Tag seafood

food52’s Shrimp Burgers with Roasted Garlic-Orange Aioli

food52 (which, if you haven’t checked out yet, you really must) recently held a contest titled Your Best Use of Aioli. The winning entry was this recipe for Shrimp Burgers with Roasted Garlic-Orange Aioli, in which the aioli is used to bind the shrimp burgers and as a spread on the bun. I love shrimp, as does The Professor, so I had to try it.

While The Professor peeled and cleaned the shrimp, I made the aioli, beating the egg yolks continuously and oh-so-slowly pouring in the oil. Making aioli from scratch is certainly an arm work-out, though it’s not  as tricky as I thought it would be.

Then I started slicing and dicing. First the red pepper, then the shallots, the fennel, the fennel fronds, and the chives. The Professor had long since finished his cleaning job and headed up to his office to finish some reading when, finally, I I chopped the shrimp.

He returned while I was forming the burger patties, saying, “These burgers sure aren’t fast, huh?”

“Well a recipe always takes longer the first time you try it,” I countered. But he was right.

The end result was perfectly tasty — the flavor was subtle but recognizably shrimp-y, with hints of licorice and orange that upped the interesting-factor. But the burgers weren’t so mouthwateringly delicious that they justified the effort or the cost. (I’d used wild pink shrimp from Key West that sells for $15 a pound).

The Professor also suggested that the brioche buns I’d served the burgers with might be getting in the way of the subtle flavors. “These might be tastier served more like crab cakes,” he suggested.

The Professor gave them a B, saying he’d be happy to have the shrimp burgers — or cakes — now and again. And I guess I’m glad he didn’t ask me to make them again next week!

Fresh Corn Salad with Chipotle Sauce

Yesterday I set out to make stuffed poblano peppers in chipotle sauce — and ended up with a corn salad. What can I say … my peppers didn’t cooperate, a mad dash to the grocery produced no more poblanos, and so The Cook played inventor. But let me start from the beginning.

As you may recall, the poblanos are stuffed with quinoa, black beans, corn, and mushrooms. I’d made the dish once before and earned a B+. I was hoping my second effort would produce an A. To improve my chances, I planned to serve it with the popular creamed corn.

I roasted the poblano peppers, peeled them, and then cut a small slit in the side in order to scrape the seeds out. I don’t know if it was me or the poblanos, but my seed-removal efforts left the peppers with multiple rips and, I realized, in a truly un-stuffable state.

So I improvised. I cut the kernels off of the cob. I diced some red pepper, some shitake mushrooms, and one of the poblanos; minced some garlic and sliced a shallot. While those ingredients were sauteing, I followed the very easy recipe for the chipotle sauce: puree one clove of garlic, one chipotle pepper, salt and water in a food processor; add cilantro and pulse once. I served the corn salad with roasted salmon, drizzling both with chipotle sauce.

Maybe it was just relief that my poblano plans hadn’t ended in disaster, but I thought the corn salad was delicious. Next time (and by “next time” I mean tomorrow) I’ll add another shallot and perhaps some more mushrooms. And I might toss the corn salad in the chipotle sauce, treating it more like a dressing, But for a first-time, by-the-seat-of-my-pants effort, I was pleased.

Of course, what *you* want to know is what The Professor thought. Well, he liked it. He thought the corn salad could have been warmer. And that, while the salmon was cooked perfectly, it wasn’t the best piece of fish.

“The corn salad might pair better with a white fish,” he added. “We haven’t had halibut in a while.”

Given the quality of the salmon and the adjustments I want to make to the recipe, I didn’t ask for a grade. But look for one soon.

Mark Bittman’s Four-Spice Salmon and How to Cook Fish

The New York Times columnist Mark Bittman — aka The Minimalist — has a great video on making Four-Spice Salmon. It reminded me that I’ve been meaning to write two posts — one on the matter of eating seafood and one on how to cook fish. So I’ll take Bittman’s video (which includes two tricks I use myself) as my excuse to write up my cooking tips. While Bittman pan fries his salmon in the video, my tips are geared towards roasting or grilling.

#1: Cook Individual Pieces: Cut the filet into individual portions before you cook it. Not only will it look nicer on the plate, but it will help you cook all the pieces evenly and make it easier to determine when the fish is done. If you’re cooking an uncut three-pound piece, it’s sooooo difficult to know when the thickest center pieces are ready.

#2: Use a spice rub: This is Bittman’s second tip and I second it. No I third it! In any case, I approve. In the video he mixes cumin, coriander, nutmeg and clove. Because I sometimes don’t have time to make my own spice mix, I’ve also bought them. My current obsession is Whole Food’s Tequila Lime spice mix, a combination of chili pepper, coriander, cumin, oregano, garlic, onion, parsley, lime and tequila. Or “tequila flavor,” at least. Bittman puts the spice mix on top of the fish. Why stop there? I smear the mix on all sides of the fish.

