French Byron Potatoes with Grilled Salmon Steaks

Lately I’ve been posting recipes from all over the world: Spanish, Mexican, Moroccan, etc. I thought it is time to get back to some French cooking, which is my specialty! Thumbing though some recipes I learned at the Paris Cordon Bleu school, I came across a recipe for Byron Potatoes (Pommes de terre Byron). These are mashed or puréed potatoes that are made with butter and cream and topped with cheese, usually Gruyère or Parmesan. How French can that be! They can be presented as individual potato cakes or served in a casserole dish. In any case, they make a perfect side dish, but what better way to serve them than as an accompaniment to Grilled Salmon Steaks with Lemon Butter Sauce! (see below)

The Byron Potatoes recipe that I learned at Le Cordon Bleu was more ‘fancied up’, including piping the pureed potatoes onto a baking sheet, however you can skip the piping and just shape the potato cakes with your hands.

So, here is the process for making the delicious French Byron Potatoes:

First, the potatoes are boiled and then passed through a food mill to make them nice and fluffy:

Byron (6 of 6) (1 of 1)

Butter and two egg yolks are then worked into the warm potatoes, then piped into small circles on a baking sheet. A well is made into the center of each potato cake using the back of a spoon, then a creamy white sauce is spooned into the center. Finally, grated cheese is added on top and the cakes are then baked to a golden brown.

Bake the Byron Potatoes until golden and top with some chopped chives:

Byron (4 of 4) (1 of 1)

I served my Byron Potatoes with Grilled Salmon Steaks with Lemon Butter Sauce, but they can be served with just about any type of food: fish, lamb, salads, the sky is the limit!

What are Salmon Steaks (salmon cutlets)?

Salmon steaks are derived by cutting the salmon cross-wise across the bone rather than lengthwise. By including the bone in the cooking of the fish, you get a slightly more juicy flavor and the salmon steak certainly has an interesting shape. You can remove the center bone of the fish prior to serving which makes it easier to eat. However, you could also use thick salmon slices (fillets) rather than the steaks, if desired.

In any case, bon appétit!  (Also, I’d love it if you would subscribe to my blog or ‘like’ my G’day Souffle’ Facebook page)!

Byron

French Byron Potatoes with Grilled Salmon Steaks
Serves 4
Succulent Salmon Steaks surrounded by creamy French potatoes
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Prep Time
45 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
1 hr
Prep Time
45 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
1 hr
Byron Potatoes
  1. 500 g large potatoes
  2. 50 g butter
  3. 2 egg yolks
  4. Salt
For the White Sauce
  1. 15 g butter
  2. 15 g flour
  3. 50 ml cream
  4. 150 ml milk
  5. Salt/white pepper
  6. Nutmeg
  7. 50 g Gruyère or Parmesan cheese
  8. Chives chopped
Salmon Steaks
  1. 4 salmon steaks (cutlets) or thick salmon slices
  2. Olive or vegetable oil for grilling
  3. Salt/pepper
For the Lemon Butter Sauce
  1. 30 ml water
  2. Juice of ½ lemon
  3. salt and pinch cayenne pepper
  4. 100 g butter, cut into cold cubes
  5. Chopped chives
For the Byron Potatoes
  1. First make the White Sauce; melt the 15 g butter in a small saucepan, then stir in the flour to make a thick paste. Gradually stir in the cream and milk over medium heat until the mixture thickens. Add the salt, white pepper and nutmeg to taste.
  2. Peel and cut the potatoes into rough chunks. Add the potatoes to cold water and bring to the boil; add salt to water after water comes to a boil; cook until the potatoes are cooked through. Strain water until potatoes are dry. Press the potatoes through a food mill then work the butter through the warm potatoes using a rubber spatula. Now add the two egg yolks and continue to mix with the spatula. Season with salt and white pepper.
  3. Place the potato mixture into a pastry bag using a nozzle with a round opening and pipe the mixture onto a parchment-lined baking tray; pipe into concentric circles about 3 inches wide. Dip a metal spoon into warm water and use the back of the spoon to make a small well into the middle of each potato circle. Fill each well with a spoon-full of the white sauce and then top with a little grated cheese. Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes or until the potatoes turn golden. Garnish with a little chopped chives.
For the Grilled Salmon Steaks
  1. Brush both sides of each Salmon steak with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Heat a grill pan or Barbeque grill until medium hot and brush with oil. Lay each steak diagonally across the grill to create a diagonal pattern for presentation. Cook each side for 3-4 minutes then brush each steak with a little of the lemon butter sauce, wrap in foil and bake in the oven for a further 4-5 minutes until the fish is cooked through. The fish will be done when the flesh has turned a light pink inside.
For the Lemon Butter Sauce
  1. Combine the water and lemon juice in a small saucepan; heat for several minutes until the mixture reduces a little. Gradually add the cold butter cubes; whisk over medium-low heat until the mixture gradually thickens. Be careful not to add too much heat or the butter may split. Continue adding the butter until the mixture thickens then add the salt, cayenne pepper and chopped chives.
  2. To plate, remove the center bone from each piece of salmon. Place the salmon steak on top of a bed of cooked spinach, spoon some of the lemon butter sauce around the side of the salmon and add a few pieces of the Byron potatoes on the side.
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Seafood Paella

I recently learned how to make a classic Spanish dish while I was in Madrid: Paella Valenciana which includes flavored rice with rabbit and chicken pieces. However, I am not much of a fan of rabbit meat, so I decided to incorporate the rice with seafood and a little meat instead, creating a dish known as Paella Mixta.

