Lemon Saffron Risotto with Mussels

This is a very much long over due post! Wow, this month flew by! I’m not really surprised though because July always goes by so fast for me since it’s my birth month and it’s a constant reminder that I am at the third week of my new age…

I thought work would die down but it hasn’t and I am constantly so very tired and stressed. Not having my usual two consecutive days off contribute to my being tired all the time; my days off are split. I miss my Sunday food parties… I haven’t had the time nor energy to hold house parties since May!! But I insisted to myself that I post something for July because August is right around the corner… and not updating my blog is not an option!

The lightness of the lemon flavoring definitely balanced out the heaviness of the saffron!

Serves 4.

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[100% organic, wild mussels from Canada]

For the Mussels

  • 2 lbs mussels
  • 1 TBS butter
  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • 3 shallots, finely minced
  • 1 garlic head, cut in half horizontally
  • Parsley stems
  • 1 TBS black whole peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • Pinch of salt

Clean, scrub, and soak mussels in salted cold water for 15 minutes. De-beard mussels.

In a pan on medium low heat, melt butter with olive oil. Sweat shallots with a pinch of salt. Turn up the heat to medium and add in aromatics (garlic, parsley stems, peppercorns, bay leaf) and sweat for 1 minute. Turn heat to high and add in mussels. 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. Mussels will be halfway cooked. You will finish cooking the mussels in the risotto.

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 Risotto

  • 3 TBS butter
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • Reserved mussel liquor
  • Large pinch of saffron
  • 2 qts vegetable stock
  • 4 lemons, juiced and zested
  • 1 cup packed parsley leaves, finely chopped
  • Reserved mussels
  • Salt
  • (Optional: grated Pecorino Romano)

Heat up vegetable stock in a saucepan and keep hot.

In a pan, melt the butter on a low heat. Add in the diced onion and sweat until soft. Stir in the rice and make sure the butter fully coats each grain of rice and cook until the ends of the rice are transparent, stirring often, about 2 minutes. Then add in the mussel liquor and saffron, and cook until completely absorbed.

Add 1 cup of the hot broth and simmer, stirring frequently, until all the liquid has been absorbed, and the bottom of the pan is almost dry. Adding 1 cup broth 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 short of al dente, about 15-20 minutes.

Before the last addition of stock, fold in reserved mussels, lemon juice, lemon zest, and half of the chopped parsley.

Season and taste to adjust seasoning. I like to fold in finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese into my risottos so I rarely have to season with any salt since the cheese is very salty.

Scoop risotto into bowls and top with more chopped parsley. Serve immediately.

Linguine Misto Mare

I was looking through my posts and I haven’t done a seafood medley pasta dish yet.

I just have to say, my scallops were cooked to the utmost perfection.

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Serves 4.

[100% organic, wild scallops, environmentally sustainable shrimp, PEI mussels, Manila clams]

For the Seafood Medley

  • 1 lb shrimp, with head and shell on
  • 4 sea scallops
  • 1 lb mussels
  • 1 lb clams
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and white pepper

Peel the shrimp but keep the tails intact. Reserve heads and shrimp shells for shrimp stock.

Clean, scrub, and soak mussels and clams in salted cold water for 15 minutes. De-beard mussels. Cook mussels and clams, separately or together, using simple aromatics (shallots, parsley stems, garlic, black peppercorns, bay leaves, and dry white wine). Strain each jus for future use and keep shellfish warm.

Heat a large pan over high heat and when the pan is hot, add in 2 TBS olive oil. Season the shrimp with salt and white pepper and sauté. Cook until shrimp are curled and pink but not quite cooked through. Remove the shrimp with a slotted spoon and place in a bowl. Sear the scallops in a clean pan and also keep them a little undercooked so when you put the shrimp and the scallops into the sauce, the residual heat from the sauce will continue cooking the seafood.

For the Shrimp Stock

  • Reserved shrimp heads and shells
  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 3 cups water
  • Bouquet garni

Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and when the pan is hot, add olive oil and the shrimp heads and shells. Sauté until the shells turn red. Add the wine, water, and a loose bouqent garni, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer the stock for 30 minutes.

Turn off the heat and let the stock sit for 30 minutes for the flavor to deepen. Strain the liquid and discard solids.

For the Sauce

  • ½ head garlic, finely minced
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 2 tsp red chili pepper flakes
  • 2 TBS tomato paste
  • Reserved shrimp stock
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes, with juice
  • ¼ cup parsley, finely chopped
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and white pepper

In a large pan on medium-high heat, add 2 TBS of olive oil and sauté the chopped onions, until the onions start to soften. Add the garlic, thyme, and crushed chili red pepper flakes, tomato paste, and sauté for 1 minute. Pour in the shrimp stock and bring it to a boil. Reduce to about 1 cup, scraping the bottom of the pan to dissolve any browned bits that may be there.

