Deconstructed Salmon Ceviche with Mango & Avocado-Lime Crema

Salmon not only tastes great, but I hear it’s good for you too. Not that I care about the good for you part.

Raw fish – raw food in general – must feel so satisfying because you’re eating visceral protein in its most primal form.

In spite of my debilitating motion sickness while I’m on any small sea vessel, I’d spend a summer fishing every day in a heartbeat given the opportunity.

As a self-identified part-time resident of southwest Florida, our family has taken some deep sea fishing trips in the Gulf of Mexico.

A few years back on a rickety, 20-foot fishing boat, we reeled in what Captain Vince estimated to be a two to three hundred pound “goliath grouper.” It took 45 minutes to bring it up, and four of us had to take turns reeling it in using your average, run-of-the-mill fishing rod.

I still don’t understand how that pole didn’t snap in half.

When it emerged, it was like pulling a prehistoric whale out of the water. It was covered in barnacles and its eyes were the size of golf balls. It was staring right at us. I knew it was a fish, but it had the gaze of a human who’d been through hell and back.

When you catch a fish that size, and I assume that uncommon, you always cut the line and let them go.  It was one of the most incredible things I’ve ever seen.

I love raw salmon, and smoked salmon, so I included both in this “ceviche.” I wanted to make this more of a meal as opposed to a bite-sized amuse-bouche, which is typically the serving size I get when ordering at restaurants here in D.C. I’m always left wanting more of it.

Avocados are the perfect counterpoint to salmon, according to everyone. And I agree. I was in Oahu when this recipe sprung into my head, thus the added mango component. Pineapple would’ve been more Hawaiian-y, I know.

Adding sweet to my savory is usually against my religion, but mango just felt right here.

And if you have a round mold, which I didn’t have, these ingredients would present gorgeously stacked over one another.

Now go forth, and eat your seafood the way it’s meant to be eaten – raw!

I N G R E D I E N T S

Serves 1.

  • 6 oz. smoked salmon
  • 6 oz. wild salmon filet, sliced thin
  • 1 mango, sliced thin
  • 1 jalapeno, sliced thin
  • 2 avocados (ripe, but firm – you will only need 1 and 1 / 2 avocado for this recipe, so snack on the other half!)
  • 2 limes, 1 zested & juiced
  • 4 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 stalk scallions, minced
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of pepper

O p t i o n a l

To go along with the fish, make a super-simple dipping sauce for added flavor – simply mix 3 parts soy sauce to 1 part sesame oil, adding a teaspoon or so of finely minced scallions.

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Cut 1 avocado in half, carefully removing the core with a knife. Remove the outer peel, and slice the meat 1 / 4 to 1 / 2 inch thin. Drizzle the slices with lime juice to prevent browning & set aside.
  2. With a knife, cut the smoked salmon into 2 – 3 inch diameter circles. You could use a ramekin as well for a more uniform size.
  3. Slice the wild salmon filet thinly longways. If you put the salmon in the freezer for 10 minutes, it will make it easier to slice. Once sliced, cut the fresh salmon in a similar circular shape & size to the smoked salmon.
  4. Peel a mango, slicing the meat of the fruit from the tough core. With the pieces you have, cut them in a similar shape to the fish.
  5. Slice one jalapeno thinly, and mince the scallion.
  6. In the meantime, put the sour cream, juice and zest of one lime, half of the avocado, salt and pepper in a blender until finely pureed.
  7. To serve, spread a dollop of the avocado crema across the plate, arrange the avocados and then the smoked and fresh salmon. Top with sliced jalapenos and sprinkle with minced scallions.
  8. Serve alongside the optional soy dipping sauce & lime wedges for extra oomph.

Tuna Nicoise Deviled Eggs

Isn’t it weird they’re called “deviled” eggs? I think this characterization of them as being somehow affiliated with the devil himself, is wholly appropriate. I think of Momofuku’s Crack Pie.

Some foods are just so good that they’ll ruin your life. Just kidding.

And being curious, I looked it up. In the 18th century the term “deviled” originally referred to any food that was flavored in some form, usually made to be spicy or heavily seasoned.

But I discovered and was surprised to learn that deviled eggs have their roots in Ancient Roman cuisine – and would be served as an appetizer for nobles. They’d combine it with some liquid – wine, broth, and some spice – usually pepper.

They have evolved a lot since then. And other cultures have adopted different variations.

Lucky Peach, which was an amazing publication that I miss so damn much, posted a recipe several years back that I can’t locate online. But it was a traditional take on a home-style version of Asian stuffed eggs (I cannot remember which country it was indigenous to), and it was a presentation I was entirely unfamiliar with. The stuffed eggs were served whites side up, garnished on top with a thin slice of carrot, with rolls of sliced mozzarella cheese served in the middle of the plate.

