Oct 08 2011

Pasta ai frutti di mare in salsa salmone affumicato

Category: RecipesDave @ 18:09


This kinda happened the other night when we wanted something like the seafood dish I often make on a Friday evening but didn’t fancy any seafish in it… apart from, perhaps salmon. I had a rough idea of what I was going to do when I started out but it evolved as I went on.


It is, I am assured very, very good.



Ingredients for four people


Two 20cm/8″ squid, cleaned & pen removed, per 2 people. Use tentacles chopped into fairly large pieces, if present.
230g/8oz salmon fillet, cut into bite-sized pieces.
230g/8oz Raw tiger prawns
115g/4oz smoked salmon, very finely chopped.
4 large shallots, very thinly sliced
Olive oil
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper, depending on taste. Don’t overdo it or you’ll kill the smoked salmon.
3/4 teaspoon ground dried lime peel


Use a very large frying pan or deep paella pan. Add sufficient olive oil to lightly coat the surface, and a large knob of butter.


Heat gently until the butter has melted then add the shallots & adjust the heat until they are cooking very gently. As they are cooking, add the finely chopped mushrooms, ground dried lime peel, oregano, tarragon and pepper. Stir well.


Sweat the shallots for 5 minutes or so, stirring & tossing the mixture occasionally.


I use frozen salmon fillets for this recipe and they are in individual plastic bags. When you thaw them, there’s a load of salmon-y liquid in the bags. Don’t waste it! Add it to the pan – it’ll quickly turn into a cream-coloured “stuff” – and stir it in. The clear liquid remaining is OK to leave there. If you’re using fresh salmon & don’t get that liquid, you may want to add a little fish stock if available. Add a little more olive oil if it has become too watery overall – we want to fry things, not boil them.


Add the salmon pieces and fry, coating with the shallot mixture. Turn the pieces so as many “sides” as possible are face-down. I use a pair of tongs for this but a small spatula and a palette knife work too. They should be done in 5 minutes or less. Very slightly underdone doesn’t matter as (a) the outside surfaces will be mostly sealed and (b) they will shortly be reheated. They aren’t left like this long enough to pose a health threat.


Carefully remove the salmon pieces from the pan, leaving as much of the shallot mixture behind as possible – I use the side of the tongs to scrape the mixture off of the cubes. Put the cubes in a ceramic/china/glass bowl and cover.


Give the mixture in the pan a good stirring. Add a little more oil if required.


Add the roughly cut mushrooms and stir them in.


If you’re using frozen squid, you can use any liquid from the defrosting that you can collect and add that to the pan as well (not too much!) Add the squid rings and tentacles if using, stir in and fry until just cooked, stirring pretty much continuously.


Remove the squid and add to the salmon pieces in the bowl, leaving behind as much of the shallot and; mushroom mixture as possible, as for the salmon.


Give the mixture in the pan a good stirring. Add a little more oil if required.


Add the prawns, stir in and fry until just cooked, stirring pretty much continuously. Make sure each prawn is turned over once so they are evenly cooked without one side going rubbery.


Remove the prawns and add to the salmon pieces & prawns, leaving behind as much of the shallot & mushroom mixture as possible, as for the salmon.


Give the mixture in the pan a good stirring. Add a little more oil if required and add the smoked salmon. Stirring continuously, cook for three or four minutes until the mixture is starting to look vaguely like a sauce.


Add the sour cream, stir in vigorously and keep stirring until it has “taken effect” keep going until it will coat the back of a spoon and stay there.


It’s now too thick for a pasta sauce so add the sherry. Also, add the cooked seafood back in, together with any juices that have collected in the bowl. Use a spatula to get every last drop of them. Stir continuously on a low light to evaporate off the alcohol but try not to let the mixture boil. It may bubble a bit but that’s just the alcohol leaving. This can take another five minutes. Check the “thickness”: it should now be more-or-less right for a pasta sauce. The seafood should now be well heated through, so spoon over long pasta in large, preheated bowls and serve.


Keep any kind of black pepper well away from it!


Wine: A good Prosecco or Pinot Grigio del Trentino or Alto Adige – not del Veneto! Probably a Chablis would be good, but not too good an example as the flavour would be too strong.


There’s not much in the way of vegetable in this dish to keep it balanced so either serve a separate side salad, afterwards, or a side bowl of hot fine beans with it.





