Spicy Dungeness Crab & Artichoke Melts

Dungeness Crab & Artichoke Melts

Spicy Dungeness Crab & Artichoke Melts

You know what makes me happy every year in early November? A mountain of Dungeness crab meat. When the crabbing season opens and those first boats leave the harbor with their crab traps, us West-coasters know we’re in for a treat.

In my town I think the best place to eat Dungeness crab is little place out on the wharf called Stagnaro’s. Downstairs there is a fish market with a walk-up counter where you can order a crab or shrimp cocktail, a burger, or a whole fish or fresh live crab to take home with you. Inside is a casual sit-down seafood restaurant. But the real treat (and where we love to take out of town visitors) is the upstairs bar, which has an outdoor deck, a panoramic view of the Monterey Bay, and a mean Dungeness crab cocktail. For some reason, the deck is usually vacant, but we have no idea why. It may be a little breezy out there and the seagulls can be loud, but it’s hard to beat the view of the ocean. Look one direction and you see our lighthouse proudly perched on the end of the cliffs with Cowell’s and Steamers (popular surf spots) down below. Look the other direction and you take in a view of the Boardwalk, the sandy beaches dotted with tourists, locals, and beach volleyball enthusiasts alike, and the Santa Cruz mountains standing tall in the background. If you’re lucky, you’ll look down at the water just below you and watch a sea otter eat a sea urchin, or a pack of sea lions splashing and bellowing. All of this while digging into a fresh Dungeness crab cocktail, biting into a warm buttered sourdough roll, and sipping a local pale ale. Sound enticing?

These open-faced sandwiches are piled high with  fresh crab meat that’s been mixed with chopped marinated artichokes, green onions, just enough mayonnaise to hold it together, some lemon zest, and a little minced jalapeño for heat. You top them with sharp cheddar, stick them under the broiler, and you have a satisfying meal that celebrates both the crustacean it highlights and the season.

The recipe comes from a cookbook that I received as a gift from my Grandma who lives in Alaska. It is a collection of stories and recipes from female commercial fisherwomen. The only changes we made to the original recipe were adding a little lemon zest to the crab mixture (because I think lemon and crab are a match made in heaven), using sourdough bread instead of french bread (just a personal preference), and buttering the bread before broiling (why not?). Our changes are noted below. Not in the mood for a spicy sandwich? Simply add less jalapeño or leave it out completely.

We went the economical and labor-intensive route by purchasing a whole Dungeness crab and taking the meat out ourselves (just ask your butcher to crack and clean it for you and it will make the process easier). You can buy Dungeness crab meat, but the price per pound will be slightly more because of the labor involved. It’s up to you! If you can’t find Dungeness crab, substitute whatever crab meat is available to you.

Dungeness Crab & Artichoke Melts

Spicy Dungeness Crab & Artichoke Melts

Spicy Dungeness Crab & Artichoke Melts

(Slightly adapted from The Fishes & Dishes Cookbook; Makes 4 Servings)

1 1/2 cups shelled crab meat, shredded
1 cup marinated artichoke hearts, coarsely chopped
1 to 2 TBS. minced fresh jalapeño
1 tsp. minced garlic
a couple pinches of fresh lemon zest
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 green onion, white and light green parts, sliced
salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 large slices of sourdough bread from a round sourdough loaf
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
chopped fresh parsley for garnish

  • Preheat the broiler and set the rack on the middle level.
  • In a medium bowl, mix together the crab meat, artichoke hearts, jalapeño, garlic, lemon zest, mayonnaise, Parmesan cheese, green onion, salt and pepper.
  • Lightly butter the sourdough bread slices on both sides and place under the broiler until lightly golden. Turn them over and broil until other side is lightly golden. Remove from oven and spread each toasted slice of bread with the crab-artichoke mixture. Top with cheddar cheese. Place the open-faced sandwiches back under the broiler and cook until topping is hot and bubbly, about 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve hot.
Dungeness Crabs (photo from Santa Cruz Sentinel)

Dungeness Crabs (photo from Santa Cruz Sentinel)

Grilled Opah with Hawaiian Sea Salt and Mango-Papaya-Avocado Salsa

Opah is a Hawaiian fish that grills beautifully thanks to its meaty texture, but has a mild flavor that even hesitant fish eaters can appreciate, especially when topped with a fresh tropical fruit salsa with creamy avocado. I don’t know about you, but I sure could use a mental vacation right now, in lieu of real one, which would require too much money and require boarding a plane with my toddler.

I’ll never forget our last spring break in Japan in 2008 when we met my family in Kauai for several days.  On our second evening there, my dad barbecued mahi-mahi and opakapaka (Hawaiian pink snapper) and we ate on the ocean-view porch of our Waimea Plantation Cottage. The combination of the grilled local fish, the mai tais, and the sunset was heaven, and it fully rejuvenated us to return to Japan to finish up our semester of English classes.

Dustin was recently given two types of Hawaiian sea salt as a gift from a co-worker. When we saw the beautiful Opah fillets at the fish counter, we remembered our Kauai vacation and knew they would be a perfect match for our Hawaiian salt. The first one is “Black Lava” and is a mixture of flake sea salt and charcoal, hence its pitch black color. The other is “Alaea Red” and is a coarse sea salt that gets its color from ‘Alaea or Hawaiian red clay.

When we took the Opah off of the grill, we let it rest  like you would with any thick cut of meat, then topped it with generous spoonfuls of our colorful mango-papaya-avocado salsa, and served it next to a scoop of white rice, sprinkled with a little of the black lava salt. Some arugula lightly dressed with fresh lemon rounded out this healthy summer dinner. If you don’t have a Hawaiian vacation coming up (I can sympathize), make this for dinner, fix yourself a mai tai (or pour yourself a glass of beer – beer pairing suggestion below), enjoy the lingering daylight, and give yourself a break. You deserve it. Sunset not included.

Grilled Opah with Hawaiian Sea Salt and Mango-Papaya-Avocado Salsa

(serves 4)

2 lbs. Hawaiian Opah*
Extra virgin olive oil
Hawaiian sea salt (check out www.alohaspice.com for the varieties I mentioned) or just sub coarse salt or Kosher salt
1 mango, pitted, peeled, and diced (don’t know the best way to cut a mango? Here’s a hint)
1 small papaya, peeled, seeds removed, and diced
1 ripe avocado, diced
Juice from 1 small lime (or to taste)
Agave nectar, to taste
A pinch of chili flakes (optional, but tasty)
Accompaniments: steamed rice; arugula tossed with fresh lemon juice

*We bought one huge piece of Opah that we later cut into individual portions, but you can also buy 4 fillets, about 1/2 a lb. each

  • Take the Opah out of the refrigerator rub with olive oil. Season lightly with sea salt (we used a little of each variety of Hawaiian sea salt) and set aside (at room temperature). Meanwhile, prepare a charcoal grill (or a gas grill on high heat).
  • In a small bowl, combine the mango, papaya, and avocado. Add lime juice, a drizzle of agave nectar, the chili flakes (if using), and a little salt and pepper. Gently stir everything together, taste, and adjust seasonings as necessary. Cover and refrigerate.
  • When the grill is ready, oil the grill grates. Add the Opah and grill until just cooked through, but not overdone, about 3-6 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of your fillets (ours were about 2-3 inches). Let rest for a couple minutes, then cut into 4 pieces.
  • Place the Opah on plates and spoon some salsa over the top. Serve with steamed rice, and a handful of arugula tossed with some freshly squeezed lemon juice. Go ahead and add a little sprinkling of sea salt too!