For my seafood, I have used whole king prawns, mussels, calamari and scallops, but you could use other types of seafood as well. The key to making a good paella is to flavor the rice well so it doesn’t taste too bland. Besides using the standard chopped tomatoes, pimentón (smoked paprika) and saffron, I have also incorporated roasted red capsicum and its juices in my recipe. Also, by turning the heat up high during the last few minutes allows a nice crust to form on the bottom of the paella pan, known as a socarrat. Everyone scrambles to eat this crunchy layer at the bottom of the dish- yum!

You’ll need a flat paella pan for this recipe and to get the best results, use a short grain rice such as bomba, which you can find in specialty stores. I used a smaller 11 inch paella pan for my recipe, but if you use the larger 18 inch pan, you’ll need to almost double the recipe.

Oddly enough, when I presented my Paella Valenciana dish to the chef at the Madrid Cordon Bleu School, he said that my “rice was overcooked.” Of course, he hardly tasted it and when I got home and ate my paella for dinner, I found the wonderful crunchy socarrat at the bottom of my dish. Little did he know …..

Seafood Paella
Serves 4
A classic Spanish dish: rice flavored with Spanish paprika, saffron, tomatoes and white wine.
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
30 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 red capsicum, roasted and sliced in strips
  2. 1 onion, chopped
  3. 2 garlic cloves, diced
  4. 1 Spanish chorizo, thinly sliced
  5. 1 tsp Pimentón Dulce or Sweet Paprika
  6. 3 tomatoes, skins removed, de-seeded and chopped
  7. 2 tbsp tomato paste
  8. 100 ml white wine
  9. pinch of saffron soaked in 1/4cup hot water
  10. Salt to taste
  11. 2 cups chicken stock or water
  12. 1 cup ‘Bomba’ rice or other short grain rice
For the seafood
  1. 4-6 King Prawns (or shrimp) whole, uncooked
  2. Calamari rings
  3. 6-8 scallops
  4. 6-8 mussels
For the garnish
  1. Chopped flat leaf parsley
  2. Lemon wedges
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the broiler oven to 200 C (400 F). Place the red capsicum on the top shelf of the oven and bake until the skin blackens (about 10-15 minutes). Alternatively, place the pepper directly over a gas burner and scorch until the skin blackens- careful not to over-burn the skin. After the skin blackens, place the red pepper in foil, cover with a bit of salt and olive oil and cook in the oven for about 10-15 minutes (180 C or 350 F). Let cool for several minutes. Remove the blackened skin, pulp and seeds and then slice the capsicum into thin strips. Retain the juices from the foil wrap.
  2. Slice the chorizo into thin rounds. Using the paella pan, heat the chorizo on the stovetop in a little oil until juices form; remove the chorizo from the pan. Using the same juices from the chorizo, heat the garlic and onion until they are translucent. Add the chorizo back to the pan along with the sweet paprika (Pimentón Dulce), chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, white wine and juices from the roasted red pepper. Soak the saffron pieces in 1/4 cup hot water for 5 minutes then add to the paella pan with the other ingredients. Stir for at least 15 minutes until all the flavors have infused, add salt as required.
  3. Add two cups of water or chicken stock to the mixture and bring to a soft boil. Add the rice, stir the mixture and then reduce the heat to a simmer. When the rice is about ¾ cooked (almost absorbed by the water), add the calamari rings and king prawns and press them lightly into the rice mixture. Cover with foil or a lid and let them cook for several minutes until the prawns turn pink. Now add the mussels and scallops, cover and heat until the mussel shells open. During the last several minutes of cooking, turn the heat up to medium high, allowing a thin crust to form on the bottom of the rice mixture.
  4. Remove the paella from the heat, add several lemon slices to the dish and sprinkle with finely diced parsley and a few splashes of olive oil.
Notes
  1. You can substitute chicken thigh pieces for the chorizo, if desired.
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Lobster Ravioli with Creamy Sauce, Cherry Tomatoes

I haven’t posted for awhile since I have been traveling with my husband and son, who is visiting with us from Australia. One of the places we visited was Death Valley, a huge national park that is the size of Connecticut and touches on the borders of both California and Nevada.

We were amazed at the starkness of the landscape, which seemed to be void of any plant life and loved the strange geologic formations that loomed from the desert floor. One of my favorite walks was through Golden Canyon, a 4-mile trek that led us around Manly Beacon; the trail was fairly steep at some points and I tried not to look down!

Manly Beacon, Death Valley

Manly Beacon

On the trail, we had the option of branching off to Zabriskie Point, one mile further, but decided to drive there later instead. This place had amazing views and reminded me of the 1970 counter-culture movie Zabriskie Point (by director Antonioni).

Zabriskie Point

Zabriskie Point

While passing through the Palm Springs area, we ate at an Italian restaurant where I ordered a delicious Lobster Ravioli dish with a parmesan sauce. It was so good that I decided to replicate the recipe myself.

