Thursday, May 29, 2008

Scallops and Salmon

Doesn't look much, but it's scrumptious :-)
Update!! (for my friend Sarah)
I've been looking to improve my taste and use of herbs and spices, so I decided to go back to Asian cooking (but i'm still in-love with Italian food!).  Here is one of the first ones I tried. My first dish using cilantro, an herb i have no love for, but is brilliant in this dish

Scallops and Fish in Ginger and Lime (From my Thai Cookbook). 
The original recipe called for firm white fish - but I love salmon so feel free to substitute whichever fish you like.  Just don't use flaky fish like tilapia or sole.
1LB scallops (Medium sized ones)
1LB salmon fillet
2T chopped ginger
3 spring onions
4T oil (use Canola or vegetable oil as Olive oil won’t work in this dish)
2T Fresh Lime Juice (use calamansi if you don't have this)
2t Lime zest
2T chilli garlic sauce
2T Water
1/4 cup cilantro leaves
Lime wedges (optional)
2T Patis (not in original recipe)
Prep Work:
1. Clean the salmon fillet and be sure to remove the skin and all remaining bones.  Cut into 2 inch squares.
2. Clean scallops leaving only the white muscle usually used in cooking. 
Important! This is a stir fry dish, so it is imperative you dry your fish and scallops well before adding salt and pepper (using a paper towel is fine). You don't want the dish to boil or steam as it will destroy the taste you're going for, and more importantly you don't want the oil splashing on to you!
3. Chop the ginger and spring onions finely.
4. Chop the cilantro leaves coarsely.
5. Zest your lime.  If you don't have a fine grater, take the skin off the lime using a knife making sure the white pith doesn't come with the green skin.  Then chop or slice the skin finely.  Is it worth the hassle adding this? Absolutely, so start practicing your knife skills or buy a microplane grater!
6. Roll the lime beneath your hands, applying significant pressure.  This will help release the juices.  Cut in half and juice.
If you can, use a good sized, heavy bottomed pan so that the heat is even.    Each fish or scallop should be able to touch the pan.  We want to brown each side so leave room to wiggle for flipping them.  But first, heat the pan to a high temperature.   Once hot, add half the oil and wait a few seconds for it to be come hot as well.  Add the ginger and spring onions.  At this point we are only infusing the oil with ginger and onion flavor, so remove them immediately before they burn.   Reheat the pan and add the remaining oil. 
One by one, add the fish and scallops and brown all sides.  You’d want to hear a sizzle and see the juices evaporating as soon as it hits the pan.  Do this in batches if they won’t fit the pan to prevent the heat from going down.  Depending on your comfort zone, if you can flame it, flame the dish.  I’m a fan of flaming as it lends depth to your dish that no salt or pepper or any spice can add, but don’t do it if your kitchen is not well ventilated or if you’re prone to panic attacks  To flame, I simply tilt the pan and let the flame catch onto the dancing oil.   Once flamed, tilt back the pan and let it burn out.  

Important!! If the flame gets too scary, immediately cover the pan to douse the flames.  Do NOT put water in the pan.  The interaction between water and oil will make the flame bigger (happened to me before, so I know what I’m talking about)

Now, with all the heat we are talking about, you must balance overcooking and getting all sides brown.  As the heat is very high it should brown the seafood well without overcooking, but it’s better to be cautious.  To know if a scallop is ready, touch it with the tip of your tongs or a spoon.  When it bounces back it’s already cooked.  (Open your palms and tighten the muscles in your hand.  Then touch the slopping area in your palm, under your thumb.  It should be like that).   After all the seafood has been browned, remove from the pan and set aside.  Notice that the picture above is not too brown.  I hate overcooked seafood, so I erred on the side of raw as I can cook it further later, but that is really up to you.
In the same pan, add the lime juice, chili garlic sauce, water and lime zest.  I added patis in mine, but this was not in the original recipe.  Stir well and bring mixture to a boil.  Once boiling add back the ginger, onions, seafood and toss gently.  The sauce should only coat the seafood thinly.  It’s not meant to be soup. Then add the coriander for the final toss. 
Serve with rice and lime wedges.
*To avoid a metal taste,  use a wooden spoon or plastic for cooking.

Quick Dinners - Pepper Lobster

We got 50% off cooked lobsters from the Dekalb market.  I got a bottle of pepper sauce, sauteed some garlic, and then....

woohooo!!! YUMYUM!!!