Five Minute Meal: Chili Shrimp

I really love shellfish, almost all of them, and especially when they are cooked with Asian and Indonesian flavors like sambal oelek (chili paste), soy sauce, and rice vinegar. Recipes like this pop up a lot when the sun is out and the grill is hot, but in the meantime, it makes a nice dish for a chilly night in too.

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Equipment:
1 large nonstick pan
1 large microwave-safe bowl
tongs
plastic wrap

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Whatsername Fish Tacos

Note: The story behind the name of this recipe is quite filthy and decidedly NOT kid-friendly so if you don’t like dirty jokes, please skip the following paragraph.

A few years ago, I was at home with my younger sister watching the Food Network (as per usual). We were watching an episode of “Best Thing I Ever Ate,” I don’t remember which episode. Anyway, Mark Summers comes on and starts talking about the most amazing fish tacos he’s ever had in his life – in Hawaii I believe, but that’s not important. He is going on and on about these amazing fish tacos and my sister (probably 15 at the time) turns to me and says, deadpan, “I wonder what her name was”. This was the day I discovered my kid sister did (thankfully) inherit my sense of humor and this joke now comes up whenever fish tacos are involved.

[end of dirty joke]

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Fish tacos are one of my favorites, and I am pleased to report that they are as delicious in lettuce as they are in a tortilla. This recipe is super easy and fun for date night, large groups, and even curious little ones who want to build their own. Dig in!

Ingredients: 
1 lb tilapia fillets
3/4 cup garbanzo bean flour
10-15 leaves butterhead lettuce, washed/dried
1/2 large red onion
1 jalapeño pepper
4 tbsp mayonnaise
2-3 tsp sriracha
2+ tbsp olive or avocado oil, for frying

Seasoning: 
1 tbsp Cocky Cajun
1 tsp salt
1 tsp chipotle powder
1 tsp cilantro
1/2 tsp freshly cracked pepper

Taco Accoutrements!

Taco Accoutrements!

Slice red onion and jalapeño pepper into thin, half-moons and set aside in a small bowl(s). I serve these raw as taco toppers. In a separate small bowl, combine the mayonnaise and sriracha and mix well – this is my favorite taco sauce!

Rinse tilapia fillets under cold water and pat dry. We bought them frozen in 4-oz fillets which made cutting easier, but one big piece is fine too. Cut the tilapia into smaller fillets, equal in thickness (you may have to slice the thicker pieces in half, which I shamelessly made The Boyfriend take care of). We ended up with about 12 pieces.

In a medium-large bowl, combine the chickpea flour with the herbs and seasonings: Cocky Cajun, salt, pepper, chipotle, and cilantro. Mix well – I find a fork works best for this. Gently dredge each fillet through the flour mixture, lightly coating on all sides, and set aside on a clean plate. We actually dredged the fillets twice, giving them a second light coat right before frying.

Heat oil in a large, non-stick pan on medium heat. Working in batches, fry fillets until completely opaque – about 3 minutes per side. Remove cooked fillets to a clean plate.

Serve immediately with lettuce leaves, raw onion and pepper, and sriracha-mayo sauce. Build your tacos and enjoy!

Veni-Vidi-Ceviche

I came, I saw, I… ate some fish? Sounds great to me! No matter what language you say it in, this super fresh South American dish is undeniably delicious; packed with onions, peppers, and raw seafood marinated in citrus juices, ceviche is one of my all-time favorites.

There are many intricate, phenomenal recipes out there, but this is one of those dishes where I really like to let the ingredients to speak for themselves so I prefer to take the simpler route. Ceviche is really easy to make and very sexy to share, so it’s a great dish for date night or parties. If you don’t have a juicer, I would highly recommend investing in a lemon squeezer – they’re only about $5 and I can’t tell you how often I use it.

Please read the notes below prior to preparation. I have never gotten sick from ceviche, prepared at home or otherwise, but the risk of food poisoning does exist and it is the last thing I would wish on any of you!

Ingredients: 
1 lb tilapia fillets, chopped into 1″ cubes
1 lb cod fillets, chopped into 1″ cubes
1/2 large red onion, finely diced
2 medium hot peppers, finely chopped (I used jalapeño and red chili)
1 cup all-natural grapefruit juice
2 large lemons, juiced
1 lime, juiced
1.5 tsp salt
1/4 tsp coriander (optional)
white pepper, to taste

Combine all “dry” ingredients in a large glass bowl. Cover with juices and toss well. If there is not enough liquid to cover all ingredients, add about 1/2 cup cold water to dilute. Mix gently, making sure fish pieces have been coated with juice. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours (up to 24 hours).

When ready to serve, pour into individual bowls/plates with a slotted spoon. Consume within 48 hours of preparation.

