Friday, May 24, 2019

Sugar Kelp Salad

This is a simple sea vegetable salad inspired by the many Japanese restaurants across the US. Usually the greens are an unnatural but pretty neon green due to food coloring. In this recipe I am using fresh organic tender baby sugar kelp from aqua farmer Catherine Puckett based out of Block Island (Rhode Island). Catherine also raises oysters and traps green crabs. You may contact Catherine directly via email oysterwench@aol.com or call her at 401-741-2023.

In order to clean the fresh sugar kelp this is my method. I glide each strip of kelp with my fingers to remove any ocean debris. Rinse all of them several times in more cold water. For this salad I cut each into strips about 6-8 inches long, stack the strips on top of each other, roll them up and cut them with either scissors or a knife to create approximately quarter inch thin strips. Next blanch the strands in boiling water for about a minute. For the stems I keep them in the boiling water for 5 minutes to help tenderize them further. After this strain, rinse them in cold water and let them drain in a colander to remove as much of the liquid as possible. 

Recently I met my husband's PhD advisor, Professor Dinesh O. Shah and his family. Dr. Shah is a brilliant, friendly, kind and energetic man in his 80s who still advises doctoral students in India despite being retired from the University of Florida. He tells me his students are like his family. It is not surprising that students, colleagues, and people from his former village in India all revere him. The village where he grew up honored him with a beautiful grand procession and a road dedication named after him! Check out Dr. Dinesh O Shah Road Dedication Ceremony in Kapadwanj, India!

When we visited him and his family we were invited to a special vegan meal! Dr. Shah's son recently switched to vegan from vegetarian and he did it "cold turkey". I am pleased to see that he seems to be adjusting quite well! Most of them are vegan except for one grandson who is vegetarian. What is the difference between a vegan versus a vegetarian? The vegan eaters cannot consume any products from animals/insects such as cheese, milk or honey. Vegetarian eaters can consume these products. In my Teochew culture there are days during the year when some family members eat vegan food but usually only for a day, on certain religious days.

This dish is vegan but feel free to make it non-vegan by adding cooked meat and/or other seafood such as green crab roe/meat, scallops, shrimp, crayfish, lobster, octopus, and squid. You may use various assortment of sea greens if they are available for texture, presentation and taste. I add the red onion slices for color and flavors but you may certainly omit them. This recipe makes 1-2 servings.

sugar kelp salad

Sugar Kelp Salad

Ingredients:

2 1/2 oz fresh baby sugar kelp, cut into approximately 1/4 inch x 6 inch strips
A few thin slices of red onion
1 blade of scallion, green parts only, chopped
2 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp soy
1 tsp vinegar
1 tsp ginger, grated (may use juice only if you prefer less ginger flavor)
1 tsp garlic, grated
1 tsp sugar
1/8 tsp crushed sea salt
1 tsp black sesame seeds
1 tsp white sesame seeds

Method:

Blanch the cut kelp in boiling water for about a minute, keep the stems in for 5 minutes. Rinse in cold water. Slice the onion thinly and place the slices in cold water for about 10-15 minutes. Squeeze out the water prior to using.

In a bowl mix scallion, oil, soy, vinegar, ginger, garlic and salt until well blended. Add the blanched kelp, onion slices and seeds. Toss everything to mix well. Adjust the seasoning according to your taste.

sugar kelp salad

Pasta with Kelp and Periwinkles

If you have been following my blog you may have noticed that lately I have started to add some recipes on sea vegetables. Moving forward I will be adding new sub-sections labeled "sea vegetables" and "periwinkles". This recipe has all three ingredients--green crabs, sea vegetables, and periwinkles. It makes 2 generous servings. You may garnish the dish with freshly ground black or white peppers and cheese of your choice.

pasta with kelp and periwinkles

Pasta with Kelp and Periwinkles

Ingredients:

