Baby Octopus, Soft-Shelled Crab, and Wild White Shrimp in Red Curry

It’s been a really long time since I last made Thai red curry at home. I wanted something quick to reheat for lunch with less fuss. The seafood for this initial dish is quite fussy but mainly because my kitchen is so small. For lunch reheats, I’m just going to cook the number of shrimp I would like to eat in the portioned curry plus some vegetables.

[Makes 2 quarts]

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For the Curry

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2-inch ginger, sliced into thin planks
  • 2 shallots, sliced thinly
  • ½ cup red curry paste
  • 1 TBS fish sauce
  • 2 TBS brown sugar
  • ½ cup dashi broth
  • Three 14 oz. cans coconut milk
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • Olive oil

In a large pan, coat the bottom of it with olive oil on low-medium heat. Sweat the shallots. Then stir in the minced garlic and ginger, and cook for 30 seconds or until aromatic.

Add the curry paste, fish sauce, brown sugar, and mix well to coat completely. Shake the cans of coconut milk before opening and pour into the pan with the dashi broth and lime juice. Increase heat to medium, and bring the curry to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Adjust seasoning for taste. Pour through a mesh strainer and into a clean pot.

TO ASSEMBLE

Arrange whatever seafood (or protein or tofu) you want into a bowl, add in vegetables (I used bok choy and cucumber), pour the curry into the bowl, garnish with sliced jalapeño, cilantro, and Thai basil. Serve with jasmine rice.

Grilled Shrimp in Thai Curry Peanut Sauce with Cilantro and Lime

I held a rooftop party yesterday and this was one of the things on the menu. I’m amazed at how well the sauce came out. It was so good that I was drinking it.

Yields 1 quart sauce.

shrimp[100% organic, shrimp from Thailand]

For the Shrimp

  • 1 lb shrimp, peeled with tail intact, deveined
  • ½ cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ TBS ground tumeric
  • ½ TBS fish sauce
  • 1 tsp red curry paste
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • ¼ tsp dried ginger

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except for the shrimp and mix well. Stir the shrimp in, cover, and marinate overnight in the refrigerator.

Grill/sauté/bake the shrimp until cooked through then skewer shrimp.

For the Peanut Sauce

  • 3 cups unsweetened coconut milk
  • 2 TBS Thai red curry paste
  • ½ cup (fresh) peanut paste
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 2 TBS soy sauce
  • 1 TBS fish sauce
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 2 TBS brown sugar

Heat the coconut milk in a pot over medium heat. Add the red curry and whisk thoroughly to blend the paste into the milk. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes.

Take the pot off the heat, and let the sauce cool down to room temperature (or slightly warmer), and serve the sauce with the grilled shrimp.

For the Garnish

  • Fresh cilantro, picked
  • Roasted peanuts
  • Sprouts (not pictured)
  • Lime wedges

TO ASSEMBLE

Add the peanut sauce to the bottom of whatever you are using to serve, sprinkle and arrange the garnish ingredients. Place the shrimp skewer in the cup/glass and serve.

Seafood Medley with Seared Coconut Risotto Cake

This was the third course to my 6-course New Year’s Day Dinner party for 8 people.

I love sauce making. Love it! And this sauce was particularly “TO DIE FOR!”

I wasn’t entirely happy with the plating because by this time, it was getting late and the pick-up time for this dish was already taking a long time. I was hungry and I was sure my friends were too. I wished I had planned out the plating for this dish more.

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For the Risotto Cake

  • 2 shallots, finely diced
  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 1½ cup Arborio rice
  • ¾ cup dry white wine
  • 4 cups dashi stock, or as needed
  • One 13.5 oz. can unsweetened coconut milk
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper

In a pan on medium-low heat, heat the olive oil. Sweat the shallots until translucent. Stir in the rice and make sure the oil fully coats the rice. Cook until the ends of the rice are transparent, stirring often, about 2 minutes. Then add in the wine and cook until completely absorbed and the alcohol has evaporated.

Add 1 cup of the hot stock mixture and simmer, stirring frequently, until all the liquid has been absorbed and the bottom of the pan is almost dry. Adding ½ cup stock at a time, stir until almost all the liquid has been absorbed between each addition. Be careful not to let the bottom of the pan dry out. Continue to stir often, and repeat until the rice is almost al dente. Add in coconut milk and continue cooking until rice is done and mixture if fairly dry.

Season the risotto and pour out onto a half-sheet pan and refrigerate until thoroughly cooled.

