Monday, June 16, 2014

Risotto with Extra Large Prawns and Fresh Shelled Peas

I harvested some shelling peas today from my garden.  Mine is a small garden, but I do try my best to maximize yield from that small space.  Being that the peas come to peak at varying times, there is not a huge amount to be harvested at one time.  So to get them while they are super sweet and tender, I have to enjoy a little at a time.  The good news is with the great weather we've enjoyed of late, I should be able to cycle through the peas and replant in time for another crop before the weather turns.  I wish you could taste the peas through your computer screen.  Like home grown tomatoes, the flavor of fresh off the vine, home grown, organic fresh peas are quite superior to those you might find at the store and much more so than frozen peas.  Even if you don't like peas, you'd appreciate the flavor and texture of these.  They are like delicate, crisp little candies.

Tonight's recipe is a re-do of an earlier crab risotto, substitute shrimp.  I add the peas at the very end so they do not cook, but rather just warm up a bit.  

For the risotto (Serves 4):
1 large shallot, finely chopped
1 ¼ cup carnaroli or arborio rice
3 tablespoons olive oil

½ cup dry white wine
5-7 cups chicken stock, heated to simmer

16 extra large prawns, shelled and deveined
¼ cup mascarponi cheese

¼ cup freshly grated parmigiano reggiano
¾ to 1 cup freshly shelled peas
White truffle oil to finish

Heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the shallots and sauté until translucent.  

Add the risotto and saute until the rice is well incorporated and starting to make a slight whistling/crisping sound.  
Deglaze with the white wine and simmer until wine is almost completely evaporated.  
Begin adding the chicken stock, enough each time to just cover the rice.  Stir once and let simmer until the stock is almost completely evaporated.  Then add more stock.  Continue this process until rice is al denté.
Add the prawns and cook until they just start to turn red.  
Add the mascarpone and another 1/2 cup of stock.  Stir until well combined.  
Salt and pepper as needed.

Add the peas and parmigiano reggiano and fold in.
Serve the risotto with a drizzle of white truff
le oil and freshly grated parmigiano reggiano.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Crab Cakes with Sriracha Aioli Cream

Isn't every day a good day for crab cakes?  I have no revelations to share about crab cakes, just the obvious.  Use lots and lots of quality fresh crab and as little of other ingredients as possible.  You need a little something to impart some added flavor and something to hold the cake together.  Other than that, stay pure, step out of the way and let the crab shine.

1 pound lump dungeness crab meat
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
¼ cup sour cream
2 eggs
3 scallions, finely sliced
3 tablespoons finely diced orange bell pepper
1 tablespoon finely minced ginger
2 tablespoons brandy
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon paprika
pinch of cayenne

2 cups panko for coating 
A few tablespoons of butter for cooking

Combine all ingredients, except the panko, in a large bowl.  Gently stir together until well mixed.  

Form into 8 equal sized cakes.
Place the panko in a shallow dish and coat each crab cake.  Refrigerate until ready to cook.
Remove crab cakes from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before cooking.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Once heated add 2 tablespoons butter.  Once butter is melted, fry the crab cakes in batches, about 4-5 minutes per side until golden brown.  Add more butter as needed.

For the aioli cream:
⅓ cup sour cream
⅓ cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon sriracha sauce
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon kosher salt

Stir together all ingredients until sauce is smooth and fully blended.  Cover and chill until ready to use.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Hamachi with Soy and Lemon AND Seared Ahi Tuna with Spicy Aioli

Wow, are we having some spectacular weather here in Seattle.  In all the years I've lived here, I cannot recall a stretch of weather in May to June like what we've had these past weeks.  It's been beautiful, mild and sunny days which is my absolute favorite.  We've already been grilling up a storm, so tonight we are swinging to the raw side of things and dialing up some sashimi.   Happy days!

I buy pretty much all of my sashimi at Uwajimaya.  I think they have a good rate of sell through on their seafood and I know them and they know me.  It's a good combo.  For both of these dishes, the fish, of course, is the star and what little I do to the fish is just a small light to enhance what is already fabulous.  So, getting a fresh piece of fish is key.

For the Hamachi:
I often debate with myself whether to buy the belly portion or the back portion.  I know the belly portion will be slightly better, but I go for the back portion because it is more uniform and thick.  It makes for better presentation.
Uwajimaya sells many types of sashimi already cut into blocks for easy slicing.  Depending how much I want to buy, I either buy the ready cut blocks or go for the cut to size pieces from the fish counter.  Blocks are more expensive because they have been trimmed up all nice and tidy.

For the soy and lemon sauce:
2 teaspoons grape seed oil
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon sugar
wasabi to your liking - I used ¼ teaspoon for the kids
a couple turns of the black pepper grinder
Whisk the ingredients together and set aside until ready to use.

Slice the hamachi into ¼ to ⅓ inch thick pieces.  I had about ¾ pound.
Lay them fanned out on a plate.
Drizzle the sauce over the hamachi.  
Finish with some finely sliced chives.
I served this with a little side of seaweed salad, which I bought pre-made, from Uwajimaya as well. 

For the Ahi Tuna:
For the spicy aioli
2 tablespoons mayonaise
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon sriracha hot sauce
1 teaspoon honey
½ teaspoon light soy sauce
¼ teaspoon sesame oil
Whisk all ingredients together and set aside until ready to use.

In a smoking hot pan, add just a few drops of grape seed oil.
Sear the tuna in all sides quickly.  I had a ⅓ pound piece.
Slice the tuna into ¼ to ⅓ inch thick pieces.

Lay the tuna on a bed of fresh arugula.
Drizzle with the spicy aioli and finish with a sprinkle of toasted sesame seed and crispy seaweed.  

One other thought is whether to serve the sashimi just slightly colder than room temp or cold right of the refrigerator.  We prefer just slighter colder than room temp.  The fish is just a bit more tender and has more flavor that way.  
Divine and devoured!