For decades, I have enjoyed the highly addictive salt and pepper shrimp at Chicago’s Moon Palace. For the uninitiated, salt and pepper is a style of Chinese cooking where the food is crispily fried, tossed in a spice mixture, then combined with sauteed garlic, onion, ginger, and hot peppers. It’s a preparation I long and crave for like some people do sweets. There’s something absolutely magical about the combination of sharp, pungent, and salty flavors with crunchy textures. And if you are into that, then Moon Palace is the place to be. Their menu boasts of at least ten different salt and pepper preparations to choose ranging from tofu, squid to my second all-time favorite, salt and pepper pork chops. …
Every Fall I start to crave a steaming bowl of mussels. Mainly because most of my favorite mussel recipes are a comforting cross between a soup and a hearty hot meal. I started out desperately wanting to make Mouclade, a curried mussel dish that originated in the French port city of La Rochelle but ended up with a more Asian feeling bowl of turmeric ginger mussels. In some ways, curry and mussels sound weird together, but the flavor combination is off the hook, especially when backed by coconut milk and hot chili peppers.
I love the simplicity of grilled sardines. If they are super fresh, nothing more is needed than simply tossing them on a hot grill and perhaps a squeeze of lemon and a drizzle of fruity olive oil. If you don’t live near the ocean where freshly netted sardines are readily available, then I suggest IQF or individually quick frozen. People may scoff and say frozen is never as good. I know I used to be that opinionated too. Then I cooked a few pounds caught by a small fisherman near Monterey, California After catching, he immediately flash-froze them at 40 below zero, locking in the freshness. The best practice is to thaw slowly in your refrigerator over two days. This way you have the least amount of cell damage that is usually caused by thawing too quickly.
Many people have a decided opinion on whether or not they will eat a strongly flavored fish. For those willing to try or already love them, I suggest a simple sauce with assertive, sharp briny or spicy flavors like capers, preserved lemon or harissa. These grilled sardines are fabulous served over arugula or even simply steamed couscous.
Loup de Mer, or Mediterranean Sea Bass, has long been one of my favorite fish to eat. Here is a simple preparation I pilfered from the internationally renowned Alain Ducasse. If you ever have a chance go eat at any of his restaurants around the world. Simply amazing.
- 2 Loup de Mer, about one and half pounds each
- 1 pound Bread Crumbs
- 1/2 l Heavy Cream
- 200 g Swiss Chard, chop leaves for filling, use stems for base
- 2 Eggs
- 140 g Parmesan
- 2 Tomatoes, cooked into confit
- 6 cloves Garlic, roasted cloves
- 2 T Basil, Chiffonade
- 2 T Chervil Chiffonade
- 2 T Parsley Chiffonade
- 6 T Olive Oil
- 1/2 c. White Wine Sauce
- pinch Saffron
- Soak breadcrumbs in cream.
- Add Swiss chard, egg, parmesan, tomato confite, mashed garlic and herbs.
- Bone loup, roll filets, tie.
- Roast loup de mer, baste in olive oil.
- Sauté Swiss Chard stems in butter.
- Plate in center of plate with fish on top.
- Nap with sauce.