Don’t Be Shrimping Out – A Seafood Chowder Delight!

Over a week ago, I had the great opportunity to cook for a wonderful couple (Joyce and Mike) from Minneapolis. We planned a fun evening to play Games Against Humanity, and boy what a hoot the evening was!

On the dinner menu along with this Seafood Chowder we had:

  • vegan cheese and pate
  • kale caesar slaw
  • phylo pastry pear tart with cashew cream.

The Verdict of This Seafood Chowder

I was very impressed of the simplistic yet so wonderful tasty broth that I used for the stock of this chowder. This was my first time to use shrimp shells as a stock. And boy they did deliver an A+ job I tell ya. I don’t think I will ever throw away shrimp shells ever again!

Also, this was my first time to cook with monkfish and everyone was impressed with the fish. When I was originally shopping at Wholefoods for all of the ingredients, I asked if I should substitiute monkfish with halibut as I was not sure about using it. The seafood department fella said that I should in fact use monkfish as it is tougher and meatier just like lobster and halibut would not be ideal as it would flake and fall apart in my chowder. I was so happy I took his advise, because monkfish was a superstar of the dish. The fish was definitely meaty, very tasty white fish and held together quite well in the chowder.

And the chowder overall was good as ever, I used the same recipe I have done in the past as I did with my Smoked Salmon Chowder with the addition of the homemade shrimp stock, shrimp. monkfish and scallops.

Seafood Chowder Ingredients

  • 200 grams diced Pancetta (or smoked bacon)
  • 2 large shallots, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 carrots (approx 1 cup), diced small
  • 2 celery (approx 1 cup), diced small
  • 1 serano chile, seeded, finely chopped
  • 1 red pepper (approx  3/4 cup), diced small
  • 1 yellow pepper (approx  3/4 cup), diced small
  • 4 medium red potatoes (approx 2.5 – 3 cups), diced small
  • 5 cups fish broth (recipe below)
  • 1 cup white wine (I used a Chardonnay)
  • 3 plum tomatoes, diced small
  • 2 cups almond milk
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed chilis
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and divined (keep shells for stock)
  • 1/2 pound scallops
  • 1/2 pound monkfish
  • 3 teaspoon chives, finely sliced
  • dash of salt and pepper

Shrimp Stock Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • shells from 1 pound large shrimp
  • 2 cups yellow onions
  • 2 carrots unpeeled and chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup good white wine ( I used a Chardonnay)
  • 1/3 cup tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 10 sprigs fresh thyme

Shrimp Stock Instructions:

  1. Warm the oil in a stockpot over medium heat.
  2. Add the shrimp shells, onions, carrots, and celery and sauté for 15 minutes, or until lightly browned.
  3. Add the garlic and cook 2 more minutes.
  4. Add 1 1/2 quarts of water, the white wine, tomato paste, salt, pepper, and thyme. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 1 hour.
  5. Strain through a sieve, pressing the solids. You should have approximately 1 quart of stock. You can make up the difference with water or wine if you need to.

Seafood Chowder Instructions:

  1. Cut the seafood into bite sized pieces and put aside in a bowl.
  2. In a large pan, sauté pancetta/bacon over medium heat until brown and crisp, approximately 3-5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to plate and allow to rest.
  3. Add in shallot, garlic, carrot, celery, serano, crushed chile, red & yellow peppers and potatoes. Sauté for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add in fish broth, 1 cup wine, tomatos, bring to a boil. Add almond milk. Reduce heat,  to medium-low and simmer for at least 15 -25 minutes or till potatoes are semi soft.
  5. 10 minutes before serving, bring soup back up to almost boil.
  6. Add the seafood (shrimp, scallops, monkfish); reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 7 to 10 minutes, until the fish is just cooked.
  7. Add lemon juice, thyme and bacon to pan. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  8. Ladle soup in bowls
  9. Garnish with chives.

Original link on where I got the ideal to incorporate my chowder recipe with seafood and shrimp stock: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/seafood-chowder-recipe.html?oc=linkback

Soup Mistress Rating For This Seafood Chowder:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4.25/5
Presentation: (4.25/5) 

Taste: (4.75/5) 

Tom Kha Talay Soup, A Frugal Thai Seafood Beach Party!

