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Category Archives: Fish

Spicy Mussels with Cilantro, Fennel, Sun-dried Tomatoes and Chilis {Grain-free, Low-carb, Primal}

Healthy, low-carb and flavorful!

Spicy Mussels

Spicy Mussels in broth.

Some dishes are naturally grain-free and low-carb. Mussles is one of those, though in the old days, I would have sopped this up with crusty bread. For the most part, we aren’t big on eating breads anymore (even the grain-free ones) but if you are, by all means, enjoy it with this broth!!

This is one of those thrown-together recipes that just sort of happens and is dependent on what I have on hand. We had a bag of mussels to use, so I decided to saute some diced vegetables in coconut oil, add some chicken broth and chopped cilantro, and use the broth to steam mussels.

Again, not so much of a recipe as a list of ingredients that can change depending on what you like and what you have on hand. This had a nice spiciness to it without being too hot, and the ginger, garlic and cilantro add balance. The sun-dried tomatoes are slightly tangy and sweet, softened in the broth, and the fennel adds a slight hint of sweetness as well.

Spicy Mussels

  • coconut oil
  • a few cloves of garlic, diced
  • tablespoon or so of chopped fresh ginger
  • several sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1/4- 1/2C fennel, chopped
  • 1 hot salsa pepper, chopped

Saute all above ingredients together until they begin to soften.

Sauteing chopped vegetables to soften.

Sauteing chopped vegetables to soften.

  • 4C chicken broth
  • 1/2C fresh cilantro, chopped
  • salt, pepper and spices to taste

Add broth, cilantro and seasonings and bring to a boil.

With broth, cilantro ans spices added in, brought to a boil.

With broth, cilantro ans spices added in, brought to a boil.

 

Add mussels, toss, and steam, covered for several minutes or until mussels open. (Discard any mussels that do not open.)

Mussels steaming in broth.

Mussels steaming in broth.

 

Delicious bowl of mussels in spicy broth!

Delicious bowl of mussels in spicy broth!

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Cauliflower “Rice” Sushi {Low Carb, Primal, Grain-free, Gluten-free}

Cauliflower Sushi rolls with seared yellowfin, avocado, cucumber, cream cheese and sriracha

Cauliflower “Rice” Sushi rolls with seared yellowfin, avocado, cucumber, green onion, cream cheese and sriracha. Served with sriracha mayo, tamari and wasabi. This is our first attempt using cauliflower rice, and it was rather unplanned, the colors aren’t as vibrant as I usually prefer (so I added some black sesame to jazz it up), but the taste was wonderful!

Have I mentioned lately that I love seafood? Like almost ALL of it? I enjoy most fish and shellfish, and have consumed it grilled, sauteed, baked, broiled, steamed, poached, raw… you get the idea. In fact, one of my biggest culinary revelations was when my husband and I first tried sushi about 10 years ago in Ann Arbor. It was a sushi restaurant, but what we ordered turned out to be a LARGE sashimi platter just loaded with every type of raw sea delicacy I could imagine, and some I hadn’t!

Traditional sushi that we made at home using rice and a large variety of ingredients.

Traditional style homemade sushi that we created using rice and a large variety of ingredients.

If you aren’t familiar with sushi, the sushi rolls are a combination of rice, usually in a seaweed wrap, with seafood, vegetables and sauces. They are beautiful and (I think), quite delicious. (A basic California roll is an example of a sushi roll that doesn’t contain fish.) Sashimi are the artfully cut pieces of raw fish, sometimes laid over shaped portions of rice, or laid on shredded vegetables in a serving dish made of ice. Served with soy sauce and wasabi, it is an explosion of taste and texture that is visually stunning. At first it was intimidating, but it didn’t take long sampling the raw tuna, yellowfin, salmon, scallops, squid, and bbq eel before I knew that I had been missing out on an entire realm of flavors.

