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Sushi tuna tip

I really live in the middle of nowhere in upstate New York now.

Fortunately my grocery store (well, 20 miles away), the Hannaford in Oneonta, New York, often has tuna fresh enough for me to make sushi. But if you look closely you'll notice the "previously frozen" on the label. Most tuna is processed and quick frozen on the ship now, and they just defrost it for you in the store.

Unless you live close to a place where you can catch tuna, freezing is not a bad thing because it ends up being fresher. And freezing can also kill some parasites, so there is that, too.

My tip is that you can ask at the seafood counter if they have some frozen tuna in the back. They usually do, to refill the display case. Take that, instead. You never know how long the fish has been sitting in the display case.

Here's my frozen tuna, vacuum sealed and ready for the next time I want tuna sushi or sashimi. It doesn't really need to be vacuum sealed - it can be tightly wrapped in plastic wrap then in foil or a ziplock bag, but vacuum sealing prevents freezer burn better and I vacuum seal everything, anyway.

When I defrost it (in cold water or in the refrigerator), I'll know it's fresh.


Sautéed spinach, sardines and rice

ate.2011.01.27.l.jpgThis is one of those lunches that I ate so often I kind of got sick of it and stopped making it. But it's quick, easy and healthy.

If the rice is refrigerated, plate one serving, cover with plastic wrap and microwave for 0:40. Top with furikake (seaweed, sesame seeds, etc.).

Serve either a half tin or a full tin of sardines with a little soy sauce. These are Wild Planet sustainably caught California coast wild sardines packed in water. 

Heat a sauté pan over medium heat. Add a little oil, 2 cups of spinach, and wilt the spinach. Add freshly ground black pepper, hana katso (Japanese dried bonito fish flakes) and soy sauce.

That's it!

I've also made this dish with kale instead of spinach.

Tuna sushi plate #3

Delicious homemade sushi plate!

Hosomaki: tuna, shredded carrot, cucumber, and rice surrounded by nori
Tuna sashimi
Avocado roll, with cucumber, shredded carrot and rice, surrounded by nori
Spicy tuna roll, with tuna, cucumber and sriracha hot sauce

The key to making nice looking rolls if you're not a professional sushi chef, as I am clearly not, is to take your hot sushi rice, add the sushi vinegar, then flatten it out on a sheet pan to cool. You can then pick up pre-flattened rice with a big spatula and drop it right on the nori to make a pretty reasonable looking roll. This amount of rice makes three small rolls.


And practice makes perfect. Looking at the rolls I made one year earlier, yes, I've gotten better!


Tuna salad sandwich

This is my tuna salad sandwich. Or, more appropriately, half a sandwich.

There's also a version that I now prefer that has pickled jalapeño, pickled banana peppers and sriracha: spicy tuna salad.

It's one slice of Barowski's wheat bread, cut in half. My bread is almost always frozen, so I wrap it in plastic and defrost it at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours.

And it's a half can of tuna. Specifically, Wild Planet albacore tuna in water. It's sustainably caught, low in mercury, packed in BPA-free tins, and very delicious. I take the other half of the can, vacuum seal and freeze it. I defrost the vacuum sealed tuna in cold water for 1 to 2 hours.


My tuna salad, starts out fairly normally with tuna, celery and mayonnaise. And I add salt, freshly ground black pepper and cayenne pepper. And, the secret ingredient from Mom's tuna salad, Kraft Catalina salad dressing. It's a little weird, and it makes the tuna salad pink, but it really is quite tasty. 

Grilled salmon, spicy green beans and rice


This meal is surprisingly quick and easy, mainly because I grill and freeze the salmon ahead of time.

This is a piece of wild coho salmon which was very good. Farm raised salmon has some issues, but if you get farm raised, try to get it farmed in the United States, where there are generally better protections against pollution, disease and escape, which endangers native salmon populations.

Cut the fish into servings, season with salt, freshly ground black pepper and granulated garlic. Coat with olive oil.

Grill for 1:30 on each side on a very hot grill. I use an infrared propane grill because it's fast to heat and very convenient, but charcoal is even better. 

Let the fish cool, vacuum seal and freeze. 

When it's time to make dinner, take the frozen package of dish and cook in the sous vide for 45 minutes at 138°F.

Ideally when I bring green beans home from the store, I immediately clean and blanch them in boiling water for 1 to 2 minutes, depending on how large they are. I then vacuum seal and refrigerate them.