Sa-wat-dee Kah!

It’s mid March and I’m on a trip of a lifetime visiting Thailand. I’m on a foodie month long crawl for Thai cuisine (while working and exercising here of course).  Seafood soups are definitely on my hit list!

First stop for soup: Lobster Restaurant at Nai Harn Beach.

For my first morning in the Rawai Beach Area, I decided take the hotels complementary shuttle to Nai Harn Beach, a short 10-15 minute drive along a windy road. When I arrived at the beach I was very surprised to see how many restaurants and outdoor seating there was. Each restaurant had various coolers of fresh fish displayed – it was wonderful to see. After sitting on the beach lounging for 2 hours, the heat was too much for me so I decided to do lunch there just before the shuttle was to pick me up at 1:30pm.

I decided upon the Lobster Restaurant and was seated by a very cheerful Thai lady (everyone seems to be so nice here in Thailand!) and the Tom Kha Soup caught my attention. I ordered it with a bottled water and paid 220 Baht (includes tip), that is approximately only $6.80 Canadian dollars.

The Verdict of Tom Kha Talay soup at the Lobster Restaurant?

Holy seafood batman! For $6.80 Canadian I got myself a party of seafood that any frugal person would die for. For this kind of soup in Vancouver, Canada, I’m sure I’d be paying $22 for it!

Prawns, mussels, squid and clams. Tons of all of them, like a jammed pack party with no sitting room! I counted and there was about 10 mussels and 5 prawns for example. All seemed very fresh and not overcooked nor rubbery what-so-ever!

Great presentation with the leaf under the bowl as well!

The soup had a ton of lemon grass (the green part and also the pieces that looked like baby potato slices were suppose to be lemon grass per the waitress when I asked her). And noticeable ingredients were: Thai basil, whole cloves of garlic, lime juice, tiny whole onions and some spicy oil (perhaps drops of red chile). Normally when it is 94 degrees out I would not order soup nor lap it up, but this soup seemed very light for a coconut based soup – must have been in a seafood broth with coconut milk. I slurped it all up and it was very good.

I would order this soup again in a heart beat.

When I search for Tom Kha Talay soup recipes, it seems as though it should be healthy because the broth is in fact lighter with stock/and or water versus mostly coconut milk. Here’s a recipe that may be close to what I have (except it has mushrooms, scallops and crab): http://www.thaifoodandtravel.com/recipes/cocsea.html

Soup Mistress Rating for Tom Kha Talay Soup:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4.25/5
Presentation: (4.5/5) 

Taste: (4.5/5) 

Seafood Swimming in a Fine Red Wine, A Cioppino Delight!

A Cioppino Delight and Friends!

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Completed Cioppino with gluten-free bread (top left), ingredients (bottom left) and my friend Brain helping me cook! (right)

Just last month I had a bunch of good friends over for a dinner party. The theme was Mediterranean and everyone came dressed in white.  We started off with warmed olives & herbs, homemade humus & eggplant dip, and fennel and apple slaw.

The main course was the Cioppino with my favourite homemade gluten free bread (check out the recipe here but this time I made it without the olives and almonds). And then after the Cioppino, we finished off the night with some baked apples with fig & walnuts with homemade coconut ice-cream! Yum! The Cioppino I made has two parts:
  1. The fish stock made from scratch (If you choose not to do so, you can use clam juice or purchase some prepared fish stock).
  2. The Cioppino itself
The Verdict of Cioppino Delight?
I was checking out a few Cioppino recipes online and most had instructions to simmer the cioppino tomato wine base for 20 minutes. I decided to simmer it well over an hour. The wait for the longer simmer was well worth it – it was so rich and full bodied at an hour when compared to what it tasted like at 20 minutes. I also used a tad more expensive bottle of wine. I’m not a believer of using cheap wine for cooking. The homemade fish broth was superb and all of the seafood was cooked just fine and soaked up the base with love (except the clams…see my lesson learned below ). I really love how the soup is presented in a rustic way, especailly with the full corn piece.