Well, now that I am no longer eating grains, I will admit to you that sushi rolls are the one exception that I have occasionally been making the past few months. White rice is still a carby food, but I do not have any adverse reactions from consuming it, so once in awhile I will. However, I began to get curious about whether the “cauliflower rice” technique that so many people use as a substitute for grains, would work for sushi! As it turns out, I am not the only one to wonder this, and I found a few examples on the net of people trying this technique. Now, I have been making rolls at home for several years now, so the process itself is not new to me (though I do not claim to have the talent or artistry of true sushi chefs!) If you have never made it before, it might be more challenging. The sticky rice in traditional rolls definitely helps to hold the shape better and glue the roll together, but with a little patience, I was able to come up with rolls that looked pretty good, and tasted great! If you would like a simple step by step for making rolls, take a look at this; I thought it was pretty straight-forward. The only real difference was that I chose to use sriracha mayonnaise (just mayo with a tsp or so of sriracha hot sauce mixed in) to help to glue the cauliflower to the nori (sheet of toasted seaweed.)

Cauliflower florets in the food processor.

Cauliflower florets in the food processor.

Cauliflower "rice" after processing for a few minutes.

Cauliflower “rice” after processing for a few minutes.

 

Cooling cauliflower "rice" on a plate after gently sauteing for a few minutes in coconut oil and adding rice vinegar

Cooling cauliflower “rice” on a plate after gently sauteing for a few minutes in coconut oil and adding rice vinegar

 

Yellowfin tuna briefly seared after being dipped in egg and sesame seeds

Yellowfin tuna briefly seared after being dipped in egg and sesame seeds. (Use caution when eating raw or under-cooked seafood. I have never had a problem consuming it rare or raw, but everyone is different.) We have also used salmon, scallops, shrimp, roast beef and anything else we have on hand! Not a bad way to make use of leftovers.

 

Plate of sliced veggies to fill the rolls

Plate of sliced veggies to fill the rolls; cucumber, avocado, green onions and cream cheese. You can use just about any ingredients that you enjoy! Our selection is usually more colorful than this, but I didn’t use carrots due to carbs and didn’t have sashimi salmon or roe on hand to brighten things up.

 

Sheet of nori (seaweed) laid out on a rolling mat.

Sheet of nori (seaweed) laid out on a rolling mat. Sometimes it is helpful to place a sheet of plastic wrap between the nori and the mat to prevent sticking when using rice, but it didn’t seem necessary with the cauliflower rice.

 

Cauliflower rice spread out on the nori with sriracha mayonnaise holding it in place.

Cauliflower rice spread out on the nori with sriracha mayonnaise holding it in place.

Sushi fillings laid out and ready to roll.

Sushi fillings laid out and ready to roll.

Cauliflower sushi with tamari, wasabi and sriracha mayonnaise.

Cauliflower sushi with tamari, wasabi and sriracha mayonnaise.

 

 

 

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FAST FISH! Tahini Lemon Salmon

Salmon is my go-to fish of choice! I love that it is insanely easy to cook (400 degrees, 15-20 minutes), and that you can flavor it in so many ways… PLUS it is healthy! We all know by now that it is a great course of healthy fats and omega 3’s, and to top it off, it’s strongly anti-inflammatory.

This is another one of my recipes that I will call more of a method, because it is so unstructured when I do it…

  • Take a fresh salmon filet, rinsed and patted dry… 
  • rub both sides with coconut oil and place skin side down in baking dish…
  • salt and pepper to your taste…
  • smear about a tablespoon of tahini over the flesh side…
  • top with the zest of one lemon and a couple tablespoons of fresh parsley…
  • bake 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees.
  • SIMPLE delicious!

As a side, we sauteed chopped baby broccoli (put in the pan first for 2+ minutes because it takes longer to cook), along with napa cabbage and spinach in coconut oil, finishing with a squeeze of fresh lemon and sesame seeds.

 

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Spicy Crab Cakes (Low carb, Gluten free)

When avoiding wheat flours that contain gluten, there are many other types of flours that one can use in its place, such as rice, sorghum, or tapioca flours which are still high in carbs. Since we are also on a low carb diet to promote weight loss, we choose to use the alternatives of almond or coconut flours.

