seafood

My wife and I just returned from a short jaunt through Central America, celebrating 10 years of marriage. We never went on a honeymoon back in 2007, since our wedding was right in the middle of my health issues and I was in no shape to travel at the time. We had a great time visiting Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Costa Rica, our first time visiting the region (I shared some photos on my Instagram page, if you’re interested).

I didn’t get a chance to develop a new recipe for you this week–too much beach time, and maybe too many sips of rum. To compensate, I’m pulling an old favorite from my debut cookbook, The Ancestral Table. To this day, Pesce al Sale is one of my favorite dishes to show people when I’m asked which recipe from the book they should prepare first. From the pages of the book:

This Italian favorite is the perfect date-night dish; in just a few steps you can have a perfectly cooked fish that’s a novelty to reveal to your dinner companion. It remains a common way of cooking fish in Sicily. Be sure to crack the crust and serve the fish directly on the serving table for the most impressive results. Honestly, I think it’s just as fun to put the salt on fish as it is to take it off.

Read Full Article

Moqueca is a fitting representation of Brazil’s diverse culinary background. There are several variations of this dish today, but Moqueca Baiana, from the Northeast state of Bahia, is one of the most interesting reflection of the traditions embedded in Brazilian cuisine.

Originally a seafood stew prepared by the native people of Brazil, Moqueca has taken on a new form over the past few hundred years. Some signature flavors of today’s Moqueca Baiana recipe include coconut milk, first introduced by Portuguese colonists who planted coconut trees as they removed other trees for wood, and palm oil, brought over by African slaves as part of the sugarcane trade.

Although palm oil contains some health benefits, there are ecological concerns with its production. I prefer to use Nutiva palm oil, which is certified organic and fair trade, and they ensure that no deforestation or habitat destruction results from the growing and harvesting processes. We also pop our popcorn in this oil, which gives it a rich, buttery flavor.

Read Full Article

I’m relatively new to the sous vide world, but it’s something that has always intrigued me. Sous-vide cooking involves placing food items in a sealed plastic bag and immersing the bag in a water bath for an extended time, set at a specific temperature, to evenly cook the food. This method was first popularized in the 1960s, as a method of cooking foie gras (fattened goose liver) to the desired temperature without losing any liquid in the process. It’s become very popular over the past 10 years; in fact, the barbacoa, steak, and carnitas served at Chipotle are all prepared using the sous vide method in a central location before being shipped to their restaurants.

It sounds daunting to dive into a new cooking method, especially one that has precise temperature and time requirements, but more tools are coming to market to make sous vide a breeze. Case in point is the Oliso Induction Smart Hub, which the company recently sent me to try. This device comes in two parts: an induction cooktop, which heats food efficiently (and super quickly) using magnetic induction, and the sous vide Smart Top, which sets atop the induction cooktop. I like this concept since the induction cooktop can be used in a variety of ways, independent of the sous vide oven; I use it to rapidly boil water without heating up the whole house, or to fry up a couple eggs in just a few seconds.

There’s a whole world to sous vide, with all sorts of charts and graphs (or as one of my favorite bands–Grandaddy–would say, “Chartsengrafs“), but I wanted to present a simple recipe to help folks dip their toes into this new adventure. Salmon is an ideal choice, since it’s very easy to tell when fish has been improperly cooked, and this method guarantees perfect texture every time.

Read Full Article

Nakji Jeongol (낙지전골) is a Korean octopus stew that deserves a bit of primer, since the world of Korean soups and stews can be pretty intimidating. In Korea, most meals are accompanied with some form of soup, categorized into two main categories: soups like guk or tang, and stews like jjigae or jeongol.

Soups are typically thin, simple, and simmered for extended periods. In general, guk are meatless, and a little watery; last year I posted a recipe for the popular Gul Guk (Oyster Soup). Tang are, you guess it, made with meat (a favorite of mine, Gamjatang, is made with pork neck and potatoes – it appears in my first cookbook, The Ancestral Table).