For the Seafood Medley

  • 2 lbs shrimp, with head and shells
  • 16 scallops
  • 2 lbs mussels, cleaned and beards removed
  • 1 TBS butter
  • 3 shallots, finely diced
  • 2 parsley sprigs
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • Canola oil
  • Salt & pepper

Remove heads and shell shrimp. Peel shrimp until the last segment of the tail and the tail itself. Place heads and shells in a bowl, set aside. Devein shrimp and set aside, either over ice or back in the refrigerator.

Get a pan very hot and throw in mussels, butter, shallots, parsley, and bay leaf. Cover the pan with a lid and shake the pan over the heat vigorously. Add in white wine and simmer until mussels open up, 3-4 minutes. Season lightly with salt. Mussels will be halfway cooked. You’ll finish cooking the mussels when the sauce is ready.

Strain the mussel liquor and set aside. Remove each mussel from its shell and set aside, either over ice or in the refrigerator. Discard shells, unless you want to plate mussels in their shells.

For the Shrimp/Mussel Sauce

  • Reserved shrimp heads and shells, from above
  • 3 carrots
  • 2 onions
  • 3 celery stalks
  • 3 TBS brandy
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 2 TBS tomato paste
  • 1 garlic head, cut horizontally
  • 2 tarragon sprigs
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 TBS black peppercorns
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 7 oz. diced tomatoes
  • Reserved mussel jus
  • Canola oil
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper

In a Dutch oven or very large pot, heat canola oil until smoking hot. Add in shrimp heads and shells and develop a deep orange color, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Then sauté mirepoix (carrots, onions, celery) until there is some color. Add in tomato paste and cook it thoroughly. Flambé with brandy then deglaze with white wine.

Add in diced tomatoes, garlic head, tarragon, bay leaves, peppercorns, and thyme, along with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil then simmer for 1 hour. Strain and discard solids. Continue to reduce and reduce until you have around 2 cups of sauce. Add in reserved mussel jus and taste for seasoning. Adjust for seasoning and set aside, keep warm.

For the Finish

  • Risotto
  • Reserved mussels
  • 16 scallops
  • Reserved shrimp, deveined
  • AP flour, as needed
  • Butter, as needed
  • Tarragon, as needed, finely chopped
  • Parsley, as needed, finely chopped
  • Canola oil
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper
  • Lemon wedges

When the risotto has cooled and solidified, punch out eight 2-inch risotto rounds. Brown/sear the risotto round on both sides in a non-stick pan and transfer to a tray. Flash in a 500°F oven before plating.

Make a beurre manié and add it to the sauce until you are satisfied with the consistency. The sauce shouldn’t be too thick. I added just a small pinch of beurre manié. Add mussels to sauce and keep sauce on simmering-heat. As you sear the rest of the seafood, the mussels will be done.

Sear both shrimp and scallops, separately, with salt and pepper. Squeeze some lemon juice over cooked shrimp and scallop, keep warm and set aside.

TO ASSEMBLE

Place risotto cake in the center of the plate. Arrange 2 scallops and shrimp (4-6 pieces) around. Top with spoonful of sauce and mussels. Sprinkle freshly chopped tarragon and parsley over everything and serve immediately.

Seared Tuna over a Bed of Cucumber with Pickled Peanuts

This was the second course to my 2012 Thanksgiving dinner.

I could eat this non-stop and never get tired of it. I made the dressing and let it macerate overnight and it became very spicy actually – from ONE Thai chili pepper!!

[100% organic, wild tuna]

For the Peanut Pickle

  • ¼ cup sherry vinegar
  • ¼ cup rice wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • ½ cup peanuts

In a pot, bring all the ingredients to a boil and take off heat. Let it steep at room temperature, until cool. Then place in refrigerator.

*Chef Jasmine Shimoda’s recipe.

For the Dressing

  • 4 limes, juiced
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 Thai chili, thinly sliced
  • 1 Kaffir lime leaf, thinly sliced
  • 2 TBS baby lemongrass, finely minced
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 TBS sesame oil

Mix everything together, infuse for 30 minutes, and set aside.

For the Tuna

  • ½ lb tuna
  • Salt & pepper

Season tuna with salt and pepper then sear for 10 seconds on each side.

For the Finish

  • ¼ cup cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 cucumber

Peel the cucumber and using a mandolin, slice into ⅛-inch rounds.

