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.

Cuttlefish Ink Risotto with Calamari, Tomato Concassé, Shichimi & Parsley

There was this dish at work that I wanted to eat but I never got the chance to have the entire dish because my days off are the same days when the restaurant is closed. So I kind of recreated it at home. It doesn’t have the sea urchin on it because I can’t splurge on a tray of fresh sea urchin on myself… with company yes but I would feel so gluttonous if I ate the entire tray alone.

I have some grated cheese in my seafood risottos. I don’t understand the taboo about not putting cheese with seafood. It works for me and I think it helps to bind the rice together.

Serves 2.

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[Calamari from Connecticut, Cuttlefish Ink from Spain]

For the Tomato Concassé

  • 2 onions, finely diced
  • 5 plum tomatoes
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
  • 3 thyme sprigs, picked without the thick stems
  • Olive oil
  • Salt

Boil a pot of water that can fit the tomatoes. Core out tomatoes and make an “X” with a paring knife on the top of each tomato. Have a bowl of ice water on hand. Once water is boiling, cook tomatoes for 30 seconds and immediately place in ice water.

Once tomatoes are cooled, remove from ice water bath and peel skin off. Remove seeds and insides of tomato. Dice tomato into small cubes and set aside.

In a sauté pan and on low-medium heat, add enough olive oil to coat the pan. Sweat the onions, tomatoes, garlic, thyme for 30 minutes. Season lightly with salt. Cool and set aside.

For the Calamari

  • 1 lb calamari, tubes and tentacles
  • Canola oil
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • Shichimi
  • Lemon juice

Clean/rinse the tubes and cut into thin strips. Save one third for garnishing and the rest for cooking within the risotto (below).

For the garnish, sauté/broil the calamari and season with salt, pepper, shichimi, and lemon juice. Keep warm and set aside.

For the Risotto

  • 1½ quarts fish stock
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • ¾ cup Arborio rice
  • ½ cup white wine
  • Reserved cut calamari strips and tentacles
  • 1 TBS cuttlefish ink
  • Salt
  • Olive oil
  • Parmesan, for grating
  • Parsley, finely chopped

The fish stock should be hot/simmering before adding into the cooking pan for the risotto.

In a pan on medium-low heat, heat the olive oil. Sweat the onions 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 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 two-thirds of the tomato concassé into the rice. Then add in the reserved calamari and season lightly with salt. When the calamari is cooked, add in the ink and fully incorporate ink into rice.

Before rice is finished and taken off heat, grate in some parmesan cheese and taste/adjust for seasoning.

TO ASSEMBLE

Scoop hot rice into bowl, garnish with sautéed/broiled calamari, remaining tomato concassé, and parsley.

Kabocha Squash & Celeriac Bisque with Duck Fat Roasted Cashews

This was the second course to my 7-course Friendsgiving party for 8 people.

Every year around Thanksgiving time, the first thing that pops into my head is butternut squash soup but I’ve done so many variations of it that I don’t want to post yet another butternut soup on here. I felt that having a small liquid course was a nice way to open up a multi-course dinner without having an amuse or canapé. But then I got thinking that I don’t have any seafood dishes!!!! So that’s why the little scallop dish served as an opening appetizer.

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Serves 8.

For the Soup

  • One 2-3 lbs kabocha squash
  • 1 large celery root bulb
  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 2 TBS butter
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • ½ cup cream
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 450°F. Peel and remove seeds to squash and cut into 1-inch pieces. Peel celeriac and cut into 1-inch pieces. Toss squash and celeriac with olive oil, salt, and pepper, then spread in an even layer on a sheet pan. Bake in preheated oven until the vegetables are light brown and tender, approximately 20-30 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

While the vegetables are in the oven, in a large pot over low heat, sweat shallots, then add garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the roasted vegetables and cinnamon. Stir and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Add the chicken stock, apple cider, and thyme, then bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes.

Using an immersion blender, blend soup until smooth. Add additional stock if needed, then add the cream and continue blending. Season with more salt and pepper to taste. Keep warm for service.

For the Nuts & Garnish

  • 1 tart apple
  • Lemon, to rub on apple
  • 2 tsp duck fat, melted
  • ½ cup cashews
  • Pinch salt

Preheat oven to 350°F. Toss the nuts with duck fat and some salt. Spread onto a parchment lined sheet pan and bake for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until nuts just begin to golden.

Peel, core, and dice a tart apple. Rub some lemon on apples to delay oxidation.

TO ASSEMBLE

In warmed soup bowls, ladle hot soup into the bowl. Garnish with apple dice and cashews. Or you may pour soup table-side.

Seared Scallops, Edamame Purée & Cumin Froth

This was the first course to my 7-course Friendsgiving party for 8 people.

A few weeks after I made the first draft, I realized that I didn’t have any seafood dishes so that’s how this dish came to be.

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Serves 8.

For the Edamame Purée

  • 1 shallot, finely diced
  • 1 TBS of grapeseed oil
  • 1 lb frozen shelled edamame
  • 1 cup of milk
  • Salt

Sweat the shallots in the oil. Add the edamame, milk, and pinch of salt and simmer for 10 minutes.

Before pouring into a blender, strain off excess milk but save the milk. Blend until smooth, add enough saved milk to make a thick purée. After blending, cool immediately over an ice bath. The bright green color will fade very quickly if not cooled down as soon as possible. Store in a container in the fridge before the finish.

For the Cumin Froth

  • 4 TBS crème fraîche
  • ½ cup dashi
  • 2.5 g cumin seeds
  • 2.5 g soy lecithin

Combine all ingredients into a blender for 1 minute. Then pour into a small pot and heat gently. Too hot or cold in temperature and the foam won’t be stable and will collapse easily. Using an immersion blender or a hand blender fitted with an aerator, foam up the mix then let it rest for a minute before serving.