Beer Pairing Suggestion: We opened up a bottle of Tiger Baby: Open Windows Open Hills (how’s that for a name!? – it’s actually named after a Danish electro-pop group) by Mikkeller. To quote one fan from Beer Advocate:  ” In the aroma, citrus notes of island fruit. In the taste, sweet to dry fruitiness and citrus, especially mango. A small fruit bite and a medium bodied mouthfeel, with a small citrus fruit skin in the aftertaste. Big fruity presence, almost chardonnay like, quite superb!” We happened to agree. It went especially well with the mango-papaya-avocado salsa.

Sake-Steamed Clams with Sriracha Compound Butter

Seafood and I have come a long way. As a child and into my teenage years, I generally avoided it (except for the occasional tempura shrimp or in “fish and chip” form). Then when I was in college, I had several seafood dishes that expanded my horizons and changed my attitude towards things of the sea. One of them was the Garlic Baked Clams at Brophy Bros. Restaurant & Clam Bar, out on the Santa Barbara wharf.  Over glasses of white wine, my friend Lauren and I enjoyed this irresistible appetizer with a basket of sourdough bread one evening towards the end of our college careers. It was official – I was a clam convert.

So, last weekend on a blustery, rainy evening, the girl who used to avoid seafood was craving a big pot of steamed clams, with some crusty bread, and two of our best friends. There were a lot of clams, 7 lbs in fact, but we made short work of them. They were steamed in sake, topped with a Sriracha compound butter, a dash of togarashi (a Japanese spice blend of cayenne, orange peel, sesame seeds, and seaweed), and a scattering of scallions. We soaked up the flavorful broth, now enriched by the melted Sriracha butter, with a Gayle’s Capitola Sourdough baguette. It was a heavenly meal.

The original recipe calls for plain, unsalted butter that you put on top of the hot clams, but the idea of a Sriracha butter entered my brain (these are the friends with whom we do our “Sriracha Dinners” – if you remember such meals as the Ultimate Sriracha Burger, Camarones a la Diabla, or Miso-Sriracha Glazed Salmon with Spicy Slaw). It seemed right to continue the tradition, and we thought the Sriracha compound butter (recipe from The Sriracha Cookbook) added a little extra zip to the clams and a depth of flavor once it melted and incorporated into the broth. It was also pretty amazing spread on the sourdough bread 🙂

The recipe below serves 4 as a main dish.

Sake-Steamed Clams with Sriracha Compound Butter

(Slightly adapted from Food & Wine; recipe contributed by Nobuo Fukuda)

4 TBS. butter (1/2 a stick), at room temperature*
1 TBS. Sriracha
1 small garlic clove, minced
7 lbs. Manila clams, scrubbed
3 1/2 cups Sake (roughly 1-750 ml bottle)**
3 1/2 cups water
2 scallions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
a couple pinches of togarashi

* If you find yourself with leftover Sriracha compound butter, try using it to cook your fried eggs in the morning (yum), spread it on a bagel, top grilled steak or fish, or melt and drizzle onto popcorn. You really can’t go wrong.

** Chef Fukuda suggests using a cooking sake, or ryori, such as Shochikubai brand. We used a Gekkeikan sake from Trader Joe’s – just make sure whatever you choose is a dry sake.

  • Fill a medium bowl with cold water and add 1 tablespoon of salt. Add the clams and let stand for 1 hour. Drain the clams and rinse them well.
  • Meanwhile, make the Sriracha compound butter: Using a wooden spoon, mix the butter with the Sriracha and garlic until evenly incorporated. Scrape the butter out onto a large sheet of plastic wrap. Using the plastic wrap as a barrier between your hands and the butter, form the butter into a log shape, about 1 inch in diameter. Roll the butter up tightly, adjusting and maintaining the log form. Refrigerate for at least an hour to allow the butter to set up and the flavors to meld.
  • In a large, deep pot, combine the sake with the water and bring to a boil. Add the clams, cover the skillet tightly and cook, shaking the pan occasionally, until most of the clams have opened, about 4 minutes (ours took about twice as long to open, but maybe that’s because we were cooking 7 lbs instead of 2 lbs!)
  • Spoon the clams and broth into 4 bowls. Top  each bowl of clams with a slice of the Sriracha compound butter, garnish with the scallions and togarashi and serve immediately, along with sourdough bread to soak up the broth.

Grilled Shrimp Tacos with Jalapeño-Ranch Sauce

It’s recipe swap time again! This week’s theme was Mexican. Both of us have been fortunate enough to grow up in California where we have eaten some of the best Mexican food outside of Mexico, something we missed greatly while we were in Japan, where there wasn’t an enchilada or a torta in sight (nor was there knowledge of either of those things). This recipe was a little different, so I can’t compare it to the tacos I ate at a little stand down in San Diego or Ensenada, but if you put it in a different category, perhaps Tex-Mex or American-Mexican, it’s a meal that definitely delivers on flavor, from the charcoal flavor of the grilled shrimp to the kick of Jalapeño in the zesty ranch sauce.

Ranch isn’t usually a staple in our house, so I was actually excited to have an excuse to buy the seasoning mix from the store and mix it into sour cream. When I added the grilled jalapeño and whirled everything up in a food processor, I decided this would be the perfect dip for potato chips (I may or may not have tried this while Dustin was grilling the shrimp). Next time, I would up the seasoning in the shrimp marinade – definitely more salt and more chili powder/cayenne, and maybe even add something sweet like honey or agave nectar to balance the flavors, but over all, this is a great meal to enjoy in your backyard on a warm evening with a glass of dry white wine. And I’m telling you, that Jalapeño-Ranch sauce just calls out for potato chips!

Grilled Shrimp Tacos with Jalapeño-Ranch Sauce

(From Sarah of A Taste of Home Cooking)

1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined (we used small prawns)
Olive oil
Juice of 1 lime
Chopped garlic
Chili powder or cayenne pepper (or both! We also recommend adding salt & pepper to the marinade)
1 jalapeno
1 packet ranch dressing mix (we used what was labeled “ranch dip seasoning”)
1 cup sour cream
Flour tortillas
Shredded lettuce
Diced tomatoes
Shredded Monterey Jack cheese 
Your favorite hot sauce (we used Cholula)

  • Prepare a charcoal grill.
  • Combine shrimp, olive oil, lime juice, garlic and chili/cayenne in a bowl. Marinate shrimp for up to 30 minutes. Lightly oil the jalapeno and grill until nice and charred on the outside, about 5 minutes. Let cool slightly, then discard the stem and cut in half lengthwise. Discard the seeds.
  • Meanwhile, combine the seeded jalapeno with the ranch mix and the sour cream in a food processor and process until smooth. Transfer sauce to a small bowl and refrigerate until use. Cook the shrimp on the grill until they are done, and have nice grill marks. Warm up the tortillas on the grill.
  • To assemble the tacos: spoon some Jalapeño-Ranch sauce on a tortilla, then top with shrimp (after removing the tails!), shredded lettuce, tomatoes and cheese. Drizzle with extra sauce and a few drops of hot sauce.