Add the crushed tomatoes, season with salt and white pepper, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat so the sauce is simmering and cook for another 10 minutes. Add the parsley and seafood, cover, and turn off the heat.

For the Linguine

  • 1 lb linguine
  • Few drops of oil
  • Salt

Boil the linguine in salted water and add a few drops of oil to prevent sticking. Cook until al dente, drain, and toss with sauce.

TO ASSEMBLE

Spoon pasta and seafood into bowls, either serve scallops whole to each plate or cut into quarters. Drizzle extra sauce and serve with toasted bread!

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.

Braised Hake with Mussels & Saffron Potatoes on Rapini Leaves

I am so busy now that I literally have no time to blog nor cook at home. Making udon noodles with miso soup doesn’t count as “cooking”. I haven’t been grocery shopping in two weeks (I usually went 2-3 times a week) and I haven’t been spending time at home that much either. I only come home to sleep and shower. Oh my god. I want a two-day weekend again! I now always look forward to Sundays because that’s my only day off from everything.

June seems to be everyone’s busy + very stressful month. I have a lot of things going on simultaneously (work, internship, school, moving, and looking for other jobs). For now, I’m going to try and post something new every Sunday because that’s the only day that I have to myself. When school is over, I think I’ll get more time again. Six more class days, then my final exam in culinary school, then graduation, then OVER!!!! I can’t wait to finish school.

I wanted to recreate the braised cod at home but:

  • Whole Foods Market (UWS) didn’t have cod today
  • I didn’t want to buy one link of chorizo
  • My kitchen isn’t very equipped, compared to school
  • Why are clams so much more expensive than mussels? Clams in Hong Kong are dirt cheap and there are hundreds of varieties. However, there are no fresh mussels in Hong Kong.

The only thing that I liked from the school’s dish is the use of saffron in the potatoes because it brings a bright neon yellow to the finished dish.

*I used the leftover potato scraps and mussel liquor to make extra flavorful clam chowder.

[100% organic, wild hake]

For the Mussel Liquor Braising Liquid

  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 lbs mussels
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed
  • A few springs of thyme
  • A few stems of parsley
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • Olive oil

*If making fresh chicken stock, take 4 cups/1 quart out and keep warm. Refrigerate the rest.

Warm up chicken stock and set aside. Wash mussels well, soak in salted water for 15 minutes, rinse and drain well. Remove beards.

Heat up a sauteuse, do not add any oil at first. Once it is very hot, add in the mussels and garlic. Toss for a few seconds. Add in a few splashes of olive oil then add in the herbs and pour in the dry white wine. Do not season with salt or pepper.

Continue to toss/shake the pan with the lid on and allow mussels to steam for 7 minutes. Remove from heat and strain through a colander. Remove mussels from their shells, saving 4 shells. Strain mussel liquor through a fine chinois and add that to the warmed chicken stock. This mixture of mussel liquor and chicken stock is the braising liquid for the fish and seasoning liquid for the potatoes and rapini.

For the Potatoes

  • 2 Yukon Gold potatoes
  • Small pinch of saffron
  • Water, as needed

Peel, then cut potatoes into small squares and put them into a small pot with a small pinch of saffron. Pour water so that water covers potatoes completely.

Boil potatoes under tender. Since potatoes are so small, cooking takes a short time. Do not overcook potatoes. Set aside.

For the Fish & Broccoli Rabé

  • 4 hake fillets, skinless (the thicker parts/not tail portions)
  • 4 cups broccoli rabé leaves, packed
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • Parsley leaves, thinly sliced
  • Reserved braising liquid
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper

In a pot of salted water, blanch broccoli rabé leaves and then plunge into iced water with ice. Squeeze out excess water from leaves and set aside.

TO ASSEMBLE

In a sauteuse, pour in half of the braising liquid and bring to a low simmer. Season hake fillets with salt and freshly ground black pepper on both sides. Braise fish until done. Time will vary depending on thickness of fish. In a small pan, sauté minced garlic with broccoli rabé leaves. Moisten with some braising liquid. In another pan, add in saffron potatoes with the saffron water, mussels, 4 shells, and some braising liquid. Heat until simmering.

Plate broccoli rabé in a bowl, creating a bed, then place hake on top of broccoli rabé leaves. Carefully pour saffron potatoes and mussels over fish. Garnish with parsley and one mussel sitting in its shell on top of the fish.