To make the spicy green beans heat a high temperature oil (like peanut or sesame) over medium-high heat. Add a little toasted sesame oil and the blanched green beans. This will probably make a big mess on the stove, with oil flying everywhere. It's pretty much unavoidable.

When almost done, lower the heat. Add hot pepper sesame oil, hot red chili sauce (or chili garlic sauce), freshly ground black pepper and a little soy sauce.

I usually have Japanese white sushi rice in my refrigerator. I plate one serving, cover with plastic wrap and microwave for 0:40.

The dipping sauce in the picture is just soy sauce. You'll notice that this preparation is curiously almost the same as steak.

This dish is also good when made with arctic char, and sautéed cabbage.


Or with sautéed spinach instead of green beans.


Fish and chips #2

ate.2011.12.09.d.jpgI've finally perfected the art of making a really small quantity of fish and chips for a pretty quick meal. One of the problems is that it's really hard to reheat batter dipped fish successfully, so it's one of those meals that I make exactly one serving of, with no leftovers.

I usually make my fish and chips from haddock, though most white fish works. Traditionally it's made from cod. I usually get frozen haddock which conveniently comes in a bag with two separate vacuum sealed packages, and one package is exactly one serving. I defrost the fish, still sealed in its vacuum bag, in cold water, for an hour or two.

When it's time to cook the first step is to make a batch of fresh homemade tartar sauce. It's easier than it sounds:

minced shallot (can substitute onion)
1 tbsp. pickle relish
2-3 tbsp. mayonnaise 

It should probably have a little lemon juice in it, but I hate to juice a lemon for 1 tsp. of lemon juice, and I find that it makes it kind of watery. So I usually just leave it out.

Heat up your oil to 360°F. I use non-specific "vegetable oil." I have a serious deep fryer, but lately I've just been using 1 quart of oil in a pot on my induction hot plate. It works perfectly every time, and cleanup is much easier.

You can just take the fish as-is for regular fish and chips. If it's particularly large, cutting it in half is probably not a bad idea. But lately I've been cutting them into finger/fish stick form. They're easier to eat, cook and dip in the tartar sauce that way. And you get a more batter per serving. Season with salt, pepper, granulated garlic and a cayenne pepper.

Prepare a batch of beer batter. Beat one egg in a bowl. Then discard half of the egg. This is kind of weird, but you really only need half an egg. Add 3 oz. of beer and beat lightly to combine. Then beat in 1/4 cup all-purpose flour. That's it!

Dredge the fish in flour, then dip in the beer batter, and deep fry for 3 minutes. The stick format cooks a little faster. If you're using a thick, full-sized piece of cod it could take 4 minutes or more.

Remove the fish from the oil and salt.

Lately I've been lazy and using frozen French fries instead of making my homemade steak fries. Aside from the general pain of cutting fries and par-cooking them at 270°F first, it's just so convenient to take 3.5 to 4.0 oz. of frozen French fries and just toss them into the fryer for 2 minutes for perfect French fries.

Remove the fries from the oil, salt, and season with fresh-ground black pepper, cayenne pepper and granulated garlic.

This is what it looks like as regular fish and chips instead of fish sticks and chips:


Shrimp fra diavolo with spinach

This delicious dish partly mussels fra diavolo with shrimp instead of mussels, with spinach and spinach linguini like shrimp scampi with spinach.

Serves 1, multiply as necessary.

1.5 oz. linguini
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 large or 2 small Italian plum tomatos, diced
1/8 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
0.5 oz. fresh parsley, chopped (1/4 c.)
1 oz. white wine
4 oz. uncooked shrimp, shelled and deveined
2 cups fresh spinach

Cook pasta according to package directions. I used Barilla spinach linguini though regular or fine linguini also work well.

Heat a sauté pan over medium high heat. Add olive oil to the pan. Add the garlic, diced tomato, dried oregano, crushed red pepper, chopped fresh parsley and white wine. Add the shrimp, cover, and cook for 5 minutes.

Remove the cover from the pan. Add the spinach, leaving the pan uncovered. Cook until the spinach is wilted, about a minute. If it looks too dry, add a little more wine.

Season with salt and pepper.

Add the pasta to the pan and toss.

Plate the contents of the pan.

Pictured with a slice of Red Hen Bakery Mad River Grain bread and Schmitt Söhne Riesling.

