Tuna Pasta Salad with Lemon and Greens

ImageIt was one of those evenings where we didn’t have much time or energy to cook so my lovely wife threw together this quick tuna and pasta salad.  I’ve learned that tuna salad can be as unique as the individual making it.  It makes me wonder if there is a correlation between a person’s tuna salad and how interesting they are.  With that said, I hope you don’t find us too boring.  Recipe is as follows:

  • 1 can of quality solid tuna in water (or oil if that’s your preference)
  • 8 ounces whole grain fusilli
  • 1/2 spanish onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 tsp grated lemon peel
  • 2 Tbsp of Mayonnaise
  • Dill weed
  • Pepper (we didn’t add salt since the tuna and mayo were already salted)
  • Whole leaf lettuce

Boil the pasta “al dente” and cool.  Combine remaining ingredients and mix well without breaking apart the tuna too much.  Combine with pasta and mix gently.  Chill until cool.  Create a bed of lettuce and place the salad on top.  Garnish with any remaining dill and a crank or two of pepper.  Simple and delicious.  Enjoy!

King Salmon with Green Garlic and Fava Beans

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King Salmon is a wonderful fish that I rarely saw while living on the East Coast.  Now that we’ve moved to the Bay Area we were very happy to see it available at most fish markets.  I ended up using a very interesting recipe (follows below) that combined a unique cooking technique along with some lovely spring vegetables.

I’d like to thank the Chicago Tribune for posting this recipe.

For the side dish I made a batch of wild rice (1 cup).  While the rice was cooking I took 2 shallots (finely chopped) and 2 cloves of garlic (minced) and briefly cooked them in a tablespoon of olive oil for a minute or two (until very fragrant, but not browned).  I added a bunch of spinach and mixed it together until wilted.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Once the rice is completely cooked stir in the spinach mixture and voila… a healthy side dish!

Homemade Smoked Salmon

I really dislike smoked salmon.  However, my wife loves it nearly as much as she loves me (quite a bit… I don’t want to give the wrong impression!).  Now that we have a smoker I decided to see if I could recreate her favorite “Salmon Candy” that she used to get at Whole Foods in NYC.  After doing some research online, I decided to dive in and give it a try.  The end result was impressive and she absolutely loved it.  Hooray for the good husband!

Step 1:  Brine the fish.

I looked around the web for a brine recipe that would recreate the flavor of Salmon Candy, and couldn’t find anything.  I put together the following for 1.5 pounds of salmon:

5 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 Qt. COLD water
2 oz Kosher salt
2/3 c. brown sugar
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
3-4 Tbsp Tamari

Once the salt and sugar were dissolved, I dropped in the fish and covered the whole container.

Step 2:  Let sit overnight.  For a saltier fish, brine for 24 hours, but LESS THAN 48!!

Step 3:  Air dry the fish on a rack in an area below 70F.  I put it in front of the air conditioner vent to ensure this was the case.  Dry for two hours so the pellicle forms.  Due to the brine, the fish will be OK at this temperature.

Step 4:  About an hour before the fish is done drying, start soaking the wood.  In this case I used Alder wood.

Step 5:  About 20 minutes before the fish is dry, start the smoker, load the box, and get the heat up to about 200F.

Step 6:  After 2 hours (don’t go past 2 hours), place the fish in the smoker and smoke the fish at the lowest temperature possible.  Ideally 160F, but I can’t get mine to go lower than 180F.  At the higher temperatures the fish “sweats”, which is what you DON’T want.  Be sure to sop up any “sweat” (aka, fat) with a paper towel every 10 minutes or so.  Once the fish reaches an internal temperature of 145F I turn off the smoker and moved them to a rack to cool, and then covered and refrigerated.

Myers of Keswick – Cornish Pasty and Pork Pie / Chelsea Fish Market – Red Snapper

After two days of constant snow and nearly 2 feet of accumulation, we were getting cabin fever.  The cure for cabin fever?  Go exploring in a different neighborhood in search of food.  In the West Village, just south of Chelsea, is a lovely little British shop called Myers of Keswick.  We have wanted to go there for some time, and it seemed like the perfect day to do so.  Plus, Brie has wanted to make Flapjacks for me (the British version, not the “pancakes” often referred to here in the U.S.) and we needed some Golden Syrup.  M.o.K is a tiny shop, but their shelves are packed with canned goods, teas, sauces, and snacks to the ceiling.  On the other side of the shop is a refrigerator case where they offer a wide variety of homemade meat pies and fresh sausage.  I couldn’t resist.  We purchased one Cornish Pasty and one Pork Pie in addition to Lyle’s Golden Syrup and a few snacks (bacon flavored crisps!).

On the way back to the subway we decided to swing into the Chelsea Market to see if anything looked good for dinner.  I made a beeline to The Lobster Place and tried to decide what to make that evening.  There are so many different types of fish and seafood available at this market that it can be overwhelming.  Luckily, a beautiful red snapper got my attention and I had the fish monger (I love saying that)  remove the fins and gills.  It weighed in just under 2.5 pounds and was incredibly fresh.  I also grabbed a dozen cocktail shrimp and some fresh cocktail sauce for dipping.

Once we got home I got to cooking, like a good husband.  I wrapped the whole fish in foil and roasted it with garlic, thyme, lemon, and butter.  With the snapper we had roasted carrots with an aged balsamic glaze, and pan-fried cauliflower with curry.  And of course, don’t forget the wine!  We enjoyed a bottle of Granger 2007 “Le Bouteau” Beaujolais Village (I know, red wine with fish, but this went really well with it!!).

The next day (today) we had our Cornish Pasty and Pork Pie.  The Cornish Pasty was filled with ground beef, potatoes, peas, and onions.  It was very similar to a hash or meatloaf, but wrapped in a delightfully flaky crust.  The Pork Pie was filled with, as you might have guessed, pork.  The crust was very buttery and made a perfect home for the meat.  I can’t wait to go back and try their other pies!

The photos:

Sushi of Gari 46 – NYC

Sushi Gari 46

I had to add this photo for the simple reason it makes me hungry every time I see it!  And to think that just a few years ago I wouldn’t even think about eating raw fish.  I blame my Zoology degree and deep understanding of zoonotic diseases.  It’s hard to eat something when you know it could spawn some sort of intestinal worm inside of you.  Our friends Mike and Ian were in town and we all decided it was time to go out and have some quality sushi.  Everything at Sushi Gari was perfect, minus the moment that the manager realized that we were done and started saying, “OK, you go now, clear table, more customer behind you!”

A sampling of the items we ordered:

Negi Toro

Eel Roll

Spicy Tuna Roll

Spanish Mackeral

If you are ever in town and are looking for a great sushi restaurant, look no further.