Category Archives: Seafood

Mussels with white wine and cream

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I’ve spent a lot of time around mussels. Serving them, clearing them, tasting them, seeing them be cooked, seeing them be cleaned. Obviously not in that order, but you get what I mean. Working in a Belgian Beer Cafe you see a lot of mussels. Yet, I’m not quite sick of them. I used to think they were pretty gross looking but really, who doesn’t?

I first started to appreciate them in Western Australia when my parents would buy them cold from the supermarket cooked and marinated in a simple olive oil and herb mixture. I had them again in Quebec, Canada covered in garlic and cream and bacon and thought I had died and gone to heaven. And when I started living in Sydney one of my best friends told me I just had to try out this Belgian Beer Cafe where they served blue cheese mussels. Even as a red-blooded American who loves her blue cheese, I was pretty skeptical. But I tagged along- had an amazingly rich and creamy bowl of mussels and funnily enough also landed myself a trial at the restaurant that would become a big part of my life for the next two years. So yeah, mussels and I have had a pretty emotional journey.

Though we’ve been on such great adventures together, I’ve never really cooked mussels at home before. My dad’s played around with them in the kitchen once or twice but I’ve never done it myself. A few months ago Ciaran and I found ourselves at the Taste of Sydney festival and decided to bring home a packet of Spring Bay mussels. We picked up a little recipe card at the same stand and decided to go the simple route and just follow that. It’s a great weeknight meal because it’s quick, simple and low-fuss. Just pair your dish with some fresh, crusty bread and a nice bottle of wine.

Mussels with white wine & cream (Moules mariniere)

Serves: 2 as a main or 3-4 as a starter
Recipe from Spring Bay

Ingredients

  • 1kg packet Spring Bay Mussels
  • 15g unsalted butter
  • 2 (30g) purple eschallots or ½ a red onion, very finely diced
  • 1 small clove garlic, finely chopped
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • a sprig of thyme
  • a bay leaf
  • 100ml white wine
  • 150ml thickened or whipping cream
  • ¼ cup rough chopped continental parsley

Method

  1. Heat a large heavy based pot with a tight fitting lid over a low heat.
  2. Add the butter, when it’s melted add the eschallots, garlic and some freshly ground black pepper. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until the eschallots are clear and soft.
  3. Increase the heat to high, add the thyme, bay leaf, cream and wine and cook for 3-4 minutes or until the liquid has reduced by 1/3 in volume.
  4. Open the packet of mussels and pour into a colander, give them a light rinse.
  5. Pour the mussels into the boiling wine mixture, give them a stir and then quickly put on the lid. Cook for 3 minutes or until the mussels open. Sprinkle over the parsley and serve with the cooking liquid, some crusty bread and salad.

Note

  • The mussels will open as they cook, if there are any unopened mussels, remove the open mussels from the pot with a slotted spoon and place in a serving bowl. Replace the lid and cook the rest for 1 minute longer.

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Seared tuna with greens and coconut rice

Jamie Oliver is a maniac in the kitchen. Probably out of the kitchen as well  based on his Instagram posts. I’ve often shied away from Jamie Oliver recipes simply due to the amount of ingredients he uses. Even in his new book 15 Minute Meals he’s got about two pages at the beginning of the book with a pretty extensive list of things you should have in your pantry. Things like kaffir lime leaves and plenty of herbs and spices I’m not very familiar with. Despite his flair for throwing in everything but the kitchen sink, he does come up with some good simple recipes every once in a while and I really think this is one of them. While it is a 15 minute meal in Jamie’s world, it was more of a 40 minute meal in our world, with two people cooking, but I think now that we’ve gotten the hang of it we could make it much more quickly. The jiggy greens (his words, not mine) and rice are brilliant ideas as well and we’ve made those side dishes since to accompany things like dumplings. All you have to do with the rice is take a 270ml can of coconut milk, pour that into a pot, then fill the empty can with boiling water, add that to the pot and then fill the can again with basmati rice and add that to the pot. Then bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes, it’s been perfect every time and it’s really quite tasty. The tuna is a bit more temperamental because it doesn’t need to cook for long. If you find yourself thinking about whether it has been on for too long, it’s already done, it’s just a quick sear and you’re good to go. While this may be more of a weekend dinner due to all the steps, it is definitely worth a try. So go on, get stuck in!

