Category Archives: Seafood

2010 – A Year in Food, Part Two

Following on the previous post, here are my favourite dishes which I made for the first time in 2010, followed some year-end musings.

Top Savoury Dishes

5. Yorkshire Pudding – from My Grandmother Jessie’s Recipes

4. Jewish Pork Tenderloin – from My Grandmother Jessie’s Recipes

3.  Linguine Umami – My original creation

2.  Deep-Dish Chicago-Style Pizza – from America’s Test Kitchen

For the top savoury dish, top sweet treats, and…

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Friday Food Facts and Fun, Second Edition


Did you celebrate National Chocolate Brownie Day earlier this week?

I am still in a reflective brownie mode, hence, the photo above of my double-chocolate double-malt frosted brownies.  It is the brownie I crave the most.  This year, I have tried at least four new chocolate brownie recipes and have posted three on IslandEAT. Holidays are about celebration and reflection…

Upcoming National Food Holidays

As this the “holiday season” is upon us, here are the food holidays for next week:

December 11 – National Noodle-Ring Day
December 12 – National Ambrosia Day
December 13 – National Cocoa Day
December 14 – National Bouillabaisse Day
December 15 – National Lemon Cupcake Day
December 16 – National Chocolate Covered Anything Day

If anyone knows what a “noodle-ring” is, or why it should be fêted, please let me know immediately.  I am most excited by the events celebrating cocoa and “chocolate-covered anything”.  Just where exactly does the chocolate-covering stop, in matters of good taste?

For questions, a retro video, and blogging resources….

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Halibut Cheeks Poached in White Wine and Shallots: A Fast, Enticing, and Unusual Summer Feast

Do you ever feel a bit odd eating animals’ various body parts?  Pork belly, “prairie oysters” (Google it or contact me, if you really want to know…), or halibut cheeks make me visualize those particular bits of the anatomy.

In the case of halibut cheeks, I can picture a big halibut swimming with its cheeks all puffed out, as if it were about to blow out candles on a birthday cake.  I am pretty sure that halibut usually do not have birthday cakes, with or without candles. The frosting would get all wet in the ocean…and how would the candles manage to stay lit?

Regardless of halibutian (halibutty? halibuttery? can there be no adjectival form of “halibut’?) birthday celebrations, I find fish cheeks most intriguing.  The consistency is not the firm, rich flake of a halibut fillet but rather is somewhere between a sea scallop and a chicken thigh – meatier, a bit roapy (not in a bad way, however), and much more substantial.

Gratuitous kitty and wildlife interlude:

What could Jinja be watching now?

That is no flying halibut in the nasturtiums...

it is a ruffous hummingbird (no hummingbirds were harmed in creating this post, just one halibut).

For the inspiration and the recipe…
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Salmon in a Soy-Maple-Ginger-Garlic Glaze: Tantalizing Molecular Destiny

Are you aware of the chemical aspects of the culinary world? I am not referring to the molecular gastronomy that is all is the rage, but rather the actual chemistry of cuisine.  Chemistry is essential to the molecular style of gastronomic palaces, such as Spain’s El Bulli, WD-50 in NYC, or Alinea in Chicago, but we can all benefit from learning which foods (and wines, too) pair well together, based on their chemical composition.

I was listening to a radio program on the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, for you non-Canucks out there), featuring a sommelier from Québec,  François Chartier.  M. Chartier has written a book called, Papilles et Molécules, which has come out now in English, Tastebuds and Molecules (http://www.francoischartier.ca/english).  The show was on molecular structures, which makes certain foods natural companions, based on their chemical composition.

As ginger is a must for this post, Jinja must check out a hebe in bloom on the deck.

One example M. Chartier gave was the pair of soy sauce and maple syrup.  As a Canadian, I hope you know that I mean only the pure stuff, and never would dare to consider the gloppy kind in a plastic squeeze bottle, such as the corn-syrup-artificially-flavoured-Mrs.-You-Probably-Know-Who brand.  Apparently,  maple and soy sauce are chemical cosmic twins!  Who knew?