3/4 cup (3 1/2 oz) cooked periwinkle meat, washed and drained
8 oz penne or another pasta of your choice, cooked according to package insert
About 1 Tbsp oil (vegetable or another of your choice)
About 1 Tbsp chopped garlic
A few slices of red or white onion (more or less depending on your preference)
4 fresh baby sugar kelp, washed and cut into approximately 6 inch x 1/4 inch strips
1/2 cup half and half or coconut milk
1/2 cup, plus about 1/3 cup Simple Green Crab Stock
1 small bunch of scallions, cut into 1 inch lengths
1 1/2 tsp fish sauce (or according to your taste)

Method:

Boil the periwinkles about 5-6 minutes and drain. Once the shells are cooled to handle remove the meat and reserve. Cook the pasta according to the package's instructions, drain and set aside. Heat a pan over medium high heat. Once the pan is hot add oil then garlic and onion. Saute about a minute or until the garlic is slightly golden. Add kelp, periwinkle meat, half and half, and 1/2 cup of stock. Once the liquid starts to boil turn heat down to let the liquid simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the pasta, the rest of the stock (1/3 cup), scallions and season with fish sauce. Saute to coat everything and remove from heat once the pasta is heated thoroughly.

kelp, periwinkle meat, half and half, crab stock

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Stir-Fried Broccoli, Kelp, and Shrimp

Sea vegetables are versatile as a kitchen ingredient. You can add them in pretty much anything even in a stir fry. The young sugar kelp has a pleasant slight crunch when they are fresh.

stir-fried broccoli, kelp, and shrimp
Stir-Fried Broccoli, Kelp, and Shrimp

Ingredients:

12 oz prepared broccoli crowns, cut into bite size, washed and drained
1 Tbsp oil (vegetable or your choice of oil)
1 large garlic clove, smashed, chopped
10 large shrimp, peeled, butterflied, de-veined
1 to 1 1/2 oz young sugar kelp with or without stems, cut into 2-3 inches in length
1 recipe of Green Crab Stir-Fried Sauce (see recipe below)

Method:

Steam the broccoli for about 5 minutes or until they are are bright in color and the stems are just cooked, remove from heat. In a large pan or wok heat oil and garlic over high heat. Cook about 30 seconds to cook the garlic slightly. Add shrimp and saute about a  minute or until the shrimp curled and slightly cooked. Add the steamed broccoli, kelp and the green crab stir-fried sauce. Stir the contents to coat everything evenly, the kelp turn green and the shrimp are just cooked. Remove and serve hot.

Green Crab Stir-Fry Sauce

Ingredients:

1 cup green crab stock (please see Simple Green Crab Stock link)
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp chicken stock powder
1 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp oyster sauce

Method:

Mix all ingredients together. May adjust the seasoning according to your taste. Be sure to stir the sauce prior to using.

Crab Cakes

I ate my fair share of crab cakes but many are full of fillers with minimal crab meat. When I have access to fresh crab meat I like to make simple dishes such as crab cakes. This way I get to taste mostly the sweet meat. These 4 crab cakes came from one Jonah crab. The crab was not too meaty but I was able to get 3 ounces of meat. Normally I would chill the cakes in the freezer for about 15 minutes to help bind them so they do not break apart during cooking. This time I had limited time and I placed the whole bowl in the freezer for about 5 minutes and they held their shape. I prefer using panko (Japanese bread crumbs) which is lighter and more airy than the Italian bread crumbs. 

I want to thank Dr. Gabriela Bradt, UNH researcher and NH Community Seafood for the Jonah crab. Also thanks to Catherine Puckett of Oyster Wench Block Island Shellfish Farm & Block Island Kelp for the fresh tender baby sugar kelp! The blanched fresh kelp has a delightful slight crunch.

crab cakes

Crab Cakes

Ingredients:

1 chicken egg yolk
About 1 1/2 Tbsp mayonnaise
1 scallion, green parts only, chopped
Meat from 1 large cooked Jonah crab (or at least 3 oz from any crab meat)
1/4 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
About 1 Tbsp of oil (vegetable or your oil of choice) for frying

Method:

Mix the yolk, mayonnaise and scallion until blended. Add the crab meat and panko to the mixture and gently mix until blended. Divide the contents into 4 parts and gently mold each part to form a ball. Place the balls in the freezer for about 15 minutes to chill. Heat a non-stick pan with oil over high heat. Once the oil is hot add the balls in the pan, avoid letting the balls touch each other. Gently press each ball down with a spatula. May turn the heat down slightly if the pan gets too hot. Fry for about 2-3 minutes or until golden. Flip the cake over and fry for another 2-3 minutes or until golden. Remove and serve with your favorite sauce or salad.

