Day Boat Scallops with Grapefruit, Marcona Almonds & Brown Butter

This was the second course to my 6-course Friendsgiving party for 3 people.

Serves 3.

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[100% organic, wild caught scallops USA]

  • 1 large grapefruit
  • 9 pieces wild sea scallops
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Neutral oil, as needed
  • ¼ cup Marcona almonds, toasted and chopped
  • Chives, cut, for garnish
  • Mint leaves, cut, for garnish
  • Sunflower sprouts, for garnish

Segment grapefruit into suprêmes (use paring knife to remove peel and slice segments away from pith) over a bowl to catch juices. Squeeze fruit into bowl to extract remaining juice. Using a strainer, separate segments and juice. Set aside both.

Clean scallops by removing abductor muscle from each one. Pat very dry.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season scallops generously with salt and pepper. Add neutral oil to the pan and sear scallops until golden-brown. Flip and add butter to pan. Tilt pan, and spoon butter over scallops as they cook. When scallops look like they just have a raw line in its center, remove quickly.

Allow the butter to continue cooking until browned and nutty, then add reserved grapefruit juice. Pour sauce over scallops. Garnish with almonds, chives, mint leaves, and sunflower sprouts.

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Crispy Soft-Shelled Crab with Three-Grain Risotto & Tiger Shrimp

Yesterday in NYC, it was raining all day. Miserable. Grey. Cold. Rain. It has been spring for the past two weeks and all of a sudden, the polar vortex is back, and winter is coming – again. I was waiting for the rain to stop so that I could go out and buy ingredients for clam chowder but then I thought, clam chowder is so much work and it takes 40 minutes to cook. So I made this instead and it was equally comforting.

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Serves 2.

For the Risotto

  • ½ cup quinoa
  • ½ cup farro
  • ½ cup steel-cut oats
  • 3½ cups stock (I used a blend of fish stock, dashi stock, clam and mussel liquor)
  • Parmesan, as needed
  • ¼ cup strained Greek yogurt
  • 2 TBS chopped parsley
  • 2 TBS chopped chives
  • 12 tiger shrimp, shelled & deveined
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • Lemon wedges
  • Canola oil
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Cook risotto the old fashioned way or put everything (grains and stock, seasonings) into a rice cooker and wait for that beep. I did the latter since it was a miserable, rainy Monday.

When the risotto is done, set aside, and season shrimp with salt and freshly ground black pepper. In a pan, heat some canola oil and sear the shrimp. Once shrimp is almost cooked, add the white wine and cover until alcohol has burned off. Remove lid and fold in risotto. Grate in parmesan to your taste, add yogurt and herbs. Taste for seasoning and adjust with lemon juice. Keep risotto warm while frying crabs.

For the Crab

  • 4 soft-shelled crabs
  • AP flour, as needed
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Oil for frying
  • Lime wedge

Clean crabs by cutting off their face (I know it sounds so mean), pulling off their aprons (butt flap?), and pull the points of their shell back to reveal their gills and remove those on each side.

Heat oil for frying. Season crabs with salt and freshly ground pepper. Then dress crabs in AP flour and tap crabs to remove excess flour. Fry for 3-5 minutes. Remove and place on wire-rack. Squeeze some lime over and lightly season with salt.

For the Finish

  • Arugula
  • Lime wedge
  • Salt
  • Extra virgin olive oil

Toss greens with salt, lime, and EVOO before serving.

TO ASSEMBLE

Spoon risotto into a bowl, place arugula salad in the middle, and top with crispy soft-shelled crab.

Lemon Tart

Since last Thanksgiving, I’ve been making this tart about every two weeks. That’s much more frequently than before when I would just make it once or twice a year. I have definitely been eating a lot more desserts, that is at home or outside in restaurants. I’ve been making a lot more ice-creams too.

Makes 8-inch tart.

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[100% organic]

For Pâte Sablée (Short Bread dough)

  • 150 g butter (softened to room temperature)
  • 90 g powdered sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 255 g cake flour (sifted)
  • 1-2 TBS cold water (optional)
  • Butter, as needed, for tart pan

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Using a rubber spatula or spoon, flatten out butter and powdered sugar. Add yolk one by one and then add sifted cake flour. If you don’t have cake flour, substitute with pastry/AP flour (for every 1 cup of pastry/AP flour, remove 1 TBS of it and add 1 TBS cornstarch). Mix slowly to combine. If dry, add the cold water. Form into a ball and flatten it, wrap with plastic and place in refrigerator until firm.

Butter the tart pan and put in freezer.

In between two sheets of parchment paper/plastic wrap/SilPats, roll dough to 1/16 inch. Carefully place into buttered pan, press into place and roll over the top of the pan to remove excess hanging dough. Using a fork, puncture tart shell with holes. Blind bake with weights for 20 minutes. Remove weights and continue baking until golden.

Reserve shell at room temperature before pouring in the tart filling. Lower oven to 300°F.

For the Tart Filling

  • Pinch of flour
  • Butter, as needed
  • 5 eggs
  • 6 lemons: zested, and 150 g juice
  • 200 g granulated sugar
  • 150 g heavy cream

Zest lemons and mix the juices together. Infuse for as long as possible.

In a bowl, add the eggs and sugar. Whisk until fully incorporated. Add cream, mix lightly and continue to whisk. Stir in lemon juice, zest, and pinch of flour. Skim the foam off. Strain before putting it into the cooled pastry shell.