Enjoy,

Allie

Seared Tuna with Greens and Coconut Rice

Recipe from Jamie Oliver’s 15 minute meals

serves 4

Ingredients

400g fresh tuna fillet (ask for these at your local seafood shop)

2 tblsp sesame seeds

1 tsp green tea powder (simply take a tea bag of green tea, rip it open and use one teaspoon of that powder)

Salt and pepper

½ tsp vegetable oil

Greens:

Small bunch of mini asparagus

Small bunch of broccolini (tenderstem broccoli)

1 tsp crushed garlic

½ tsp sesame oil

1 tblsp oyster sauce

Rice:

270g tin of reduced fat coconut milk

Basmati rice to fill an empty 270g tin

Boiling water to fill an empty 270g tin

Pinch of salt

Method:

1. For the rice: Place the coconut milk, rice, boiling water and salt into a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook for about 10 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed. Remove from the heat.

2. For the greens: Finely slice the asparagus and broccolini (in a food processor or using a knife – just make the pieces very small). Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat, add the vegetables and garlic and stir for 1 minute, until the vegetables have softened slightly. Add the oyster sauce and stir to combine. Spoon the vegetables into a serving bowl.

3. For the tuna: Cut the tuna into logs about 4cm (1½ inch) in diameter. Mix the sesame seeds, green tea, salt and pepper on a board, then roll the tuna logs in the mixture until all sides of the tuna are coated. Heat the oil in the frying pan over high heat, then add the tuna and cook for 30 seconds on each side, until barely cooked on the outside and still raw on the inside. Remove from the heat and cut the tuna into 1cm (1/2 inch) slices.

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Pan-Seared Tuna with Avocado, Soy, Ginger, and Lime

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Ah, tuna steaks.

The steak for those lacking a barbecue. Or those lacking the knowledge to actually use a barbecue.

Either way, they’re basically the low-cal, low-cost distant cousin of your basic porterhouse. Pretty distant, like twice-removed, third generation half-cousin, but the similarities exist.

I got these hefty little chunks of tuna goodness for four bucks each, and the rest of the ingredients were pretty low-cost as well. To make the meal a bit more interesting I decided to add some Soba noodles on the side. As a sidenote, if you’re searching for soba noodles in an Asian grocery store, they’re actually called buckwheat noodles, this will probably save you the ten or fifteen minutes of frustrated foraging that I had to endure.

This recipe does take about an hour but it’s fresh and delicious and I’ll bet most of you college students out there haven’t been adventurous enough to throw a hunk of fish into your weeknight dinner, so now that you’ve got the recipe, what are you waiting for?

Pan-seared Tuna with Avocado, Soy, Ginger and Lime
From the Food Network ( http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/tyler-florence/pan-seared-tuna-with-avocado-soy-ginger-and-lime-recipe/index.html)

Serves 2

Ingredients:
3 big handfuls of fresh corriander leaves, finely chopped
1 red jalapeno, sliced
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
2 garlic clove, grated
1 1/2 limes, juiced
4 tablespoons soy sauce
A pinch of sugar
Sea salt and ground black pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
2 (6-ounce) blocks of sushi-quality tuna
1 ripe avocado, halved, peeled, pitted and sliced

Directions:

In a mixing bowl, combine the cilantro, jalapeno, ginger, garlic, lime juice, soy sauce, sugar, salt, pepper and 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Stir the ingredients together until well incorporated.

Place a skillet over medium-high heat and coat with the remaining 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Season the tuna generously with salt and pepper.  Lay the tuna in the hot oil and sear for 1 minute on each side to form a slight crust. Pour 1/2 the corriander mixture into the pan to coat the fish. Serve the seared tuna with the sliced avocado and the remaining corriander sauce drizzled over the whole plate.