My dish features fresh ravioli that is filled with lobster tail meat and ricotta cheese and is topped with a creamy parmesan sauce and cherry tomatoes. With Valentine’s Day coming up, you just might want to  impress your ‘significant other’ with this dish!

To make the stuffed ravioli, I bought some fresh lasagna sheets from a local Italian pasta shop, although you could make you own. I then cut out at least 12 circles (3 inches each) using a pastry cutter- you could also make square or triangle shapes:

I then placed a small amount of filling in the middle, wet the outer edges of the ravioli with water and crimped the edges together. Be sure to press the filling into the center of the dough so that you make a nice dome shape.

I then cooked the ravioli in boiling salted water for about 3 minutes, then baked the pasta with the parmesan sauce, onions and cherry tomatoes in the oven for several minutes. I wonder what wonderful things I’ll find next time in the desert!

Note: this recipe makes enough to serve three people, with each person receiving at least 4 ravioli each on their plate = total of 12 ravioli. To make the 12 ravioli, I used three lasagna sheets (14 inches by 5 inches each).

Lobster Ravioli with creamy sauce and cherry tomatoes
Serves 3
Lobster-filled ravioli, served with a creamy parmesan sauce and cherry tomatoes
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Filling
  1. 3 lobster tails
  2. 2 Tbsp. diced shallots
  3. 2 Tbsp. ricotta cheese
  4. 1 Tbsp. parmesan cheese
  5. Salt/pepper to taste
Creamy Parmesan Sauce
  1. ¼ cup butter
  2. 1 clove garlic, minced
  3. 1 cup thickened cream
  4. ¼ cup dry white wine
  5. 1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  6. Salt/white pepper to taste
For the garnish
  1. ½ onion, sliced
  2. 2-3 tbsps oil
  3. Parsley, chopped
  4. 8-10 cherry tomatoes
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 F (180 C).
  2. Prepare the filling: remove the meat from the lobster tails and chop finely. Add the ricotta cheese, diced shallots, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
  3. Roll-out the lasagna pasta sheets, cut out 3-inch circles using a pastry cutter or knife (or you could make other shapes, such as triangles or rectangles). Place a small amount of lobster filling in the middle of each ravioli shape, wet the outer edges of the dough with water and place the other shape on top. Crimp the edges together and push the filling into the center of the ravioli to make a nice dome shape. Place the ravioli in boiling salted water and cook for about three minutes; remove the pasta using a slotted spoon and set aside.
  4. For the sauce, melt the butter over low heat on the stove top, add the diced garlic and cream and stir over medium heat until the sauce thickens slightly. Add the wine and parmesan cheese and stir until sauce continues to thicken. Add salt and white pepper and adjust seasoning accordingly.
  5. Slice the onion into lengths of 2-3 inches and saute’ in a little oil on the stove top for several minutes until softened.
  6. To assemble the dish, place the onions and cooked ravioli in the bottom of a casserole dish, add the sauce and cherry tomatoes on top and bake in the oven for 5-7 minutes. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and serve.
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/
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Sole Meunière – when Julia Child first came to France

I have always been intrigued with the idea of cooking Sole Meunière, the classic French dish first tasted by Julia Child on her arrival in France in 1948. However, I always thought the dish might be a bit too simple (a piece of fish pan-fried in butter!) and also thought it would be difficult to photograph to look good on the plate.

However, after re-reading my copy of Julia’s book, My Life in France, I realized that this recipe was much too important to pass by. After all, this was the dish that re-awakened her gastronomic senses to transform the experience into “the most exciting meal of my life.” Prior to this meal eaten at Rouen’s La Couronne restaurant, Julia had experienced only mundane fish dishes of “broiled mackerel for Friday dinners and codfish balls with egg sauce.”

However, Sole Meunière became a real epiphany for Julia. As she ate the sole “perfectly browned in a sputtering butter sauce with a sprinkling of chopped parsley on top,” she experienced “fish and a dining experience of the highest order than I’d ever had before.” After reading this, I realized that I now had to take the plunge and try this recipe.

In French, a meunière is a miller’s wife, so Sole Meunière literally means sole cooked the way a miller’s wife would prepare it. More prosaically, it refers to fish that has been floured and fried in butter. If you can’t find any sole, you can use other thin fillets such as flounder, John Dory, trout or whiting- I used John Dory fillets.

There are a few tips and variations for this recipe. Julia Child recommends using unsalted clarified butter for frying the fish. This is butter where the milk solids have been removed, thus preventing the butter from burning. You could also use a combination of cooking oil and butter (1:3 ratio) to achieve the same result, although I prefer the clarified butter option.

In order to test whether the fish is cooked, Julia recommends pressing your finger tip against the fish; it should feel ‘springy rather than squashy.’ If it has turned flaky, it is over cooked. She also recommends seasoning the fish with ground white pepper, otherwise it might look like the fish has ‘fly specks.’ You can use black pepper if you wish, but just season the ‘non-presentation side’ to avoid viewing the fly specks.

After you have readied all of your ingredients, this dish is very quick to prepare. The decorative lemon pieces are optional, but I recommend including them; they really dress up the plate. And as for my previous comment about Sole Meunière being too simple a dish to try- this is not true. It turns out that the simpler dishes are often the most delicious!

