Archive for the ‘Shellfish’ Category

Crab and Sweet Corn Cakes, from Epicurious May 2011
These cakes also work well with shrimp, crayfish and even roast chicken.

8 ounces cooked crabmeat
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 red serrano chile, finely chopped
1 tablespoon roughly chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 cup all-purpose flour or fine cornmeal
1/2 cup cornstarch
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup fresh or canned corn kernels, drained
2/3 cup crème fraîche or sour cream, to serve
lime wedges, to serve

Lightly mix the crab, green onions, chile and cilantro in a bowl and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Sift the flour and cornstarch into a separate bowl. Add 2/3 cup cold water and the eggs and whisk until smooth. Stir in the crab mixture and corn kernels. The mixture should have the consistency of heavy cream.

Add a drizzle of olive oil to a frying pan set over medium-high heat.  Spoon small amounts of the batter onto the griddle and cook for 3 minutes on each side or until golden.  Serve with crème fraîche and lime wedges.


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Do you lament day-old, crusty bread?  After a few days on the countertop, I get a bit ansty about bread.  Not that we don’t eat slightly stale bread, but there are better uses for it than eating it straight up.  So I naturally begin thinking about stratas, homemade breadcrumbs, or croutons.  (The sweets-fanatic in me would entertain a bread pudding, but I’d be the only one consuming it.)  Recently, I recalled a simple and rustic tomato basil and bread salad we had years back in Rome.  I’ve added a color boost here with added vegetables, whole wheat bread, and grilled shrimp.  (Use any protein of your choosing or some cannelloni beans.)  It’s a resourceful way of using leftover bread and with tomato season coming up, it’s perfect for a weeknight meal, picnic or potluck. 

I also want to thank Jessie at CakeSpy for featuring Rice Kernel and my Mother’s Day Triple Strawberry Cheesecake.  As Jessie would say, that’s sweet stuff! 

Shrimp Panzanella Salad

This salad is very versatile – add your favorite fresh vegetables and protein.  The Lebanese version, fattoush, uses stale pita.  In Greece, a similar version called dakos features fetas, cucumbers, and stale bread. 


8 Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
3 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, peeled and halved
1 tbsp capers, rinsed and chopped
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper, divided
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 thick slices day-old whole-grain bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (or any bread – herb-flavored breads are wonderful in this salad)
2 large tomatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium cucumber, peeled (if desired), seeded and diced or cut into 1-inch pieces
1 large bell pepper, diced (color of your choice)
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil or parsley
1 1/2 tsp chopped fresh thyme or 3/4 teaspoon dried thyme or poultry seasoning
4 cups salad greens
Grilled shrimp or protein of your choice
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste


  1. To make croutons:  If you have fresh bread, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Drizzle 2 tablespoons oil on a rimmed baking sheet.  Mash garlic into the oil with a fork to infuse it with flavor; discard the garlic.  Stir bread cubes into the oil until lightly coated. Bake, stirring every 5 minutes, until very crisp, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool completely.
  2. In the alternative, if you have stale bread, you can skip the croutons and simply slice the stale bread into cubes or break apart with your hands.
  3. Whisk olives, vinegar, capers and 1/8 tsp pepper in a large bowl.  Slowly whisk in oil until combined.  Add bread, tomatoes, cucumber, onion, bell peppers and herbs.  Serve over salad greens and top with shrimp.

Note:  You can store the croutons in an air-tight container for up to a week.

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Succulent chunks of crabmeat suspended in silky, mashed sweet potatoes, and seasoned with fragrant vegetables and herbs.  This homemade version is a healthful and creamy twist on a favorite.  

