Crispy Soft-Shelled Crab with Three-Grain Risotto & Tiger Shrimp

Yesterday in NYC, it was raining all day. Miserable. Grey. Cold. Rain. It has been spring for the past two weeks and all of a sudden, the polar vortex is back, and winter is coming – again. I was waiting for the rain to stop so that I could go out and buy ingredients for clam chowder but then I thought, clam chowder is so much work and it takes 40 minutes to cook. So I made this instead and it was equally comforting.

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Serves 2.

For the Risotto

  • ½ cup quinoa
  • ½ cup farro
  • ½ cup steel-cut oats
  • 3½ cups stock (I used a blend of fish stock, dashi stock, clam and mussel liquor)
  • Parmesan, as needed
  • ¼ cup strained Greek yogurt
  • 2 TBS chopped parsley
  • 2 TBS chopped chives
  • 12 tiger shrimp, shelled & deveined
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • Lemon wedges
  • Canola oil
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Cook risotto the old fashioned way or put everything (grains and stock, seasonings) into a rice cooker and wait for that beep. I did the latter since it was a miserable, rainy Monday.

When the risotto is done, set aside, and season shrimp with salt and freshly ground black pepper. In a pan, heat some canola oil and sear the shrimp. Once shrimp is almost cooked, add the white wine and cover until alcohol has burned off. Remove lid and fold in risotto. Grate in parmesan to your taste, add yogurt and herbs. Taste for seasoning and adjust with lemon juice. Keep risotto warm while frying crabs.

For the Crab

  • 4 soft-shelled crabs
  • AP flour, as needed
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Oil for frying
  • Lime wedge

Clean crabs by cutting off their face (I know it sounds so mean), pulling off their aprons (butt flap?), and pull the points of their shell back to reveal their gills and remove those on each side.

Heat oil for frying. Season crabs with salt and freshly ground pepper. Then dress crabs in AP flour and tap crabs to remove excess flour. Fry for 3-5 minutes. Remove and place on wire-rack. Squeeze some lime over and lightly season with salt.

For the Finish

  • Arugula
  • Lime wedge
  • Salt
  • Extra virgin olive oil

Toss greens with salt, lime, and EVOO before serving.

TO ASSEMBLE

Spoon risotto into a bowl, place arugula salad in the middle, and top with crispy soft-shelled crab.

Cockles with Wilted Baby Spinach in a Scallion Thyme Broth

I have the biggest news! My friend told me that there is a freaking seafood market near me, called Dorian’s Seafood Market! It’s just a few blocks away from me and OMG, I went there this morning and I’m so exhilarated! I finally have somewhere to shop for real, fresh seafood. Not like the “plastic” crap they sell at Whole Foods here in NYC. I don’t have to venture to lower Manhattan to Chinatown to get seafood anymore. Plus, the quality of seafood at Dorian’s is much better (and safer) than what gets sold in Chinatown. However, if I want live shrimp and live crab, I’ll still have to get it from Chinatown.

It is 22°C in NYC right now and it’s December 24. I’m thankful that it’s not winter nor snowing because I don’t like that. It’s wonderful, this Xmas Eve.

Serves 1.

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[Cockles farmed from New Zealand]

  • 1 TBS butter
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 4 scallions, sliced thinly
  • 2 lbs cockles
  • ½ cup white wine
  • Handful baby spinach
  • 1 TBS parsley, finely minced
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper

Soak the cockles in salted cold water for 20 minutes.

In a pan, melt the butter and sweat the garlic, thyme, and scallions. Turn the heat to high and add the cockles and white wine. Toss and shake the pan. Close the lid and cook for 7 minutes. Before the cockles are ready, add in the spinach and parsley. Throw away any unopened cockles.

Serve with toasted bread.

Scallop Crudo with Shichimi, Shimeji, Haricots Verts Salad & Fennel Foam

This was the first course to my 5-course Friendsgiving party for 6 people. Originally, I had another course before this but I cut it once I realized that the duck confit would take too much of my time and I didn’t want to overwhelm myself.

Serves 6.

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[100% organic, wild scallops]

For the Fennel Foam

  • 2 large fennel bulbs, roughly chopped
  • 1 small onion, roughly chopped
  • Bouquet garni: white peppercorns, 1 garlic clove, fennel fronds
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 1 cup heavy cream

In a pan, sweat the onion, fennel, and bouquet garni with vegetable oil. Once the vegetables have soften, deglaze with white wine. Reduce until au sec, then add the cream and simmer for 15 minutes.

Pour mixture into a blender and blend well. Do not strain. Pour purée into a whip cream dispenser and charge twice. Keep warm.

For the Salad

  • 2 packets brown shimeji mushrooms
  • 1 lb green beans
  • 1 bunch cilantro, picked
  • 1 cup neutral oil

Cut base off of mushrooms (save for stock making) and cut off ends of green beans. Blanch in salted water then shock in iced water.

In a blender, blend on high the cilantro leaves and oil. Blend until the oil is warm, then strain through a fine mesh strainer or through cheesecloth/coffee filters. Reserve oil into a squeeze bottle.