Soba Noodles with Sweet Ginger Scallion Sauce
From http://www.simplyreem.com

Ingredients:
1 9 oz packet of soba noodles
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, lightly toasted

For the sauce:
1 1/2 cup spring onions, finely chopped
1 tablespoons ginger, minced
1/4 cup corriander, chopped
2-3 tablespoons Sesame oil/any neutral oil
2 teaspoons chilli oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon black pepper, plus more to taste

Directions:

Mix all the ingredients for the sauce in a bowl, check for the seasoning. Set aside for 10 to 15 minutes to let the flavours develop.

Boil the soba noodles according to the instructions on the package. Drain and set aside.

Add the sauce, sesame seeds and toss the noodles well, check the seasoning one last time, give it a final toss and enjoy.

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Lighter coconut red curry shrimp

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My relationship with spicy foods has been a bit of a roller coaster. And just as I used to hate giant roller coasters with all of my being, my feelings were pretty similar towards spicy food.

Anything with chilli, jalapeno, wasabi…it was out of the question. I think there was a time when I was in New Mexico with my family and we went out to dinner to this nice authentic Mexican restaurant and I remember uncontrollably crying and sweating as I tried to eat my meal. I remember being offered quesadillas with honey to try and ease the pain though it did little against the mighty wrath of that dish. That was about the time I swore off anything spicy for a while.

However, nowadays my palate has been craving spicy foods and I don’t know what is going on. Maybe it’s just that I’ve been introduced to it in more ways and perhaps better ways. My boyfriend’s mother cooks quite a few Malaysian and Singaporean dishes which at first made me want to drink a whole gallon of milk to get me through but now I really quite enjoy. Last summer I also went out to have sushi with my family and my father mistakenly ordered one roll, I believe it was called the Volcano roll, which was basically a huge mound of wasabi with one or two tiny flecks of fish rolled in seaweed and rice. Not knowing what it was I simply popped it in my mouth and got my first wasabi head rush. It’s actually kind of cool the way it rushes through your nose and makes your head want to explode but then subsides quite quickly. It’s strangely addictive.

So now I’ve been adding more wasabi to my sushi, putting more chilli in my pho, I even made a little pilgrimage to find Sriracha sauce which isn’t commonly available here. And apparently spicy food is very good for your metabolism so that’s a win as well.

And after that whole rant about how I love spicy food, I will admit I didn’t even put all the red curry paste that is called for in this recipe since I was afraid it would be too much. What can I say, I may love spicy food now, but I’m still a bit of a chicken when it comes down to it.

Whether you make it spicy or mild this dish is actually very delicious and I highly recommend it.

Lighter coconut red curry shrimp
From Can you stay for dinner?

1 can (13.66 ounces) coconut milk

2 tablespoons Thai Kitchen® Red Curry Paste

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined

1/4 cup fresh Thai basil, chopped roughly (optional)

1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce

Your choice of vegetables, I added 1 head of broccoli, 1 cup of sugar snap peas and about half a bag of shelled edamame

Directions:

Simmer coconut milk in large skillet over medium heat. Stir in curry paste and sugar until well blended; bring to boil. Reduce heat to low; simmer 5 minutes.

Stir in shrimp and vegetables. Cook 3 to 5 minutes or just until shrimp turn pink. Stir in basil and fish sauce.

Serve over either brown or jasmine rice.

Serves 4

Nutrition Information Per Serving (not including rice): 295 Calories, Fat 19g, Protein 21g, Carbohydrates 10g, Cholesterol 168mg, Sodium 1095mg, Fiber 1g

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Asian noodles with shrimp and edamame

As a self-professed pasta lover, I’ve found it hard to find a suitable replacement now that I’m toning down my carb intake. Rice is definitely not the same, and if you’re eating a bunch of white rice it’s still not very good for you either. I’ve tried hokkien noodles and udon noodles for stir-fries and they’re okay. Now I’ve been experimenting with soba noodles and they seem to be doing the trick.

In some cultures soba just means noodles but usually soba refers to buckwheat noodles. Buckwheat noodles are naturally gluten-free and usually about 98 per cent fat free. Buckwheat is deceptively named, it is related to the rhubarb and doesn’t contain any wheat. As opposed to udon which is a thick wheat noodle. At many shops that sell Asian noodles you will often get the choice between udon and soba, I’m surprised I never previously knew that one contained wheat and the other didn’t. I’ve experimented with soba noodles in the past, once with a peanut sauce and another time with a lime, soy and honey sauce. However, this dish has proved to be the best so far. It is a bit involved so I recommend making a bit more so it will last you for a few meals.