This is a crab cake recipe that I came up with for our Friday night treat, and I chose to use coconut flour because I felt that the slightly sweet taste would work well with the sweetness of the crab meat and the heat of the chipotle pepper, while acting as a glue to hold the delicate patties in shape. Crab cakes often have fillers such as potato, which increases the carbs and can also disguise the flavor of the crab… I skipped this, since we like our crab cakes to be ALL about the crab.The Parmesan cheese takes the place of breadcrumbs as a coating, and browns up nicely in the oven. This is similar to the method used in Parmesan Perch.

Crab cakes should be refrigerated for a minimum of 30 minutes prior to baking, to help them hold their shape.

Spicy Gluten Free Crab Cakes

  • 1/4C celery, finely diced
  • 1 medium leek, washed well and finely diced
  • coconut oil for sauteing
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2T mayonnaise
  • 2T heavy cream
  • 6 oz crab meat (I used refrigerated in a packet)
  • 1/2 chipotle pepper, canned, finely diced (seeded if you prefer milder)
  • 2tsp capers, diced
  • 2Tb fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 Tb coconut flour
  • kosher salt and ground pepper to taste
  • 1/4-1/2 C Parmesan cheese, finely grated

Saute the celery and leek in coconut oil until tender, 2-3 minutes, and set aside. In a medium bowl, mix together egg, mayonnaise and cream. Gently fold in the crab meat. Add the leeks, celery, chipotle pepper, capers and parsley, mixing gently. Add coconut flour, 1 Tb at a time, mixing well. Add salt and pepper to taste. The mixture will be soft, but should be manageable. If it is too delicate, add a small amount of additional coconut flour. Divide mixture into about 6 medium patties, dredging each one in the grated Parmesan cheese before setting on a plate. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes to chill cakes and make them a little easier to handle. When they are chilled, bake at 450 degrees on a silicone baking mat or parchment-lined sheet for 10-12 minutes, or until lightly browned. Serve immediately with tartar or roumelade sauce.

Sauce: The sauce I used was a base of 1/2C mayo and 2Tb cream seasoned with a finely diced gerkin pickle, dash of hot sauce, 1/2 diced chipotle and 1tsp dijon mustard with a squeeze of lemon.

 

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Napa Boats with Crab (Gluten Free)

We LOVE napa cabbage, and use it almost every day at our house as a salad ingredient, but also as a substitute for bread, wraps and taco shells. It works wonders whether it’s raw or very slightly steamed (which gives it a little more pliability.) You will surely see more recipes featuring napa in future postings. Here, the medium-sized inside leaves were used to make a wonderful raw veggie based snack that was both refreshing and filling! It’s wonderful as it is, but as you can imagine, this is an easy recipe to tweak to your needs or ingredients on hand.

Napa Boats with Crab

Each napa leaf base was layered from the bottom up with:

  • fresh mozzarella
  • avocado
  • spinach
  • crab meat (from claws, refrigerated in a pouch)
  • cucumber slices
  • a squeeze of fresh lime
  • drizzle of coconut oil
  • kosher salt and pepper
 

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Seared Sea Scallops with Sauteed Greens and Mushrooms

Seared Sea Scallops with Sauteed Greens and Mushrooms

I usually determine what we’ll eat by what I find on sale or fresh at the market. I rarely go out looking for specific ingredients unless I am preparing food for guests, or because one of us has a serious craving. The seafood sale at VG’s on jumbo sea scallops is what landed them in my freezer, and pulling them out for Mother’s Day dinner seemed like a brilliant idea! (Except to my son, who won’t eat anything that swims… for him it was crisped ham.) These were particularly large and beautiful, and the 6 scallops weighed just over a pound.

While the weather was stunning on Sunday and I considered grilling, scallops are so delicate (and I only had a few), that I wanted to have more control over the cooking process so that they didn’t end up overcooked. That is one of my biggest pet peeves in the food world, going to a restaurant, ordering something that should be succulent, and ending up with an expensive platter of rubbery food. Not that it doesn’t happen to the best of us at times, but ruined seafood makes me want to cry!