Bake 25-30 minutes. When removing from oven, the custard should jiggle. Cool on wire rack and serve with fresh berries and whipped cream.

Cockles with Wilted Baby Spinach in a Scallion Thyme Broth

I have the biggest news! My friend told me that there is a freaking seafood market near me, called Dorian’s Seafood Market! It’s just a few blocks away from me and OMG, I went there this morning and I’m so exhilarated! I finally have somewhere to shop for real, fresh seafood. Not like the “plastic” crap they sell at Whole Foods here in NYC. I don’t have to venture to lower Manhattan to Chinatown to get seafood anymore. Plus, the quality of seafood at Dorian’s is much better (and safer) than what gets sold in Chinatown. However, if I want live shrimp and live crab, I’ll still have to get it from Chinatown.

It is 22°C in NYC right now and it’s December 24. I’m thankful that it’s not winter nor snowing because I don’t like that. It’s wonderful, this Xmas Eve.

Serves 1.

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[Cockles farmed from New Zealand]

  • 1 TBS butter
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 4 scallions, sliced thinly
  • 2 lbs cockles
  • ½ cup white wine
  • Handful baby spinach
  • 1 TBS parsley, finely minced
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper

Soak the cockles in salted cold water for 20 minutes.

In a pan, melt the butter and sweat the garlic, thyme, and scallions. Turn the heat to high and add the cockles and white wine. Toss and shake the pan. Close the lid and cook for 7 minutes. Before the cockles are ready, add in the spinach and parsley. Throw away any unopened cockles.

Serve with toasted bread.

Avocado Pasta

Another Sunday has passed, another food party has ended.

Menu:

I wanted to make a simple and quick pasta for Sunday’s dinner party. There were 4 courses, as usual, and this was the third savory before dessert. My dinner parties always end up really late but last night we finished at 10:30pm. Or maybe I’m getting better with time management.

Serves 4.

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[100% organic]

For the Avocado Sauce

  • 2 large ripe Hass avocados, peeled and pitted
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 cup flat-leaf parsley
  • Pinch of salt
  • A few turns of freshly ground black pepper

Blend avocado, lemon juice, garlic cloves, parsley, salt and pepper together in a food processor until smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust seasoning. Set pesto aside in an air-tight container, with cling wrap directly on top to keep air out.

For the Finnish

  • Linguine
  • Pecorino Romano, for grating
  • Candied pecans
  • Sunflower sprouts
  • Olive oil

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and add a few drops of oil to prevent sticking. Cook pasta until al dente.

Drain pasta and sprinkle with olive oil to prevent sticking. Plate pasta and scoop desired amount of sauce onto each plate. Toss to combine. Microplane cheese, add sunflower sprouts, and garnish with candied pecans. Serve immediately.

Korean Fried Chicken

Before coming to New York, I have never had Korean fried chicken. My coworkers introduced me to Boka and after eating their combo wings and drumsticks 2-3 times every week, we migrated to Monomono and then it just stopped because we got sick of it.

When I came back from Hong Kong last month, the following day at Whole Foods, they had a chicken drumstick sale, 30-something drumsticks for $6!! So I bought two packs and finished one pack two weekends ago during my dinner party. I still have one more pack and although I love my signature fried chicken, I don’t want to make it again so soon. However, I have been craving Korean fried chicken and I’ve always wanted to know HOW they made their chicken so crispy!

… The secret is that they fry it TWICE. DUH! I could have figured that out! You fry French fries twice! Why wouldn’t you do that for chicken?!?!? So I spent yesterday reducing my would-have-been marinating liquid into a glaze-ish-sauce and brining the chicken. I found that the Korean fried chicken in the restaurants were bland under the crispy crust.

I wasn’t sure if this was going to work because it can’t be THAT easy? And you know what, it was THAT easy!!!!

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[100% organic]

For the Brine

  • 8 cups water
  • 1 cup salt

Bring the solution up to a boil and cool to room temperature.

For the Chicken

  • 20-30 chicken drumsticks
  • 1 cup AP flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 TBS cornstarch
  • Fryer oil

Brine the chicken for at least 2 hours, no more than 4 hours in the refrigerator. Drain chicken and place on paper towels.

Whisk flour, water, and cornstarch together and make a slurry. Add a little more water if mixture is paste-like. Coat chicken in slurry and fry in oil 350°F for 8 minutes. Remove from fryer and wait for oil to reach 350°F again. Fry for the second time for another 8 minutes. Drain on a wire rack or on paper towels.

Brush glaze/sauce on chicken or season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Chocolate Mochi Cake

I was looking through my pantry and I saw that I had some mochi flour… so I made this!!!

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[100% organic]

  • 2 cups mochi flour
  • 1½ cups white sugar
  • 1 TBS baking soda
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 24 oz. evaporated milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp mint extract
  • 2 eggs, beaten

Preheat oven to 350°F. Sift mochi flour, sugar, and baking soda in a large bowl.

Melt the butter and chocolate chips together and combine with evaporated milk, vanilla and mint extracts, and beaten eggs. Mix well and stir dry ingredients until it becomes a smooth batter.

Pour into a large buttered pan. Bake in oven for 50-55 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes and serve with whipped cream and fresh fruit.

*Adapted from Use Real Butter.