Caper Sauce

Ingredients:

About 10 capers, chopped
1 Tbsp mayonnaise
About 1 tsp of fresh lemon juice
Chili oil to taste, optional
Sea salt to taste

Method:

Mix capers, mayonnaise and lemon juice until well blended. Season with chili oil and salt. May use to drizzle over the crab cakes.

Blanched Baby Sugar Kelp

Ingredients:

6-8 baby sugar kelp (preferably less than 1 foot long)
Water for boiling

Method:

Wash the sugar kelp well. Gently run your fingers along the kelp to remove any roots or ocean debris. Blanch in boiling water for about 20 seconds and remove. Rinse in cold water and strain. Dab with clean towel to remove excess water if interested.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Scallop Crudo III

Today just seem to be a scallop crudo day at my house! It is impossible to be full by eating a single scallop at a time! And if I am consuming at this rate then I will definitely extend my scallop supply easily until the next scallop season! Thank you, Mike Anderson and his crew of Rimrack Fish for the fresh-off-the-boat sea scallops!

Today I also feel a bit daring to share this abstract piece with you. Don't let the pink liquid scare you. It is from a little of the freshly squeezed blood orange juice! 😀

scallop crudo III
scallop crudo III

Scallop Crudo III

Ingredients:

7 thinly sliced English cucumber circles
1 large sea scallop, tough muscle removed and discarded, thinly sliced
5 thinly sliced red onion, soaked in cold water, squeezed out the liquid prior to using
Meat from 1-2 cooked Salted Green Crabs (Ba Khia), depending on your preference
Several small pinches of dried lime, lemon, blood orange zest
Several small pinches of finely chopped fresh cilantro
Several small pinches of dried red hot chili peppers
A very small pinch of sea salt
A drizzle of freshly squeezed blood orange juice
A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

Method:

Use your imagination and creativity to arrange the ingredients or as per photo. Arrange the cucumber slices in a circle on a plate. Arrange the slices of scallop between the cucumber slices. Use the ends of the scallop slices for the center to add height. Arrange the onion around the center piece. Scatter the crab meat, zest, cilantro, peppers and sea salt on top. Lastly drizzle the entire plate with juice and oil.

Scallop Crudo II

Just one large scallop is enough to create a beautiful and delicious appetizer that will make your family and friends craving for more! Here is another scallop crudo. This time I added a tiny pinch of sea salt scattered over the outer edges of the scallop slices and a light drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. 

If you would like to have some fresh-off-the-boat fresh sea scallops you can visit Rimrack Fish to inquire about their next scallop season! You may contact Enna Chocolate to purchase your chocolate nibs and other tasty chocolate treats from around the world!

scallop crudo II
Scallop Crudo II

Ingredients:

1 large sea scallop, tough muscle removed and discarded, sliced thinly
12 thinly sliced red onion, soaked in cold water and squeezed out the liquid prior to using
Meat from 1-2 cooked Salted Green Crab (Ba Khia), depending on your preference
A large pinch of finely pinched fresh cilantro
A large pinch of unsweetened Peruvian chocolate nibs
Several small pinches of dried lime, lemon and blood orange zest
Several small pinches of dried chili peppers
A drizzle of freshly squeezed lemon juice
A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
A very small pinch of sea salt

Method:

Arrange the ingredients per photo or use your own creation and imagination. Place the slices of scallop and red onion on your dish. Arrange the salted crab meat, cilantro, chocolate nibs, citric zest and chili peppers. Drizzle lemon juice and oil over everything. Scatter the sea salt on the edges away from the salted crab meat.