Miso-Sriracha Glazed Salmon with Spicy Slaw

After two flavorful dinners from The Sriracha Cookbook — Ultimate Sriracha Burgers and Camarones a la Diabla — it was time for Sriracha dinner night #3. In this recipe, Sriracha plays a more subtle role, adding just a hint of spiciness to a sweet glaze balanced by the savory flavors of miso and soy sauce. Broiling caramelizes the glaze nicely, while cooking the salmon to a perfect medium/medium-rare. Most of the spice in this meal comes from the slaw. The addition of mint, peanut butter, and fish sauce is reminiscent of Thai flavors. It’s the perfect companion to the salmon, or try it as a zesty alternative to coleslaw at your next BBQ. We also made a quick side dish of sautéed sugar snap peas with fresh chopped mint to tie all the flavors together.

Miso-Sriracha Glazed Salmon

(From The Sriracha Cookbook; Serves 6)

3 TBS. toasted sesame oil
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup white miso paste
3 TBS. Sriracha
1 clove garlic, minced
nonstick cooking spray (or canola oil for greasing)
6 (6-oz.) salmon fillets, about 1-inch thick (alternatively, you can buy one large salmon fillet and divide it into portions after cooking)
6 sliced green onions, green part only, for garnish (reserve the white parts for the slaw!)

  • Preheat the broiler.
  • In a small nonreactive bowl, combine the sesame oil, brown sugar, soy sauce, miso, Sriracha, and garlic.
  • Line a rimmed baking pan with foil (this will make clean-up much easier later on!) and spray with cooking spray (or lightly grease with oil). Place the salmon on the foil and brush some of the glaze over the salmon, enough to evenly cover the surface.
  • Broil 6 inches from the flame, basting the salmon twice with more glaze (we had some leftover so don’t feel like you need to use all of it). Broil until the salmon flakes easily at the center of the fillet, 9-10 minutes. Don’t be alarmed if you see some smoke. That’s what the soy sauce does when it’s caramelizing.
  • Remove salmon from baking pan and transfer fillets to plates. Garnish with green onion and serve.

Spicy Slaw

(From The Sriracha Cookbook; Serves 6-8)

For the Dressing:

1/3 cup chunky natural peanut butter
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup fresh pineapple juice
1/4 cup Sriracha
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 TBS. fish sauce
1 TBS. grated ginger
2 TBS. sugar

For the Slaw:

1 1/2 lbs. napa cabbage, shredded
1/2 lb. red cabbage, shredded (we used green, so our slaw wasn’t quite as colorful)
2 carrots, peeled and julienned (we grated them)
2 red bell peppers, seeded and julienned
1 jalapeño, seeded and minced (depending on your heat tolerance, you may want to omit this. It’s already pretty spicy with the Sriracha)
6 green onions, white part only, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
salt & freshly ground black pepper

  • First, make the dressing. In a medium bowl, combine the peanut butter, lime juice, pineapple juice, Sriracha, garlic, fish sauce, ginger, and sugar. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
  • Next, make the slaw. In a large bowl, mix together the napa and red (or green) cabbages, carrots, bell peppers, jalapeño, green onions, cilantro, and mint.
  • Add the dressing and toss to mix. Season with salt & pepper to taste.

Camarones a la Diabla

Among many things, my friend Miriam and I share an affinity for making lists, browsing the store Anthropologie, and putting Sriracha on everything (except popcorn; we tried that; too soggy). We also love the same dish at Los Pericos, a taqueria in downtown Santa Cruz – Camarones a la Diabla, shrimp in a spicy, smokey chilie-tomato sauce. It’s the kind of dish that is painful to eat, but so enjoyable that you just keep going. A cold beer helps. Los Pericos serves their fiery shrimp next to cooling guacamole and sour cream (thank goodness), as well as rice, refried beans, corn tortillas, shredded iceburg lettuce, and a slice of (unfortunately pale, flavorless) tomato. But that’s ok because the rest of the dish is zesty and flavorful to make up for this unfortunate garnish. The entrée is a big commitment because of its size, but we usually do pretty well. So, if Los Pericos already makes our perfect spicy meal, why make the dish at home?  Well, because there’s a recipe for Camarones a la Diabla in The Sriracha Cookbook! After our successful Ultimate Sriracha Burgers, we decided to tackle a second recipe from the book together (with the help of our significant others).

What makes Camarones a la Diabla special is the addition of dried chilies in the sauce, three varieties, in fact. They are worth seeking out because their flavor is so unique – smokey, earthy, subtly spicy, and they are really what makes Camarones a la Diabla Camarones a la Diabla. Of course, this recipe includes Sriracha as well, which adds another dimension of flavor, that familiar combination of spicy, sweet, and tangy. We were surprised, though, that the Sriracha flavor wasn’t as prominent in the final dish. Setting the bottle on the table for people to add to taste was a good way to remedy this. We served our version with cilantro-lime brown rice, refried black beans, and a big salad. It was different from Los Pericos’ version; a little sweeter and more tomato-y, and didn’t quite pack as much punch as the recipe promised, but it was still “devilish” enough to keep us coming back for more.

Camarones a la Diabla

(From The Sriracha Cookbook)

6 dried guajillo chilies
4 dried arbol chilies
2 dried ancho chilies
1/3 cup Sriracha
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 (28-ounce) can tomato puree
3 tablespoons butter
1 large red onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 pounds tail-on shrimp, peeled and deveined
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish (we used cilantro instead; it is a Mexican dish!)
warmed corn tortillas, for serving

  • Toast the chilies in a dry skillet over medium heat, 3 minutes per side. They will get really fragrant and their skin slightly charred. While the chilies are toasting, bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  • When the chilies are toasted and the water is boiling, drop the chilies in the boiling water, cover, remove from heat, and let steep for 20 minutes.
  • Drain the chilies, reserving 1/4 cup of the liquid. Discard the seeds and the skins as best you can (I was impatient and tried to do this while they were still kind of hot, which made it difficult). Throw the seeded, skinned chilies into a food processor, along with the reserved liquid, the Sriracha, and 2 TBS. of  the vegetable oil. Puree until smooth, using a spatula to wipe down the sides in between pulses.
  • Place a large pot with a lid on the stove and set a mesh strainer on top (or someone can hold it over the pot for you). Spoon the pureed chile mixture into the strainer and use a wooden spoon to force it through. At first it will seem like there’s not much to push through, but be persistent with the spoon, using a stirring motion, and eventually you’ll end up with a smooth puree at the bottom of the pot.
  • Add the can of tomato puree to the pot. Simmer the tomato/chili mixture over medium heat, 12-15 minutes or until thickened. I found the mixture to already be pretty thick and it started splattering everywhere like crazy (which is why the lid is helpful), so I didn’t simmer it for the full time – maybe only 10 minutes.
  • Heat the butter and the remaining Tablespoon of vegetable oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, for 6-7 minutes or until soft. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the shrimp and cook for another minute, stirring, until they get some nice color on them. Add the tomato/chile mixture to the pan with the shrimp, onions, and garlic. Stir to combine and continue cooking until shrimp are cooked through. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and serve over (or next to) rice and refried beans, and warmed corn tortillas. Makes 6-8 servings.

