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Shrimp pad thai

I can’t seem to satisfy my cravings for Asian food!! One of my favorites is Pad Thai with just about anything in it and on the spicy side. This recipe is fabulous and not nearly as oily as most restaurant versions.

Preparing this dish moves pretty quickly. Get everything prepped while your noodles are soaking.

A few tips on ingredients:

  • If you don’t have Thai chilies – use a jalapeno or crushed red pepper flakes
  • Use good fish sauce – it makes a big difference. My favorite brands are Tiparos (Kroger, $2) & Red Boat 40°N (Asian store, $5)
  • Palm sugar can be found at most Asian grocery stores. Light brown sugar is a great substitute.
  • Try chicken or tofu if you don’t have shrimp!
  • Don’t oversoak the noodles – you want them to have bite so they can absorb the sauce when cooked.

Recipe adapted from Food52.com

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons palm sugar or brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons grapeseed or canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons tamarind concentrate
  • 8 ounces dried wide rice noodles
  • 2 eggs
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 3 thai chilies whole
  • 6 green onions, sliced 1 inch long
  • 2 cups bean sprouts
  • small handful peanuts, chopped
  • small handful cilantro, chopped
  • lime wedges

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a small bowl, combine the fish sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, 2 tablespoons oil, and tamarind concentrate. Stir until sugar is dissolved and set aside.
  2. Soak the rice noodles in hot tap water for about 20 minutes, or until they start to soften but not fully tender. Drain and set aside.
  3. Beat the eggs with a pinch of salt in a small bowl and set aside.
  4. In a large skillet or wok, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil under high heat for about 2 minutes. Add the shrimp and season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 2 to 3 minutes, or until the shrimp start to turn pink with browned edges. Remove shrimp and set aside.
  5. Add remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to skillet. Add garlic, shallot and thai chilies. Cook over medium heat and stir continuously for about 1 minute. Add eggs to skillet and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until scrambled, about 30 seconds. Add the rice noodles and green onions and toss with tongs to combine. Pour the tamarind/fish sauce mixture over the noodles and increase the heat to high, continuing to toss the ingredients with the sauce.
  6. Add 1/2 of the chopped peanuts and cooked shrimp. Toss noodles for about 2 more minutes. Add bean sprouts and cook for 30 seconds. Dish out onto hot plates and top with remaining peanuts and garnish with cilantro.

Cioppino

Cioppino is a fish stew originating from Portuguese and Italian fishermen who settled in the North Beach section of San Francisco in the late 1800’s. It’s a collective pot of leftover catch of the day from the local fisherman. The story is that wharf cooks would call for the fishermen to “chip in” some of their catch to the collective soup pot. Typically a combination of dungeness crab, clams, shrimp, scallops, squid, mussels and fish were thrown into the tomato and wine broth.

Use whatever fish and seafood combination you like. Shrimp, scallops, halibut and mussels are my favorites and what I chose.

A few tips.

  • Infusing the stock with the shrimp shells imparts a lot of flavor – so do the extra work and peel & devein your own shrimp just for the shells.
  • Pernod (anise flavored liquor) is a classic flavor in Cioppino. If you don’t have any (or don’t want to spend the money on a bottle) – chop a bulb of fennel and add to the onions when cooking.
  • Fish Stock – so maybe you can’t find fish stock in your store. If not, use equal parts of bottled clam juice & water.

INGREDIENTS

  • 32 ounces (2 quarts) fish stock, Kitchen Basics is my favorite
  • Pinch saffron
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, or as needed
  • 5 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole plum tomatoes, crushed by hand (or pureed in food processor)
  • 2 cups white wine (Pinot Grigio)
  • 1/4 cup pernod
  • ¼ cup pesto
  • ½ cup parsley, chopped
  • 1 pounds mussels
  • 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined (reserve shells)
  • 3/4 pound sea scallops, foot removed
  • 2 pounds halibut fillet, skinned, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • ½ cup basil, chopped
  • 1 loaf crusty bread

DIRECTIONS

Heat fish stock in a small saucepan. Add reserved shrimp shells to fish stock and simmer for 5 minutes. Strain stock of shrimp shells into large bowl. Add saffron to warm stock and set aside.

Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in an 8-quart pot over medium-high heat. Add garlic, allowing it to brown for about 20 seconds, then add onions and a pinch of salt. Cook until onions are softened, about 4 minutes. Add bay leaf and oregano. Stir and cook for 30 seconds. Add tomato paste. Cook, stirring, until paste darkens a bit, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add tomatoes white wine, pernod and the saffron flavored fish stock and bring to a boil. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until liquid has reduced by half. Cover pan and simmer for 30 minutes.

Stir in the pesto and parsley. Add mussels and simmer until mussels open, about 3 minutes (discard any unopened clams). Add shrimp and scallops and cook for about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, season halibut salt and pepper. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat, add 2 tablespoons oil. Cook the halibut until seared and the fish is cooked through – about 2-3 minutes per side.

Remove bay leaf from pot. Season with salt and pepper. Ladle soup into bowl and top with chopped basil. Serve with crusty bread.

Seared Tuna with Gremolata and Cannellini Beans

Simple, no fuss food can be a little fancy too. The brightness of the gremolata is a perfect accent for tuna. This was a quick weeknight meal to throw together but would be quite a showstopper for special company.

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 x 1/2 pound tuna steaks (about 1/2 -3/4 inch thick)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried chili flakes
  • 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of water
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 clove of garlic (peeled and finely chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped flat leaves parsley
  • 2 tablespoon of capers in brine (drained and finely chopped)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the bean salad:

  • 1 red bell pepper – seeded and quartered
  • 1 can Cannellini beans – rinsed and drained
  • 3 fresh mint leaves
  • 2 tablespoons minced parsley
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

DIRECTIONS

For the bean salad – combine all dressing ingredients in a bowl and mix. Toss with beans. Set aside at room temperature.

Preheat a griddle pan until smoking hot then reduce the heat to medium-high.

In a medium size bowl, whisk the oil with the water until thick and creamy. Whisk in the lemon juice with a few pinches of salt and pepper. Stir in the garlic, capers, chillies and parsley.

Lightly brush the tuna steaks and bell peppers with the spicy dressing and cook on the preheated griddle pan for 2 minutes on each side (for medium rare tuna).

To serve, fill the grilled peppers with the bean salad. Place the tuna on the place and drizzle over the gremolata dressing.

Potato-Crusted Halibut with Pesto

Anne Burrell is brilliant and can break down some difficult looking prep and make it SIMPLE. For instance, making fish scales out of potatoes. Mine didn’t turn out as beautiful as her perfectly potato crusted fish scales… but it was dead simple to do.

Her original recipe called for an infused oil to cook the fish in… but my basil was begging to become pesto and the fresh herbs with the meaty potatoes & fish was a delicious thing to eat.

Word to the wise: If you don’t have a mandolin… don’t even bother with this recipe.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 Yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed
  • 4 (6-ounce) Pacific halibut fillets
  • Kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup Basil Pesto

DIRECTIONS

Cook’s Note: In this case it is important to work quickly and to slice the potatoes for 1 halibut fillet at a time. We are NOT going to soak the potatoes in water, this will help them maintain their starch so they will stick to each other and to the fish, but could cause them to turn brown.

Using a mandoline, slice 1 potato extremely thin, (paper thin), in elongated rounds. Lay a piece of parchment paper on a clean, dry work surface. Arrange 3 potato slices in an overlapping vertical line pressing them together as you put them on the parchment. Repeat this process until you have a 4 by 6-inch overlapping potato rectangle that replicates fish scales. Brush the potato “scales” with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Season the halibut with salt. Lay the halibut fillet closer to 1 end of the potato rectangle than the other and then roll the fish up in the potato slices, using the parchment to help facilitate the rolling. Press to compact and really adhere the potatoes to the fish. Brush the outside of the potatoes with olive oil to seal the potatoes and to prevent the potatoes from turning brown, this will also help make a nice tight “fish package”. Reserve the fish in the refrigerator while preparing the remaining fillets. Refrigerate the fillets for at least 1 hour before cooking.