Stews are more ornate, adorned with fresh vegetables, and served in large, family-style dishes. Jjigae are typically made with a single defining ingredient; Kimchi Jjigae and Sundubu Jjigae, the latter made with curdled tofu, are the most popular. Jeongol contain a variety of ingredients, and are a little more elaborate; historically, jeongol were served for members of the royal court, while jjigae were for commoners.

Today’s Nakji Jeongol has a fair amount of add-ins, but the basic recipe is very simple: marinate the octopus, prepare the soup base, throw it all together. There is no single set of add-ins, so feel free to throw in whatever you have available to you (for example, I used cilantro because the more traditional herb, perilla, is hard to find where I live). Frozen packages of pre-cleaned octopus can be found in most Asian markets, or you can get some fresh (and likely cleaned, but here’s a quick video if needed) from your local fishmonger.

One fairly uncommon ingredient in the soup base is doenjang, which is the Korean version of miso paste; if you’re not able to find it locally, it is sold online, or red miso paste will work in a pinch. If you’re curious as to my thoughts on fermented soy, here is something I wrote earlier this year (spoiler alert: I think fermented soy is fine).

Read Full Article

I’m really starting to find beauty in simple meals. Like I mentioned a few weeks ago when sharing my recipe for three-ingredient Spaghetti Squash Bolognese Boats, I’ve had less time in the kitchen than usual (new babies will do that). It’s always tempting to reach for a takeout menu, but I’ve been determined to simply find quicker solutions for dinners. For example, I’ve been making a lot of pressure-cooker risotto, since it reheats well for lunches throughout the week.

This week’s recipe is similar in its approach – it contains just a few ingredients, and comes together in minutes. It’s a popular preparation in Hawaii, found on many restaurant menus. But to be honest, once I figured out how easy it is to prepare at home, I’ve had a hard time shelling out money to let someone else make it for me.

Furikake is a Japanese rice seasoning typically made with dried fish, sesame seeds, and seaweed. It was initially distributed in the early 1900s under the name Gohan No Tomo (“A friend for rice”) as a possible source of calcium (early recipes used ground fish bones). At first, the seasoning was too pricey for everyday eaters, but by 1948 it was commercially produced by Nissin foods (most famous for their Top Ramen), to help combat malnutrition in the Japanese population.

Read Full Article

One of my favorite parts of moving to the South last year is that I can now dive head-first into a new food culture. For example, take today’s New Orleans-Style Barbecue Shrimp. A local friend asked me if I had tried “BBQ Shrimp” yet; I immediately thought of shrimp doused in smokey-sweet KC-style barbecue sauce, which sounded a bit weird (but not altogether terrible, honestly). My friend then explained that BBQ Shrimp here in the South is not like your typical barbecue experience. Instead, it’s a crispy shrimp dish flavored with hot sauce, butter, and rosemary, typically served as an appetizer.

Barbecue Shrimp was first popularized by Pascal’s Manale Restaurant in New Orleans during the 1950s. This dish has an “old timey” feel to it today, mostly because of its liberal use of Worcestershire sauce (made famous by Lea & Perrins back in the 1830s). The end result is a little tangy, a bit spicy, and very robust in flavor. One thing I really appreciate about this dish is that it lets the shrimp take center stage. Moreover, it’s relatively cheap to throw together once you get your hands on some high-quality shrimp (especially when you consider the fact that this dish will set you back $26 at the original restaurant!). Head-on shrimp is traditionally used, but I won’t tell on you if you use shelled shrimp.

Read Full Article

About this time last year, I posted a Blue Crab and Chipotle Tabasco Bisque that quickly because one of my most-cooked soups (and this is coming from a guy who cooks a lot of soup). I’ve been playing around with the formula a bit, to the point where I felt it was appropriate to post another one using shellfish (and that Shellfish Stock recipe from last week).

Quick reminder – I am giving away eight $25 Costco gift cards, and the giveaway ends on Thursday, so jump on it if you haven’t already.