For the Scallops

  • 8 scallops
  • Olive oil
  • Butter, as needed
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Clean your scallops and pat dry. Salt and pepper the scallops on both sides. In a very hot pan with a little oil, sauté the scallops for about 2 minutes per side.

TO ASSEMBLE

In a pan, melt 1 TBS butter then gently heat up edamame purée. Adjust seasoning if needed. Spoon purée into the center of the plate, add a seared scallop, and lastly, spoon the froth around to finish and serve immediately!

Duck with Seared Bok Choy, Wheatberries with Maitake Mushroom, Blueberry Reduction

This was the fourth course to my 5-course Friendsgiving party for 6 people.

I had originally planned for using farro instead of wheatberries but farro was sold out. I do like the chewiness of wheatberries compared to farro, however, I still think that farro would have been better for this dish.

Serves 6.

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[100% organic]

For the Duck

  • 3 Peking ducks
  • Duck bones from the duck
  • Canola oil, as needed
  • 3 onions, chopped roughly
  • 3 large carrots, chopped roughly
  • 5 celery stalks, chopped roughly
  • 1 garlic head, cut in half horizontally
  • 6 qts chicken stock
  • Bouquet garni in cheesecloth
  • Mushroom trims, if available
  • 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 for the sauce. Reserve duck legs in remaining liquid and keep warm.

For the Sauce

  • 4 TBS butter
  • 3 large shallots, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tsp Sichuan peppercorns
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 500mL bottle balsamic vinegar
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • ¾ cup honey
  • 1 bottle red verjus or red wine
  • Reserved duck braising liquid
  • Bouquet garni
  • Salt & pepper

Caramelize the honey. When the honey is bubbling and golden, add the balsamic vinegar to it. Add in chopped shallots and crushed garlic. Reduce until syrupy then add in the verjus and continue to reduce until syrupy again. Next add in the hot duck braising liquid. Add a loose bouquet garni and 1 cup of the blueberries, and reduce by two-thirds. Strain through a fine sieve. Taste and adjust seasoning. Add the remaining blueberries 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 Wheatberries

  • 1½ cups wheatberries
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • Salt
  • Olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 packets maitake mushrooms, base removed

Combine the wheatberries, salt, and chicken stock in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the wheatberries are tender, about 20-40 minutes. Taste often as it is cooking, you want it to be toothsome and retain some structure. Remove from heat, drain any excess liquid, and set aside. Reserve liquid for reheating.

Sweat onions and simultaneously sauté maitake mushrooms in another pan. Fold onions and mushrooms into wheatberries.

For the Finnish

  • 6 heads bok choy, halved lengthwise
  • Canola oil
  • Salt

In a very hot pan, sear bok choy. Season right after removing from heat.

TO ASSEMBLE

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.

Flash heat the duck breasts in the hot oven for 3-5 minutes. Take it out and let it rest for a minute before you start slicing. Plate to your liking or in picture.

Risotto with Shrimp & Sea Beans

This was the third course to my 5-course Friendsgiving party for 6 people.

I absolutely LOVED this course because it was shrimp overload!

Serves 6.

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[100% organic]

For the Shrimp Stock

  • 2 lbs large Mayan shrimp/prawns, heads removed and shelled
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 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
  • Canola oil
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper

Peel shrimp and leave the tails intact. Place shrimp aside in the refrigerator.

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.

Reheat stock for risotto making.

For the Risotto

  • 2 onions, finely diced
  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 1½ cup Arborio rice
  • ¾ cup dry white wine
  • Shrimp stock from above, as needed
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup sea beans, lightly packed

In a pan on medium-low heat, heat the olive oil. Sweat the onions 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. 

Stir in sea beans and keep warm before serving.

For the Finish

  • Reserved shrimp
  • Salt
  • Canola oil
  • 1 handful sea beans
  • Tempura batter

In a large pan, sear shrimp with canola and salt. Keep warm and set aside.

Dip sea beans in tempura batter and fry lightly in a pot of oil.

TO ASSEMBLE

Spoon risotto in a bowl, place shrimp in center and top with tempura sea beans.

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Butternut Ginger Soup with Pistachio

This was the first course to my 5-course Friendsgiving party for 6 people.

For the taste of the soup, it all depends on your tolerance of the spiciness of ginger. I prefer using freshly pressed ginger than using ginger powder. I like the soup to have a kick at the end from the ginger.

Serves 6, with 2-3 more helpings.

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[100% organic]

For the Soup

  • 3 TBS olive oil
  • 2 large yellow onions, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 4 whole star anise
  • 1½ – 2 lbs butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 4-inch ginger root, peeled and juiced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1½ cups heavy cream

In a large pot, heat up olive oil and sweat onions until translucent. Add garlic and star anise and continue sweating for another minute. Add in chopped butternut squash, carrots, and celery and fill enough water to almost cover. Bring mixture up to a boil and down to a simmer. Cook for 45 minutes.

After 30 minutes, add in ginger juice. Taste, season, adjust for seasoning and continue cooking for the allotted time.

After 45 minutes, remove star anise from pot and turn off heat. Using an immersion blender, blend soup until smooth. Add in cream and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Keep warm before serving.

For the Garnish

  • 1 cup pistachios, ground

When grinding the pistachios, be careful not to over grind or else the oils from the nut will leech out and mixture will be wet.

TO ASSEMBLE

In warmed soup bowls, ladle hot soup into the bowl, then spoon 1 TBS of ground pistachios into the center. Or you may pour soup table-side.