Easy Paella with Chorizo, Clams, and Peas

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By Freya Bellin

Certain dishes intimidate me, and paella has always been one of them. It has a level of authenticity about it that makes it rather daunting to try to replicate. However, if you let go of the need to make it perfectly traditional, it turns out to be pretty easy to make delicious paella at home.

I was surprised to find that the recipe calls for neither pimentón nor saffron, both of which I associate with paella. I considered adding a dash of one or the other anyway, but the recipe is right; the dish definitely doesn’t need the extra flavor. The chorizo has a spicy smokiness that pervades the whole dish. Make sure you use the type of chorizo that comes wrapped like salami or a hot dog because you need to be able to dice it. The more sausage-like chorizo will crumble when you cut through the casing. Instead of fresh tomatoes, which are hard to find this time of year, I substituted 1 cup of canned diced tomatoes, and then used the juice from the canned tomatoes instead of 1 of the cups of water.

If you’d rather skip the seafood, this dish will still be great. Being a novice clam steamer, I overcooked mine so they didn’t add much to the paella, but it did highlight how great the rice is even without it. If you’re hungry and just want to dig in, you could skip the last step of toasting the rice, but if you can wait, your patience will be rewarded—the crust at the bottom of the pan is easily the best part of any paella.  Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.

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Posted in Seafood

Roasted Thick Fish Fillets or Steaks

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Makes: 4 servings

Time: 30 to 45 minutes, depending on thickness

Some fish steaks and fillets—especially the triangular fillets from large round fish—are so thick they almost qualify as roasts, which makes them too big to cook by direct heat. Fortunately, the same sear-and-roast technique that works so well on other animals is perfect for large pieces of fish, and it’s faster. Provided you don’t overcook, results are crisp on the outside and juicy inside. And as a bonus, you get a quick little sauce out of the deal.

The best tool for this job is an ovenproof skillet—you start on the stove and transfer the whole thing to the oven. And if you don’t have herbs handy, just salt and pepper is fine. Recipe from How to Cook Everything.

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Posted in Recipes, Seafood

The Simplest and Best Shrimp Dish

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Makes: 4 servings

Time: About 30 minutes

Excuse the superlatives; this spin on a Spanish tapa is my favorite, and everyone I serve it to loves it. The shrimp juices infuse the oil, and the sum is beyond delicious. It’s good with bread, over rice, tossed with pasta, or stuffed into tacos.

Other seafood you can use: similar-sized scallops (or larger, though they’ll take longer to cook). Recipe from How to Cook Everything.

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Posted in Recipes, Seafood, Uncategorized

Grilled or Broiled Scallops with Basil Stuffing

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Makes: 4 servings

Time: 30 minutes

One of my all-time favorite recipes. Even though it’s super-easy to split and fill scallops, the results are guaranteed to impress.

Other seafood you can use: shrimp (split lengthwise for stuffing); monkfish cut crosswise into thick medallions. Recipe from How to Cook Everything.

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Posted in Recipes, Seafood

Pan-Cooked Salmon with Lentils

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Makes: 4 servings

Time: About 1 hour

Salmon and green lentils are an excellent combination.  Err on the side of undercooking the lentils. You want them to have an almost nutty texture. Other seafood you can use: trout, shrimp (both of which will cook more quickly, so make the sauce first), or scallops. Recipe from How to Cook Everything.

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Dinner with Bittman: Panfried Trout with Bacon and Red Onions

Recipe from How to Cook Everything.

Panfried Trout with Bacon and Red Onions

Makes: 2 servings

Time: 45 minutes

Think of this as campfire food, made at home. Other seafood you can use: salmon or any thick fillets or steaks or whole sardines.

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Posted in American, Seafood

Dinner with Bittman: Okra Gumbo with Spicy Sausage

Recipe from How to Cook Everything.

Okra Gumbo with Spicy Sausage

Makes: 4 servings

Time: About an hour, largely unattended

I love slow-cooked okra, especially with sausage and tomatoes. For the best texture, you’ve got to sear the okra first. But after that, there’s little to do but let the pot bubble away. To serve this New Orleans style, pour a ladleful into a shallow soup bowl and nestle a scoop of plain white rice into the center.

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Posted in American, Seafood, Uncategorized

Dinner with Bittman: Skate with Brown Butter, Honey, and Capers

Recipe from How to Cook Everything.

Skate with Brown Butter, Honey, and Capers

Makes: 4 servings

Time: 20 minutes

Skate used to be a royal pain in the neck—it’s nearly impossible for home cooks to get the skin off—but now that almost all skate is filleted before it comes to market, we can simply sauté it just like any other fillets. Skate browns beautifully, which sets up this impressive pan sauce based on the classic beurre noisette, or “brown butter.” The honey helps balance the acidity of the capers and lends complexity.

Other seafood you can use: halibut (steaks or fillets), sea bass, red snapper, grouper, or other sturdy, white-fleshed fish, thick or thin; adjust the cooking time accordingly.

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Posted in Recipes, Seafood

Dinner with Bittman: Pan-Roasted Swordfish with Gingered Pea Puree

Recipe adapted from How to Cook Everything.

Pan-Roasted Swordfish with Gingered Pea Puree

Makes: 4 servings

Time: 30 minutes

Mint and peas are a springtime cliché, and you can go that route here, but I think ginger is a more interesting counterpoint. Pan roasting begins with searing the steaks on the stovetop, then transferring them to the oven. 

Other seafood you can use: salmon, tuna, or halibut (steaks or fillets).

2 cups fresh or frozen peas

Salt 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons chopped pancetta, guanciale, or bacon (optional)

Freshly ground black pepper

About 1 1/2 pounds swordfish steaks

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

2 tablespoons butter

1. Heat the oven to 500°F. Cook the peas in boiling salted water until tender, just a couple of minutes. Drain them, then plunge into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Drain well while you cook the fish.

2. Put the olive oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. If you’re using the pancetta, add it now and cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until it has rendered some of its fat. Raise the heat to high and add the fish; sprinkle it with salt and pepper. Cook until browned on one side, 3 to 5 minutes, then turn and transfer to the oven.

3. Mash the peas—you can use a potato masher, an immersion blender (add a tiny bit of cream or water if necessary), or a food processor—along with the ginger. Reheat with the butter, adding some salt and pepper if necessary.

4. When the fish is done—after 5 to 10 minutes of roasting (a thin-bladed knife will meet little resistance when inserted into the center)—transfer it to a plate, along with the pan juices. Spoon a bit of the pea purée onto each of 4 plates and top with a piece of the fish. Serve immediately.

 

Posted in Recipes, Seafood