For the Finish

  • 18 diver scallops, soaked in salted cold water, drained, then sliced
  • Shimichi Togarashi
  • Pomegranate seeds
  • Cilantro oil (from above)
  • Micro cilantro
  • Fennel fronds (if saved, and I forgot to use it)
  • Sea salt/Maldon salt
  • Lemon

TO ASSEMBLE

In a bowl, lightly toss blanched mushrooms and green beans with cilantro oil,  lemon juice, and salt. Slice scallops into thin rounds.

On the plate:

  1. Season mushrooms and green beans with lemon, cilantro oil, and salt. Arrange salad.
  2. Place scallops on plate, season scallops with crushed sea salt, lemon, and togarashi.
  3. Squeeze an odd number of fennel foam dots.
  4. Garnish with micro cilantro, pomegranate seeds, fennel fronds, and more cilantro oil.

Roasted Quail, Crushed Peewee Potatoes, Mushrooms with Montegrato Pedro Ximénez Reduction

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

These little birds are so tiny! Two birds per person was a good idea this year!

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Serves 8.

For the Brine

  • ½ cup salt
  • 8 cups water or 2.5 bottles white wine
  • 8 bay leaves
  • 8 quails

Bring everything to a boil and cool down immediately. Using a cake tester or sharp paring knife, stab quails, then submerge quails in this brine for 6 hours in the fridge.

For the Peewee Potatoes

  • 1 bag of Peewee potatoes
  • 3 thyme sprigs
  • 1 garlic head
  • 2 TBS whole black peppercorns
  • Salt

In cheesecloth, wrap bouquet garni with twine and in cold, salted water, boil potatoes and simmer until potatoes are tender, 15-20 minutes. Cool down in its cooking water then drain and set aside.

For the Sherry Reduction

  • 1 bottle of Montegrato Pedro Ximénez vinegar
  • 2 TBS brown sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 TBS fresh rosemary, minced
  • Part of a orange rind

In a medium-sized saucepan, add the sherry vinegar and aromatics. Bring to a light boil then turn down to keep at a low simmer.

Be careful not to burn it or over-reduce it. When it becomes nappant (coats a spoon), it will be thick enough. When reduced more, it will thicken up considerably once cooled. You can always gently reheat and add a little water, as needed.

For the Finish

  • 8 maitake mushroom packets
  • Grapeseed oil
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

TO ASSEMBLE

Remove quail from brine and pat dry. Season with salt and pepper on a wire rack. Sear quail skin-side down in either neutral cooking oil or butter. Sear for 2 minutes and then flip over for another minute.

Sauté mushrooms in a hot pan and season with salt and pepper. Using your thumb, crush potatoes then add in same pan as mushrooms to warm them up.

Reheat balsamic reduction.

Spoon mushrooms and potatoes on warmed plates. Arrange cut quail on plates and then drizzle with balsamic reduction.

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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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.

Saffron Shrimp Risotto with Chinese Broccoli & Wild Mushrooms

I have been making risottos like crazy at work. For my Sunday food party, I wanted to make a different risotto. I asked my friends what they would like to have in the risotto and they said “mushrooms”. Then I wanted shrimp and Chinese broccoli stems in the rice as well so that’s how I created this dish. And why not add some saffron, to make this risotto extra luxurious?

I planned on using maitake mushrooms but the store was out so I bought oyster and king oyster mushrooms. I also had some shiitake at home so it was a nice blend.

My friends and I are all big eaters so technically this recipe serves 8 but we were 4 people.

In case if you were wondering, this is what I cooked for our food party:

Serves 4.

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[100% organic, shrimp from Australia]

For the Risotto

  • 3 TBS butter
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1 cup white wine
  • Pinch of saffron
  • 2 qts dashi stock

Heat up dashi 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 wine 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.

For the Garnishes

  • 2 lbs tiger shrimp
  • 2 cups oyster mushrooms
  • 1 cup shiitake mushrooms
  • 2 king oyster mushrooms
  • 1 bunch Chinese broccoli
  • Canola oil
  • Salt & pepper

Shrimp: Save 8 shrimp whole, peeled to the tail then peel, clean, and devein remaining shrimp. Save shells for later use. Chop up remaining shrimp and set both whole and chopped shrimp aside. Fold in chopped shrimp into risotto and add some more broth to further cooking the shrimp and rice.

Mushrooms: Clean mushrooms and cut into bite-sized pieces. Sauté mushrooms until golden and set aside. Fold into risotto.

Chinese broccoli: cut leaves off and use stems only. Save leaves for later use. Using a mandolin or knife, slice stems into 2 mm rounds. Fold into risotto.

For the Finish

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 8 reserved shrimp
  • Canola oil
  • Salt & pepper

Whip cream until stiff and fold into risotto. Season risotto and taste to adjust seasoning.

Sear shrimp in a pan and drain on paper towels.

TO ASSEMBLE

Scoop risotto into bowls and top with 2 interlocking shrimp. Serve immediately.