Cuisine Provencal-Bouillabaisse

I wanted to create a more traditional Bouillabaisse and decided to give it a go and I must say I preferred it to my original version. The flavor is amazing and so layered. You keep tasting new flavors as you enjoy it and the fennel really does add a vital element.

I decided against the rouille, as I find the garlic blast can overpower the delicacy of the seafood. If you prefer it, it can certainly be added.

Ingredients 

4 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 large Onion, chopped
1 Fennel Bulb, cored and chopped
1 Shallot, peeled and minced
1 Tbsp Garlic, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon Sea Salt
1 tsp freshly ground Black Pepper
1/4 tsp Thyme
2 Bay Leaf
1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper
2 Tbsp Tomato Paste
1/2 lb Baby Potatoes, quartered
1 cup White Wine
1 tsp Saffron threads, crushed in palm of your hand.
1 -2 Tbsp Pernod
1 (28-ounce) can diced Tomatoes, juice included
1 quart Seafood or Fish Stock
1 cup/bottle Clam Juice
1 cup/bottle Lobster Juice
1 Tbsp Red Boat Fish Sauce
1/2 lb large shrimp, shelled and deveined.
1/2 lb Scallops, halved
1 pound of either Halibut, Hake, Bronzino, Cod or Monkfish, cut in large chunks. So 2 pounds total of at least two types of fish.
2 tsp grated Orange zest

Directions:

Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven or stockpot, add the onions, fennel, salt, pepper, garlic, shallot and sauté over medium heat for 10-15 minutes, until the onions begin to lightly carmelize. 

 
 
 
 

Add the wine, Pernod and the saffron and let it simmer and become fragrant. Add the potatoes, tomato paste, thyme, bay leaves, cayenne pepper and incorporate. Sauté for a few minutes.

Add the tomatoes, seafood stock, clam juice, lobster juice, fish sauce to the pot, bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 30-40 minutes. You want it to more of a thick soup consistency. 

Add the fish and bring up to a boil, then lower the heat, add the shrimp and scallops cover, and cook for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the pot to sit covered for another 5 minutes. Stir in the orange zest, and serve in large bowls with toasted garlic baguette slices. 

Note: I really prefer the Bal Harbor brand of clam and lobster juice. I find them at Whole Foods but they are also available online.

Sichuan Chili and Garlic Prawns

If you follow my blog you know that I’m a big fan of spicy food, and Sichuan/Szechuan food in particular. It’s such a unique regional cuisine. From the smoky fermented vinegar to lip numbing Sichuan peppercorns, it’s a flavor explosion.

When I want a spicy food fix, this is the perfect dish. The interplay between the ingredients is classic Sichuan. Additionally, I like the simplicity of this recipe as the marinade becomes your sauce.

It’s well worth searching out the Sichuan peppercorns, as they add a an authentic flavor that really can’t be substituted. They are not particularly spicy, but give a tingling mouthfeel that is very unique. They are best ground fresh and it’s the perfect place to use your spice grinder.

As I’ve mentioned before I have two coffee grinders and one is exclusively used for grinding whole spices. The white one for spices and black one for coffee beans. They are both well over 20 years old, so they were a good investment.

Ingredients

3/4 lb raw peeled Prawns/Shrimp
2 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
6 cloves Garlic, chopped
2 inch piece Ginger Root, peeled and chopped.
2 Tbsp Soy Sauce
1 Tbsp Shaohsing Wine
2 Tbsp Fermented Black Vinegar
2 Tbsp Chili Garlic Paste
1 Tbsp ground Sichuan Peppercorns
1 tsp Toasted Sesame Oil

Combine all of your sauce ingredients in a mini food processor and grind to a fine consistency. You can also prepare it by hand, but make sure to finely chop the garlic and ginger root.

Pour over the prawns and let them marinade in the refrigerator for an hour or so. 

Preheat your wok to a high heat and add 2 Tbsp of vegetable oil and slide in the prawn and marinade mixture. Cook for 4-5 minutes and serve with rice.

Turkish Stuffed Eggplant

This is a variation on a traditional Turkish dish. I love the bold spices and the richness of the tomatoes in the savory sauce. It is not difficult to prepare, but does take a little bit of time, as you need to cook the eggplant prior to stuffing them.
Ingredients
 
4 medium Eggplant, about 2 lbs
1 lb of Boca Crumbles
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
3 cups of diced Tomato
1 Onion, finely chopped
1 tsp Oregano
¼ tsp Cinnamon
1/8 tsp Cloves
2 cloves Garlic, crushed
1 Tbsp Pomegranate Molasses
4 Tbsp roasted Pine Nuts
1 cup Greek Yogurt, or suitable non dairy substitute
 
Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Slice the eggplant in half and scrape out about half of the flesh and set aside. Then brush the halves with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake the eggplant halves for 20-25 minutes until just soft to touch, but not mushy.
 
While the eggplant is baking, start preparing your sauce by browning the Boca crumbles in 1 Tbsp of the olive oil and set aside. Then add in the remaining 1 Tbsp of olive oil to your pan and sauté the onions, chopped eggplant flesh and garlic until translucent, add in the browned Boca crumbles, tomatoes, all of the spices and pomegranate molasses and bring to a simmer and continue to cook until the mixture is thickened. This will take approx. 45 min -1 hour.

Bring the oven up to 350F degrees. Then assemble the eggplants by spooning in the Boca and tomato mixture into the eggplant halves, and then lay them in Pyrex or other oven proof baking pan and then spoon on the yogurt and finally sprinkle the pine nuts. Then bake for 15-20 minutes and serve.

 
This would be perfect with a spicy Rhone wine such as a Hermitage, Cote Rotie or an Oregon Pinot Noir.

Grilled Shrimp with Harissa

Harissa is a fiery paste which is commonly used in North African cuisine. You see it show up in Tunisian and Moroccan food quite often. It is packed with flavor and comes in many varieties, but common ingredients are chilies, olive oil, garlic, sundried tomatoes, salt, coriander, cumin and caraway seeds.


You can certainly make your own, but for a quick meal, I always have some on hand. It’s a versatile ingredient and can be used in many ways. That being said, I’m particularly fond of it with fish, shrimp, vegetables and anything grilled. It’s amazing in shakshouka, makes a mean mayonnaise and would certainly be great paired with any grilled meat.

I decided to make this at the last minute, so having the paste on hand was essential. It’s not often that you can find a recipe with only three ingredients that tastes this good.

Harissa du Cap Bon, Zamouri, Mina and Traditional Harissa Spread by Les Moulins Mahjour (this is the brand I use, as it’s made by a family in Tunisia and organic) are a few brands that are easy to find online. You can even find brands that come in a tube. Just find a brand that you enjoy and experiment. However, if you have the time, make your own. It keeps for up to 6 months in the fridge.

https://www.bestproducts.com/eats/food/gmp2031/harissa-paste-sauce-brands/

Ingredients
3/4 lb raw Shrimp, peeled with tails on.
2 Tbsp Harissa Paste
Juice of 1/2 Lemon

Put your shrimp into a medium sized bowl and toss with the harissa paste. Cover and allow to marinate for 2-3 hours in the refrigerator.

Remove shrimp from the refrigerator and preheat your grill or broiler to high heat. I really enjoy doing this on my range top griddle pan.

Quickly lay your shrimp on the griddle pan using tongs and cook about 2 minutes on one side and turn and then another 2 minutes, add a squeeze of lemon and remove and serve over rice, pilaf or roasted cauliflower rice.

Hint: As I store my harissa in the refrigerator, I find it can be a little tacky when I first take it out. A little splash of olive oil loosens it right up.