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.


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.


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.


Squid Ink Risotto with Seared Sea Scallops, Calamari & Cherrystone Clams, Pistachio Cilantro Quenelle, and a Saffron Dashi Velouté

This dish totally didn’t turn out the way that I had planned but as Tim Gunn says on Project Runway, “Make it work!” I made it work.

My original plan failed because of my crappy food processor. I’m still using the same one when I was back in Texas. It’s so small and the plastic pieces keep on breaking and the speed is quite weak… I also wanted calamari tentacles but at Whole Foods, they only had the tubes. Anyway, the final product was quite delicious.

[100% organic, wild sea scallops, calamari from Thailand, clams from USA]

For the Risotto

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • ¼ cup Arborio rice
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • 2 TBS butter
  • 6 cups dashi stock
  • 2 TBS squid ink
  • ¼ cup parmesan, freshly grated
  • Salt & pepper

Heat up the stock and keep simmering at low heat. In a pan on medium-low heat, melt the butter and heat up the olive oil. Sweat the garlic and shallots and sweat until translucent. Stir in the rice and make sure the butter and 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 al dente, about 20-30 minutes. Before adding the last addition of stock, stir in the squid ink.

When risotto is done, season with salt and pepper. Then fold in the grated cheese and combine well. Adjust seasoning and keep warm.

For the Pistachio Cilantro Quenelles

  • ¼ cup pistachios
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves, and extra for ganish
  • 2 TBS miso
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • Salt & pepper

The miso already has a lot of salt in it so be mindful of when you season. Put everything into the food processor and blend until desired consistency. Remove and set aside.

For the Calamari

  • 3 calamari tubes
  • Canola oil
  • Salt & pepper

Slice the tubes into rings. Sauté the calamari for 1-2 minutes and season with salt and pepper. Drain from pan and keep warm.

For the Clams & Velouté

  • 2 cups dashi stock
  • Pinch saffron threads
  • 4 Cherrystone clams
  • 2 TBS butter
  • 2 TBS AP flour
  • Salt

If you have remaining dashi stock from the risotto, add that to the 2 cups for the velouté. Place the saffron into warm dashi stock and let it infuse for 15 minutes. Season lightly with salt. Add in the clams and bring to a slow simmer. Once the clams have fully opened, they are ready.

Remove clams from shells and keep warm. Strain dashi through a strainer lined with cheesecloth and into another pot. Slowly whisk in the butter and flour, to make the roux, and once sauce as thickened, adjust for seasoning and keep warm.

For the Scallops

  • 4 colossal sea scallops
  • Canola oil
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper

Heat a pan over high heat and add in enough canola oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Before you add in the scallops, you should see the tiniest bit of smoke. Season scallops with salt and pepper. Once you put the scallops into the pan, DO NOT MOVE THEM and turn heat to medium. Cook scallops for 2-3 minutes on each side, depending on how big your scallops are.


In a ring mold, pack the risotto. Top with the calamari rings and clams. Place scallops on the plate, drizzle velouté over scallops and top of risotto and calamari. Using two spoons, make quenelles from the pistachio cilantro mixture.

Duck with Sweet & Sour Cherry Sauce and Potato Beet Salad

I love eating duck. It’s one of those meats that you have to cook right. In school, during level 6, I didn’t like cooking this dish because it originally had veal stock in it. Since I’m allergic to beef/veal, I couldn’t eat it. I could only nibble the ends of each breast. I remember storing all the ends in a quart container and then I devoured them after class. When you’re in saucier, you don’t have time to get family meal (on Thursdays and Saturdays).

When I was going grocery shopping for my ingredients, my family friends kept on asking where I would buy duck. WHOLE FOODS!!! WHOLE FOODS HAS EVERYTHING!!! That’s my answer to everything! *Ok, Whole Foods didn’t have the mixed colored fingerling potatoes that day so I had to substitute with regular fingerling potatoes.

I scaled down the recipe for the yield of one duck; one duck serves 4 portions. I made four times this recipe for the dinner party that I had yesterday.