Sweet Potato Crab Cakes


1 large sweet potato or yam
1 cup lump crabmeat
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 small yellow or red onion onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup red, yellow, or orange bell pepper, finely chopped
1/2 cup corn
1 tbsp cilantro (or parsley)
1/2 tsp red chili pepper
2 tsp salt or to taste
1 egg
3 tbsp flour
1/4 cup water, stock, or milk
1/4 cup plain bread crumbs
Oil for frying
Lemon wedges for serving


  1. Cook sweet potatoes.  Boil cubed sweet potato in water, roast in 400 degree F oven for 30 minutes or cover in pastic wrap and cook in microwave for 5-6 minutes.  Cool slightly, peel and mash them together.  Add water, stock, or milk to moisten (you may need less than 1/4 cup).
  2. In a saute pan set over medium-high heat, cook onions and bell peppers until slightly soft, about 2-3 minutes.  Add garlic and cook an additional 1-2 minutes.
  3. Mix the crabmeat, cooked vegetables, corn, cilantro, chili pepper, and half the salt with the mashed sweet potatoes.
  4. Shape into patties (size of your choice).
  5. Beat egg and the remaining salt, flour and water into a paste.
  6. Dip the patties into the flour batter and coat well with the breadcrumbs.
  7. Place these in the freezer for 15 minutes so crab cakes hold their shape.
  8. To cook, place a few tablespoons of oil in a pan set over medium-high heat, fry until golden brown on both sides.
  9. Serve while warm, with lemon wedges.

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My husband loves brothy noodles.  I love seafood, particularly shellfish.  Rice Kernel is on a nori kick.  Meet tonight’s family-pleasing dinner.  Light and comforting for a Spring day, this pasta is suspended in a light broth with sweet napa cabbage, succulent shellfish, hearty shiitake mushrooms, and dressed with paper-thin nori.

You’re probably familiar with nori in sushi and of its superfood fame.  It is a precious source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber.  It is also great with pasta, especially seafood pasta.  Forget parmesan, use crumbled nori for extra flavor and some textural contrast!

Nori Seafood Pasta with Napa Broth, from Rice Kernel’s kitchen
Note: You can also serve this as a “dry” pasta, without broth. 

1 pasta, preferably linguine or spaghetti
1 medium head napa cabbage, sliced
1/2 lb shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced
1/2 tsp crushed red chile flakes
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 lb seafood (we used a mix of calamari, small shrimp, and bay scallops.  Littleneck clams would also be delicious.)
2 tbsp sake
Soy sauce, to taste
1/4 cup loosely packed julienned nori
3-4 cups of broth (I used chicken), heated

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Cook pasta, stirring occasionally, according to package directions.  Drain pasta, transfer to a bowl, and toss with 1 tbsp. canola oil; set aside. 
  2. Meanwhile, heat a tablespoon of oil in a pot set over medium heat.  Add mushrooms, chile flakes, and garlic.  Cook, stirring often, until garlic is soft, about 3 minutes.  Add the napa cabbage and cook until just wilted, about 3-5 minutes.  Add seafood and sake, and cook until just tender, about 4-5 minutes.  Add warm broth and reserved pasta.  Season with soy sauce.  (Omit broth for a regular, “dry” pasta dish.)
  3. Transfer pasta to 4 serving bowls and garnish with nori.

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I love crab.  Growing up on Long Island, my maternal grandparents, mom, and I delighted in blue crab often.  It was a messy, loud affair but for us nothing beat whole crabs, to be shelled and eaten with gusto at the table.  (With some nutcrackers or small mallets nearby for assistance.)  At the end of the meal, there would be nothing left on the table but piles of crab carcasses atop newspapers, all eaten clean and precariously perched like mountains – blunt reminders that the best things in life are worth working for and getting your hands dirty.

I would have fondly continued the tradition but my husband and dad aren’t quite as enthusiastic about whole crab.  For one, my dad complains that after a few bites through the crab membrane or shell, his tongue is rough like sandpaper.  FHE?  He says it’s not worth the work.  And Rice Kernel… he’s a bit too young to be navigating through shells.  As a result, my handling of crab has become, well, civilized.  And these days, instead of whole crabs we typically buy lump crabmeat.  (Little tear.)

This is one of my mother-in-law’s favorite preparations.  It is pure, savory decadence.  Chunks of rich crabmeat suspended in fluffy, creamy eggs, seasoned simply with some chives or cilantro.  It is perfect for any time of day, for a special occasion or no occasion at all.  Tonight, it’s paired with some extra greens for a hearty, indulgent supper. 