[1st post-baby dinner!] Grilled Red Trout Fillets, Artichokes, and Salad with Grilled Lime Slices

Hello oishiifood followers.  This is a guest post by Dustin.  As you all know, Brianna does most of the writing for this wonderful collection of recipes we’ve come up with/tried.  I’m usually the “behind the scenes” guy doing my part in the kitchen and behind the camera.  So it’s a treat for me to share this recipe with all of you!

We made this dinner while my dad was up visiting his new grandson.  It was actually the first dinner we made since bringing Levi home so I wanted to do something easy but also extremely delicious! My dad and I left Brianna home with Levi and went to our local market (Shopper’s Corner).  I saw these beautiful red trout fillets and asked the butcher for two pounds (there were only 3 of us but I figured my dad and I can pack down the food).  When we got it home and I unwrapped it.  I couldn’t believe how much two pounds of fish really is!  Needless to say, I have a habit of getting way too much protein when left to my own devices and two pounds was about a half-pound too much for the three of us.  We also got some organic artichokes, zucchini, and a spring salad mix.  Now that I had all this fish, I had to figure out what to do with it.  I knew I wanted to grill the artichokes and the zucchini so I figured why not grill the trout too!

*One thing to note about my cooking style is that it’s very organic and not very precise.  I just kinda go with it.  So you’ll have to forgive the imprecise measurements and trust your instincts if you try this recipe!


1/2 pound of red trout fillets per person
a few cloves of garlic, minced
a good dose of olive oil
a healthy pour of paprika
salt and pepper
juice of one medium meyer lemon (ours was home grown!)
zest of 1/2 of one meyer lemon
long metal spatula

  • Set the trout out on a baking sheet.  Allow to come to room temp.
  • Meanwhile, in a small bowl combine all the other ingredients.  It should have a nice syrup like texture.  If it’s too watery throw in some more paprika and olive oil!
  • Once the marinade is ready, get down and dirty with those trout fillets.  Rub that stuff on there like there’s no tomorrow.  Each piece should be coated evenly.  Allow to sit (on the counter or in the fridge) for at least 15 minutes.  The lemon juice may turn the top of the fillets a grayish color, don’t worry, that’s perfectly normal.
  • Once the grill is heated up and ready to go, throw on the fillets.  Cover the BBQ and let those guys cook for a little while (depending on thickness around 4-7 minutes).  Here comes the tricky part, flipping the fillets.  Time to get out (or go buy) a long metal spatula.  Trout isn’t the heartiest fish, in fact it’s pretty delicate.  The flipping part of this is kinda like punching through a board (you know like karate kid), once you commit you have to go all the way.  Cook on this side for another 2-4 minutes.
  • That’s it!  You should now have some incredibly scrumptious fish ready to serve.


This is the first time that I actually cooked my own artichokes believe it or not.  I mostly just made it up  as I went after reading conflicting things online about the best way to grill them.  It worked out pretty dang nicely if I may say so.

at least 1/2 an artichoke per person
1 small lime or lemon
olive oil
salt and pepper

  • Get a large pot, fill it with water, and get it boiling.
  • Meanwhile, cut off the top 1/2″ – 1″ of the artichokes depending on size.  Two things to note here: 1) Use the sharpest knife you have, these things are tough!  2) You should see a tiny bit of purple in the center of the now cut off top, though different varieties may look slightly different).
  • Use that lime or lemon and juice up the “injured” leaves.  Place the artichokes in a large bowl of cool water, squeeze the rest of the lemon or lime juice in there, and let them sit for about 10 minutes or so.
  • After their soaking time is up, hold them upside down in the cool water bath and plunge each one up and down in the water while rotating from side-to-side for a bit (it’s gets out all kinds of dirt and bugs and stuff) and then toss them in to the boiling water.
  • Cook for about 15 minutes or until the base of the large leaves feel somewhat tender and the whole thing is noticeably more flexible.
  • Allow to cool.  Then cut in half on the vertical axis (through the stem, top to bottom).
  • With a spoon, scoop out all that hairy looking stuff.  Don’t go too deep into the base though, that’s the “heart” and it’s delicious!  Get rid of the smallest rows of leaves as well, the ones with really spiky feeling tips that come out with virtually no resistance.  Put the artichokes on a platter and drizzle with a little olive oil, add some salt and pepper, and they’re ready to grill!
  • Grill “open” side down for about 5-7 minutes or until you see some nice grill marks and they just look so mouth watering you can’t bear to leave them on the grill a moment longer.
  • Serve with mayonnaise for dipping.

Salad with Grilled Lime Slices

Lettuce of your choices (we used a spring mix, red leaf would be great too) for however many people
Greek style yogurt
juice from 1 medium lime
Agave nectar
1 medium lime thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper
salt and pepper

  • Grill the lime slices until they start to caramelize a bit and you see some nice grill marks.*
  • For the dressing, combine a good dollop or two of the yogurt, the lime juice, a healthy drizzle of agave nectar, and salt and pepper in a bowl.
  • Toss the lettuce, sliced bell pepper and the dressing in a large salad bowl.  Dish.  Then throw a couple of the lime slices on there to make it look pretty (and taste amazing too)!

*the grilled lime slices are equally good with the trout fillets!

Olive Oil Poached Tuna with Caper-Olive Vinaigrette

They say you learn something new every day. Well, yesterday we learned about poaching. Fish, in particular. It’s a pretty cool process. You allow a 1 inch-thick cut of fish (like tuna, halibut or salmon) to sit at room temperature for an hour. Then you submerge it in a bath of warm oil and immediately transfer it to an oven where it hangs out for 25 minutes at a low temperature. At the end of 25 minutes, these weird little white dots form on the surface of the fish (called albumin, which are protein) and that’s your cue that it’s ready to eat. The result is tender, flavorful fish!