Asian noodles with shrimp and edamame
From the Food Network
Takes 25 minutes
Serves 4

  • 10 ounces soba (buckwheat) noodles
  • 1 10-ounce package frozen shelled edamame
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 1-inch piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Sriracha (Asian chile sauce)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Juice of 1 lime or lemon
  • 2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil, plus more for drizzling (optional)
  • 1/2 pound medium or large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro and/or scallions

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook as the label directs, adding the edamame during the last 3 minutes of cooking. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water, then drain the noodles and edamame.

Meanwhile, puree the garlic, ginger, Sriracha, 1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil and 2 tablespoons water in a blender. Mix the lime juice, soy sauce and sesame oil in a small bowl.

Heat the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Pat the shrimp dry and season with salt; add to the pan and cook, turning, until just pink, 2 minutes. Add the Sriracha mixture and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp are cooked through, about 2 more minutes. Add the soy sauce mixture, noodles and edamame, herbs and the reserved cooking water and toss. Divide among bowls and drizzle with more sesame oil.

Per serving: Calories 485; Fat 14 g (Saturated 1 g); Cholesterol 86 mg; Sodium 483 mg; Carbohydrate 64 g; Fiber 8 g; Protein 27 g

Enjoy!

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Orzo risotto with buttery shrimp

Shrimp was on special this week! Very exciting, I know. I’d also been craving orzo for a while so I decided to throw the two together and ended up with this creamy, rich shrimp risotto. Though it takes about half an hour to whip up this meal it’s all pretty simple.

And it’s a great comforting meal for the middle of the week when you’re aching to get to Friday. The savoury shrimp is definitely a pick-me-up to get you through to your relaxing weekend. Since we usually just have pasta in this apartment it was a nice change to switch to orzo, while yes, it is still technically pasta, it’s a different taste experience than a bowl of starchy spaghetti. I’m also the only one who ever buys shrimp, usually it’s beef or steak and with my Italian roommates we always have to keep the pasta and meat separate. I’m still working on convincing them that flavour combinations can be so much better than having each part of the meal separately. It seems to be an ongoing battle.

But apparently shrimp in pasta is just fine so I went ahead and it was very well received.

Recipe: Orzo Risotto with Buttery Shrimp

Adapted from Food & Wine

Makes four servings

Ingredients:

2 medium sized zucchini (the recipe actually calls for asparagus but I didn’t have any so I substituted with my go-to veggie, zucchini)

1 3/4 cups orzo (12 ounces)

6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature

1/2 pound shelled and deveined medium shrimp

Salt and pepper

1 cup chicken stock or low-sodium broth (I keep some chicken stock cubes on hand which is really helpful for recipes like this, you can usually get about 7 or 8 for $1)(But don’t forget to add it to water to create the broth before you start your recipe, I sometimes forget, well, more than sometimes)

2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

Instructions:

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the orzo to the boiling water, cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente, for 10 minutes. When you drain it, reserve 1/4 cup of the cooking water for later.

Chop the zucchini and saute in a frying pan on medium-high heat for about 3 minutes. Set aside.

In a frying pan (you can put the zucchini in a bowl on the side and use the same pan from before) melt the butter over moderately high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the butter begins to brown. Add the shrimp, season with salt and pepper and cook over medium heat until pink and curled, about 1 minute per side.

With a slotted spoon add the shrimp the the zucchini on the side. Don’t drain the pan! Reserve the butter in the pan.

Once you’ve drained your orzo and returned it to the pan add the brown butter and stir to mix. Set the skillet over high heat and add the chicken stock, scraping up any brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Pour the stock and  the reserved cooking water into the orzo; cook over medium heat, stirring until creamy, 2 minutes. Make sure you keep stirring so that nothing on the bottom gets burnt.

Stir in the zucchini and shrimp and cook until heated through. Remove from the heat. Stir in the parsley and the 1/2 cup of Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer the risotto to bowls and serve with more parmesan.

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