And now for the big news: I found out that my cookbook, Paleo Takeout, made it onto the New York Times best seller list for July! How cool is that? Now I need to go through all of my social media profiles and add my new title to everything. I’m super excited and tremendously thankful for the support I’ve received in getting this book off the ground and into people’s hands. And to think, less than six months ago I planned on releasing it as an eBook because I didn’t think it would have a large audience – thank you for your readership and enthusiasm, which convinced me to release it as a hard copy book! Okay, enough gushing, let’s make some food.

Read Full Article

Poke is a raw fish salad from Hawaii, most famously made with yellowfin tuna (“Ahi”). The word “Pokē” itself is a Hawaiian verb that means to slice or cut. It’s not unlike other raw fish dishes worldwide (fish tartare, carpaccio, and sashimi, for example), but it holds a special place in my heart, having lived in Hawaii for most of my 20s.

Originally made with sea salt and seaweed, foreign ingredients like soy sauce, ginger, onion, and tomato were added later when other cultures brought their cuisines (and ingredients) to the islands. Poke as we know it today – with a base of fish cubes, soy sauce, onion, and salt – became popular in the 1970s when it started to appear in local cookbooks, and has been growing in popularity ever since.

For those of you who haven’t picked up Paleo Takeout yet, or are thinking of gifting it, now’s the perfect time to grab it – the book is currently down to $18.13 on Amazon right now, which is 48% off its $35 cover price! Amazon is having some trouble keeping the book in stock, so if you want it even sooner, both Costco and BJs superstores are carrying the book at a deep discount, too (less than $22 each). For my international readers, keep in mind that Book Depository ships worldwide for free, and their current price isn’t bad either ($26.56)!

Read Full Article

At long last, Paleo Takeout has arrived! To celebrate, I’d like to share one of my favorite recipes from the book. This “Bam Bam Shrimp” recipe is inspired by a certain shrimp dish found in a couple different chain restaurants across the United States.

One cool fact – when coming up with a title for the recipe (one that reminded readers of the original dish without infringing any copyright!), I was stumped. So I posed the question to the Paleo Takeout Facebook group and after a lot of great feedback, we decided on the term “Bam Bam Shrimp”, since it got the point across and had a bit of a Paleolithic (in other words, Flinstones) feel to it. Other frontrunners included Bazinga Shrimp, Dynamite Shrimp, and Whiz Bang Shrimp.

I want to take a second and thank everyone for your continued support, enthusiasm, and readership. Paleo Takeout began as a whim, then an eBook, and now it’s finally here as a full-scale print book, and easily the most challenging (and rewarding) project I’ve ever undertaken. The book is now available online and in stores, wherever books are sold. If you’re an international reader, please note that Book Depository ships worldwide for free.

Read Full Article

Last month I had the opportunity to visit Avery Island, Louisiana, the home of Tabasco. Each year the company selects a group of bloggers to visit their island (which is actually a salt dome surrounded by bayou). In turn, the bloggers are asked to write about their experience and create some recipes using Tabasco sauces. Since I was probably going to make some recipes using Tabasco this year anyway, it was an easy decision to join the event.

I’ve always valued Tabasco sauces for their short ingredients list (the original red pepper sauce contains just three ingredients – peppers, vinegar, and salt), and their ability to add a complex flavor to any dish; I feel that acidity is a tragically underutilized dynamic in most kitchens, and Tabasco has acidity in spades. But until this trip I never realized how much care Tabasco puts into each bottle, which you’ll see in my pictures below the recipe. But first, the food.

It’s coming into flounder season here in Florida, and it is easy to find in my area right now. The fish are caught using a spear (called a “gig”), typically at night, much in the same way that frogs are traditionally caught. A favorite preparation for flounder is to simply pan-fry them in Cajun seasoning (often used interchangeably with the term “blackening seasoning”); since I was already making the seasoning from scratch, I figured this is also an opportunity to incorporate it into one of my other favorite dishes from this area, Étouffée.

Étouffée translates to “smothered” from French, which indicates that the main ingredient (often crawfish, but in this case, shrimp) is smothered in a thick sauce of broth and vegetables. Might as well add some bacon to it for good measure, because bacon.

Read Full Article