In order to make this dish, I recommend starting by preparing the decorative lemon slices, using a ‘channeller’ to make grooves in the lemons. First you carve grooves in the lemon going vertically, spacing the grooves about 1/4 inches apart. Then slice the lemon in half horizontally to make ‘star shapes’- then slice these in half.

After preparing the decorative garnish, the rest of the recipe goes quickly. Please note that the recipe says to fry the fish in 3-4 tbsp clarified butter. The amount you use depends on the size of your frying pan and the amount of fish you cook; obviously you would use a smaller amount of butter if using a smaller fry pan, etc. Bon appétit!

 

Sole Meunière
Serves 4
This classic French dish transformed Julia Child from a person who loved to eat into a woman who loved to cook!
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
6 min
Total Time
26 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
6 min
Total Time
26 min
Ingredients
  1. 4 – 6 Sole fillets or other thin fish fillets without skin
  2. Salt and white pepper for seasoning
  3. 1 cup or so white flour
  4. 3 – 4 tbsp clarified butter for cooking the fish
  5. 3 tbsp minced fresh parsley
  6. 4 – 6 tbsp additional butter for the sauce
  7. Juice from ½ lemon for the sauce
  8. 2 lemons to decorate the plate
Instructions
  1. Prepare the decorative lemon slices as illustrated in the photos above.
  2. Season both sides of the fish fillets with salt and pepper. Place the flour on a plate and lightly coat each side of the fish with the flour; shake off any excess.
  3. Over high heat, place enough of the clarified butter in a fry pan to form a thin film about 1/16 inch thick. Heat the butter until it becomes very hot, but not turning brown. Reduce the heat slightly and then fry each fish fillet in the butter for about 2 minutes each side; cook only as many fish at one time that will easily fit into the pan. The fish should feel ‘springy’ to the touch when finished rather than ‘squashy.’ Remove the fish from the pan and keep warm while the remaining fish are cooking.
For the sauce
  1. After all fish have been cooked, wipe the pan clean with a paper towel. Over high heat, add the 4- 6 tbsp unsalted butter (not clarified) and heat until it bubbles and starts to turn a nut brown color. Be careful the butter does not burn and turn black. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the juice from ½ lemon. Pour the sauce over the fish fillets, sprinkle with the diced parsley and then arrange the lemon slices decoratively around the plate.
Notes
  1. The amount of butter used in the recipe should be adjusted to both the size of your fry pan and also the amount of fish you are using. If you don't want to use clarified butter, then use a combination of 1 tbsp cooking oil (vegetable or olive oil) to 3 tbsp unsalted butter.
Adapted from 'The Way to Cook' by Julia Child
Adapted from 'The Way to Cook' by Julia Child
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Darwin Chili Mud Crab

Mud Crab

As my plane landed in Darwin on a recent holiday, I couldn’t wait to try making one of the local traditional recipes: Chili Mud Crab. Mud crabs (called “muddies” by locals) are found in the estuaries and mangroves of the Northern Territory and are known for their huge claws, which produce ‘bucket loads’ of tasty meat. The crab that I used for my dish weighed about 2.6 pounds (1.2 kgs). 

Crab

Darwin’s food is highly influenced by Asian flavors due to its proximity to Southeast Asia, therefore giving birth to dishes such as Chili Mud Crab. One interesting fact: during the gold rush of the 1880’s, there were more Chinese living in the Northern Territory than European-born people!

To prepare your Chili Mud Crab (you could also use Blue Swimmer or Dungeness crabs) , you first need to remove the legs and claws from the crab’s body, then crack the claws open at several places to make it easier to eat the meat later on.

Remove legs and claws from crab’s body

Crab (2 of 2) (1 of 1)

Next, place your thumb underneath the triangular-shaped abdominal flap and lift off the bottom part of the crab’s body. You will now see the crab’s spongy lungs; remove these and any of the ‘gooey’ roe.

Remove the spongy lungs from the body

Crab (3 of 3) (1 of 1)

Chop the crab’s body into four sections using a cleaver. Then, chop the onion, chili, garlic and ginger and you’re now ready to assemble the dish in a wok or large pot.

Crab (4 of 4) (1 of 1)

For the final assembly, sauté the veggies in hot oil in the wok or pot, then add the tomato purée, chili sauce and white wine. Pop the crab pieces into the wok, cover with a lid for about 10-15 minutes on medium-low heat until the meat is cooked and the crab shells turn red. Garnish with coriander (cilantro) and prepare to get your fingers a little dirty as you eat!

Crab

I loved visiting Darwin with the balmy tropical air, the Asian influences and the proximity to national parks such as Kakadu and Litchfield. I was sad to leave Darwin and the beautiful sunsets, however I will return again one day to make more dishes using their wonderful mud crabs!

