Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Thai-Style Halibut with Coconut-Curry Broth

I have to admit that while I like fish (mild fish at least), I don't love it or crave it like pasta. I usually buy it because I feel like I should, since I know it's so good for me. So I really appreciate a fish recipe that's not boring and makes me look forward to dinner. This one not only has a rich, flavorful broth, but it includes greens, so you're killing two birds with one stone. Or two fish with one hook. Or even better, just stop killing stuff.

Yield: 4 servings

2 teaspoons vegetable oil
4 shallots, finely chopped (about 3/4 cup)
2 ½ teaspoons red curry paste (or 2 teaspoons curry powder)
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup light coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus 1/4 teaspoon (plus more as needed for seasoning)
4 (6 oz.) pieces halibut fillet, skin removed
5 cups washed baby spinach, steamed for 2 minutes
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
2 scallions (green part only), thinly sliced
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
freshly ground black pepper
2 cups cooked brown rice, for serving

1.      In a large saute pan, heat the oil over moderate heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the curry paste and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the chicken broth, coconut milk, 1/2 teaspoon salt and simmer until reduced to 2 cups, about 5 minutes.
2.      Season the halibut with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Arrange the fish in the pan and gently shake the pan so the fish is coated with the sauce. Cover and cook until the fish flakes easily with a fork, about 7 minutes.
3.      Arrange a pile of steamed spinach in the bottom of 4 soup plates. Top with the fish fillets. Stir the cilantro, scallions, and lime juice into the sauce and season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Ladle the sauce over the fish and serve with rice.

from Ellie Krieger
shallots, cilantro and scallions
adding red curry paste to shallots
pouring in chicken broth
pouring in coconut milk
fish added (I used cod instead of halibut)
flaking the fish
The fish was kind of falling apart, so I
just flaked it all and served it like a stew.
fish on top of spinach
cilantro, scallions and lime juice added to the broth
broth added to the bowl
thai-style halibut with coconut-curry broth
(except it's really cod)

Friday, January 25, 2013

Tuna Noodle Casserole

I love a good casserole. They're so homey and comforting. This is a very basic tuna noodle casserole. A good jumping off point if you want to make one from scratch (and not using canned soup). I'm not saying you're a lazy bastard for using canned soup. I'm just saying you don't love your kids. Kidding! I'm kidding! Calm down. I really liked this, although I do think next time I might jazz it up with a little sharp cheese melted into the sauce and maybe some predictable peas (which is really the opposite of jazzy, but I don't have to make sense on my own blog). I think that flu shot I got is making me loopy.

Serves 4 to 6

5 1/2 tablespoons butter, divided
1 cup sliced shiitake mushrooms
1 cup diced portobello mushrooms
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 shallot, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1/2 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
1 tablespoon minced chives
1/4 cup dry sherry
1/4 cup flour
1 cup milk (whole)
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 cans tuna, drained
8 oz. wide egg noodles, cooked until al dente and drained
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup panko

1.      Preheat your oven to 350º F. Grease an 8- x 8-inch baking pan.
2.      In a large saute pan, heat 1 tablespoon butter over medium-high until foaming. Stir in mushrooms and cook until mushrooms have given off all of their liquid and cooked through (10 or so minutes). Season lightly with salt and pepper, transfer to a bowl and set aside.
3.      Add another 1/2 tablespoon butter to the frying pan, then cook onion, shallot and celery together for about 5 minutes, until softened. Stir in the chopped herbs and the sherry and cook for another 2 minutes.
4.      Add 3 tablespoons butter over medium-high until melted. Stir in the flour to make a roux and cook for about 2 minutes. Then whisk in the milk and chicken stock, bit by bit, to make a smooth sauce. Cook, stirring, until just slightly thickened (another minute or two). Then add the lemon zest and season with salt and pepper to taste.
5.      Flake the tuna into the white sauce, then add the mushrooms and noodles; stir until well combined. Transfer the mixture to the greased baking pan.
6.      In a small pan, melt the last tablespoon of butter. Stir in the minced garlic and the panko breadcrumbs and cook, stirring, until the panko is golden brown. Sprinkle this all over the casserole. Put the casserole in the oven and bake until it is bubbly, about 30 minutes.