To cook the fish: Add olive oil to a large nonstick saute pan until the bottom is generously covered and bring the pan to a medium-high heat. Season the fish with salt and add to the pan. Cook the fish on both sides for 3 to 4 minutes frequently spooning the excess oil over the fish to “baste” it. The potatoes should be crispy golden brown and very well flavored and the fish will be succulent inside its crispy “scales”. Transfer to serving plates, top with pesto and serve.

Grilled Salmon with Maple-Chipotle Glaze

This meal has been in my head since the Maple Chipotle Corn went in my mouth. It was more delicious than I had imagined and is a perfect balance of sweet and spicy that brings a new life to salmon.

I never attempt to flip fish on an outdoor grill… it just never works out for me. So I forget the showpiece grill lines and take the chance my fish will stay in one piece. Simply close the lid and let it cook skin side down and you will have a perfect piece of salmon.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons minced canned chipotle chilies in adobo
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound salmon, skin on

DIRECTIONS

Bring first 5 ingredients to simmer in heavy small saucepan over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer until glaze is reduced to 3/4 cup, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. (Glaze can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Season the salmon with salt and pepper. Rub some olive oil on the skin to keep it from sticking.

Preheat grill (I prefer outdoor gas grill) over medium heat. When grill is hot reduce flame to medium-low and place salmon on the grill skin side down. Baste salmon with the glaze several times throughout grilling (closing the lid for 2-3 minute intervals). Do not flip the salmon! It will cook through in 8 -10 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish.

Rice Noodle Salad with Shrimp and Vegetables (Bun Tom Xao)

This meal is one I crave often – especially in summer months. My favorite Vietnamese restaurant in Dallas, Vietnam, serves my favorite bun with pork, shrimp and an egg roll chopped up in the bowl of noodles. I like some extra heat so I add 2 Thai bird chilies to the Nuoc Cham (the sauce you pour over the salad).

This is such an easy summer meal that is light and full of great veggies. Give it a try – it’s much easier to prepare than you may think.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled and cleaned
  • 3 tablespoons Asian BBQ sauce (or hoison)
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 8 oz. dried rice vermicelli
  • 2 cups washed and shredded romaine, red, or green leaf lettuce
  • 2 cups fresh, crisp bean sprouts
  • 1-1/2 cups peeled, seeded, and julienned cucumber
  • 1-1/2 cups carrots, julienned
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup roughly chopped or small whole mint leaves
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup roughly chopped or small basil or Thai basil leaves
  • 2 Tbs. chopped roasted peanuts
  • 12 sprigs fresh cilantro
  • Nuoc cham (recipe below)

Nuoc Cham

  • 5 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1/3 cup fish sauce
  • 1/2 cup lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Thai bird chile, seeded and minced

DIRECTIONS

For the Nuoc Cham: Stir all the ingredients in a medium bowl. Set aside until ready to use. The sauce keeps for two weeks in the refrigerator.

For the noodles: Cook the rice noodles for 4 minutes in a large pot of boiling water. Drain in colander and rinse with cold water until noodles are cool. Let drain for 30 minutes. Can be kept at room temperature for up to 2 hours.

For the shrimp: Toss shrimp is bbq sauce and garlic. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in nonstick skillet. Saute over medium high heat for 2 minutes per side.

For the vegetables: Divide the lettuce, bean sprouts, cucumber,carrots, mint, and basil among four large soup or pasta bowls. If working ahead of time, cover each bowl with damp paper towels and refrigerate.