Darwin Sunset

Darwin Sunset

Chili Mud Crab
Huge chunks of luscious crab meat cooked with an Asian influence
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
45 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
45 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 Mud Crab, segmented (or other type of fresh, uncooked crab)
  2. 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  3. 1 medium onion, chopped
  4. 2 cloves garlic, diced
  5. 2 tbsp ginger, diced
  6. 1 red chili, seeded and diced
  7. 2 cups (500 ml) tomato purée (passata)
  8. 3-4 tbsp chili sauce
  9. ¼ cup white wine
  10. Coriander (cilantro)
Instructions
  1. Separate the crab into pieces; first remove the claws and legs of the crab by twisting and pulling them from the crab’s body. Using a cleaver, separate the claws at the elbow joint then crack them open in several places to reveal the meat.
  2. Lift the abdominal flap on the underside to open the crab’s body; remove the ‘spongy’ lungs and clean the roe from the shell. Using a cleaver, chop the body into quarters. Set all body parts aside.
  3. Set the wok or large pot over high heat; add the olive oil and sauté the onion, garlic, ginger and chili several minutes until soft. Reduce heat to medium and add the tomato purée, chilli sauce and white wine; let simmer for several minutes. Add the crab pieces and turn with a spatula until all pieces are fully coated with the sauce. Cover with a lid and let cook for at least ten minutes until the crab meat is fully cooked and infused with the chili sauce. Garnish with coriander (cilantro) - goes well served on a bed of rice.
Notes
  1. Adjust the seasoning to your individual taste- if you like more heat, add more chili or chili sauce to your liking.
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Mussel Saffron Soup

Mussell (2 of 2) (1 of 1)

I really like cooking with mussels because you can get that real seafood experience  without the usual hassles of removing fish bones and skin. And it only takes about 5 minutes to cook the mussels on the stove top- full of flavor but so easy to make!

Living in South Australia for part of the year, I’m lucky to have access to wonderful mussels and oysters from the Port Lincoln area, located on the Boston Bay.

Boston Bay, South Australia

Boston Bay

Boston Bay Mussels

Mussels are ‘filter-feeders’, which means they filter organic matter from the surrounding sea waters. They are very high in iron, protein and omega 3 vitamins. Most mussel recipes caution you to discard any mussels whose shells have not opened after cooking. ‘Murray the Mussel‘ from this little video clip shows you this is a myth!

 

My recipe for Mussel Saffron Soup has a white wine and chicken stock base, flavored with a bit of curry powder and saffron. Mussel broth can become quite salty, so I use some cream to cut the salty taste. Garnished with some chopped parsley, this makes a quick tasty dish for lunch or dinner!

Mussel Saffron Soup
Serves 3
Tender mussels served in a slightly spiced white wine broth.
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Cooking liquid for the mussels
  1. 1 kg (2.2 lbs) mussels, cleaned and de-bearded
  2. Olive oil/butter
  3. 2 shallots, finely chopped
  4. 1 garlic clove, crushed
  5. 1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped
  6. 1 leek, white part- chopped
  7. 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  8. Thyme/bay leaf
  9. 1 tsp curry powder
  10. 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  11. 3 cups dry white wine
  12. 2 cups fish or chicken stock
Thickening and finish
  1. ½ cup thickened cream
  2. 2 egg yolks
  3. Saffron threads- a ‘pinch’
  4. Chopped parsley
Instructions
  1. Soften the shallots, garlic, celery and leeks in a little oil and butter on the stovetop.
  2. Add the tomato paste, thyme, bay leaf, curry powder and cayenne powder, white wine and stock. Add the cleaned mussels, place the lid on the saucepan and cook several minutes until the mussel shells open.
  3. Remove the mussels from the pan. Pass the remaining liquid broth through a strainer.
  4. Reduce the mussel cooking broth by about 1/3, then add the saffron threads. Combine the egg yolks with the cream in a separate small bowl, then gradually stir the mixture into the broth to thicken. Pass through a fine mesh strainer.
  5. Remove the meat from the mussels, retaining some in their shells to garnish the soup. To plate, place the mussel meat on the bottom of a serving bowl, cover with the hot broth and garnish with several mussels in their shells. Garnish with some finely chopped parsley.
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Whole Baked Snapper + How to Carve it Like a Pro!

Whole Baked Snapper

Having a whole baked fish presented to you on a plate is such a grand experience, with the fishes body shimmering before you, the succulent pan juices dripping on the plate and the tender meat falling off the bone. But how do you eat a whole baked fish- where do you begin? Do you start hacking at it with your knife and fork or approach it like a medical procedure, gently removing bones and tissue?

I first came across this dilemma in Viet Nam several years ago when I ordered a whole baked fish. I took my fork and plowed into the fish, but immediately hit bone. Luckily the waiter came to my rescue and dissected the fish for me.

This post will show you how to successfully carve a whole baked fish (and not die trying!) This is especially useful if you are serving a large fish suitable for several people, and you need to divide the fish up in a tidy manner without encountering any bones.

But first let’s talk about why some of us lust over whole baked fish. The answer is easy- by cooking the fish in its bones, the flesh becomes nice and tender and the pan juices oozing from the fish are wonderful!

Whole Baked Snapper Recipe

The recipe for my Baked Snapper is easy- you simply place some coriander, lemon slices and kaffir lime leaves in the cavity of the fish. Then you make three diagonal cuts on both sides of the fish and rub a chili, garlic and lemon mixture into the skin. After you sprinkle some salt and olive oil onto the fish, it’s baked in the oven for about 20-30 minutes. And then the fun starts of carving and eating the fish!

