curry-flavor shrimp with sesame rice

Curried Shrimp wth Sesame Rice

It’s been so cold that I decided to cook something hearty but quick and easy. I found this recipe for Sesame Rice Salad in the South Beach Diet cookbook, the blue cover. Since then, I’ve adapted it in some form or another depending on the vegetables I have on hand. One thing I won’t swap is the asparagus. It must have asparagus! Bright green, cooked asparagus is such a pretty contrast in this dish. Though the rice and shrimp are spicy, the crisp-tender asparagus cools the mouth.

Curry-Flavor Shrimp with Sesame Rice

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes

20 medium shrimp, shelled and deveined, washed and patted dry with paper towels
2 teaspoons curry powder (I recommend Montego, the Jamaican curry powder)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
3 cups cooked brown rice, room temperature
8 stalks asparagus, cut in thirds
1/2 cup frozen edamame
1/2 cup frozen sweet peas
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
cooking spray
2 scallions sliced thin on the diagonal
2 tablespoons cilantro, minced fine
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
Red pepper flakes, to taste, optional
salt and pepper

Season the shrimp with curry powder, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder. Set aside.

Boil a saucepan of water, lightly salted. Add the asparagus and cook until bright green. Remove from the heat at once, drain, and rinse in cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain and set aside.

Spray cooking spray in a large skillet. Heat the skillet until a drop of water sizzles on the surface. Add the shrimp and cook on one side until no longer pink, 1 minute. Turn and cook on the other side, 1 minute.

Add the frozen edamame and peas to the hot skillet and cook until they are heated through, scraping up the browned bits or fond on the bottom. Add the rice and the cooked asparagus. Toss to combine. In a small bowl, mix the canola oil, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Whisk until the mixture emulsifies. Pour over the rice and toss lightly. Add the scallions, cilantro and sesame seeds. Toss lightly. Add red pepper flakes, if desired. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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pan-fried fish fillets with mediterranean tomato sauce

I’ve been cooking a lot with tomatoes lately!  Tomatoes are so versatile raw or cooked, so naturally, I had to try this new fish recipe. According to myrecipes.com, this recipe, if made with 6 ounce yellowtail snapper fillets with the skin on, amounts to 282 calories per serving. I used tilapia because it was available (and cheaper) but I think any white fish will do. The sauce has a nice light taste; not overpoweringly tomato-y. In fact,  all the flavors of the herbs come through, so be sure to use fresh as directed in the recipe.

Pan-Fried Fish with Mediterranean Tomato Sauce (adapted from myrecipes.com)

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons butter
2 cups chopped seeded plum tomato
1 1/2 tablespoons capers
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (flat-leaf parsley in original recipe)
1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
1 tablespoon minced fresh tarragon
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper or to taste
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 pounds tilapia fillets (approximately 2 large fillets)

1. In a medium skillet heat olive oil and butter over medium-high heat. Add tomato to the pan and cook 6 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in the capers, Dijon mustard, and minced garlic. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer 2 minutes or until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Stir in parsley, chives, and tarragon. Season with salt, pepper, and red pepper to taste. Cover the skillet to keep warm.

2. In a large nonstick skillet heat canola oil over medium-high heat. Sprinkle fish with about 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper per side. Add fish to the pan and cook for 3 minutes or until browned. Turn the fish over; cook 3 minutes or until the fish turns white and flakes easily with a fork. Serve fish with the warmed sauce.

baked tilapia with cilantro, ginger, scallion, and thai chile

This has been a trying week. I am trying out this new “diet” that said eating dessert for breakfast helps you lose weight. Of course, I had to try it. Who doesn’t want to have their cake and eat it too? After suffering an upset tummy from eating a chocolate frosted brownie too early in the morning, I found I wasn’t hungry until the end of the day, when my tummy began growling ferociously, FEED ME. So for dinner, I tried this new recipe called “Asian Inspired Tilapia,” which was such a curiously uninspiring name for a fish dish that has so many flavorful ingredients commonly found in the well-stocked Chinese kitchen. Except for the jalapeño. The jalapeño is for the timid soul. But if you are adventurous, I do recommend the Thai chile pepper instead. It made a huge difference in making this sauce piquant. So I re-christen this recipe–

Baked Tilapia with Cilantro, Scallion, Ginger, and Thai Chile

2 tilapia fillets – about 1 pound
1 Thai chile pepper (jalapeño in the original recipe)
3 scallions or green onions
2 inches peeled sliced ginger
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
Juice of 1/2 lime (I used half a lemon)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 cup white wine (I used rice cooking wine)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
Sweet Red Pepper, chopped for garnish (Any pepper will do just so long as it’s colorful)
Scallions, chopped for garnish
Extra cilantro, to garnish
1 package/bag Mixed Baby Salad Greens

Heat the oven to 475F. Pat the fish dry and season lightly with salt and pepper. Place in a glass baking dish.

Cook’s note: It doesn’t need salt and pepper, so I left it out. The “dressing” or sauce is salty, sour, and spicy enough.