For some reason its simplicity appealed to me. I think that’s why deviled eggs have stuck around for so long.

Regular American deviled eggs nowadays, the sad, couple-day old ones you find sitting in the prepared food section of your grocery store, will typically combine the yolks, go heavy on the mayonnaise, of course – because, why not – toss in some yellow mustard and sprinkle a bit of paprika.

Do not get me wrong, I love the classic good-old-American deviled egg.

But for those looking to expand their deviled egg horizons, here’s a fun, more elevated version of the classic. I hope you’ll like it. There’s infinite ways to transform the incredible, edible egg.

I N G R E D I E N T S

This recipe will produce 12 deviled eggs. Double (or triple) the amount as necessary. 😊

  • 6 high-quality fresh eggs (the larger the egg, the better)
  • 2 oz. high-grade raw tuna, finely minced
  • 1 1 / 2 Tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon sour cream
  • 1 Teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 Teaspoon capers, minced
  • 1 Teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 Teaspoon fresh tarragon, finely minced
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 2 anchovies, finely minced
  • 4 Nicoise olives, finely minced*
  • Pinch of pepper

*If you don’t have Nicoise olives (I know I can’t always find them), black olives will work just as well as a substitute.

O p t i o n a l

For those of you anchovy lovers like me, in addition to the tarragon leaf, top each egg with an anchovy filet cut in half for extra salty and fishy goodness.

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Submerge the eggs in cold water so all the eggs fit in one layer in the pot, and cover with cold water by 1 inch. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then cover. Once boiled, remove from the heat and set aside for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, submerge the eggs in ice water until they are cool enough to peel.
  2. In my experience, the easiest way to peel boiled eggs is to lightly smash either side of the egg, roll it lightly from side to side, and then peel the shell off.
  3. Slice the eggs in half, removing the yolks into a small bowl. Arrange the egg whites on a plate and put them in the fridge while you prepare the filling.
  4. Vigorously combine the egg yolks with the rest of the ingredients with a fork until fully incorporated. Taste for seasonings. They’re shouldn’t be a need for additional salt, but add if needed.
  5. Remove the egg whites from the fridge. With a small 1-inch scoop, fill each egg white half with the filling.
  6. Garnish each egg with a tarragon leaf. Place the eggs back in the fridge for at least 15 minutes so the flavors have a chance to combine and the eggs have a chance to chill. If you can’t wait, room temperature works too.
  7. Serve, making sure you eat one (or two) first, because you never know how quickly they will disappear. It’s been known to happen.

Scandinavian Breakfast Bagel

If you’re like me, over the course of your life you’ll cycle between getting queasy at the thought of eating anything before 3 PM, and waking up so hungry you shun all life responsibilities (I mean you, office job) until you have eaten.

This recipe is for those of you in the latter camp.

Since I’m a sweet food hater, my go-to in the morning is a super-savory bagel that’s way too heavy on cream cheese and piled high with something like $17 worth of smoked salmon.

To give you a sense of “too heavy,” I have unabashedly piled on a solid three vertical inches of cream cheese on a bagel before.

Smoked salmon and fish in general, being a big diet staple in the Nordic region, tends to go best with the flavors that have been mingled in dishes together there, well, since forever. What’s the saying? What grows (and lives) together, goes together.

I think of the characteristic lemon, dill & red onion combo, pickled everything, seafood, eggs, gamey meats, shellfish and lots of dairy. All the best foods, all the time.

This is how much the Swedes like seafood: they sell fish roe from a tube. I, obviously, will end up buying this.

With this being a bagel and all, there’s not much cooking involved, but it doesn’t make the outcome any less delicious. Get yourself as good a quality of bagel as you can. Do rye bagels exist? If so, they’d be perfect here.

I N G R E D I E N T S

Makes 1 sandwich.

  • 1 bagel, flavor of your choosing (I went for poppyseed, onion or a grainy whole wheat)
  • 4 oz. smoked salmon
  • 1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
  • 1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
  • 1 teaspoon fresh dill, chopped
  • 2 oz. high-quality Nordic pickled herring from a can
  • 4 oz. cream cheese (or double that amount, if you’d like 😉)
  • 1 / 4 medium red onion, minced
  • 1 / 4  lemon, squeezed
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of pepper

O p t i o n a l

If you want to up the fishiness factor, spread a tablespoon of salmon roe on the bagel in addition to the other ingredients, before you press the two halves together.

D I R E C T I O N S

1. Cut the bagel in half. Toast, if desired, to your preference.
2. To make the cream cheese spread, combine the cream cheese, whole grain mustard, horseradish, dill and a pinch each of salt and pepper in a small bowl.
3.  Layer half of the cream cheese on both sides of the bagel. On one half, place the smoked salmon, then the minced red onion.
4. On the other half, place the pickled herring, and top with a squeeze of lemon. Press sandwich together.