If you want to skip the part on how to carve a whole baked fish, then please flip to the bottom of the page to view the recipe. And by the way, if you haven’t already done so, please do ‘like’ my G’day Souffle’ Facebook page- it would really make my day! 

How to Carve a Whole Baked Fish

Step 1: Make an incision with your knife along the head and along the tail to release the flesh.

Carve Snapper 1

Step 2: Peel back the skin, then make an incision down the middle of the fish

Step 3: Using the edge of your knife, scrape the small ‘pin bones’ away from the top edge of the fish.

Step 4: Repeat on the bottom part of the fish: scrape the small ‘pin bones’ away from the bottom edge of the fish. Then, using the edge of your knife, gradually scrape the top half of the fillet off the bone.

Scrape the small pin bones away from bottom edge of fish

Carve Snapper (15 of 15) (1 of 1)

Gradually scrape the top half of the fillet off the bone

Step 5: Continue to slide the fillet off to the side of the fish, then transfer onto a serving dish.

Step 6: Repeat with the bottom half of the fish: scrape the fillet off the bone and to the side of the fish.

Step 7: Then transfer to the serving dish, along side the other piece of fish. Important: for each step, please test for any remaining pin bones and remove them along the way.

Step 8: You’re not done yet! You still have to deal with the bottom half of the fish. But you’re almost finished. The fish skeleton is now easily visible- simply grab the tail end and lift the skeleton off the fish.

Step 9: Divide the remaining fish into two fillets and then transfer onto a serving dish. You can either add them onto the same dish as the other two fillets, or place them onto a new dish.

To finish: add the pan juices, coriander and lemon slices onto the serving plate with the fish and serve.

Whole Baked Snapper
Whole Baked Snapper with a slightly spicy lemon chili rub. You'll love the juicy pan drippings and tender flaky meat!
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
40 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
40 min
Ingredients
  1. Kaffir lime leaves and several lemon slices
  2. Coriander sprigs
  3. 2 tbsp sweet chili sauce
  4. ¼ preserved lemon , diced
  5. 2 garlic cloves, crushed and diced
  6. 1/2 lemon, juiced
  7. 1 whole Snapper, gutted and cleaned
  8. Drizzle of olive oil
  9. Salt
For the garnish
  1. Coriander, chopped
  2. Lemon slices
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 C (350 F). Make sure all scales are removed from your fish.
  2. Place some Kaffir lime leaves, coriander sprigs and several lemon slices in the inside of the fish cavity.
  3. Mix the chili sauce, preserved lemon, garlic and the lemon juice in a small bowl. Score the skin of the Snapper on both sides using a sharp knife (3 cuts on the diagonal on each side) and then spread the chili mixture all over, working it into the score marks.
  4. Drizzle olive oil generously on both sides of the fish and then season with salt. You can bake the fish immediately, or let it marinate for up to 20 minutes.
  5. Place the fish on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and bake for 20-30 minutes or until the flesh is cooked and the skin is rather crispy.
  6. To serve, carefully remove the flesh from the top part of the fillet, removing any pin bones. After the top half of the fish flesh has been removed, it is very easy to then lift off the skeleton of the fish to reveal the bottom half of the fish. Remove all pin bones. Sprinkle with some chopped coriander and drizzle with a bit more lemon juice.
  7. Serve the fish pieces on a plate and top with the pan juices and lemon slices.
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/

Smoked and Fresh Salmon Roulade with Leeks

 

Smoked Salmon Mastering Seafood II

This recipe was adapted from my Superior Cuisine Class at the Paris Cordon Bleu School and even though it came from the advanced class, it is pretty easy to prepare, but still mouth-watering delicious. It combines smoked salmon with raw salmon that is first marinated in lemon juice; the citric acids in the juice wind up ‘cooking’ the salmon, so there should be no worries about eating it. All the flavors infuse together nicely: the smokiness of the salmon, the lemon juice, shallots, capers, chives- making this either a nice appetizer or mains for lunch time.

I garnished my plate with several dots of reduced balsamic vinegar and some caviar placed on top of dried coriander leaves- this helps to dress up the plate a bit.

My last post Calamari and Prawn Thai Salad, revealed that I’m in the midst of teaching a class called ‘Mastering Seafood’, so I’ll be teaching this Salmon Roulade recipe to the class. Last week, I gave the class a preliminary taste of this recipe and there were lots of ‘oohs and aahs’ being emitted! It was also great to see some of the students taking their Whole Baked Snappers out of the oven and learning new techniques of making Crab Bisque using the shells of the crabs.