[100% organic]

For the Duck

  • 1 Peking duckling
  • Duck bones from the duck
  • Canola oil, as needed
  • ½ onion, chopped roughly
  • ½ large carrot, chopped roughly
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped roughly
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • Bouquet garni in cheesecloth
  • Mushroom trims, if available (I used the trims from the stuffed eggs)
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 375-400°F.

Butcher and quarter the duck. Manchonner the legs and score the breasts. Cut away as much fat as possible. Breakdown the carcass. Place scored breasts into the fridge.

In a large pan, sauté bones until golden brown; add onions, carrots, celery, and garlic. Continue sautéing on medium heat. *If using more than one duck, brown bones in the oven at 450°F.

In a saucepan, bring chicken stock to a boil.

In a separate pan, heat some oil. Season duck legs with salt and pepper, then sear in hot pan, to develop some color. Turn heat for duck legs down to medium and let it render out some fat. You only need to sear and cook the skin-side of the duck legs. The skin of the duck legs should be a golden brown color before going onto the next step.

Transfer legs, skin side up, on top of bones and vegetables. Add enough hot chicken stock to cover duck three-quarters of the way up. Add the bouquet garni, mushroom trimmings, cover with lid or aluminum foil and braise the legs until tender, about an hour. Make sure the stock is bubbling/boiling before you put it into the oven.

When legs are done, remove from oven and let it cool slightly. Strain braising liquid and reserve 1qt for the sauce. Reserve duck legs in remaining liquid and keep warm.

For the Sauce

  • 3 TBS butter
  • 2 large shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1¼ cups dried sour cherries
  • 1 cup fresh cherries, pitted
  • ¾ cup honey
  • 1 cup red verjus or red wine
  • 5 cups duck braising liquid
  • Bouquet garni
  • Salt & pepper

Caramelize the honey. When the honey is bubbling and golden, add the verjus to it. Add in chopped shallots and crushed garlic. Reduce until syrupy then add in the hot duck braising liquid. Add a loose bouquet garni and the dried sour cherries, and reduce by two-thirds. Strain through a fine sieve. Taste and adjust seasoning. Add the fresh cherries and continue to reduce, on low-medium heat, until there is some body to the sauce. If sauce is not thickening, add some beurre manié. Keep warm until ready to serve.

For the Potato Beet Salad

  • 1 lb mixed colored Pee Wee potatoes
  • ½ lb baby yellow beets
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 thyme sprigs
  • Salt

In two separate pots, boil potatoes and beets in cold water. In the potatoes, do not season with salt. Add 1 bay leaf and 2 thyme sprigs. In the beets, season with some salt, and add 1 bay leaf and 2 thyme springs. For both of them, cook until tender.

Let potatoes and beets cool in their cooking liquid. Peel the beets when still warm and cut into small segments. Cut potatoes in half or thin rounds.

For the Herb Salad

  • ¼ cup parsley leaves
  • 10 chives, cut into 2-inch lengths
  • 1 head frisée, only white and light green parts
  • ¼ cup shallots, finely minced
  • Olive oil
  • EVOO
  • Salt & pepper

Frisée and herbs should be washed before cutting. Before serving, frisée should be kept in ice water and chives & parsley should be covered with a damp paper towel.


Preheat oven to 500°F.

Season duck breasts with salt & pepper, turn heat to low and place a large pan on the stove. Place breast in the pan with skin-side down. Render the fat to all the breasts slowly. Every 5 minutes, pour away rendered fat. After 20-30 minutes, turn breast around and cook flesh side for 3 seconds and remove from pan and place on a wire rack, skin-side up, to rest.

For the braised legs, cut along the joint to separate leg and thigh. Only add a little braising liquid to the pan and have legs and thighs skin-side up. Place on low heat and once braising liquid starts to bubble and reduce, spoon the liquid over all the legs every 5 minutes. When the legs have reached a nice glaze color to them, keep warm and set aside.

In a salad spinner, dry the frisée leaves. In a pan, sweat the shallots in some olive oil then add cut potatoes and beets. Once warm, remove from heat. Add frisée and herbs to potatoes and beets. Season with salt & pepper, and EVOO.