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Note: It is important for the fish to be submerged in the liquid as much as possible, as this marinating process is essentially “cooking” the fish – curing it in the citric acids from fruit juices. It is also important to use very fresh or frozen fish to prevent food poisoning. If frozen, thaw about halfway and allow the to finish thawing while it marinates.
From Wikipedia: “Ceviche is marinated in a citrus-based mixture, with lemons and limes being the most commonly used. In addition to adding flavor, the citric acid causes the proteins in the seafood to become denatured, appearing to be cooked. (However, acid marinades will not kill bacteria or parasitic worms, unlike the heat of cooking.)” … “As the dish is not cooked with heat, it must be prepared fresh to minimize the risk of food poisoning. It may be safer to prepare it with frozen or blast-frozen fish due to Anisakis parasites.”

All Killer, No Filler III: Salmon Cakes

Edit: This recipe was updated on 24 June 2014.

I woke up Saturday morning with a major seafood craving, but no fresh seafood. Thankfully there’s Costco. We picked up a 6-pack of canned Wild Alaskan Salmon for around $9 and I finally figured out what to use it for. These salmon cakes came together so fast and were absolutely delicious! It made a great dinner for two, but any seafood-loving kids will eat it up (or add candles and call it date night). Double (or triple) quantities to feed larger crowds.

This recipe yields six medium-sized salmon cakes (~ 2 oz each).

Ingredients: 
2 6-oz. cans (12 oz) Wild Alaskan Salmon
1-2 Serrano or other small green pepper, finely chopped
1/3 red bell pepper, finely chopped
2 large eggs
6 tbsp garbanzo bean flour
~ 1 tbsp avocado oil, for frying

Seasoning:
1 tsp onion powder
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp celery salt
3/4 tsp Cocky Cajun
1/2 tsp freshly cracked pepper
1/2 tsp granulated garlic

Drain the salmon in a fine mesh strainer or in a regular strainer over a bowl – it flakes really easily and you don’t want to lose anything good.

In a large bowl, combine peppers, salmon, eggs, and flour; using a fork, mix well. Add seasoning and spices. Mix thoroughly – when mixture looks uniform and begins sticking to itself, you’re ready to go.

Heat ~ 1/2 tbsp oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Using your hands, form the salmon mixture into cakes about the size of your palm (from the perspective of a 5’4″ female). Gently place into the pan one at a time and shallow fry for ~4 minutes per side, adding more oil if necessary when you flip the cakes over. Make sure not to overcrowd the pan – I managed to fit four at a time. Also, I found that these held together really well (in comparison to my crab cake recipe) but be gentle when flipping and only do so once if possible.

Serve immediately with mayonnaise or other sauce of choice.

 

Fishy in a Jiffy

This is my super quick and tasty take on fish sticks, a childhood favorite of mine that lasted all of five minutes on the dinner table tonight (always a good sign). I ordered fish cubes, a nice even mix of salmon and sea bass in this batch, from FreshDirect, which tend to have some odd shapes but feel way more natural than the frighteningly identical frozen sticks that come out of a box. I decided to use my cast iron for frying these babies up, mostly because it needed a good coating of oil, but they came out perfect and cast iron is definitely my new first choice for frying over my beloved non-stick.

Ingredients: 
1 lb fish cubes (I used salmon and sea bass, but cod would be just fine)
2/3 cup garbanzo bean flour
1 cup coconut oil
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/4 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup mayonnaise

Seasoning: 
2 tsp Cocky Cajun seasoning
1 tsp chipotle powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly cracked pepper

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In a medium-sized bowl, rinse fish cubes with cool water. Drain water and squeeze juice from 1/2 lemon over the fish. Using a very sharp knife (love my Giada Santoku) cut each cube in half – a sharp knife is important to keep the integrity of the fish or it will flake apart. In a second medium-sized bowl, combine the garbanzo bean flour with the salt, pepper, and remaining herbs/spices. One at a time, gently coat each piece of fish with the flour and set on a clean plate.

In your cast iron pan, heat the coconut oil on medium-high to approximately 350*F. I should be completely honest with you here, I don’t actually have an oil thermometer so I tend to “guesstimate” – if the oil starts to bubble, it’s probably hot enough.

Prepare another clean plat and cover with a paper towel. Fry a few fish “sticks” at a time, about 1.5-2 minutes per side (3-4 minutes total). Remove fish sticks to paper towel-covered plate and immediately sprinkle with some salt. In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise and juice from 1/4 lemon for dipping sauce. Serve immediately.

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One Fish Two Fish, Ghost Fish Blue Fish

Legend has it that burning sage will rid your home of ghosts and negative energy… it also makes some really tasty fish. Just in time for Halloween, we pulled out the bamboo steamer and some fresh herbs for a killer fish dinner that’s light enough to leave room for alllll that Cheat Day candy.