 

  • Smoked and Fresh Salmon Roulade with Leeks (see printable recipe below)

 Ingredients

  •  100 g of smoked salmon, thinly sliced
  • 200 g fresh raw salmon, thinly sliced
  • Juice from 3 lemons

 Filling for the salmon roulade

  •  2 hard-boiled egg whites
  • 2 tsp chives, diced
  • 2 tbsp shallots, diced
  • 3 tbsp ricotta cheese
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp capers
  • Salt/pepper to taste
  • 1 leek (white part) sliced into julienned strips
  • 1 tbsp butter

Directions

  • Slice the fresh raw salmon into thin strips of about 2 mm or 1/8 inch thick. Marinate the salmon in the juice of 2-3 lemons for at least 30 minutes until the flesh turns a light pink. This marinade will ‘cook’ the salmon.
  • To prepare the filling, roughly chop the egg whites from two hard-boiled eggs. Add this to the bowl of a food processor along with the chives, shallots, ricotta cheese, olive oil and capers. Process until smooth and set aside. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Slice the white part of a leek in half lengthwise, then cut into thin julienne strips. Soften the leeks in a little butter in a small saucepan on the stovetop.
  • To assemble the roulade, place the thin strips of smoked salmon on a large piece of plastic wrap set on a work surface, overlapping them to form a rectangular shape about 9 inches wide (23 cm) and 5 inches long (13 cm).

Smoked Salmon

  • Spread the ricotta cheese filling in the center of the smoked salmon rectangle, leaving a margin of about one inch on the sides. Now add the thin slices of marinated fresh salmon on top of the filling, followed by a thin strip of leeks.
  • Lift the edges of the salmon mixture and begin to roll it up into a tight sausage shape, with the plastic wrap remaining on the outside of the roulade. Hold the two ends of the plastic wrap close to the salmon mixture as you roll it into the sausage shape. Tie each end tightly with some kitchen string.
  • Place the roulade in the fridge for at least two hours until the it becomes firmer and the flavors start to infuse together. Slice into rounds about 1 – 2 inches thick and serve on top of a small bed of mixed greens. Decorate the plate with some dots of reduced balsamic vinegar and dried coriander leaves, if desired.

 

Smoked and Fresh Salmon Roulade with Leeks
Serves 6
A lovely combination of fresh and smoked salmon flavors will leave you wanting more!
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Ingredients
  1. 100 g of smoked salmon, thinly sliced
  2. 200 g fresh raw salmon, thinly sliced
  3. Juice from 3 lemons
Filling for the salmon roulade
  1. 2 hard-boiled egg whites
  2. 2 tsp chives, diced
  3. 2 tbsp shallots, diced
  4. 2 tbsp ricotta cheese
  5. 3 tbsp olive oil
  6. 1 tbsp capers
  7. Salt/pepper to taste
  8. 1 leek (white part) sliced into julienned strips
  9. 1 tbsp butter (to cook the leeks in)
Instructions
  1. Slice the fresh raw salmon into thin strips of about 2 mm or 1/8 inch thick. Marinate the salmon in the juice of 2-3 lemons for at least 30 minutes until the flesh turns a light pink. This marinade will ‘cook’ the salmon.
  2. To prepare the filling, roughly chop the egg whites from two hard-boiled eggs. Add this to the bowl of a food processor along with the chives, shallots, ricotta cheese, olive oil and capers. Process until smooth and set aside.
  3. Slice the white part of a leek in half lengthwise, then cut into thin julienne strips. Soften the leeks in a little butter in a small saucepan on the stovetop.
  4. To assemble the roulade, place the thin strips of smoked salmon on a large piece of plastic wrap set on a work surface, overlapping them to form a rectangular shape about 9 inches wide (23 cm) and 5 inches long (13 cms).
  5. Spread the ricotta cheese filling in the center of the smoked salmon rectangle, leaving a margin of about one inch on the sides. Now add the thin slices of marinated fresh salmon on top of the filling, followed by a thin strip of leeks.
  6. Begin to roll-up the salmon mixture into a tight sausage shape, with the plastic wrap remaining on the outside of the roulade. Hold the two ends of the plastic wrap close to the salmon mixture as you roll it into the sausage shape. Tie each end tightly with some kitchen string.
  7. Place the roulade in the fridge for at least two hours until the roulade becomes firmer and the flavours start to infuse together. Slice into rounds about 1 – 2 inches thick and serve on top of a small bed of mixed greens. Decorate the plate with some dots of reduced balsamic vinegar and dried coriander leaves, if desired.
Adapted from Cordon Bleu Cooking School
Adapted from Cordon Bleu Cooking School
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/

Grilled Calamari and Prawn Thai Salad

Calamari Salad

Mastering Seafood

I’ve just started to teach a cooking class for adults called ‘Mastering Seafood’ and this is one of the dishes I taught in the first class. It’s an easy dish but it let’s you brush up on your technique of how to cut open a calamari (squid) tube, score it and fry it lightly on the stove top.

When you cook with calamari, you can buy a ‘tube’ that has already been cleaned or you can ‘go for broke’ and clean one yourself, slicing off the head, removing the ‘beak’ and cleaning out the innards, etc. I showed the class how to do both techniques but I believe most people would prefer to buy an already-cleaned calamari.

This recipe oozes with flavours: the prawns and calamari are first marinated in a chili, garlic and ginger marinade; then lightly sautéed on the stovetop. They are then layered on top of salad greens that are mixed with some mint and basil; avocado slices and  toasted sesame seeds and peanuts are also featured in this dish.

I also showed the class how to bake a whole Snapper and how to make Crab Bisque (see my previous post ‘Crab Bisque and my blog 1-year anniversary’ for the recipe). I’ll be featuring some more recipes from my ‘Mastering Seafood’ class, so please stay tuned!