I think the Cioppino was well received from my group of friends and everyone was helping themselves to more gluten free bread to dip in it!

 

So what was my lesson learned? Next time I make this Cioppino, I would change my timing of adding in the seafood. I originally threw the clams, shrimp, scallops and halibut all in at the same. The clams did not open up as much as they should have and I was afraid to overcook the other seafood. Next time I will throw in the clams first, let it cook for about 4-5 minutes then add in all other seafood (I adjusted the recipe below to reflect so).

Fish Stock

  • Equal part fish scrap and bones
  • 1 large onion, quartered
  • 1 bunch celery, halved
  • 2 lemons, quartered
  • A pinch salt
  • Sprigs of thyme
  • Sprigs of oregano

Add all ingredients in a large pot. Top with water and bring to boil then lower to a simmer (just under boiling) for 2 hours. Sieve out the vegetables, herbs and bones and you should have a clear tasty broth!

Cioppino Delight Ingredients:

  • 3 pounds halibut, cut into inch cubes
  • 1 pound (or more) of large shrimp
  • 3 pounds little neck clams
  • 2 pounds scallops
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups onion, chopped (1 large onion)
  • 1 cup bell pepper, chopped (1 large bell pepper)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 x 28-ounce can plum tomatoes in juice
  • 6 cups fish stock
  • 3 cups red wine
  • 2 bay leafs, whole
  • 1 teaspoon lemon thyme, chopped fine
  • 1 teaspoon oregano, chopped fine
  • 1 teaspoon  basil, chopped fine
  • 1 dash of salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ teaspoon dried chile peppers
  • 1/2 cup minced parsley for garnish
Cioppino Instructions
  1. Split the shrimp shells down the back and remove the black vein. Alternatively, you can shell the shrimps and devein them. Shell-on imparts more flavour; shell-off is easier to eat. Cut out the tough mussel in the scallops if your fish monger has not done so. Also take any bones out of halibut if any.
  2. In a deep 8-quart covered pot, sauté onions, garlic and bell pepper on medium heat in olive oil until soft. Add tomatoes, red wine, fish stock, the herbs, chile peppers and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a gentle boil, and simmer, uncovered, for 1 hour. Remove bay leaves. Taste and correct seasoning.
  3. Add the clams and cook for 5 minutes.
  4. Add the halibut, shrimp and cook, covered, until shrimp are bright pink, about 3 to 5 minutes. Do not overcook.
  5. Serve in large bowls, shells included. Sprinkle with minced parsley and serve with a great piece of bread to dip into the Cioppino with! Enjoy!

Soup Mistress Rating for Cioppino Delight:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4/5)
Presentation: (4.5/5) 

Taste: (4.5/5) 

Scrumptious Shrimp Wonton Soup Mom Approved

Shrimp Wonton Soup.

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The Completed Shrimp Wonton Soup.

My mother is in visiting from Winnipeg, so last night I decided to make shrimp wonton soup for her (she is huge shrimp lover).

Before attempting the soup,  I decided to do some research and it seems as though many shrimp wonton soup recipes had pork in it. Hmmn, I wonder why? Was it for the taste or was it being used as a filler? Not sure, but for my soup I wanted to use 100% shrimp. I consider pork a filler ingredient as I am not a huge fan of pork.

The Verdict? At first, I thought substituting vegetable stock for chicken stock may not give this soup that much depth, but I was wrong. The ginger, fish sauce and sesame oil should not be left out though – as they are the true superstars of this soup! I was very happy to hear that this soup was two thumbs up for my mom and she wanted to have the left over soup again today!

Since I used 100% shrimp paste, I found there was no need what-so-ever for cornstarch (which many recipes call for) – shrimp forms very well in the wonton when cooked.