This is the first recipe we’ve tried from Fine Cooking magazine, and we loved how easy and straight forward the directions were. (I’m still in denial that Gourmet is gone, but so far Fine Cooking is filling a tiny part of that void in my life). Our tuna didn’t look as pink as the magazine picture when we took it out of the oil, but it tasted amazing, so we’re going to assume that we did everything fine! You’ll love the caper-olive vinaigrette (which we had to make in a food processor, since we don’t have a blender). It’s something that you’ll want to make again to accompany any kind of fish, shrimp, or even lamb. Some roasted vegetables (fingerling potatoes, carrots, parsnips, and red beets) were a nice accompaniment. This recipe serves 4.

Olive Oil Poached Tuna with Caper-Olive Vinaigrette

(From the April/May 2010 issue of Fine Cooking)

For the Tuna:

1 clove garlic
Kosher salt
1 tsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
4 to 6 cups extra-virgin olive oil*
4 1-inch-thick tuna steaks (6- to 7-oz. each)

For the Vinaigrette:

1/3 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 TBS. capers, rinsed and drained
4 Kalamata olives, pitted
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 tsp. white wine vinegar
1/4 tsp/ granulated sugar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • Peel and smash the garlic clove and a pinch of salt to a paste (using a mortar and pestle or by mincing and mashing with the side of a chef’s knife – we did the latter).
  • Combine the garlic paste, rosemary, 1 tsp. salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Add just enough oil to turn the spice mixture into a smooth paste, about 1/2 tsp. Rub the paste over the tuna. It will be sparse. Let the tuna sit at room temperature for about an hour.
  • Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 225 degrees.
  • Measure the thickness of the tuna steaks and add the same depth of oil to a 10-inch straight-sided sauté pan.
  • Heat over low heat until the oil reaches 120 degrees, 2 to 3 minutes. Put the tuna steaks in the oil in a single layer and immediately transfer the pan to the oven. Poach until a few small whitish droplets rise to the surface of the tuna, and the center of the fish is rosy, 25 minutes.
  • While the fish poaches, combine the parsley, capers, olives, garlic, vinegar, and sugar in a blender and blend to a coarse puree. With the motor running, pour the olive oil through the hole in the blender’s lid and puree until incorporated. Taste for salt (it may not need any — we didn’t add any) and set aside.
  • Transfer the tuna to a wire rack set over paper towels to drain for a few minutes. Serve with the vinaigrette spooned over each steak.

* this recipe uses a lot of oil, doesn’t it? You can save it to do more poaching (of fish) in the near future – let it cool to room temp, then strain through a sieve lined with a coffee filter (but stop straining before you reach the bottom because the seafood releases some liquid during cooking that settles there). Refrigerate for up to 3 weeks. But our advice is just to buy some cheap-ish olive oil at the grocery store, because really, how much poached fish can you eat in 3 weeks?  It’s up to you!

Red Trout Fillets with Meyer Lemon

After revealing the vast quantities of things we consumed over the holidays (and keep in mind, those were just the highlights), I’m happy to kick the year off with fish! For some reason, I was craving fish for a change (like red meat, fish hasn’t been at the top of list the last 5 months, but I’m happy that I can eat it now because it’s so good for us!) We also had some meyer lemons on the tree in the front yard that were crying out to be picked, so Dustin made this delicious dish for us. Red trout fillets are nice and thin so they cook very quickly in a pan, making them perfect for a weeknight dinner. I made some simple rice pilaf, and sautéed zucchini with garlic and chiles to go with it.

Red Trout Fillets with Meyer Lemon

2 red trout fillets
salt & pepper
brown sugar
cayenne pepper
1 meyer lemon, zested and juiced
splash of orange juice

  • Place the trout fillets skin-side down and season with salt & pepper, a little brown sugar, some cayenne, and 1/2 of the lemon zest (reserve the other half for garnish at the end).
  • In a small bowl, combine lemon juice, orange juice, and some salt.
  • Heat about a TBS. of butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. When hot, add the trout fillets seasoned-side down and cook for 2-3 minutes. Carefully flip and turn heat to high. Pour in the lemon juice/orange juice mixture and cook for a minute or less.
  • Transfer trout fillets to plates. Pour the reduced juice over the trout fillets. Garnish with reserved zest. Serve with rice and your favorite veggie.

Pan-Fried Red Trout Fillets with Mizuna-Mango-Manchego Salad & a Simple Mango Cocktail

After weeks of writing about Swedish food and travel adventures, it feels both strange and comforting to once again be blogging from our own kitchen! This is a meal that we made a few days after returning home, but it had to wait in line until now! My cousin Nikita came over to cook dinner with us and this is the menu we came up with together.

Red Trout is a delicious, mild fish that goes well with whatever seasoning you choose. We decided to pan fry the fillets in a skillet, marinated in a garlicky-lime concoction that Dustin threw together in the food processor. The salad was Nikita’s creation – I love fresh mizuna because of its mildly spicy flavor. The cubes of manchego cheese add great texture and earthy flavor to the salad. The mango provides the sweetness to offset the slightly spicy-citrusy dressing. We served the fish and the salad with simple steamed white rice. And don’t forget the cocktails – the combination of mango, lemonade, and ginger beer is really refreshing. Serve over ice and sip in the backyard before dinner!

Pan-Fried Red Trout Fillets with Citrus & Garlic

1/2 a white onion
4 cloves of garlic
zest of 2 small limes*
juice from 1 lemon
olive oil
salt & pepper
1 trout fillet per person

*We used lime zest because we needed the juice for our salad dressing. You could use the zest of the lemon in its place.

  • Combine the onion, garlic, lime zest, and lemon juice in a food processor, and process for about 5 seconds. While machine is running, add some olive oil until it becomes the consistency of a paste. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Spread the mixture over the trout fillets and place in a Ziplock bag to marinate for a bit.
  • When ready to cook, heat a pan or skillet over high heat. Add a little olive oil to coat the bottom. Remove fillets from bag and place in the pan skin side down.  Cook for about 3 minutes. Flip and cook the other side for another 2-3 minutes. Transfer to plates and serve with steamed rice and the delicious salad below.

    Mizuna-Mango-Manchego Salad with Lime Vinaigrette

    a few big handfuls of mizuna, washed and dried
    1 mango, cubed
    about 4 ounces of manchego cheese, cubed
    olive oil
    juice of 2 small limes
    cayanne pepper to taste
    paprika to taste
    salt & pepper to taste

    • Place the mizuna in a salad bowl. Add the cubes of mango and the manchego.
    • In a small jar or container with a tight-fitting lid, combine some olive oil, the lime juice, cayenne, paprika, and salt & pepper. Shake vigorously. Taste and adjust seasonings (and amount of oil, if needed).
    • Pour over salad and toss gently.

      Mango-Lemon-Ginger Cocktails:

      Mango Vodka (we used Absolut – it’s from Sweden! :))
      Ginger Beer

      • Fill a highball glass with ice. Add a shot of mango vodka. Top with lemonade and then ginger beer. Stir and serve. See? That was simple!