Scallop Crudo

I enjoy eating raw scallops especially when they are harvested by my local fisherman, Mike Anderson of Rimrack Fish. The Italians have their version of raw seafood dish known as crudo. The ones that I ate in the past seemed to have some sort of oil added. Here I did not add any but you certainly can drizzle a little of your favorite oil on top for extra flavors. 

When I was a child I loved the visual arts--that was my favorite subject in school...probably mainly because it was the easiest, it came naturally to me and I did not have to do much thinking! I remember growing up my mother constantly telling us (there were 5 kids in our family) that we go to school for ourselves not for them (my parents) or anyone else. I contemplated attending art school but I was not a dreamer. I was realistic even at a young age...deep down I knew I was not all that talented. Although my parents never told me not to pursue art I knew it was not a practical career choice for me. I decided to major in nursing in order to be independent, have a steady income and then use some of that earned money to support my art hobby. Well, that was the idea. 

As I left school I got side tracked and busy with my new nursing career. Eventually I suppressed my hobby in the back burner and it stayed there quietly for decades. In the last 10 years, that creativity emerged with a vengence. Digital cameras made experimenting with photography so much easier and I taught myself how to take a few decent photos. When I cook I noticed that I tend to get excited not about eating or cooking but actually making the piece visually stimulating to me. These days I find myself easily distracted in my kitchen playing with ingredients (medium) and constructing something edible on a blank canvas (empty plate, bowl, cutting board, etc.). I would like to secretly think and believe that every time I am in the kitchen I am just sculpting another personal piece of edible art...and then immediately deconstructing it by devouring it, fulfilling and satifying a bit of my lifelong real or imaginary artistic cravings.

scallop crudo

Scallop Crudo

Ingredients:

1 large scallop, tough muscle removed and discard, sliced thinly against the grain
Meat and roe from 1-2 cooked Salted Green Crab (Ba Khia), depending on how much you prefer
Several thinly slices of red onion, soaked in cold water and squeezed out the liquid
A large pinch of cilantro leaves, finely chopped
A pinch of Peruvian chocolate nibs (from Enna Chocolate)
A small pinch of dried lime zest
A small pinch of dried lemon zest
A small pinch of dried blood orange zest
A small pinch of dried seaweed
A small pinch of dried chili peppers
Drizzle of freshly squeezed lime juice

Method:

Thinly slice the scallop against the grain and arrange them on a plate. Arrange the onion slices and salted green crab meat and roe on the plate. Add a large pinch of cilantro, chocolate nibs, and sprinkle on the crumbled citric zest, seaweed and chili peppers. Drizzle with freshly squeezed lime juice.

Helpful Hints:

*If you are interested in purchasing the Peruvivan chocolate nibs (unsweetened) please contact Enna Chocolate directly.
*If you are interested in purchasing scallops or squid from Rimrack Fish, please contact them directly. Unfortuately the scallop season has just ended as of this month (April 2019).

Friday, April 26, 2019

Scallop and Green Crab Caviar Ceviche

I love making and eating ceviche--mostly because it requires minimal to no cooking time and I can be as creative or not. I am a bit spoiled because I get fresh-off-the-boat sweet jumbo scallops from my local fisherman, Mike Anderson. When they are in season I purchase them, divide them up in smaller bags to freeze so I can enjoy them during the off season. These are the only ones that I always feel safe eating raw. Of course, do take caution when consuming anything raw or partially cooked. If you are going to eat raw seafood you may want to consult your health care provider first.

I have never made ceviche with green crab roe before. This one is special because I used the salted green crab roe or caviar. Since the caviar is already salty I omit adding extra salt. The result is colorful and delicious! Please check out my previous post on Salted Green Crabs (Ba Khia).