I had fresh spinach and turnip greens in the fridge, along with crimini mushrooms, and decided that they would make an awesome accompaniment to the seared scallops, along with a caprese salad of tomato, fresh mozzarella and herbs. It turned out to be an incredible dinner!

Seared Sea Scallops with Sauteed Greens and Mushrooms

To make the scallops:

  • 1lb sea scallops, fresh or thawed and dried of excess moisture
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • coconut oil

Heat a heavy pan over high heat for several minutes. Add several tablespoons of coconut oil, allowing it to melt and then become hot. Carefully add the scallops one at a time, searing on one side for about 3 minutes, or until they start to brown. (If using smaller scallops, adjust the time accordingly so that they are not overcooked.) Gently turn scallops, carefully loosening from the pan with a sharp spatula if needed; cook another 3 minutes and remove from pan and set aside. Reserve oil and juices in pan and cook mushrooms as below.

To make the mushrooms:

  • 1/2 lb crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • remaining oil and juice, plus more coconut oil if needed
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4C-1/2C white wine to deglaze pan

Keeping the pan hot from searing the scallops, add the mushrooms, salt and pepper to taste, and cook for 5 minutes or so, until they reach the desired doneness. You may need to add a little oil because ‘shrooms can act like little sponges and soak it up. In my case, I hadn’t planned on using the wine, but there was a little stickage at the bottom of the pan (as you can see in the pic) after cooking the scallops, so when the mushrooms were almost done, I just poured in the wine (honey mead actually), and deglazed, working all the stuck bits into a delicious flavoring for the mushrooms. When done, remove mushrooms from pan and set aside. Keeping the pan hot, reserving any remaining juices and oil, and continue to cook the greens as below.

To make the greens:

  • 1lb of fresh, cleaned, greens (I used about half spinach and half turnip greens)
  • coconut oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4C pinenuts to garnish

Still using the same pan, melt a little more oil if needed and start adding the greens to the pan. Greens cook down a LOT, so you will want to add them in stages, because they will be overflowing if you dump all of them in at once. When the greens are wilted, add salt and pepper to taste, and cook to your desired doneness.

To assemble the plate: Arrange greens on the plate, top with scallops, surrounded by mushrooms. I added a few pinenuts to add another flavor and texture. This is a very easy and elegant dinner, which cooks up rather quickly, using the same pan for each stage of the cooking process, while keeping the ingredients separate and distinct until they are plated.

 

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Parmesan Perch (Gluten-free and Wheat-free) with Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Can you tell that we love fish? Perch is one of the more delicate varieties and I used to serve it up pan-fried, with tartar, and maybe french fries or baked potato. I decided that instead of subbing out flours and attempting to do a different version of pan-frying, I would bake it in the oven and find a substitute for bread crumbs instead, and the results were really delicious! This recipe doesn’t yield a crunchy breading, it is a little on the softer side, and very flavorful, complimenting the mildness of the perch.

Low-Carb “breaded” perch; No Wheat or Gluten.

Parmesan Perch

  • 1 1/2 lbs of fresh Perch filets
  • 1/4 C mayonnaise blended with 1 Tb heavy cream 
  • 1 C grated fresh Parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tb Coconut flour
  • 2 sprigs fresh Parsley (or 2 tsp dry) or Thyme
  • Garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, cayenne pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. I used my Ninja to process ingredients, but you can also use a food processor. I started with chunked Parmesan, so I zipped it until it was the consistency of grated, then I added the coconut flour, parsley and other seasonings and processed again until they were fine and completely combined. Line a baking sheet with parchment, and coat with non-stick cooking spray. Dredge the fish lightly in the mayo mixture and then press into the cheese crumbs, arrange on baking sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the fish is firm, but flaky, and the coating is beginning to brown.

Roasted Brussel Sprouts: Simply cut each sprout in half and remove the tough and bitter stem end. Toss in a healthy oil (I used walnut oil this time), arrange in baking dish, and season as desired with salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder, or anything your heart desires. Roast at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes.

 

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