Flash heat the duck breasts in the hot oven for 5 minutes. Take it out and let it rest for a minute before you start slicing. One portion includes: half a breast, either the leg or thigh, warm salad, and sauce. Plate to your liking or in picture (above).

Fresh Pea Blinis with Smoked Salmon & Lemon Crème Fraîche

Yup, still can’t stop making tiny food!! I saw this post a couple of months ago and it’s perfect for spring/summer. In class, we were using lots of fresh peas and I wanted to give it a try at home. I also like making blinis.

[100% organic, Norwegian smoked salmon]

For the Lemon Crème Fraîche

  • 1 TBS lemon juice
  • ¼ cup crème fraîche

Mix the lemon juice well in the crème fraîche and keep cold.

For the Pea Blinis

  • 1½ cup fresh/frozen+thawed peas
  • 1 egg
  • 1-2 TBS AP flour, sifted
  • 1 TBS baking soda
  • Smoked salmon
  • 1 TBS parsley, finely chopped
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper
  • Canola oil, as needed

Bring a small pot of water to a boil and blanch peas until tender, 1-2 minutes, and shock in ice water. Do not allow peas to sit in the cold water for too long.

Set ½ cup peas aside and purée the rest of the peas with the egg. The mixture should be smooth, you may add 1-2 TBS of water to help the process. Place the purée in a bowl and whisk in the sifted flour, baking soda, salt and pepper, and the reserved whole peas. The mixture should be like thick pancake batter.

On a non-stick pan, heat 1 TBS of oil over medium heat and drop 1 TBS of batter to make mini pancakes. Do not overcrowd the pan. Cook for 3 minutes per side.

Top the warm pea blinis with smoked salmon and lemon crème fraiche. Garnish with parsley.

*Adapted from Zen Can Cook.

**I made this for my birthday get-together.

Mixed Greens with Shaved Watermelon Radish & Ponzu Vinaigrette

Posting every Sunday didn’t work… I’m so busy with moving now. I can’t wait until the end of July 3. I will be done with school and all I’ll have left on my plate is graduation, early birthday party, and a 5-day holiday.

I love watermelon radishes. I find them so pretty to look at. At Oceana, we shave them with other baby vegetables. I found these radishes at the Union Square market but for some reason, my radishes didn’t really have a green exterior.

[100% organic]

For the Salad

  • Mixed greens
  • Watermelon radishes, thinly shaved

For the Vinaigrette

  • 2 TBS rice vinegar
  • ⅓ cup ponzu
  • ½ cup EVOO
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • 1 TBS sesame oil
  • Salt & pepper

In a bowl, whisk rice vinegar with ponzu until combined then slowly add in the oils until fully emulsified. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle onto salad and toss.

Fettuccine in a Lemon Garlic Sauce with Asparagus & Fava Beans

Having a dish with no meat, this recipe took me foreverrrrrr – mainly because I made chicken stock from scratch.

I really enjoyed making Pasta alla Chitarra with Morels, Peas & Asparagus in class (garde manger) because the sauce is something that I’ve never done before. First of all, it’s not tomato-based. Second, the pasta is so refreshing!! And third, I am a pro at making the pasta noodles with the chitarra now. It took me 2 minutes to figure out the secret!

If I had a pasta machine and a chitarra, I would make my own pasta noodles.

[100% organic]

For the Brown Chicken Stock

  • 2 lbs poultry bones
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 carrots, roughly chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, roughly chopped
  • 1 leek, white & pale green parts only, roughly sliced
  • 1 TBS tomato paste
  • Bouquet garni – ½ head garlic, 1 TBS whole black peppercorns, few parsley stems, few thyme sprigs
  • Canola oil

Preheat oven to 500°F. Trim the bones of fat and skin, then rinse the bones under cold running water. Roast bones with drizzle of canola oil in preheated oven for 15 minutes, or until bones are golden. When bones are done, degrease by straining and let the oil drip for a few minutes while you do something else.

In a stockpot, place the roasted bones and a little of canola oil over medium heat. Add in the onions, carrots, celery, and leeks. Sauté until a little bit of color is reached and then add in the 1 TBS tomato paste. Cook the tomato paste before adding enough cold water to cover the pot. Bring the pot to a boil and then lower to a simmer. Add in bouquet garni and then simmer for 2 hours.