The molecular twinning, of course, works for food with wine (mint and sauvignon blanc, for instance) as much as it does for expected food pairings (lamb and thyme) in addition to more unusual combinations  (raspberries are chemically counterparts of nori, or seaweed, which surprised me).  It is a fascinating chemical explanation why certain foods do go well together naturally, even those from places of origin, e.g., maple syrup tends to be from areas which did not traditionally grow soy beans and make soy sauce.  So the locavore argument does not get much of boost from this dish.

For the recipe… Continue reading

Halibut in Lime, Ginger, and Cayenne Cream Sauce: Super-fast and satisfying dish – just for the halibut

As I mentioned before, I was rather odd as a child.  One example that comes to mind – with halibut as a punch line – was an overnight field trip to a wilderness campground around age 11.

I had taken karate before this trip, yet I stopped upon reaching the first belt (the yellow belt, which is a cowardly far cry from the ultimate:  the famous black sash).  However, I was happy with that rank and to have achieved one higher level; I really did not care for the martial arts.  So I continued to wear my karate get-up – replete with the yellow belt – whenever possible.

During this particular trip, the fizzy candy which explodes in one’s mouth called, “Pop Rocks”, were all the rage.  I had a variety of packets with me, which I shared with my friends.  (This is the first of two-sort-of-but-not-really-directly-food-related references in this flashback).  The karate outfit fortunately had pockets for hiding “Pop Rocks” and other candy.

After the dinner in the “mess hall”, which I definitely do not remember, we participated in skits.  I was in a skit with another boy and it was a joke, the punchline of which was “I did it just for the halibut!” (if you were not paying attention, that is the second of the two food references, one which is supposed to be a play on words, albeit it childish).  What I remember is that I did not deliver this line but had to fall down as if struck down  by the painful pun – which I did during rehearsal.

However, during the skit when I was outfitted in my karate robe with yellow belt, I fell and knocked over the other boy.  My pratfall was not the most graceful of stage falls, nor the most pleasant experience for my fellow actor, given that I was chubby at the time, as I had yet to start with my tennis fixation which began soon after this trip.

Quick and simple mise-en-place just for the halibut.

For the halibut recipe and more….

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Qualicum Sea Scallops in Brown Butter & Hazelnuts: Coquilles St. Jacques au beurre noisette et aux noisettes

What theme would you choose for creating a meal?  I always liked the idea of using coffee, chocolate, or cherries (or other items which might not start with “c”) in every course for a fun dinner party.

Returning on the Saturday morning ferry from Vancouver, I had been “off-island”, as they say here, for about 11 days.  I had not expected to see the Fishery Afloat.  This seafood boat docks right near the ferry terminal on Saturdays from late May through September.  The Fishery Afloat is based on the much bigger, Salt Spring Island, and it features – almost exclusively – local seafood from the Pacific.  After a long and difficult trip, I was happy to see the boat for the first time, buy some halibut, and discover they had the large Qualicum Beach sea scallops (many of which are larger than a golf ball).  They are quite a treat.

So our proximity to Qualicum Beach, across the Strait along Vancouver Island, made me think of creating a sort of 100-mile-diet dish.  Having made scallops in butter with hazelnut, I thought it would be good to add the twist of brown butter.  The title I gave the dish is is also a bit of a play-on-words or jeux de mots, in French, “Coquilles St. Jacques au beurre noisette et aux noisettes.”  Just to clear up confusion wrought by a Canadian celebrity chef, who once stated incorrectly that brown butter originally was related to hazelnuts as an ingredient in making the butter.  It decidedly is not.  The colour is nut-brown and the flavour may be nutty, but beurre noisette has nothing to do with hazelnuts per se.  Just in case you were wondering….

For the dish and the recipe… Continue reading