      Chili-Lime Shrimp Stir Fry & (our best yet) Miso Soup

      Finally. FINALLY! We are back! Since I last posted, I joined the world of twitter. Immediately I thought of the episode of The Daily Show, where reporter Samantha Bee makes fun of the “tweet” frenzy. But nevertheless we’re jumping on the bandwagon. If you aren’t already, please follow along here. (You can also view our tweets on the right side of this page). I’ll be keeping people updated not only on what’s going on in our kitchen, but other random musings in my life. Ok, on to dinner. I was craving shrimp, and I love the flavors of chili and lime together. I suggested to Dustin that we make a stir fry involving all those things. When we got to the store, we couldn’t resist two cute baby bok choy, so we threw those in there as well. The result was a sweet/spicy combo that we really enjoyed on top of steamed rice with a side of our (now almost-perfected) miso soup!

      Chili-Lime Shrimp Stir Fry

      1 lb. shrimp
      1 lime
      2 TBS. fresh chili paste (such as Sambal Oelek)
      2 good drizzles of honey
      1 large splash of soy sauce
      1 thumb-nail sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
      salt & pepper
      2 tsp. sesame oil
      1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
      2 baby bok choy, tough white part of the leaves removed

      • Peel and de-vein the shrimp leaving the tails attached. Place in a medium sized bowl. Add the juice of a lime (reserve a little juice from one of the halves to finish off the dish), chili paste, honey, soy sauce, ginger, and salt & pepper. Set aside.
      • Heat the sesame oil in a wok until hot. Add the garlic and cook for less than a minute, stirring consistently so it’s golden, but not burnt.
      • Add the bok choy leaves and and stir. Add a small amount of water (or broth) and bring a lid down over the wok. Cook for 1-2 minutes more. Remove the lid.
      • Add the shrimp. Cook, stirring frequently, until opaque. Off the heat, add the last little squeeze of lime juice. Serve over steamed rice.

        This was our third time making miso soup, and it really was the charm! The first time we used white miso, which resulted in a really sweet-tasting soup. Good, but not the kind we remembered eating in Osaka. The second time we used vegetable stock because we didn’t have the ingredients to make dashi stock. Still, the wakame seaweed, cubed extra firm tofu and sliced green onions that we threw in made it almost taste like the real thing. This time we finally used some dashi powder (that one of my students in Japan sent us) to make a stock that tasted just like how we remembered. We also added these cute little baby shitake mushrooms that we saw at the store.

        Miso Soup our Japanese friends would approve of:

        4 tsp. dashi powder
        3 cups water
        a handful of baby shitake mushrooms
        2 TBS. dried wakame seaweed
        4 TBS. red miso paste
        5 oz. firm tofu, cubed
        1 green onion, sliced

        • Dissolve dashi powder into the water in a medium pot, and bring to a boil. Add the mushrooms. Cook for a minute or two. Turn off the heat.
        • Add the dried seaweed and stir.
        • Place the miso paste in a small bowl and stir in a little of the soup liquid until the paste is of pouring consistency.
        • Gradually stir miso paste into the soup and add the cubed tofu and green onions. Ladle into bowls

          Vegetable Lo Mein with Salmon

          Our bowls and chopsticks often inspire me to make dinner. Each one tells a different story and conjures up a different time and place. These bowls were hand-crafted at a local artisan shop downtown and were given to us as a wedding gift 3 1/2 years ago. I love that they have little indentations on the edge for resting your chopsticks. The chopsticks came from a student of ours in Japan as a goodbye present. My decision to make something Asian-inspired for dinner came from looking at these bowls and wanting to eat something out of them! Stir fried noodles seemed appropriate because it was one of our weeknight standby meals in Japan. I don’t know how it never made it on the blog, but finally it’s making an appearance. We enjoyed a nice Junmai-style sake (best when served at room temp) with this meal and it transported me back to our tiny apartment in Osaka.

          Vegetable Lo Mein with Salmon:

          1 package Chinese Style Noodles (such as Nasoya brand)
          3 to 4 TBS. canola oil
          2 cloves of garlic, chopped
          1 white onion, diced
          1 cup snowpeas, ends trimmed and cut in half
          1 cup sliced shitake mushroom, stems removed
          a small head of broccoli, florets removed, and stems cut into equal-sized pieces
          3 to 4 TBS. soy sauce
          1 TBS. hot chili sauce (such as Sriracha)
          2 TBS. rice wine vinegar
          2 tsp. mirin
          2 tsp. brown sugar
          salt & pepper to taste
          3/4 lb salmon, cooked and flaked*

          *This recipe is ideal for using up leftover salmon (or other meat), but this time we cooked ours on the same night: We preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a small bowl, Dustin mixed up our usual Honey-Soy Glaze that we often put on tuna in Japan. We poured some of the glaze mixture over the salmon in a baking dish before putting it in the oven, then based it every 10 minutes until the salmon was done (about 20 minutes) and we could easily flake it with a fork.

          • Cook the noodles according to package directions (we boiled them for 3 minutes), drain, rinse with cold water, and drain again. Set aside.
          • Heat the oil in a wok until very hot. Add the onion and garlic and stir fry for 1 minute. Add the broccoli and put a lid down over the veggies for about 3 minutes to speed up the cooking. Remove the lid and add the shitake mushrooms and snowpeas. Stir fry for about 2 minutes. Add soy sauce, vinegar, chili sauce to taste (we add a lot), mirin, brown sugar, and salt & pepper to taste. Stir together with the veggies. Tilt the wok so the sauce runs to one side. Cook sauce over the heat for a minute until it begins to thicken a little, then combine with the veggies again.
          • Add the noodles to the wok, and drizzle a little oil over them (about 1 tsp). Stir fry for a few minutes, combining them with the veggies and sauce. We found using tongs worked best for this!
          • Add the flaked salmon and toss to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Serve in your most beautiful bowls 🙂

          Spicy Shrimp Caesar Salad with Tortilla Crisps

          If you love Caesar salad, you’ll be a fan of this one. I first came across this recipe while watching TV in Japan. I used to watch the Japanese version of the food network called “Foodies TV,” my favorite place to learn the Japanese words for boil, steam, grill, etc. Other times I would laugh at the obscene amount of mayonnaise being used in a recipe, or learn from a Japanese housewife how to make the perfect dashi stock or daikon salad. But once in a while, Foodies TV would play some English cooking shows, and for those I was extremely grateful, especially when I was going through a homesick phase. Giada, Jamie Oliver, and Everyday Food, to name a few, graced my Japanese television screen. The inspiration for this salad came from the latter. We decided to add avocado to the salad, because the tortilla crisps were crying out for it. You could also add some minced anchovies to the dressing, if you like that sort of thing. Adapted form Everyday Food; Serves 4.