Shrimp scampi with spinach

I love Shrimp scampi but it's not particularly health. Especially Shrimp scampi #1. After a few modifications Shrimp scampi #3 was quite a bit healthier, but I decided to add a pile of spinach and it was excellent!

Serves 1. Multiply as necessary.

1.5 oz. spinach linguini
1 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 oz. white wine
4 oz. shrimp, peeled, deveined, tails removed, and diced
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
0.5 oz. fresh parsley, chopped (1/4 c.)
2.5 oz. fresh spinach (about 2 cups, packed)

Cook 1.5 oz. spinach linguini (or regular linguini) according to package directions.

Heat the butter and olive oil over medium heat until the butter melts. Add the garlic and cook until softened, but not burnt. Add the wine. Add the shrimp, crushed red pepper, and parsley.

Lower the heat to medium-low, cover and cook for 5 minutes. Remove the cover, add the spinach, and cook for another minute or two until the spinach is wilted.

It looks like a lot of spinach, but it will reduce!

Drain the pasta and add to the sauté pan. Plate and serve with crusty bread. Pictured with a slice of Red Hen Mad River Grain whole grain bread. Served with Anton Bauer Gmörk Grüner Veltliner 2009, Austria.

Seared tuna soft taco with salsa fresca

I make a soft taco with salsa fresca probably once a week. It might have grilled shrimp, pork, steak, grilled chicken, or, today, seared tuna!

My salsa fresca is very healthy with just fresh tomato, onion, jalapeño, cilantro, lime juice and salt. It's quite a bit of chopping and it takes 30 minutes for the flavors to meld, but once you have it you'll never want salsa from a jar again!

I used to use a regular corn tortilla but I've become a fan of the Richard and Maria's 100 % whole grain, multi-grain, organic soft taco shells. Plus they heat very nicely in a damp kitchen towel in the microwave for 35 seconds. Much healthier than a fried U-shaped taco shell!

I was going to make a roasted duck taco today and had defrosted some roasted duck when I realized that I really wanted seared tuna instead, so I defrosted a piece of sushi-grade yellowfin tuna, instead.

I just seasoned it with Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper and granulated garlic and seared it in peanut oil over high heat.

tunataco1.jpgAnd the final taco all folded and ready to serve:


Szechuan sesame shrimp

This is a spicy seafood relative of my Szechuan sesame tofu. It was really good but spicy, despite the lack of authentic hot peppers. The only unusual ingredient are the Szechuan peppercorns, which I order from Whole Spice.

Unlike most of my recipes, this is a recipe to serve 4 if served with other food.

1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined, uncooked
black pepper
granulated garlic
chili powder
sesame seeds
all-purpose flour
canola oil
toasted sesame oil

Clean the shrimp and season the shrimp with the salt, pepper, granulated garlic and chili powder. I used fairly large white Gulf of California wild shrimp, which are fairly sustainable. Since they were so large I cut each one in half.

Mix the sesame seeds and flour and dredge the shrimp in the flour.

Heat a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add canola and toasted sesame oil to the pan. Add the shrimp and cook through, flipping once. Set aside.

1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 scallions - white part
carrot - thinly slice
1 green pepper, thinly sliced
3 hot peppers, I used jalapeños, sliced thinly on the bias, seeds and ribs included
2 scallions - green part
hot pepper sesame oil
Szechuan peppercorns (1 tbsp.)

The actual ingredients are pretty flexible. The hot pepper selection in Vermont is a little thin in the winter usually consisting of jalapeños and sometimes habaneros. Fortunately, the Hunger Mountain Coop has really good, hot jalapeños, so I used three of those and it was pretty spicy. The hot pepper sesame oil and the Szechuan peppercorns didn't hurt, either.

Heat some high-temperature oil, such as peanut oil, in a sauté pan or wok. Add the onion and white parts of the scallions and cook for a few minutes. Add the carrot and cook for a few minutes. Add the green pepper, hot peppers, ginger and garlic and cook for a few minutes. Add the green parts of the scallions, the hot pepper sesame oil, the Szechuan peppercorns and the shrimp and cook for a few minutes.

When fully cooked, transfer the contents of the pan into a bowl.

To the pan add:

8 oz. vegetable broth (or 0.4 oz. veggie stock gold mixed with 8 oz. hot water)
2 tsp. sugar
1 tbsp. cornstarch mixed with a small amount of water

Stir the sauce over medium high heat until thickened. Add the sauce to the bowl and toss to coat.


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