Add jalapeno pepper, green onion, chopped ginger, and cilantro into small food processor and pulse until combined. Add the mixture to a small bowl with the fresh lime juice or lemon juice, soy sauce, wine, and sesame oil. Mix until blended.

Pour the sauce over the fish, pressing the solid ingredients down into the fish a bit. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until the fish flakes easily with a fork and is cooked through.

Divide the salad greens between two plates. Remove the tilapia with a spatula and place half on top of the greens on each plate. Drizzle the fish with the marinade left in the pan. Garnish with chopped red pepper, cilantro and green onion.

Serve with warm, crusty bread (or steamed white rice, if you are a traditionalist). I served this fish with roasted vegetables.

gluten-free quick chicken piccata

This was quick and easy! I usually don’t play around with a new recipe but I thought I could make some swaps without changing the recipe too much. So I swapped hazelnut flour for the all-purpose to make it gluten-free. Any nut-flour you might have on hand will do. However, without the all-purpose flour, which is also a thickener, the sauce was thin; but I don’t mind a thin sauce. It was a tad sour, so I recommend reducing the lemon juice. After all, the capers have been soaked in brine and they add a salty sour flavor to the sauce. This recipe was originally for chicken breasts, but my son dislikes white meat so I made it with boneless, skinless chicken thighs for him. Other swaps: rice cooking wine for white wine, and cilantro for Italian flat leaf parsley. I am basically, and without apology,  a Chinese cook!

Gluten-Free Quick Chicken Piccata (adapted from allrecipes.com)

Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 15 Minutes
Ready In: 25 Minutes
Servings: 6
 

INGREDIENTS:

1 skinless, boneless chicken breast (originally 4 chicken breasts)
2 skinless, boneless chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat
cayenne pepper, to taste
salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 cup hazelnut flour for dredging (all-purpose flour in original)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon capers, drained
1/2 cup white wine (I used rice cooking wine)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (I thought it was too sour, so reduce to 2 tablespoons)
1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut in 1/4-inch slices
2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, chopped (I used cilantro)

 DIRECTIONS:

1. Slice chicken breast horizontally in half. Place chicken between 2 layers of plastic wrap and pound to about 1/2-inch thick. Slice each “steak” in half.

2. Lightly season both sides of chicken with cayenne, salt, and black pepper. Dredge lightly in flour and shake off any excess.

Cook’s Note: The sauce for this recipe is salty, so season lightly! Omit the salt just to be cautious.

3. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Place chicken in the pan, reduce heat to medium, and cook until browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes per side for thighs, 3 minutes per side for breasts. Remove to a plate. Don’t wash out the pan.

4. Cook capers in remaining oil in the pan, smashing them lightly to release brine, until warmed though, about 30 seconds.

5. Pour wine into skillet. Scrape any browned bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Cook until reduced, about 2 minutes.

6. Stir lemon juice, water, and butter into the reduced wine mixture; cook and stir continuously to form a thin sauce, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low and stir parsley through the sauce.

Cook’s Note: Since I used hazelnut flour, it doesn’t thicken the sauce like wheat flour does. If you wish to make the sauce thicker, add 1 tablespoon teaspoon all-purpose flour to the capers, then add the liquid.

7. Return chicken breasts to the pan cook until heated through, 1 to 2 minutes. The chicken soaked up the sauce  when it was returned to the pan. Don’t turn them; they’ll look prettier. Serve with sauce spooned over the top.

curried cashew shrimp with garlic cilantro rice

I’m in the mood for curries this week! From coconut curried chicken to curried cashew shrimp with garlic cilantro rice, these two recipes demonstrate that curries are savory and versatile accompaniments to just about any meat and vegetable.

INGREDIENTS

For rice
4 teaspoons canola oil,
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups uncooked long-grain rice
1 1/4 cups chicken broth or water or enough water to come up to your first knuckle
1/2 teaspoon salt (omit if using chicken broth)
1/4 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

For shrimp
1/4 cup cashew nuts, whole or in pieces
Vegetable oil cooking spray
2 teaspoons canola oil
1 pound medium shrimp, shelled
4 teaspoons mild curry powder, such as Madras
1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large red or orange sweet pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 small zucchini, cut into 1-inch pieces
3/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk (e.g. Aroy-D, Chaokoh)
1 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons fish sauce

PREPARATION

For rice

Heat 2 teaspoons canola oil in a 10-inch skillet and add the garlic. Cook 30 seconds until garlic becomes fragrant and golden brown. Add uncooked rice and cook an additional 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a rice cooker. Add salt, if using, and 1 1/2 cups water. Press the button and cook. When the rice is cooked, stir in cilantro just before serving. Set aside on the keep warm feature of the rice cooker.