*Adapted from The French Culinary Institute.

Mussels in Thai Red Curry Sauce

I always cook mussels the basic Italian way; with garlic, shallots, white wine, and parsley. But when I had a plate of mussels during brunch, one day, it was with a thick Thai green curry. It was a bit thick so I made mine thinner. At the supermarket, I bought both red and green. I’ll make the green one another day.

Ideally, you want to use Thai basil but I couldn’t find them at Whole Foods today.

[100% organic, mussels wild]

  • 2 lbs mussels, scrubbed & debearded
  • ½ onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-inch ginger, minced
  • 4 oz. red curry paste
  • 1 TBS fish sauce
  • 2 TBS brown sugar
  • ½ cup dashi broth
  • One 14 oz. can coconut milk
  • ½ cup Thai basil leaves, chiffonade
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • Olive oil
  • Salt

In a large pan, coat the bottom of it with olive oil on low-medium heat. Sweat the onions and bell peppers. 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 vegetables completely. Shake the can of coconut milk before opening and pour into the pan with the dashi broth and basil leaves. Increase heat to medium, and bring the curry to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.

Add mussels to pan and cook, covered, for 5-7 minutes, until mussels are fully opened. Adjust seasoning with salt. Turn off heat and discard any mussels that haven’t opened. Transfer to a serving bowl and pour lime juice over mussels. Serve with toasted bread to soak up all the yummy curry sauce.

Pan Roasted Mahi-Mahi over Fava Beans, Snow Pea Shoots & Enoki with Saffron-Mussel Liquor Velouté

I feel like I had to tie in everything I have learned so far in school for this final dish on my menu project. I only have a few months left of school.

I was inspired by Top Chef Texas (S09E06), the array of food images that I see online (Taste Spotting), and the stuff that I do in school (levels 1 and 3, filet de orata Américaine). I like to think that this recipe came together in a dream. I liked the way that we presented the orata in level 3 so the plating bares a lot of resemblance to that.

[100% organic, wild mahi-mahi]

For the Saffron-Mussel Liquor Velouté

  • 1 lb mussels
  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 pinches of saffron threads
  • ½ cup flat-leaf parsley stems
  • ¼ cup tarragon leaves
  • Equal parts of butter and flour for roux
  • Salt

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Put the saffron threads in the wine and let it infuse for 15 minutes.

Clean and debeard the mussels. In a large pan, heat the olive oil on medium-low heat. Add in the shallots and gently sweat until soft. Then toss in the garlic, parsley, and tarragon, and cook until aromatic. Turn the heat to high, and pour in the wine. Let the alcohol from the wine burn off and then place in the mussels. Place lid on pot and cook for 5 minutes or until mussels steam open. Turn off heat. Discard mussels that have not opened. Strain the liquid through a fine sieve and keep the liquid aside. Place mussels back into pan and cover with lid, to keep warm.

In a small saucepan, melt 1 TBS butter and whisk in 1 TBS flour. Cook for one minute. Then add in strained mussel liquid (mussel liquor), whisking constantly, and season with salt.

For the Vegetables

  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 cup snow pea leaves and shoots, washed and chopped
  • 1 lb fava beans (with outer shell)
  • 1 cup enoki mushrooms
  • Olive oil
  • Salt

In the meantime, boil a pot of salted water for the fava beans. Once water is boiling, cook until water reboils and quickly drain from water and place in an ice bath. Once cool, shell the fava beans from their shell and set aside.

In a non-stick pan, heat up the olive oil. Gently sweat the minced garlic and add in the snow pea shoots. Sauté for one minute and then add in enoki mushrooms. Add a few tablespoons of water and season with salt. When snow pea shoots and enoki are cooked, at the very end, add in the fava beans. Cook gently, just enough to reheat. Turn off heat and keep warm.

For the Mahi-Mahi Fish

  • 3 TBS clarified butter
  • Two ¼ lb mahi-mahi fillets (with skin)
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper

In another large pan, heat up the clarified butter. Season mahi-mahi fillets generously with salt and freshly ground pepper. Put fillets skin-side down and press with a fish spatula immediately (because the fish will curl). Cook for 4-5 minutes so that the skin is nicely browned. Cook the other side of the fillets for one second and then remove from pan. Place in a tray, skin-side up, and place in the oven. Cook for 7-8 minutes, until fish flakes easily.

TO ASSEMBLE

Spoon the vegetable mixture in a ring mold in the center of a plate. Top with a mahi-mahi fillet, place 5 mussels around the center, and spoon the velouté over the mussels. Serve with toasted bread and the rest of the mussels with the velouté.