Fluff the noodles with your fingers and divide them among the prepared salad bowls. Put the cooked shrimp on the noodles and garnish each bowl with the peanuts and cilantro. Serve with a side of nuoc cham (about 1/4 cup per serving). For an little extra kick – add a small squeeze of sriracha to the top.

Sole Meuniere

Dover sole isn’t necessarily “from” Dover, but this English fishing port had plenty of it in the 19th century. I guess the name stuck. Sole is buttery, sweet and flaky and this recipe from the Barefoot Contessa is classic and fresh. The sole filets are quite thin, so have the other parts of your meal ready to go as the fish cooks lightning fast.

Why does my lemon zest look orange you may be asking?? I used Meyer lemons AGAIN. I’m addicted to those juicy little fruits.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 fresh sole fillets, 3 to 4 ounces each
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 6 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (3 lemons)
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley or thyme

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Have 2 heat-proof dinner plates ready

Combine the flour, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper in a large shallow plate. Pat the sole fillets dry with paper towels and sprinkle one side with salt.

Heat 3 tablespoons of butter in a large (12-inch) saute pan over medium heat until it starts to brown. Dredge 2 sole fillets in the seasoned flour on both sides and place them in the hot butter. Lower the heat to medium-low and cook for 2 minutes. Turn carefully with a metal spatula and cook for 2 minutes on the other side. While the second side cooks, add 1/2 teaspoon of lemon zest and 3 tablespoons of lemon juice to the pan. Carefully put the fish filets on the ovenproof plates and pour the sauce over them. Keep the cooked fillets warm in the oven while you repeat the process with the remaining 2 fillets. When they’re done, add the cooked fillets to the plates in the oven. Sprinkle with the parsley or thyme, salt, and pepper and serve immediately.

Spotlight Dallas: Restaurant Ava (Seared Scallops with Meyer Lemon and Tarragon)

Well not quite Dallas… but Rockwall is a small trip worth taking for the menu Restaurant Ava so skillfully serves up. Chef Randall Copeland is brilliant and his tenure at Bolsa makes him a shoe in for tastefully putting it on the table.

The choices for the evening: Possibly the best spinach salad I’ve had in ages – the balsamic dressing is killer. Creamy risotto with morels – you want more? How about perfectly seared diver scallops on a bed of creamy potatoes and roasted vegetables?

This was the inspiration behind my seared scallops with my favorite citrus – meyer lemons. Yes, I still have plenty of the beauties in the kitchen and am proud I’ve managed to stay away from making lemon bars.

The meal didn’t end there. The spring pasta (homemade I may add) with lobster and pesto was equally delicious. And lets not forget the finale… the s’more brownie covered in homemade marshmallow and peanut butter ice cream.

The dinner was excellent and the company even better (love it when they like to share). Restaurant Ava is a treat you should indulge in. I loved it all.

INGREDIENTS

DIRECTIONS

Make the vinaigrette, but substitute the herbs de provence with fresh tarragon or basil.

Pat scallops dry with a paper towel and season both sides with salt and pepper. Tip: Moisture can keep the scallops from getting that golden crust, so be sure to not skip this step.

Heat skillet over high heat for 2 minutes. Lower heat to medium and add a drizzle of olive oil or a tablespoon of butter. Add scallops to the pan and DO NOT TOUCH for 2 minutes. When they are ready to be turned they will easily release from the pan. If not – be patient they aren’t ready.

Serve with mixed greens, roasted vegetables and top with the meyer lemon vinaigrette.

 

Shrimp Biryani: Indian Shrimp and Rice

The aromas alone are worth giving this dish a try. When you take your first bite you will be sold.

The flavors are not overpowering. They are subtle with a perfect balance of spice and sweetness from the shrimp and onions.