If you don’t like smoked salmon, leave it out and add the flaked salmon fillets to the sauce instead of the smoked salmon, mashing it into the sauce it as it cooks. Use another fine-flavoured fish instead of the salmon fillet to provide the bite-size pieces. I would probably go for monkfish but use whatever’s good where you get your fish, as long as it will complement the other flavours.


The sourness of the sour cream doesn’t really come through very much but it is noticeable. You can use double cream or yoghurt – the latter plain and unsweetened for preference. It doesn’t work that well with low-fat substitutes if you are using smoked salmon as the mixture can be somewhat sharp and salty.


The classic other alcohol to use in a dish like this would be Pernod, assuming you like aniseed.


It would probably go rather well on tagliatelle all’uova. I guess it’d also be OK on rice – I’d go for brown rice with perhaps a small amount of vegetable stock.


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Jan 07 2010

Risotto ai 1’s e 0’s

Category: RecipesDave @ 12:28

Risotto ai 1’s e 0’s

Ingredients for two people

1 Medium onion (red or white, as you prefer. I use red.)
120gm Squid or squid rings
120gm Prawns – your favourite type but huge, meaty king prawns work well in this. Thaw them before use.
6 Largish mushrooms and one medium mushroom, or equivalent.
6 to 8 Frozen asparagus spears
150 gm Arborio (risotto) rice
400ml Vegetable Stock
100ml White wine
1/5 Teaspoon white pepper
1/5 Teaspoon ground dried lime peel (or some lime zest & juice, to taste)
Butter and olive oil


This is a proper risotto and, after you start adding the stock to the rice, requires standing at the stove for 10 - 15 minutes. You can't leave it for more than about 30 seconds! It has to be Arborio rice - nothing else makes a proper risotto although you can get a rough approximation to it with other types and it will still taste good. Continue reading "Risotto ai 1’s e 0’s"

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Jan 01 2010

Happy New Year!

Category: Generalfootlight @ 12:19

Another new year. Welcome to 2010! As a species, we have wallowed in the booze, eaten far too many chocolates and cakes, and said things to people we see once a year that we have already regretted. We have been to parties that were just noisy accompaniments to silly dancing. We have worn clothes that will live in the depths of the wardrobe until next year, when you hope no-one will remember them.

Christmas is a time for getting together with your family (check), eating too much (check) and drinking too much (check). It is a time for the card makers to rub their hands with glee, shares in wrapping paper to rocket and the turkey farmers to sit back and listen to the 'chink, chink' sound of money hitting their bank accounts. Surfeits are essential and the wave of regret and self-loathing that follows as inevitable as night following day.

This year, we didn't send any Christmas cards. Apart from the fact that they don't say what we want to say, the cost of sending them is greater than the original purchase! Consequently, we turned to a less tree-destroying, money-eating method and emailed our greetings around the world. In some ways, I have been resisting this turn for quite a while. I am saddened by the passing of letter writing and wish I did more of it. Unfortunately, it is much easier and quicker to contact people via the Internet – and a damned sight more reliable than most postal services! I'm thinking – you're still making contact.

Then there's the age-old chestnut. Any of you made any resolutions? Of course you did! All those plans to lose weight, save more money, be kinder to your friends and family. Those are common resolutions. They are always broken. We know that when we make them. Anything that requires the slightest sustained effort doesn't stand a chance. Giving more to charity – that's another one. That goes well until the gas bill is due or the car needs some repairs. Then, the money is always better in your own pocket.  Did you realise that buying something you actually need in a charity shop constitutes giving to charity? No-one is expecting you to furnish your house there, or renew your wardrobe, but the small gestures mount up. You don't have to take your elderly parent to live with you.  Popping in for an hour or two once every week or so has a lasting effect, too. There is no need to join Weight-Watchers and Slimming World to lose two thirds of your body mass in three weeks. Smaller portions on a smaller plate (psychology!) and lay off the biscuits will make a huge difference.

Wait a minute. These all sound like good, common sense. Why don't I do it? Because I'm human. It's a sad fact that good ol' human nature will get in the way all the time. It would be heartening to think that, one day, people will celebrate Christmas in the way it should be. Even if you're not Christian, the sentiments bear a second look. It would be great if we could manage to stick to a least one of our resolutions. If we don't give ourselves too hard a task, it might just work. Maybe I'll pick one and see if I can do it. Now – which one will it be …?

Happy New Year!

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