If you are interested in purchasing fresh scallops from Mike Anderson and his family please visit their Facebook page, FV Rimrack. Sorry, the scallop season has just ended. However, squid season is next!

scallop and green crab caviar ceviche
Scallop and Green Crab Caviar Ceviche

Ingredients:

Caviar from 4-6 cooked Salted Green Crabs (Ba Khia)
6 large sea scallops, tough muscles removed, diced into 4-6 pieces depending on size
About 4 segments of blood orange, cut each one into 2-3 pieces
About 10-12 thinly slices of red onion, squeezed out the water prior to using
About 10 fresh blueberries
About 1 Tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice
About 1 tsp of chopped chili peppers (optional)
About 1 tsp chopped cilantro leaves
About 1 tsp chopped scallion (green parts only)
A pinch of lime zest, plus more for garnish
A pinch of lemon zest, plus more for garnish
A pinch of blood orange zest, plus more for garnish

Method:

Simmer the salted green crabs (use the amount depending on how much roe there are and your preference) for about 10 minutes. Drain them and let them cool completely. Remove the roe and save. Thinly slice the red onion and soak in cold water, squeeze out the water prior to using. Remove the white pith and membranes of a blood orange. Cut each segment into 2-3 pieces. Cut each scallop into 4-6 pieces depending on its size.

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and gently mix. Garnish with extra zest if interested.


Salted Green Crabs (Ba Khia)

Salted or fermented crabs, known as ba khía in Vietnamese, is a way to preserve a special type of small crabs found in muddy areas in the mangroves without the need of refrigeration. Ba khía is a popular food item in the Mekong Delta (the southern region of Vietnam) such as my former home town of Soc Trang. Because they are salty even just one crab can last a person several meals! If you have nothing else to eat except rice and ba khía you can probably survive on these two items for many months

Prior to eating these crabs there is a special preparation that my family uses. We take the fermented crab crabs apart by removing and discarding the carapaces, gills, and aprons. We wash them in warm water several times and break each crab body into 4-6 sections. We then mix the prepared crabs with lime juice, garlic, chili peppers and sugar. This seasoned ba khía lasts weeks in the refrigerator. According to my father if you use vinegar instead of lime juice you can keep it longer. Since it is very salty I eat only a tiny fraction of the crab, usually 2-3 legs with about 1/8 to 1/4 of the body with lots of steamed rice.

salted green crabs (ba khia)
Salted Green Crabs (Ba Khía)

Ingredients:


4 cups water
1/2 cup sea salt
10 green crabs (preferably females)
1/2 cup rice wine (optional)

Method:

Boil the water and add sea salt, stir until the salt dissolves. Let the liquid cool completely. Wash the crabs well and let them drain. Place the crabs in a glass or ceramic jar. Pour the cooled salted liquid over the crabs. May add rice wine if using. May use a small glass or ceramic plate to keep the crabs submerged in the liquid. Cover tightly and keep refrigerated up to 2 months. The crabs will be salty and ready to eat in 5 days.

Helpful Hints:

*My father advises adding rice wine (such as sake) to the batch for extra fragrance.
*The uncooked salted crab meat should taste salty with a gelatinous consistency. The salted green crab meat may slowly dissolve to nothing if you keep them longer than 2-3 months.
*I prefer to ferment female crabs as I can use them in more dishes. 
*Use only freshly caught crabs as they have more meat.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Coconut Clam Chowder

This chowder is inspired by Chef Raj, co-owner of the Tulsi Indian Restaurant in Kittery and Tulsi North Indian Restaurant in Wells, Maine. My husband and I met him one evening at the Kittery location. When he speaks about cooking and eating you can imagine that he will serve you only high quality and flavorful foods--the kind that will certainly wake your senses! He hailed from a coastal region near Mumbai, India and eventually made his way to a small coastal town in Maine. In his former home village, some people would roast a coconut to make a seafood soup. I don't have access to whole coconuts and roasting would take some extra time which I lack. For simplicity my soup is made from canned coconut milk and already ground spices...perhaps not the best ingredients but they will have to do for now!