 

Pearl Diver’s Oysters

There are few food-related experiences more blissful than slurping a clean, ice-cold oyster.

Oysters have that mysterious, pearl-producing, hand-collected by island-dwelling natives who dive to the ocean floor holding their breath for 1 hour underwater-thing going on. All the best foods are the ones that play hard-to-get, or make you wait literally years for them. Think about it.

This led me to confirm whether or not there are people who still pearl dive, and yes there are, but it’s less risky nowadays. Lame. I guess not everyone can be as badass as that guy Kino from The Pearl.  Remember that book?

Speaking of badass, let’s learn how to properly shuck an oyster together, which you will need to do for this recipe. I found this video helpful as a shucking amateur. You will need to buy an oyster knife too, so add one to your cart in your next Amazon order.

In terms of sourcing the oysters, you either 1) have a dedicated fish market that you know supplies superbly fresh oysters on a regular basis 2) only have access to a hit-or-miss market that may or may not stock satisfactory shellfish 3) are willing, financially or otherwise, to order oysters online.

I fall somewhere between camps 1 and 2 – so I elected to buy them at a good local seafood market. One note on ordering oysters online. It’s unexpectedly highly recommended over taking a risk of purchasing or storing the sub-par stuff.

I will not pretend to preach expertise on different varietals of oysters, ever.

There are upwards of 150 distinct types harvested in North America alone distinguished by where they are sourced on a highly local level. This recipe calls for the variety or varieties you prefer, with a huge emphasis on whatever is freshest available to you.

And of course, get a bunch of types too, if you’d like. If you’re limited to U.S. varieties, on average, West coast oysters tend to be smaller and sweeter, while East coast oysters tend to be larger and slightly brinier (and dare I say, funkier).

So here’s a homage to the sinisterly delicious oyster.

Us devotees thank you for existing.

I N G R E D I E N T S

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Always mise en place, folks!

Serves 2 – 4 as an appetizer, depending on appetites.

  • 1 – 2 dozen fresh oysters in their shell, variety of your choosing *
  • 3 fresh sea scallops, or 6 fresh bay scallops
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium-sized shallot, minced
  • 10-12 sprigs of fresh dill, minced
  • 2-3 large lemons (enough to produce 4 tablespoons of juice, saving enough lemon fruit to squeeze 1 – 2 tablespoons of juice for finishing)
  • 1 / 4 cup high-quality, very dry Champagne or Pinot Grigio
  • 1 / 4 tsp sugar
  • 1 teaspoon red, white wine or champagne vinegar
  • Pinch of Kosher salt
  • Pinch of Maldon salt or another good-quality finishing salt

*Adjust according to the size of the oysters – the oyster estimate is based off of a “medium” sized oyster, or an oyster with a shell approximately 2 and ½ inches in diameter.

O p t i o n a l

  • 1 / 2 lb cup uncooked pearl couscous
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted or salted butter

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Shuck the oysters carefully, and place the meat in a small bowl. Pour any excess liquid from the oysters into a separate small bowl. Reserve half the oyster shells for plating the final dish.
  2. Cut each oyster in half crosswise. Small dice the fresh scallops in a similar size to the fresh oysters and add to the bowl with the oysters. Put the shellfish meat in the fridge.
  3. In a small sauté pan, heat the oil, and add the minced shallot, sautéing on medium-low heat for 5 or so minutes until heavily reduced and the shallot is transparent, making sure that the shallot does not brown.
  4. Add 4 tablespoons of the lemon juice to the pan, the 1 / 4 cup Champagne or Pinot Grigio, the reserved liquid from the oysters, a pinch of salt, 1 teaspoon vinegar and 1 / 4 teaspoon of sugar.
  5. Simmer for 7-9 minutes longer on low heat, allowing the liquid to reduce by about half.
  6. Off the heat, take half of the minced dill and add it to the vinaigrette.
  7. Allow the vinaigrette to cool, about 10 minutes.
  8. Once cooled, pour the vinaigrette over the raw oysters and scallops. Mix well.
  9. Place the mixture in the fridge for 10 minutes to chill. After ten minutes, remove the shellfish mixture, stir, and return to the fridge to chill for an additional 10 minutes.
  10. In the meantime, take the reserved oyster shells and place them on a bed of crushed ice, preferably in a wide, shallow metal pan, such as a paella serving dish.
  11. Take 1 tablespoon of the combined shellfish mixture and place in each of the reserved oyster shells. Sprinkle the shells with the remaining dill, lemon juice, and sprinkle with a pinch of salt.
  12. Serve with cooked pearl couscous mixed with melted butter on the side, if desired as a palate cleanser.