#3 Buy an oven thermometer: The oven gods are fickle and rarely heat the oven to the temperature that you set it for. An inexpensive thermometer will tell you your oven’s true temperature, helping you reach your pre-heating goal. And when it comes to cooking fish, you need to have confidence in your oven temperature so that you can be confident in your cooking time.

#4 Time It: Rather than going by the old “10 minutes per inch of thickness” rule of thumb, I recommend using a resource like Weber’s On the Grill app, which provides standard cooking times for different kinds of seafood (and meats as well). if you’re making tuna or salmon, which some people eat rare or medium rare, adjust the time to suit your taste. If the timer goes off and you’re not sure that the fish is really cooked through, take it out of the oven, cover it with tin foil and let it “rest” for 5 minutes. It will keep cooking but much more slowly than it would in the oven, so you’re not as likely to over-cook it by mistake.

Salmon Cakes

When I’m planning the week’s menu, I usually include one or two easy dinners for weekdays when I’m too tired from work (or kids or some combination thereof) to cook. One of my go-to easy meals is pre-made crab cakes, served with a spicy aioli and salad.

I started serving crab cakes semi-regularly when we lived within walking distance of Savenor’s Market, the gourmet grocery store known for being Julia Child’s favorite butcher. I was a sleep-deprived new mother, and a stroller over to Savenor’s for that night’s dinner seemed eminently more doable than a drive to the grocery store, with the car seat and longer-term menu-planning that required.

In my sleepless new-mom state, I also rationalized the cost. But as the months and then years passed, I started to feel a bit guilty about spending $4.99 per crab cake. So I’ve started experimenting with less expensive options.

I began with a recipe for Fast Fish Cakes that I found in The Gastrokid Cookbook. The original recipe called for flaked cooked white fish, but I’ve been using canned wild salmon, which is less expensive than fresh fish, can be stored in the pantry until needed, and delivers more healthy Omega-3s. I’ve also been tweaking the amounts and added a few ingredients.

I wouldn’t say that my version is a hit with Ella (maybe I need to dial up the bread crumbs, and dial down the herbs) but The Professor likes it. My next step is to make a batch and freeze them, to see how they fair as an easy thaw-and-cook meal.

In the meantime, here’s the recipe:

Fast Salmon Cakes


2 cups canned salmon (or other cooked fish)

1/2 cup bread crumbs

1/4 cup finely chopped parsley

1/2 cup finely chopped scallions

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

3+/- tablespoons mustard

3+/- tablespoons mayonnaise



1 egg


Set the egg aside.

In a large bowl, mix the other ingredients together and adjust the flavors to your liking. I love mustard and dislike mayonnaise, so I add an extra tablespoon of Guildens, for instance. If you dislike scallions, decrease the amount or omit entirely, though you might want to add an herb you like in its place. In any case, adjust the flavors and seasonings of the mixture before you add the egg.

When you are happy with the flavor, add the beaten egg and mix.

Form into two-inch patties.

Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the salmon cakes. Cook until golden on the bottom (a few minutes) and then flip. When the second side is cooked, remove from the pan and lay on some paper towels to absorb the excess oil.

Serve with aioli, salad, and a side dish. I’ve paired the salmon cakes with potatoes (sometimes frozen potato wedges) or, as pictured here, with spicy roasted cauliflower


Simple, Delicious Salmon

Cooking fish can be tricky. It’s easy to worry about under-cooking it and then over-cook it by  mistake. We cook some kind of seafood at least once a week, and yet so often I hesitate to say that the fish is done. I’ll offer my tips for cooking fish well in a later post. For now I want to share a recipe for salmon that is simple, delicious, and truly idiot-proof.

1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup white wine
1 1/2 T oil
2 cloves of garlic, mashed with salt
1 T minced ginger
2 T brown sugar

1 lb salmon, washed and dried

Mix all of the ingredients for the sauce and pour over salmon to marinate

Roast fish for about 10 minutes, basting with the sauce once or twice. (If the sugar in the marinade starts to burn, lower the rack.) And voila!

The marinade keeps the fish so moist that even if you over-cook it a bit, it never tastes dry. Last night, as you can see from the photo, I served it over Udon Noodles with Soy-ginger sauce, a preparation that earned an A from The Professor.

For a heart-warming winter meal, serve the salmon on a bed of leek and pea risotto. In the summer, I’ve served the salmon alongside Israeli couscous and grilled asparagus. For a lighter meal, it would be delicious served with a spinach salad.

I love this salmon recipe because it’s simple to prepare, offers myriad meal options, and it is endlessly forgiving — which makes it great for dinner parties or even family dinners with multiple elements. I know that the salmon can sit while the pasta cooks a few more minutes or the asparagus is grilled or the guests are herded to the table and that it will still taste good.