My friend Catherine of Fish and Veggies recommended this dish and passed on some great advice: put the whole spices in a cheesecloth sachet to avoid biting down on a whole peppercorn or clove.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups jasmine rice
  • 1 pound Shelled and de-veined Shrimp
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/4 bunch cilantro
  • 2 serrano chilis (seeds removed)
  • 1 – 1 inch piece of ginger
  • 4 large cloves of garlic
  • 4 tablespoons oil
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 10 – 12 whole green cardamom pods
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 sprigs mint
  • salt to taste

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Wash the shrimp and drain it well. Add the salt and turmeric and mix. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  3. Peel the ginger and garlic and use a food processor to blend it to a paste with the cilantro and chilis. You can use a little water if it is too dry.
  4. Chop the onion and mint and leave to the side until needed.
  5. Heat the oil on medium in an oven safe dish. Add the peppercorns, cloves, cardamom and 1 bay leaf to a sachet of cheesecloth and tie securely. Add the sachet to the oil with the cinnamon stick and saute until fragrant, approximately 2-3 minutes.
  6. Add the chopped onion and saute until light brown, stirring constantly.
  7. Add 1/2 of the paste and saute for another minute or two.
  8. Add water and salt (1-2 teaspoons depending on taste) and bring to this to a boil.
  9. Add the rice to the boiling water and add the butter and mint. Bring this to a boil, cover and place it in the oven. Bake for 20 minutes.
  10. When the rice has been in the oven for about 10 minutes heat some oil in a saute pan and add the remainder of the paste along with the other bay leaf. Saute this for a minute or two and add the shrimp. Saute the shrimp until done (they should be light pink) about 5 minutes.
  11. Remove the rice from the oven and remove the spice sachet and cinnamon stick. Top it with the shrimp and serve.

Chicken, Shrimp & Chorizo Paella

This was my first time to make real Paella. My dad started making Paella last year and for Christmas I gave him a proper Paella pan, golden saffron and 2 Spanish chorizo links. It was the real deal gift. Then the Paella pan I ordered arrived and it was barely big enough to stir the rice. Oh well – it was still a creative gift for someone who really wants underwear and socks.

A few weeks ago I lucked into the estate sale of my dreams! I scored French crêpe pans, French copper, and ebelskiver pan (thrilled about this find) and a huge Paella pan made in Italy. I passed the pan on to my dad and he invited me up to make Paella last weekend. We didn’t go all out with mussels and seafood – but this Paella was delicious and the true Spanish Chorizo (can be found at Central Market) was incredible and just oozed of orange paprika.

If you don’t have a paella pan – use a nonstick skillet or a wok!

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 chicken breasts, cut into pieces (skin on) and marinated in spice mixture (see below)
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 Spanish chorizo sausages
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/2 Spanish onion, diced
  • 2 ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and finely chopped OR 1 can 14 ounce whole tomatoes crushed by hand
  • 1 red, orange or yellow bell pepper, julienned
  • 2 cups Spanish rice, short to medium grain, like Valencia
  • 1 generous pinch saffron threads
  • 4 1/2 cups warm stock or water
  • 1 pound jumbo shrimp
  • 1/2 cup sweet peas, frozen and thawed
  • Lemon wedges

Spice Mix for chicken:

  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Combine ingredients in a small bowl. Rub the spice mixture all over the chicken; marinate for 1 hour, covered.

DIRECTIONS

Marinate the chicken for 1 hour and remove from refrigerator.

Heat the oil in a paella pan or wide skillet. Brown the chicken on all sides, when nearly cooked through, add the chorizo links and brown.

Remove the chicken and sausage from the pan. Cut the sausages into slices and set aside. Drain out excess oil but don’t clean the pan.

Sauté the garlic, onion, tomatoes and bell peppers. Cook until the mixture caramelizes a bit and the flavors meld. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the rice, stirring to coat the grains.

Add the stock and saffron and simmer for 15-20 minutes, gently moving the pan around so the rice cooks and absorbs evenly. Do not cover or constantly stir like risotto.

Add the shrimp and the reserved chicken and sausage. Simmer, without stirring, until the rice is al dente, about 10 minutes.

Scatter the peas on top and continue to cook until the liquid is absorbed. Allow to rest off the heat for 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with lemon wedges.