TO ASSEMBLE

Cut the tuna into cubes/rectangles and put them onto the cucumber slices. Drizzle some dressing over tuna, top with pickled peanuts and chopped cilantro. Serve immediately.

Thai Corn Chowder

I’m in garde manger, and level 5 has a corn chowder on their menu. My group sneaked a few ladles of it because it is so delicious!!!! It tasted like pure “heart attack” – reduced cream and sweet corn. I thought the soup was odd for the current season. If I was dining at L’Ecole on a hot humid day, I would not want hot creamy soup as my appetizer. Even in the kitchen, we were taking sips of it and then mouthfuls of ice cold water because it’s so hot in the kitchen. For the first two days, I was working on the lobster dish, which is a cold dish. I wasn’t even near the stove yet my legs were trickling with sweat! Nahhhh-stayyy!!

I was going to make an exact replica of the corn bisque from school but it’s so unhealthy. There was bacon grease, reduced cream, and lots and lots of butter!!! I like Thai influences so I came up with this. And it tasted BETTER; better in my opinion since it’s healthier!!!! No butter. No cream. No milk.

[100% organic]

For the Chowder

  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 ears corn, shucked and cores reserved (broken in half)
  • 2 Idaho potatoes, chopped into small squares
  • 4 celery stalks, sliced
  • 1 leek, white part only, thinly sliced
  • 2 TBS Ginger, grated
  • 6 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 lime, juiced and zested with a peeler
  • Bouquet garni – 8 black peppercorns, Thai basil, cilantro stems, lemongrass
    stalk (smashed & cut into thirds), lime zest
  • One 13.5 oz. can coconut milk
  • EVOO
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper

In a large pot/pan, heat extra virgin olive oil over low heat and then sweat onions until translucent. Add smashed garlic, ginger,  and leek whites and continue to sweat until soft. Season gently. Add in the celery, potato, corn cores, bouquet garni, and enough water to cover halfway. Bring to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes.

Then add in corn kernels and lime juice to pot and continue simmering for another 10 minutes. Remove cores and add in coconut milk until boiling. Season with salt and pepper. Stir until simmering. Remove from the heat and strain and then blend with an immersion or regular blender.

For the Finnish

  • 4 radishes, thinly sliced
  • Cilantro leaves, garnish

Taste and adjust seasoning. Garnish with radishes and cilantro leaves. Soup can be either hot or cold to serve.

Shiso wrapped Hamachi with Coconut Paste, Lotus Root, Toasted Nori & Yuzu-Sake Sauce

The first day of level 6, May 17, it was my night being at the entremetier station again. Level 5 gave us the freedom to design a vegetarian entrée, and in level 6, we have to come up with a canapé/amuse bouche for service, part of the first of a 5-course dinner. To maximize product usage and cut down on waste, canapés/amuse bouche are made with scraps, trimmings, and leftovers in the kitchen.

We were given three meats: pulled duck leg, pulled chicken leg, and marinated hamachi. No was else jumped at the task so I was more than happy that I got to do it on the first day. Being aware of the previous class and how much time they got, I was only given a limited time to plan, prep, make, and plate all the canapés: 40 minutes. That’s not a lot of time but at the end, I pulled it off, along with some assistance towards the end. I just grabbed whatever I could get my hands on.

Originally, my idea was to wrap the hamachi with the shiso leaf along with a 1-inch stripe of coconut milk paste and one line of julienned Thai chili peppers, served with the yuzu-sake sauce and garnished with a julienned red bell pepper. However, when I made my three testing spoons, the chef instructors didn’t like how it was “spicy”. It tasted good they said but to start off a heavy multi-course dinner with something so “spicy” doesn’t do well for the stomach. The production chef told me that for any other event, such as a pool party or somewhere serving cocktails, the spiciness would have been perfect. Personally, I didn’t think the peppers were that spicy but that’s because I eat spicier foods.

So here’s the final product from school:

Shiso wrapped Hamachi with Coconut Paste & Yuzu-Sake Sauce, Julienned Red Bell Pepper

I didn’t bring my camera that night so I don’t really like the photos that I took at school with my iPhone. I decided to redo it with the stuff I had at home. I didn’t have any bell peppers lying around but I had lotus root (for the crunch texture) and toasted nori sheets. At home, I have just ponzu by itself but if you don’t have an array of Asian ingredients in your pantry, you can just buy ponzu sauce which is the yellowy yuzu mixed with soy sauce.