The crabs came from Dr. Bradt who purchased them from Maine fisherman, Everett Leach. The clams came from my local market. You may shuck the clams while they are fresh. However, I find that steaming them for just 5 minutes makes for a convenient and easy job to remove the clam meat and save the broth. I purposely saved the washed cilantro stems and roots in the freezer for these types of soups or stews.

Thank you Chef Raj, Dr. Bradt and Everett for this simple but tasty chowder!

If you are in Kittery or Wells, Maine and are hungry for some delicious Indian food you may want to check out these restaurants!  
http://www.tulsiindianrestaurant.com/
https://www.tulsinorth.com/

coconut clam chowder
Coconut Clam Chowder

Ingredients:

About 1 to 1 1/2 Tbsp neutral oil (such as vegetable)
1/3 C chopped white or yellow onion
2 garlic cloves, peeled, grated or minced
1 large potato, peeled, diced
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp Madras curry powder
1/2 tsp cayenne powder
4 1/2 C Green Crab Stock For Chowders (see recipe below)
3 1/2 C Clam Stock (see recipe below)
1 can (13.6 oz or 403 mL) unsweetened coconut milk
About 2 Tbsp dried seaweed, cut and rinsed
1 1/2 C (or 7 1/8 oz) chopped steamer clams
2 Tbsp chopped fresh scallions
2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
2 Tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp chicken stock powder

Method:

Heat a large pot over medium high heat. Add onion and saute until the onion is soft. Add garlic,  potato, cumin, coriander, turmeric, curry and cayenne powder. Saute about 3-4 minutes to blend the spices and to help soften the potato. Add green crab stock and clam stock. Cook about 10-15 minutes or until the potato pieces are soft. Shake the coconut milk to blend and pour it through a strainer into the pot (to prevent any lumps). Add seaweed. Turn heat to high and once the liquid starts to boil turn the heat down to medium and let it boil for about a minute. Turn heat down to a simmer and add clams, scallions, cilantro and season with fish sauce and chicken stock powder. Turn heat to low once the clams are thoroughly heated. Serve hot with crusty bread. May add extra cayenne or freshly ground white pepper if interested.

Helpful Hints:

*You may omit the cayenne powder if you prefer non-spicy.
*It is best to buy small quantity of ground spices as they do not have a long shelf life.
*2 1/2 pounds of steamer clams yield about 7 1/8 ounces (about 1 1/2 cups) of clam meat.

green crab stock for chowder
Green Crab Stock For Chowders (makes about 4 1/2 cups)

Ingredients:

15 prepared green crabs
6 C water
1 small piece of kelp (dried or fresh)
About 10 (6-8 inches long) cilantro stems and 2 cilantro roots
1 small onion, peeled, quartered or diced
3-4 slices of ginger, bruised
2 garlic cloves, smashed

Method:

Prepare each crab by removing and discarding the carapace, apron, and gills. Scrub the crabs in a little salt and rinse in cold water, let them drain. Crush the crabs (the finer the crabs are crushed the more flavors the result). Place the crab in a pot and add water, kelp, cilantro stems, cilantro roots, onion, ginger and garlic. Turn the heat to high. Once the liquid starts to boil turn the heat down to a simmer and cover the pot. Simmer for about 30 minutes. Strain and save the liquid for cooking.

steamer clams
Clam Stock (makes about 3 1/2 cups)

Ingredients:

About 2 1/2 lbs fresh steamer clams
2 C water

Method:

Soak the clams while you scrub them. Rinse them in cold water and drain. Remove and discard any broken or dead clams. The dead ones will have an unpleasant smell. Cover the pot and steam the clams in 2 cups of water for about 5 minutes or when the clams just open up. Turn off heat and remove the lid. Once the clams are cooled remove and discard the skin on the neck and the siphon tips. Rinse the clams in its stock. Strain and save the clean liquid. Chop the meat and reserve.

Sugar Kelp Salad

This is a simple sea vegetable salad inspired by the many Japanese restaurants across the US. Usually the greens are an unnatural but pretty...