Strain the stock and transfer to a clean pot. Reduce the stock by a quarter, or until chicken stock becomes gelatinous. Cool in an ice bath. Refrigerate if not using immediately.

For the Sauce

  • 1 qt reduced chicken stock
  • 6 garlic heads, peeled
  • 6 lemons, zested (save 1-2 lemons)
  • EVOO
  • Canola oil
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper

Using a vegetable peeler, zest the lemons. Be careful not to peel the pith of the lemon or else your sauce will be bitter. Blanch the lemon zest 3 times: boil in cold water, strain, boil in cold water, strain, boil in cold water, strain, and set aside.

After peeling all the cloves, degerm the garlic by remove any green parts. Blanch them in cold water, 3 times, too. In a clean pot over low-medium heat, confit the garlic by adding equal parts of canola oil and EVOO, and then cook until tender and sweet, 10-15 minutes.

Purée the chicken stock, garlic, and zest in a blender. Season with salt and black pepper, and taste. Sauce should be bright and garlicky. Set aside.

For the Finish

  • Fettuccine, as needed
  • 1 lb fresh fava beans
  • ½ lb asparagus
  • Tarragon leaves, as needed
  • Parmesan, grated
  • Salt
  • Canola oil

Boil a large pot of salted water.

Remove fava beans from pods and then set aside. Cut off 1-2 inches from the bottom of the asparagus and peel the asparagus one inch from the bottom of the head. Cook the asparagus whole before cutting them. In the salted boiling water, cook the asparagus for 2-3 minutes. Immediately shock in cold water and ice. Once asparagus is cold, cut asparagus on the bias and set aside. Boil the fava beans for 3-5 minutes and shock in cold water and ice. Shell the fava beans and set aside.


Reheat ½ cup of sauce, taste and season with salt and pepper. Squeeze a bit of lemon over the sauce and add some asparagus and fava beans, then toss in sauce. Cook pasta until al dente, drain well, and add to sauce. Toss to coat pasta to allow the flavors to blend. If sauce is too thick, add a little bit of heated reduced chicken stock. Add some tarragon leaves and grated parmesan. Plate pasta in a warm bowl and garnish with more grated parmesan.

Quick Ratatouille

One of the best things that I’ve learned how to make in culinary school is ratatouille. But making Niçoise-Style Ratatouille takes too long, there’s so much more technique, ingredients, and steps to do. This quick version takes less prep and cooking time because the knife cut is smaller.

This recipe makes three ring molds like the picture below.

[100% organic]

  • ½ onion, very finely diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 4 plum tomatoes
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into tiny squares
  • 1 eggplant, cut into tiny squares
  • 1 zucchini, cut into tiny squares
  • Bouquet garni
  • EVOO, as needed
  • 3 basil leaves
  • Canola oil
  • Salt

Boil the tomatoes for 15 seconds in boiling water to remove the skin. Place in cold water with ice to stop the cooking process. Remove the skin with a pairing knife, cut the tomato in half (length-wise), then remove the seeds. Reserve those for later, and then finely chop the flesh. Strain the seeds and save the juice.

Place the eggplant in a colander and sprinkle lightly with salt. Let it disgorge while continuing with the recipe.

In a hot pan, add 1 TBS EVOO and sauté the red peppers. Season with salt and drain in a strainer. Repeat for zucchini and eggplant. Before sautéing the eggplant, squeeze out as much moisture as you can.

As the three vegetables are straining, heat 2 TBS EVOO in a pan. Sweat the onions for 5 minutes, until translucent, on low heat. Add in the minced garlic, cook until aromatic. Turn up the heat to medium and add the finely chopped tomatoes, season. Cook for a few minutes and then add in the remaining vegetables, along with the bouquet garni and strained tomato juices.

Cover with parchment paper and simmer gently for 30 minutes until all the moisture has evaporated. Adjust for seasoning.

Fry the basil leaves in canola oil. Place on paper towels and garnish when finish plating in ring molds.

Serve with baguette slices.

*Adapted from the French Culinary Institute.