[100% organic, farmed yellowtail hamachi]

For the Marinade

  • 3 oz. hamachi fillet
  • 1-inch ginger, grated
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • ¼ cup ponzu
  • ¼ sake
  • 1 lime, juiced

Mix all ingredients and marinade for 20-30 minutes at room temperature.

For the Sauce

  • 2 TBS soy sauce
  • ¼ cup ponzu
  • ¼ sake
  • ¼ lime wedge, juiced

Mix and set aside.

For the Finish

  • Half a 13.5 oz. can coconut milk
  • Equal mixture of 2 TBS cornstarch and water
  • 2-3 TBS powdered sugar
  • Shiso leaves, stem removed
  • 1 red Thai chili pepper, julienned
  • 1-inch small lotus root
  • Toasted nori strips

In a small pot, bring the coconut milk to a simmer and whisk in powdered sugar. Depending on how sweet you like your coconut milk, add the full 3 TBS of powdered sugar. Once the coconut milk is to your desired sweetness, slowly add in the cornstarch mixture and continue whisking to remove lumps in the coconut paste. It is not necessary to use all the cornstarch mixture, just until it comes together and is less fluid-like. Immediately place in an ice bath to cool down.

For the lotus root, peel and then slice thinly with a mandolin. Make sure to place shaved lotus root in a bowl with water and a splash of vinegar. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the lotus root for a couple of minutes. Drain and cool in an ice bath, drain again. Cut each lotus root slice in half so that it fits into the Chinese spoon.

TO ASSEMBLE

Drain fish from marinade and cut into ½-inch strips.

The wrapping is like making sushi: place the shiso leaf with the presentation side down, landscape oriented. Brush/spoon with coconut paste along the center (on the stem). Line with one hamachi strip and 1-2 julienned chili peppers. Roll from bottom to top edge and using a very sharp knife, slice off ugly ends and then in half.

Place halved lotus root slice onto spoon, place hamachi shiso sushi on top. Spoon ½-1 tsp of the sauce and garnish with toasted nori strips.

Mango with Coconut Sticky Rice Sushi

Tonight was my last night in pâtissier for level 5; I’m going to miss pastries and Chef Anna! I can’t wait for level 6 and I hope she’s there and not on holiday!

Chef Anna liked tonight’s special a lot – she also took a photo and she’s going to post it on her blog! We are in agreement that desserts shouldn’t be sickeningly sweet so we see a lot of things eye-to-eye. Chef Anna also liked my chocolate pudding from last time and the chocolate diamond petite four I did on the first day.

I had something similar to this in Manji/Honeymoon Dessert – a dessert chain in Hong Kong. This LOOKS good and it also TASTES good.

At school, they didn’t have glutinous rice nor sushi rice so I asked for Arborio rice. It worked out great but I bet if this was made with the correct rice, it would have naturally tasted sweeter.

For the Sushi

  • 2 cups glutinous rice
  • One 14 oz. cans coconut milk (not lite!)
  • ¾ cup cane sugar
  • Salt
  • 3 firm mangoes
  • 1 ripe mango
  • 1 avocado
  • Black sesame seeds

In a large saucepan, cook the rice with the coconut milk and enough water to cover everything. Simmer at medium heat and keep on adding cold water until rice is soft and cooked. Add a pinch of salt and mix well. Fold in the sugar and mix well. Rice should be just a little sweet. Before making sushi, rice should be cold.

Using a mandolin, slice firm mangoes very thinly. Do not waste any of the trimmings because those come in handy when you make a boo boo.

For the ripe mango, cut them into square strips (just like regular sushi) and do the same with the avocado.

The firm mango slices act like the nori/seaweed. Place sliced mangoes flat on a sushi mat or parchment paper. Each slice should overlap the previous one. Spread the cold rice into a thin layer over the mango slices, leaving an inch of space on the top. Place avocado and ripe mango pieces along the length of the rice an inch away from the bottom. Carefully roll and sushi and keep cold until ready to serve.

For the Dipping Sauce

  • One 14 oz. cans coconut milk (not lite!)
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 lime, juiced & zested

In a bowl, whisk the powdered sugar, lime juice, lime zest, and one can of coconut milk until combined and homogeneous.

TO ASSEMBLE

Using the scraps and trimmings of mango, take 3-4 pieces and fold them on top of each other. In a small cup, pour in the dipping sauce. Slice mango sushi and sprinkle black sesame seeds in a thin line and plate according to your liking.