Crab and Chive Eggs


3 large eggs + 2 egg whites (adjust whites to your liking; I consider 2 egg whites to equal 1 whole egg)
6 oz lump crab meat
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives and/or cilantro
1/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1 tbsp oil or butter
Slices of whole grain bread or baguette, lightly toasted and buttered or drizzled with olive oil
Spash of milk or stock (About 2-3 tbsp)
Whole chives (optional)


  1. Whisk eggs, chopped chives, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in medium bowl until well blended.
  2. Drizzle oil (or melt butter) in heavy medium nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Add eggs and crab and stir with heatproof silicone spatula until eggs are almost cooked but still runny in parts, about 2 minutes.  Remove from heat.
  3. Arrange bread on plates and spoon scrambled eggs atop.  Sprinkle with more pepper and chives. Garnish with whole chives, if desired.
Garlic Green Beans

1 pound green beans, trimmed
3 garlic cloves
Salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Over medium-high heat, add a tablespoon of olive oil, garlic, and beans. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until just tender, 5 to 7 minutes.  (Add stock or water if the beans are becoming scorched.)  Adjust seasonings, if necessary, and serve.

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Rice Kernel and I have a natural affinity for shrimp.  Crunchy shrimp, to be exact.  My husband, FHE, will never let me forget that adjective.  When we were in high school, there was a particularly memorable dinner.  We were out to dinner with my parents and someone ordered shrimp.  I had barely sunk my teeth into a piece when my tongue hurled it into a napkin and I lamented (I’m toning it down) its mushy, soggy, inedible texture.  FHE couldn’t quite understood why I found the texture so troubling.  (No doubt he was thinking, “you are too picky.”)  Since then, I’ve endured years in the Midwest where shellfish is not always the freshest and moments at school and work where I felt satisfied just to find time to scarf down a meal.  Needless to say, my standards operate on a sliding scale these days.  But when it comes to shrimp, I can’t deny the texture and mouthfeel of perfectly cooked shrimp: crunchy, firm, crisp, al dente.  Rice Kernel agrees.  Only he’s mildly allergic…. Alas.  That doesn’t stop him from telling me to buy it.

Here’s a speedy shrimp stir-fry with sugar snap peas (one of Rice Kernel’s favorite raw and cooked vegetables) and sweet carrots.  It’s a trifecta of crunch.  (If only I had reserved Rice Kernel’s bag of cashews from snacktime and threw them into the mix…. next time.)

Shrimp with Sugar Snap Peas and Carrots

Rice "dome" optional: but much more fun for a 33-month-old to "smush" and "crush," as Rice Kernel put it.


1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined (I used fairly large tiger prawns)
1/2 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp rice wine
pinch salt
pinch white pepper
2 carrots, peeled and julienned (cut into matchstick-size pieces)
1 cup sugar snap peas, ends trimmed
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 inch ginger, minced
1 scallion, sliced
1/2 tsp cornstarch
1 tbsp chicken stock
dash sesame oil



  1. In a small bowl, mix together the shrimp, cornstarch, rice wine, salt and pepper.  Let sit for 5 minutes or in the refrigerator for up to several hours.
  2. In a large pan, heat 1 tsp olive oil on medium-high heat.  Add half of the ginger and sauté for 30 seconds. Add the shrimp and stir-fry for 1 -2 minutes until it is pale pink and not quite cooked through.  Transfer the shrimp to a plate and set aside.
  3. To the same pan, heat 2 tsp olive oil on medium-high heat.  Add the garlic, ginger and the white part of the scallion.  Cook for 1 minute.   Add the sugar snap peas and carrots and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, adding a pinch of salt and stock during cooking.
  4. Toss the cooked shrimp to mix (another minute).  Add salt, pepper, and sesame oil to taste.  Remove from the heat and garnish with scallion.  (And cashews?)
  5. Serve with pasta or rice. 

Note: This is a dry, non-saucy stir fry.

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