          4 corn tortillas (5-inch)
          2 tsp. canola oil
          1 1/2 tsp. chili powder
          coarse salt and ground pepper
          3/4 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
          1/3 cup mayo
          2 TBS. fresh lime juice
          2 TBS. grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
          1 large head romaine lettuce, chopped
          2 avocados, sliced
          • Preheat oven to 375°.
          • Place tortillas on a baking sheet. Brush both sides with 1 teaspoon oil; sprinkle with about 1/2 tsp. of the chili powder, and season with salt and pepper. Bake until golden brown and crispy, turning once, 8 to 10 minutes. Cool, then break into pieces.
          • Heat broiler.
          • In a large bowl, toss shrimp with remaining teaspoon of oil and chili powder. Season with salt and pepper. Lay shrimp flat on a broiler pan, and cook until browned and opaque, turning once, 3 to 4 minutes (instead of using the broiler, we cooked our shrimp in a frying pan).
          • In a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, lime juice, Parmesan, and up to 2 tablespoons water for desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper.
          • Toss lettuce with dressing. Divide among bowls, and top each with shrimp, avocado slices, and broken tortillas. Garnish with more Parmesan, if desired.

          Halibut & Cannellini Beans In Tomato-Rosemary Broth

          Halibut!? Why did we have that? Just for the Halibut!! Haha. Sorry. Bad joke but a delicious fish! This meal was lighter than we were expecting, but it was warm and comforting on a cold night. It definitely needs to be accompanied by lots of sliced bread to soak up the extra broth and a dry white wine. I flagged this recipe last year in Cooking Light and just now got around to trying it. The recipe below is for 2 servings.

          2 (6-ounce) halibut fillets
          1 tablespoon olive oil
          salt & pepper
          2 garlic cloves, minced
          1 cup chopped cherry tomatoes (or canned tomatoes)
          3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
          1/4 cup dry white wine
          1 (14oz) can cannellini beans (or other white beans), rinsed and drained
          1/4 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary

          • Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
          • Sprinkle fish evenly with salt freshly ground pepper.
          • Add fish to pan; cook 5 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or until desired degree of doneness.
          • Remove fish from pan; cover with foil to keep warm (or place in low oven).
          • Add garlic to pan; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly.
          • Stir in tomatoes, broth, wine, and beans; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes. Taste and add more salt & pepper, if desired.
          • Remove from heat; stir in rosemary. Serve immediately along with sliced bread.

            Barbequed Trout with Herbs & Potatoes

            When I was a little girl, I refused to eat seafood. It’s really unfortunate because I must have missed out on a lot of delicious experiences. For example, in Felton, a small town outside of Santa Cruz, there is a restaurant called The Trout Farm Inn where you can C.Y.O.T. (catch your own trout) in the pond before the chef prepares it for you. All those years my family enjoyed the taste of the freshly caught fish, while I enjoyed chicken or something that was “safe” to me at the time. Well, tonight I realized what I’d been missing. My Mom prepared (and Dad grilled) the simplest and most delicious trout — seasoned with olive oil, salt, pepper, mint, garlic chives (also known as Chinese chives), and garlic chive-blossoms. Along with sautéed potatoes from our local farmer, a green salad with radishes and a vinaigrette, and a dry chardonnay, this meal was a gorgeous one.

            Place the butterflied trout skin-side down and drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt, pepper, chopped mint, chopped garlic chives, and garlic chive blossoms. If you’re my Dad, gently use your finger to make one of the trout’s mouths say something vulgar.

            Heat your grill. Medium heat is best so the fish is cooked through without burning the skin. Place the fish skin-side down on the grill and close the lid. Cook for about 10 minutes.

            Serve with locally grown potatoes sautéed in a skillet with olive oil until they’re brown and crispy in spots.

            Tempura: Out of the frying pan and into … my mouth

            Hands down, tempura is my favorite Japanese food. And yes, I cheated below and used a picture from our lunch in Kyoto two weeks ago. My student Mieko and her husband Koichi invited us over for a Father’s Day dinner last Sunday, but we were so enthusiastic about eating the tempura hot out of the fryer that we neglected to take a picture. Besides, our fingers were too greasy. Forgive us. Anyway, Mieko and Koichi are such a great family. From day 1 in Japan they’ve been like our parents away from home. In fact, they are very welcoming to all foreigners. They often host international students in their home, and Koichi loves teaching Japanese.

            We ate cook-your-own-tempura in the middle of the table. Mieko made her special tempura batter. She starts with the store-bought tempura mix that is made from a blend of wheat flour, cornstarch, and baking powder. Then she mixes it with shochu (a distilled spirit that’s sometimes made from sweet potatoes, but also barley or rice) and egg yolk. Ice water is most commonly used to make the batter, but she loves the flavor from using shochu instead. When the batter was ready, we dipped skewered shrimp, eggplant, onion, and peppers into it and fried them in vegetable oil until they were golden and crunchy. We dipped them in a dish of tempura sauce mixed with fresh grated daikon (white radish). There was also a beautiful plate of sashimi – salmon, tuna, and sea bream – a bowl of sushi rice, and a stack of seaweed squares ready for assembling temaki-sushi (hand-rolled sushi).


            1 egg yolk
            3/4 cup ice water (or cold shochu)
            1 cup tempura flour (or 1/2 cup cornstarch mixed with 1/2 cup flour)
            Japanese egg plant, cut into medallions
            onions, cut into sections (see picture below)
            green bell peppers, cut into pieces or thick strips
            vegetable oil for frying

            • Combine the egg yolk, and ice water in a bowl. Add half the tempura flour and whisk together. Add the remaining flour and mix until almost incorporated. A few lumps are okay.
            • Skewer your veggies. Make 3 or 4 slits along the underside of the prawns to prevent them from curling when fried.

            • Heat your oil to 180 C (350 degrees) in a deep fryer or saucepan.

            • Coat the veggies and prawns in batter, and fry for about 3 minutes, turning once. They should be very lightly colored. Remove from the oil and serve immediately with tempura sauce, either store-bought or homemade.

            Tempura Sauce

            • Combine 1/2 TBS sugar, 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1/4 cup mirin, and 1 cup dashi soup stock (if difficult to find, substitute with any broth, but the taste won’t be exactly the same) in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Pour into dishes and top with freshly grated daikon.

            Coconut Shrimp

            First things first, I’d like to say a very enthusiastic “Happy Mothers’ Day!” to my amazing Mom, my favorite cook who has continually inspired me to explore all things culinary! Second, Oh how we love these crispy shrimp with a tropical flair. This is one of our favorite recipes when we want something that tastes like home without having to trek all the way to the import food store to get ingredients. I first became addicted to coconut shrimp at Aldos in Santa Cruz, while enjoying the view of the Harbor along with my family and of course Faith, our German Shepherd, sitting happily under our table. Aldos is known for encouraging local dogs (0r out-of-town dogs) to lounge on their harborside deck. Tonight we ate our coconut shrimp with fries and sweet chili-lime sauce for dipping. The recipe comes from Epicurious.

            Enjoying dinner at Aldos with Mom and Dustin. Dogs welcome.

            For the Sauce:

            3/4 cup Asian sweet chili sauce
            3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (we omitted this due to its scarcity in Japan)
            2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

            For the Shrimp:

            3/4 cup all purpose flour
            1 teaspoon curry powder (preferably Madras style)
            3/4 teaspoon baking powder
            1/4 teaspoon salt
            1 large egg, beaten to blend 1 cup club soda
            Vegetable oil (for deep-frying)
            1 1/2 cups medium shredded unsweetened coconut
            16 large shrimp, peeled, deveined, tails left intact (the recipe makes enough batter for almost 32 shrimp!)