For shrimp

In a medium bowl, toss shrimp with curry powder, ginger and salt. If cashews are raw, toast nuts in a large skillet over high heat, stirring occasionally, 2 to 3 minutes. Spray a light layer of cooking spray over the cashews. Raise heat to high; add 2 teaspoons canola oil. When the oil is hot, add shrimp, peppers and zucchini. Cook 2 to 3 minutes until shrimp begins to turn pink. Reduce heat to medium; add coconut milk and bring to a slow boil. Cover and simmer until vegetables are soft and shrimp is cooked through, 5 to 6 minutes; remove from heat. Slowly incorporate yogurt until a smooth creamy sauce forms. Stir in sugar, and season to taste with fish sauce. Serve with garlic cilantro rice.

white fish with rice wine sauce

Originally styled “Halibut in Rice Wine” on allrecipes.com, I think any white fish will do for this recipe. Perhaps even a good thick salmon steak. I made this dish by baking instead of grilling the fish and using basa instead of halibut. I’m a great believer in using whatever fish is available at the supermarket. The sauce, you could also say, isn’t even the expected color for a rice wine based sauce. That’s because there is black bean and soy sauce in it. It came out rather sweetish because of the mirin. I think if you prefer it more tart, then add more rice vinegar.

INGREDIENTS:
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon black bean sauce
1/2 cup mirin (Japanese sweet wine)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
6 (4 ounce) fillets halibut, skin removed
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

DIRECTIONS:
1. Heat oil in a 10 inch non-stick saucepan over medium heat. Cook shallots and garlic gently until fragrant, but not brown. Stir in black bean sauce, rice wine, and soy sauce. Bring to a boil and cook until reduced by half. Remove from heat, and stir in vinegar; taste and adjust seasonings. Set aside.

2. Pat fish dry. Brush with sesame oil and sprinkle with pepper. Preheat an outdoor grill for high heat, and lightly oil grate.

3. Grill fish for about 5 minutes per side, or just until cooked through.  Cook’s note: I baked the fish in a 350˚F oven for 10-15 minutes. Watch carefully so that they don’t get overdone. Thinner fillets like basa cook up faster than thicker fillets. The rule is that the fish is done when it flakes easily with a fork.

4. To serve, spoon sauce on a fillet and sprinkle with cilantro.

Moroccan grilled chicken and sautéed peas with shallot and mint

I was enjoying the sunny cool weather on Broadway last Sunday afternoon when I came across a street fair on the east side of 103rd Street. At the very first table I looked at I found this George Foreman grill  marked $5.00. The lady said, oh, no, it’s more than that. She wanted ten. I figured she had bought it at another street fair for $5.00 and now she was selling it at 100% markup. The thing had never been opened and never been used. I figured $10.00 was still a steal so I bought it.

Moroccan Spiced Grilled Chicken Breasts (from Simply Recipes)
INGREDIENTS
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (or 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander)
1 Tbsp olive oil
2-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts

METHOD
1 Mix the marinade ingredients (yogurt, cilantro, olive oil, garlic, paprika, cumin, salt, and pepper) together in a medium sized bowl. Add the chicken pieces to the bowl and thoroughly coat with the marinade. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator from 6 to 10 hours.
2 . Grill the chicken breasts until cooked through, about 2 1/2 to 3 minutes in the Foreman grill. Take care not to overcook, as chicken breasts can easily dry out.

Honestly, this recipe had a very light flavor. That’s probably because I only marinated the chicken for 45 minutes instead of the recommended 6-10 hours. This website didn’t give the nutrition information so I can’t begin to estimate the number of calories, fat, protein, and sodium that are in it. In the Foreman grill, I could only cook each chicken breast one at a time. I discovered that I had to wipe the grill plates once halfway through cooking the fillets because charred bits tended to stick to the chicken. The grill was slanted so that the  fats and juices ran down into the little trough that came with the grill. This bargain Foreman grill performed very well; the chicken was tender and juicy. I think I got my $10.00 worth. I’d make this again but I would marinate the chicken longer.

Sautéed Peas with Shallot and Mint (adapted from America’s Test Kitchen)
Serves 4
I made some changes to this recipe because the amount of salt in it is alarming. Two things to remember: it isn’t necessary to thaw the frozen peas first and the purpose of adding the lemon juice is to prevent the peas from turning brown. But mine did anyway.  However, the lemon imparted a light flavor that enhanced the sweetness of the peas. The mint wasn’t too strong; next time I will buy mint from Whole Foods. Their herbs tend to be fresher but more expensive.  I would make this again because the peas were firm enough to chew but not creamy soft. I liked that.

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 small shallot, minced (about 1 tablespoon) (I used red onion)
Salt (omit salt if using chicken broth)
1-2 garlic clove(s), minced
1 pound frozen baby peas (about 3 cups)
1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth or water
1/4 teaspoon sugar (I left this out)
1/4 cup fresh mint, minced
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Dash of Mrs. Dash’s Italian Medley (I added this to compensate for the low salt)
Pepper

  1. Heat oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium high heat until shimmering. Add the shallot and 1/8 teaspoon salt and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  2. Stir in the peas, broth or water, and sugar, if using. Cover and cook until the peas are bright green and just heated through, 3-5 minutes, stirring halfway through cooking.
  3. Stir in the mint and butter until incorporated. Turn off the heat. Stir in the lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Per serving: Cal 130; Fat 4g; Sat fat 2g; Chol 10mg; Carb 17g; Protein 7g; Fiber 5g; Sodium 110mg (will vary if you use water instead of broth)