slightly adapted from By fiveandspice
onion, shallot and celery
adding herbs
adding sherry
adding butter
adding flour
adding milk
creamy white sauce
adding lemon zest
stirring in tuna and cooked mushrooms
stirring in cooked egg noodles
in the casserole dish
mixing butter, garlic and panko
panko sprinkled on top
tuna noodle casserole

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Lemongrass-Chicken Meatballs on Rice Vermicelli

This may sounds kind of stupid, but I realized just recently that I love meatballs. It might sound a little less stupid when you consider I was a vegetarian for most of my life, or maybe not. Whatever. Anyway, my realization got me thinking that instead of just classic meatballs, I should explore some non-traditional recipes too. These meatballs satisfied both my new found fondness for meatballs and my craving for something a little different.

Makes 4 servings

Dipping sauce:
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup fish sauce (nam pla or nuoc mam)
1/4 cup distilled white or rice vinegar
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 carrot, shredded on the large holes of a box grater
2 Thai bird or serrano chiles, seeded and minced

Vermicelli and scallion oil:
10 ounces thin rice vermicelli
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
6 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced

1 stalk lemongrass
1 pound ground chicken
1 1/2 tablespoons minced shallots
1 tablespoon fish sauce (nam pla or nuoc mam)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 Thai bird or serrano chile, seeded and minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1.      To make the dipping sauce, bring 1/2 cup water and the granulated sugar to a boil in a small saucepan over high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Pour into a bowl and let cool. Add the fish sauce, vinegar, garlic, carrot, and chiles and stir well.
2.      To prepare the vermicelli, place in a medium bowl and add enough hot tap water to cover. Let stand until the vermicelli is tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold running water. Drain again and return to the bowl. Toss with 1 teaspoon of the vegetable oil.
3.      To make the scallion oil, pour the remaining vegetable oil into a medium skillet. Add the garlic and cook over medium heat, stirring often, until softened but not browned, about 2 minutes. Add the scallions and cook, stirring often, until wilted, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat.
4.      To make the meatballs, remove and discard the outer layers from the lemongrass to reveal the pale yellow inner stalk. Trim off the bulbous tip of the stalk. Using a very sharp knife, thinly slice the lemongrass into rounds until you reach the very tough upper stalk. Discard the upper stalk. Transfer the sliced lemongrass to a food processor fitted with the metal chopping blade. Pulse about 12 times, until the lemongrass is finely minced. Measure 1 1/2 tablespoons of the minced lemongrass. (The remaining lemongrass can be frozen for up to 3 months.)
5.      Combine the minced lemongrass, ground chicken, shallots, fish sauce, cornstarch, chile, garlic, brown sugar, and salt in a large bowl and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes or up to 4 hours. Using your wet hands rinsed under cold water, shape the meat mixture into 12 equal meatballs.
6.      Prepare a medium-hot fire in an outdoor grill.
7.      To grill the meatballs with a basket, lightly oil the molds (a pump oil sprayer works best). Place the meatballs in the basket and close it. Place the basket on the cooking grate and cover. Grill the meatballs until the undersides are lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Flip the basket over and grill until the other sides are lightly browned and the meatballs are cooked through, about 4 minutes. Remove the meatballs from the basket and transfer to a bowl.

To grill the meatballs without the basket, lightly oil the cooking grate. Place the meatballs on the grill and cover. Grill until the undersides are lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Flip the meatballs and cook until the other sides are browned and the meatballs are cooked through, about 4 minutes more. Transfer to a bowl.
8.      Pour the dipping sauce into 4 ramekins. Divide the rice vermicelli among 4 deep bowls. Top each with 3 meatballs and equal amounts of the scallion oil. Serve with the dipping sauce.

from I Love Meatballs by Rick Rodgers (

all the meatballs ingredients
meatball ingredients mixed
I pan fried my meatballs because I didn't feel like
dealing with the grill. It was sheer laziness
(I didn't feel like putting my shoes and coat on).
lemongrass chicken meatballs
scallion oil

I think calling this scallion oil is a stretch
(since it's mostly scallions with very little oil).
mixing the dipping sauce ingredients
dipping sauce

We didn't dip our meatballs, we just poured the
dipping sauce over everything and mixed it all together.
softened rice vermicelli
lemongrass-chicken meatballs on rice vermicelli