 cups shucked oysters
1 cup crabmeat
1 cup shrimp, peeled and deveined
Scallions, green part only, sliced for garnish, if desired

METHOD:

Combine the red, white, and black peppers, paprika, thyme, oregano, bay leaf, and salt; set aside.

In a heavy pot, 6 quart or larger, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions, celery, and green pepper. Turn heat to high. Stirring frequently, add garlic, file powder, hot sauce, and the pepper-herb mixture. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.

Add tomato sauce, and continue stirring as it reduces over high heat. Add Seafood Gumbo Stock, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

When ready to serve, add shrimp, oysters, and crabmeat. Cover, and wait 5 minutes. Turn off heat, and let stand for 10 minutes.

Serve over long grained rice. Garnish with sliced green onion tops.

VARIATIONS: You can also add sliced okra, cubed chicken, smoked sausage, crab or frog legs, scallops, or cubed firm white fish to this recipe.

*SEAFOOD GUMBO STOCK

INGREDIENTS:

1 pound shrimp shells
5 quarts water
4 carrots, sliced
4 onions, quartered
1/2 bunch celery, sliced
2 bay leaves
3 cloves garlic, sliced
2 sprigs fresh parsley
5 whole cloves
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon dried basil
2 teaspoons dried thyme

 

METHOD:

 

Bake shrimp shells at 375°F until dried and starting to brown on edges.

In an 8-quart pot, combine water, carrots, onions, celery, bay leaves, garlic, parsley, cloves, pepper, basil, thyme and shrimp shells. Bring slowly to a boil.

Reduce heat, and cook 5 to 7 hours. Replace water as needed, 2 or 3 times, by adding water as needed to maintain about 3 to 4 quarts of liquid.

Remove stock from heat, and strain. Press all liquid from the shells and vegetables, then discard them. Return liquid to heat, and reduce to 2 quarts.

 

Crispbreads with Smoked Salmon, Avocado, Lemon, and Capers

This makes a nice breakfast or brunch alternative to eggs and bacon. With a small salad it is a light lunch that is filling and full of flavor. The recipe uses Wasa brand Light Rye Crispbreads, but other crackers such as Akmak or toasted slices of dense rye bread will work.  Adjust volumes according to cracker sizes.

INGREDIENTS:

4 Wasa brand Light Rye Crispbreads
8 slices cold smoked salmon or lox
1/2 cup labne, skyr, or mascarpone
1 avocado, quartered and peeled
1/2 lemon, Meyer preferred, halved lengthwise and sliced paper thin
4 tablespoons capers, dried
Coarse salt such as Maldon, as needed
Fresh ground pepper

METHOD:

Spread each cracker with a liberal amount of labne or the dairy product of choice. Scatter 1 tablespoon of capers per cracker and push to adhere them in the dairy product of choice.

Slice each avocado quarter thinly and spread over the labne and capers, 1 per cracker. Cover the avocado with lemon slices.

Lay 2 slices of salmon on each cracker. Do not lay them flat, but fold them onto the cracker. A little airspace is good and improves the flavor of the entire production.

Lightly dust the surface with fresh pepper and some salt.Enjoy!

Chef Notes:

The order the ingredients are put on is specified to help keep them in place while you eat the crackers and to optimize the interplay between the components.

YIELD: 2 servings