            • Mix sweet chili sauce and lime juice in small bowl. (Can be made 1 day ahead) Cover and chill.
            • Whisk flour, curry powder, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl. Add egg and club soda; whisk just until combined but still lumpy. Let stand 15 minutes.
            • Meanwhile, pour enough vegetable oil into heavy large saucepan to come halfway up sides of pan. Attach deep-fry thermometer to pan; heat oil over medium heat to 375°F.
            • Line baking sheet with paper towels. Spread coconut on plate. Working with 1 shrimp at a time, dip into batter, allowing excess to drip back into bowl, then roll in coconut.
            • Working in batches, deep-fry shrimp until cooked through, about 2 1/2 minutes. Transfer shrimp to paper towels to drain. Serve hot with dipping sauce and fries.

            Raw Tuna & Leek Salad with Ginger-Soy Sauce

            A few weeks ago one of our students, an old man in his 70s, handed us a small paperback cookbook called Japanese Favorites. Finally, some guidelines for making a few of the things we’ve tasted and enjoyed while living here. What I love about Japanese cooking is that the ingredients themselves, their colors, and textures take center stage; like this light, refreshing appetizer that stars fresh raw tuna and leeks.

            2 TBS. thinly sliced leeks
            1 Japanese cucumber, washed and shredded
            1 1/2 tsp. grated ginger
            400 grams (14 oz.) fresh sashimi-quality tuna

            Black sesame seeds

            1/2 tsp. dark soysauce

            Our sweet cat chopstick-holders
            • Place the sliced leeks in a small bowl of cold water and soak for 5 minutes. Drain and pat dry with paper towels. Shred the cucumber into long, thin strips with a vegetable peeler and set aside.
            • Transfer the leeks to a small bowl. Add half of the grated ginger and toss well to combine. Dice the tuna and add to the bowl with the leeks, along with the black sesame seeds.
            • Divide the tuna mixture into four equal portions. Place each portion on a serving dish. Garnish with the reserved shredded cucumber and serve with small bowls of soysauce and remaining grated ginger for dipping. Serves 4.

              Beer-Battered Salmon Tacos with Zesty White Sauce, Guacamole, and Shredded Cabbage

              Friday night fish tacos was Dustin’s brilliant idea. Our supermarket was out of cod by the time we finished class at 7pm, but they had salmon so our recipe was quickly adapted! These reminded me of some fish tacos I ate from a little stand in Ensenada, Mexico about 8 years ago. As the Japanese say, natsukashi! (“how nostalgic!”) You can find the original recipe here. Serves about 4.

              For the White Sauce:

              1/2 cup plain yogurt
              1/2 cup mayo

              1 lime, juiced

              1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
              1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

              1/2 teaspoon chilli powder

              freshly ground black pepper

              For the Beer-Batter:

              1 cup all purpose flour
              1 teaspoon baking powder
              1 teaspoon salt
              1 egg

              1 cup beer

              Beautifully battered salmon pieces

              Making the Tacos:

              3 salmon fillets, skinned and cut into your desired size pieces
              6 corn or flour tortillas
              1/4 head of cabbage, shredded
              Vegetable oil for frying

              Prepared guacamole

              • In a medium bowl, mix together yogurt and mayonnaise. Gradually stir in fresh lime juice until consistency thins. Season with oregano, cumin, chilli powder, and black pepper. Set aside.
              • In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. In another small bowl blend egg and beer, then quickly stir into the flour mixture (it’s okay if it’s a little lumpy).
              • Heat oil in deep frying pan until hot.
              • Dust salmon pieces lightly with flour. Dip into beer batter, and fry until crisp and golden brown. Drain on paper towels.
              • Heat tortillas on both sides over a burner. Place a mound of shredded cabbage on top of the tortillas, and top with a few dollops of guacamole. Place 1 or 2 pieces of fried salmon on top. Finish with a squeeze of lime and a drizzle of white sauce.

              Roll Out!

              It doesn’t get much simpler than fresh raw fish. Add crisp nori, fresh lettuce leaves, a bowl of sushi rice and a variety of sliced vegetables and you have temaki-sushi: a typical weekday do-it-yourself dinner for many Japanese families. Unlike other Japanese meals, it’s ok to use your hands. In fact, it’s encouraged!

              We had our first hand-rolled sushi experience at my student Rei’s house. There were so many slices of various things on the table that we had to take cues from Rei’s daughter, trying to inconspicuously imitate her combinations as the meal unfolded: First, isaki (sea bream), cucumber, shiso leaf (a pungent herb reminiscent of basil). Got it. Next. Hamachi (yellowtail) with slice of sweet omlette. Put a squeeze of wasabi at the side of dish. Don’t mix into soy sauce with chopsticks. Check. Lastly, salmon (pronounced sa-moh-n) and avocado on a lettuce leaf.

              We came home and tried it out a few weeks later, adding new combinations: tempura sweet potato, cucumber, avocado.

              Tempura prawn, shiso, and cucumber.

              And tuna and avocado.

              The combinations are endless, really. Each square of nori and leaf of lettuce is a blank canvas awaiting our creativity.

              Shiso leaves (photo from gourmet sleuth).

              Sushi Rice

              1 cup short grain rice
              1 cup water, plus more for rinsing
              1 tablespoon sushi vinegar (rice vinegar)
              1 tablespoons sugar

              1 tsp. salt plus more to taste

              • Place the rice in a bowl and cover with cold water. Mix the rice around in the water with your fingers and then poor out the water. Repeat until the water is clear when poured out, 2-3 times.
              • Put rinsed rice and 1 cup of water into a medium saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil, uncovered. When it begins to boil, reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for another 10 minutes.
              • Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine vinegar, sugar and salt. Heat in microwave for about 30-45 seconds.
              • When the rice is done, put it into a large wooden or glass bowl. Gradually add the vinegar mixture, folding into the rice with a rice paddle or spatula. Taste and add more salt if needed. Allow to cool before making sushi. Makes about 2 cups – perfect for 2 people.

                Hand-Rolled Sushi

                12 3×5 inch squares of nori (seaweed) and/or large romaine lettuce leaves, rinsed and dried.
                A variety of thinly-sliced sushi grade tuna, salmon, yellowtail, and sea bream
                Any of the following:
                1 large cucumber, cut into 3 inch long sticks
                1 avocado, sliced
                6 shiso leaves
                3 tempura sweet potatoes, sliced into 3 inch long sticks
                2 tempura prawns

                • Take a square of nori. Place a spoonful of rice in the middle. Top with any combination of fish and veggies.
                • Gently pick up both sides of the nori, fold together the best you can, and eat!
                • Serve with soy sauce and wasabi in small dishes, but don’t mix together 🙂