(P.S. When I sat down to eat this dish for my dinner, the whole plate fell face down onto the floor- prawns, calamari and everything went ‘splat.’ I remembered something about a ‘5-second rule’ and scooped everything up. It was still delicious! I guess even culinary teachers make mistakes).

 P.S. Would LOVE it if you’d Like my G’day Souffle’ Facebook page!

Calamari and Prawn Thai Salad
Serves 4
Delicious prawns and calamari marinated in a garlic, ginger and chili sauce; served on a bed on mixed greens with Thai flavors
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Ingredients
  1. 2 calamari tubes, cleaned
  2. 12 raw prawns or shrimp
For the Ginger and Chilli Marinade
  1. ½ fresh red chilli- chopped finely
  2. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  3. 1 tbsp fresh peeled ginger, chopped
  4. 25 ml olive oil
  5. 25 ml vegetable oil
  6. Salt to taste
For the Salad Dressing
  1. 30ml lime juice
  2. 30ml rice wine vinegar
  3. 30ml fish sauce
  4. 30g palm sugar
For the Thai Salad Greens
  1. Salad Greens to serve 4
  2. Coriander
  3. Thai basil (or ‘regular’ basil)
  4. Mint leaves
  5. 1 spring onion, sliced lengthwise in 3 cm strips
  6. Bean shoots
  7. 1 avocado
  8. 20g toasted peanuts, diced finely
  9. 20g sesame seeds
Instructions
  1. To make the marinade, finely chop the chilli, ginger and garlic, then lightly sauté the mixture in a little olive oil on the stovetop for about one minute. Transfer to a food processor bowl and purée with the olive and vegetable oils until smooth.
  2. Cut through one side of a calamari tube, open it out and score the inside of the flesh using a diagonal criss-cross pattern (spacing the cuts about 2 mm apart). Peel and de-vein the prawns, leaving tail on. Add the prawns and calamari to the marinade and let set for 10-15 minutes to marinate.
  3. Dry roast (at 180 C) the sesame seeds and peanuts until golden brown- about 5-6 minutes.
  4. To make the dressing, combine the palm sugar, vinegar, lime juice and fish sauce in a small saucepan. Over medium high heat, whisk the ingredients until the sugar dissolves, continue to whisk, then reduce the heat and let the mixture reduce until it thickens a little. Let cool.
  5. Pan-fry the prawns and calamari in a little oil and butter, turning to cook on both sides. Only cook for a few minutes to avoid over-cooking.
  6. To prepare the salad, cut spring onion into 3cm batons and slice lengthways; add to salad greens along with some mint, basil and coriander and toss with about 3-4 tbsp. of the salad dressing (careful not to add too much dressing).
  7. To plate, add a bed of the tossed greens on a plate, add a few bean shoots on top, then several avocado slices. Arrange some calamari slices and prawns on top, sprinkle with some of the toasted sesame seeds and peanuts, then add a few more greens on top.
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/

Snapper with Mango Salsa – a step in the right direction!

 

Snapper with Mango Salsa

I’ve been taking Salsa dance lessons recently, loving the Latin rhythms, the hips moving, the quick twists and turns. (Hubby won’t attend the classes with me but reluctantly allows me to teach him a few steps at home). So with the word ‘Salsa’ on my mind, I decided to let this blossom into a recipe for Mango Salsa, served on a moist piece of Snapper. (This wouldn’t be the first time that dance movements have inspired food recipes)!

This Salsa recipe combines mango, red onion, fresh chili, coriander and lime juice- I love the combination of the sweet, sour and spicy flavors of the salsa that go beautifully with fish. On our recent road trip from Adelaide to Western Australia, I made this recipe several times along the way, using fresh Pink Snapper from Western Australia. Although it was Winter on our trip and fresh local mango was out of season, I was happy to see fresh mangoes for sale from Mexico! (See my recent post Australian Outback Adventure: from Adelaide to Ningaloo Reef)

Mango salsa goes well with Snapper, but you could use any white fish with this recipe. Whether it’s dance or food, I think Salsa is the way to go!

 

Fish Salsa

Snapper with Mango Salsa
Serves 2
A topping made of mango, chili and coriander that will liven up your fish dish!
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Ingredients
  1. Snapper (or other white fish) for 2 servings
  2. 1 mango, peeled and cubed
  3. 1/2 red onion, diced
  4. 1/2 red chili, seeded and diced
  5. 3-4 tbsp. chopped coriander (cilantro)
  6. juice from 1 lime
  7. 1/2 tomato, diced
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 C (350 F).
For the salsa
  1. Cut 1 mango into small cubes of about 1/4 inch and place in mixing bowl.
  2. Add the red onion, red chili and tomato to the mixture. Finely chop 3 - 4 tbsp. of coriander and add this to the bowl along with the lime juice.
  3. Mix all ingredients and adjust to taste (you may want to increase the chili if you prefer it spicy).
For the fish
  1. Wrap each serving of fish in foil, season with salt and pepper and bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes until the fish is cooked (larger fish may require longer cooking).
  2. Remove fish from oven and top with the mango salsa.
Notes
  1. Instead of baking the fish in the oven, you could also pan fry it gently in a little oil and butter. I served my fish on a layer of steamed baby spinach (optional).
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