Ingredients: 
2 8-10 oz bluefish fillets
1 lemongrass stalk, peeled and cut into 3″ pieces
1 small bunch fresh sage
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp white vinegar

Seasoning: 
1 tsp freshly cracked salt
1 tsp freshly cracked pepper
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp Szechuan seasoning

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A few minutes in!

So I haven’t actually purchased these parchment liners yet, but they’re definitely on my list and I’d recommend using something like it to keep the skin from sticking to the steamer (just oil didn’t quite cut it). You’ll also need a stock pot or sauce pan that your steamer will fit snugly on top of.

Fill your pot of choice about half way with cold water and 2 tsp of white vinegar, boil the water and then lower to medium heat. The vinegar is supposed to help keep the fish extra juicy and prevent over-cooking or drying out.

While waiting for the water to boil, rinse the fish fillets with cold water and pat dry. This is where we encounter the pin bones. Pin bones are the tiny, slippery, needle-like bones in fish like salmon, red snapper, and our bluefish. You can probably ask your fish monger to remove the pin bones for you, otherwise you will need a pair of needle-nose pliers to do it yourself – they’re way too slippery to remove by hand. I usually get pretty annoyed with this process… which is conveniently timed with The Boyfriend getting home from work, so he does most of the pin bone removal.

Once the bones are removed, you can cut the fillets in half – not required, but I like the smaller serving size and they fit in the steamer a little better too. Using a paper towel or basting brush, coat the steamer or parchment liner with olive oil. If you are just using the steamer, try to get the oil in all the cracks as well – this will make for easier clean up. In the bottom steamer basket, arrange the lemongrass pieces and sage leaves. For more lemongrass flavor, cut the stalk pieces in half lengthwise so you can peel apart more layers (optional). As the steam passes through this lower basket, it will add flavor to the fish fillets above.

Neatly arrange the fillets in the top basket so that they are not touching, if possible. Season each fillet with salt and pepper as well as a pinch each of coriander and Szechuan seasoning. Stack and close the basket and gently place on top of the pot. Steam for exactly 20 minutes, checking occasionally to make sure the water is just gently bubbling/simmering.

Serve immediately with Sriracha-mayo or sauce of choice.

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Dig in!

Note: In the recipe I say to put the lemongrass and sage in the bottom basket, but in the picture it shows them in the same basket. This is because I used three large pieces of fish and did not have room for everything in one basket. This also worked well and still had the desired effect.

Quadruple-Coconut Shrimp

Yea I said it, quadruple coconut… which is an interesting route for me since I’m not really a coconut fan, but these are might tasty and packed with protein. Shrimp are a great finger food for everything from snacktime to fancy appetizers and these guys are pretty fun to make with a buddy so get cookin’ and dig in!

Ingredients: 
1 lb (31-36 ct) fresh large shrimp, cleaned and deveined (tails on)*
1.5 cups unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 cup coconut flour
2 whole eggs
3/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
10+ oz vegetable oil (for frying)
1/2 cup coconut oil (for frying)
1/2 lemon, juiced

Seasoning: 
2 tsp Cocky Cajun Seasoning (for marinade)
2 tsp Cocky Cajun Seasoning (for seasoning)
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp chipotle powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

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Rinse shrimp with very cold water, drain and place in a large bowl. Season shrimp with 2 tsp of Cocky Cajun Seasoning, cover with 1.5 cups coconut milk and a squirt of lemon juice, mix gently. Let marinate for at least 30 minutes up to 1 hour. You will need three more small-medium bowls and a plate for the “assembly line”: in the first bowl, combine the coconut flour, chipotle powder, red pepper flakes, and 2 tsp Cajun seasoning and stir gently. In the second bowl, crack two large eggs and whisk thoroughly. Finally, combine the shredded coconut, salt, and pepper in the third bowl.

Here’s your assembly line: one at a time, remove shrimp from the coconut milk > lightly coat with the seasoned coconut flour > coat with whisked eggs > dredge through the shredded coconut. Set aside on a clean plate.

Fill a deep (about 3″) medium-sized non-stick pan with at least 10 oz of vegetable oil and 2-3 tbsp of coconut oil – the pan should be slightly more than half full of oil. Heat on medium-high to 350* (this takes about 10 minutes). In small batches, about 3-4 at a time, gently place the shrimp in the hot oil and fry for about 1.5 – 2 minutes, flipping them over after the first minute. Remove to a clean plate, finish with a pinch of salt and serve immediately.

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Optional: Combine mayonnaise and sriracha in a small bowl, mix well – we call this “Cocky Mayo” and it makes for the perfect spicy sauce with these sweet shrimp.

*If you order from FreshDirect, or are able to at your regular grocery, always go for the sustainable seafood to help keep our oceans healthy, vibrant, and full of fish.