Wonton Ingredients:

  • 16 wonton wrappers
  • 1/2 pound shrimp
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
  • ½ bunch chives
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil

Soup Broth Ingredients:

  • 5 cups vegetable broth
  • ½  teaspoon soy sauce
  • ½ teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon splash of fish sauce
  • 1 cup baby spinach
  • 1 carrot thinly peeled or sliced
  • 6 shrimp sliced in half (for garnish)
  •  ½ bunch chives, finely chopped
  • dash of salt and pepper to taste

Shrimp Wonton Soup Instructions:

  1. Place the shrimp on paper towels and squeeze out as much moisture as possible.
  2. Keeping 6 halved shrimp aside, chop the rest of shrimp to a paste in a food processor or by hand with sharp knife.
  3. In a large bowl, mix shrimp paste, red wine vinegar, soy sauce, chives, ginger and sesame oil. Blend well, and let stand for 25 to 30 minutes in fridge.
  4. Place about one teaspoon of the filling at the center of each wonton skin.
  5. Spray all wontons with fine mist of water, and then pull the top corner down to the bottom, folding the wrapper over the filling to make a triangle.
  6. Heat 3 quarts of water to boiling in a large pot. Drop wontons in and cook for about 4 minutes or until they rise to the surface. Strain and distribute wontons to serving bowls
  7. Heat the stock, soy sauce, fish sauce to boiling.  Add halved shrimp pieces, spinach and carrots, turn down heat to medium low, cook 1 minute until shrimp is cooked and spinach is wilted.
  8. Ladle soup over wontons in serving bowls, add chives, salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Original Recipe: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/wonton-soup/

What I changed from original recipe:

  • omitted pork and used more shrimp
  • omitted brown sugar
  • replaced chinese rice wine with red wine vinegar
  • used less soy sauce
  • used chives instead of green onion
  • added sesame oil
  • added carrot
  • added full shrimp as garnish
  • used vegetable stock instead of chicken stock
  • used more stock

Soup Mistress Rating for Shrimp Wonton Soup:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4/5)
Presentation: (4.5/5) 
Taste: (4.5/5) 

Tomato Shrimp Basil Soup For Lazy People Like Me

Tomato Shrimp Basil Soup

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The completed Tomato Shrimp Basil Soup

Yesterday, I was working at home all day on the computer and was planning to go grocery shopping, but I lost my steam by end of day and decided not to go.

My fridge was looking very bleak for dinner ideas, and there’s no way I was going to resort to ordering in. But I had 7 tomatoes, bunch of basil, bunch of parsley, cream (left over from Thanksgiving – not normally in my fridge) and some shrimp in the freezer. Soup was a gimme for me.

You can take a guess that I was feeling a little lazy. I decided to make this soup without following any recipe and didn’t do anything special to seed, roast or peel the tomatoes (like some recipes call for). I just chopped the tomatoes as is and threw them in the pan.

This soup only took 30 minutes from prep to filling up my stomach.  And by golly, I think I will make this soup again in future. It was so yummy and I have left overs today for lunch!

I have plans to redo many soups in the future and I will be:

  • cutting calories and trimming fat from some favorite recipes
  • adjusting so they are vegetarian, gluten-free as well as vegan – where I can
  • adjusting dried herbs for fresh herbs
  • adjusting processed foods for natural and/or organic – where I can
  • adjusting highly acidic forming recipes to be more alkaline forming (healthier for you)

This soup makeover is:

  • gluten-free

Tomato Shrimp Basil Soup Ingredients:

  • 14 shrimp (26/30 count size)
  • 3 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup white onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 7 tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 cups vegetable stock (low sodium)
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 3/4 cup basil, chopped
  • ¼ cup parsley, chopped
  • ¼ cup cream (note: I’m only using a small amount of cream, some recipes usually call for way more)

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in small pan, cook shrimp until opaque (don’t overcook) and put aside.
  2. Heat olive oil in heavy pot over moderate. Add onions and garlic, sauté until onions are soft, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add tomatoes and vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer at med-low for about 15 minutes until tomatoes are soft.
  4. Working in batches, purée soup in blender with lime juice, parsley and basil until very smooth (about 30 seconds), then return to pot.
  5. Return soup to pot, stir in cream and gently heat through.
  6. To serve, ladle hot soup into bowls and top with shrimp and a basil leaf as garnish. Serve immediately.

Soup Mistress Rating for Tomato Shrimp Basil Soup:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (3.5/5) 
Presentation: (4/5) 
Taste: (4.5/5)