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.

Sushi Ceviche

I couldn’t come up with a better name than Sushi Ceviche because this is really a pure fusion plate of food. Using Japanese ingredients of a simple salmon avocado roll, but the cooking style of making ceviche.

[100% organic, Norway farmed salmon]

For the Sushi Rice

  • ¼ cup sushi rice
  • 1 TBS rice vinegar
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • Pinch of salt

Soak the rice for ten minutes and cook the rice. Don’t over cook it because you want to see the individual grains. Cool the rice at room temperature and mix in the seasonings, then set aside.

For the Ceviche

  • ½ lb salmon
  • ½ red onion
  • ½ cherry bomb pepper
  • 1 lime, juiced

Cut the salmon into medium dice. Thinly slice the red onion and pepper and set in a bowl. Add the lime juice and toss the salmon in it. Refrigerate and marinate for 10 minutes, depending on how thick/big/small your salmon pieces are.

For the Finish

  • 1 Persian cucumber, thinly sliced
  • ½ avocado, cut into wedges
  • ½ mango, diced
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • Nori sheet

Cut nori into thin strips. Toss avocado wedges in lemon juice, right before assembling.

Strain the ceviche, discard juices but reserve red onion and chili pepper slices.

TO ASSEMBLE

Arrange cucumbers in a circular pattern on the plate. In a ring mold, pack the rice on the bottom, over the cucumbers. Place the avocado wedges along the rim and pack the ceviche into the center. Top with nori strips and scatter mango dice around plate.

*Adapted from From Buenos Aires to Paris.

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.

Atlantic Cod Ceviche with Tomato, Bell Pepper & Cilantro

This is also on my menu project. I was going to make it with sea bass but I couldn’t afford the price at Whole Foods yesterday for wild sea bass, at $32/lb!! So I used Atlantic cod and it still tastes phenomenal! I could drink the marinade liquid! It’s not sour at all with all the citric acid.

[100% organic, wild cod]

  • 1 lb Atlantic cod fillets, cut into 1-inch squares
  • 3 red chili peppers, thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 large shallots, finely diced
  • 12 grape tomatoes, halved
  • 12 limes
  • 4 lemons
  • 3 bell peppers, chopped into small squares
  • 1 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
  • Olive oil
  • ½ cup microgreens, save some for garnish
  • Salt & pepper

Place the raw fish pieces in a glass dish and sprinkle generously with salt. Cover with red chili peppers, crushed garlic, ¼ cup chopped cilantro, lime juice from 8 limes, and lemon juice from 2 lemons. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and chill, let the fish cook itself in the lime and lemon juice for at least 4 hours. *Note: fish should be completely covered by juices.

Place the shallots in a bowl and cover with warm water and a large pinch of salt. Let it rest for 10 minutes, drain and rinse well.

Once the fish is “cooked” in the juice, rinse it well and remove the chilis, garlic, and cilantro.

Combine the fish with the shallots, microgreens, tomatoes, bell peppers, remaining cilantro, lime juice from the remaining 4 limes, lemon juice from the remaining 2 lemons, and a generous splash of olive oil in a large non-reactive bowl, mix well and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Serve on cold plates and top with microgreens.

Asian Prawn Cakes

Ever since getting back my food processor, I can finally make crab cakes or other things similar to that. I was too lazy to go to Chinatown this morning, after going to Whole Foods so I made shrimp/prawn cakes instead. “Shrimp Cakes” just sound a little weird, no?

This is a small recipe, fit for an appetizer for two.

[100% organic, farmed shrimp]

For the Prawn Cakes

  • 1 lb prawns/shrimp, deveined and peeled
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1-inch ginger, chopped into small chunks
  • 1 lime, zested and juiced
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves
  • 2 bird’s eye chilis, seeded and diced
  • 2 TBS fish sauce
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper
  • Canola oil, as needed

In a food processor, pulse the shallots, ginger, lime, ginger, cilantro, fish sauce, and chili peppers. Then add in the shrimp and continue to pulse until a fine mixture. Add in the lime juice and mix thoroughly in shrimp/prawn mixture. Season liberally with salt and pepper.

Using a spoon and your hands, form balls and then flatten them out and place on parchment paper or plastic wrap. In a pan, add a thin layer of canola oil on medium-heat and pan-fry each side of the flattened shrimp/prawn balls for 2-3 minutes.

For the Sweet & Sour Dip

  • 1 cup rice vinegar
  • ½ cup cane sugar
  • 1 bird’s eye chili, sliced

In a small saucepan, boil the rice vinegar and sugar with a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes, or until syrupy. Remove from heat and put in the sliced chili pepper to infuse flavors.

Pineapple Shrimp Fried Rice

It’s been a long time since I’ve had fresh pineapple; mainly because it’s such a hassle to cut pineapple. But this time I didn’t have to pluck out those black thingies.

*Not included in the photo, but I like to put a few sprinkles of pork floss over the rice and then eat it.

[100% organic & sustainable farmed shrimp]

  • 1½ cups uncooked white rice (jasmine)
  • 1 TBS oil
  • 4 scallions, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 fresh chili pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 TBS fish sauce
  • 3 limes, juiced
  • 2 tsp shrimp roe infused soy sauce, or more to taste
  • 1¼ lbs shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 1½ cups fresh pineapple, cut into small chunks
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped into small square pieces
  • ½ cup pine nuts
  • Salt & pepper
  • Cilantro for garnish

Cook rice but don’t make the rice too moist and sticky. Then allow rice to cool. For the shrimp, take 1 lb and chop them into chunks.

Cut the pineapple in half and hollow out both halves to make two bowls. Slice a piece off the bottom of the pineapple halves to create a flat base. Then cut the pineapple into small chunks and set aside.

In a non-stick pan on high heat, cook shrimp for 2 minutes until almost thoroughly cooked. Season with salt & pepper and the lime juice then set aside.

Heat a wok on high heat, then add oil. Add the scallions, chili, and garlic to the wok. Sauté for 1 minute, then add the rice, bell peppers, and pineapple and stir a few times. Add shrimp roe infused soy sauce and fish sauce, constantly stir, and mix the shrimp and nuts, and cook for another 1-2 minutes.

Place in hollowed out pineapple and garnish with cilantro.

Thai Green Curry Prawns

Funny story actually, when I was searching for the green curry paste at the wet market, the shopkeeper who I bought it from thought I was Singaporean or Malaysian. He said that my perfect and precise pronunciation was the reason. I told him, shouldn’t that make him think that I’m from Beijing? Why Singapore or Malaysia? He then said it’s because I speak English too -.- … he was nice, but ignorant.

I don’t know if this is the paste that I bought or if green curry is supposed to taste really grainy… but what the hell, it was delicious!

[100% organic & wild shrimp]

  • 4 TBS green curry paste
  • 1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 lb shrimp, antennae and legs cut, back cut half-way
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 2 TBS oil
  • 2 bird’s eye chili peppers, finely sliced
  • 20 fresh Thai basil leaves
  • 1 lime, zested and juiced
  • Salt to taste

Heat oil in pan and add green curry paste. Fry for 1 minute.

Lower the heat and add the coconut milk and bell peppers, allow it to simmer for 5 minutes.

Add the prawns and simmer for 3 minutes until the prawns are thoroughly cooked. Add in the basil leaves, lime zest and juice, chili peppers, and then mix well and serve with steamed rice.

*Adapted from Expat Recipe.