Shrimp a la Vindell

Growing up, my parents had a pretty clear division of labor when it came to cooking in our household.  My mom, living most of her formative years in Missouri with her large extended family, was more of the holiday chef, cooking recipes that my grandma made at home, likely passed on to her from her mother before her.  Every Thanksgiving and Christmas, I always remember my mom getting out this little green recipe box, full of carefully handwritten but well-worn recipes. We would always get a few of the classic dishes from there, although my mom would also put her own spin on things. She runs a tight ship on the holidays, and the comforting and delicious smells and tastes we get every year always remind me that I clearly get my meal-planning skills from her.

My dad was the more day-to-day chef, making the easy and fast weeknight meals. My dad is always experimenting in the kitchen, drawing on his familiarity with Nicaraguan and Mexican food, recalling the time during his hippy days (he came to the US in the 70s) when he “went vegetarian,” and reminding us, often, of his experience working as a cook in a pancake house in Missouri. He is one of those people for whom cooking comes naturally: he always seems to be able to just throw something together–a pinch of this, a dash of that–and have a finished product that is successful.  It’s a skill I have learned to cultivate to some degree, but I envy how it’s a skill that just is for him.

This recipe is one such dish that he just threw together one night years ago, thus why I have called it Shrimp a la Vindell. It’s fast, easy, and healthy.  It’s also versatile–throw it into tacos, eat it with rice or veggies on the side, or wrap it in some lettuce and quinoa for lettuce wraps. From my family to yours on Easter weekend!

Shrimp a la Vindell
Serves 4

IMG_6928Ingredients:

2 lbs shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 box button mushrooms, sliced thin
1 Serrano pepper, diced small
3 green onions, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp olive oil
Optional: one shot of tequila
Salt, pepper, and more garlic powder, to taste

Directions:

1. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high heat.  Once hot, add the shrimp, mushrooms, Serrano, onions, garlic, salt, pepper, and garlic powder to the pan. Cook until the shrimp are pink (the pan I used was a little too small, so the shrimp were crowded. Thus, I used a lid to help keep the steam in to cook them, but it’s not necessary.)

2. Once the shrimp turn pink, add in the tequila shot if you are using it.  Cook for 1-2 minutes, then remove from heat.
IMG_69313. Serve in lettuce wraps on top of quinoa or with veggies on the side!

IMG_6934

Shrimp a la Vindell
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: Mexican
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 2 lbs shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 box button mushrooms, sliced thin
  • 1 Serrano pepper, diced small
  • 3 green onions, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Optional: one shot of tequila
  • Salt, pepper, and more garlic powder, to taste
Directions
  1. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high heat.  Once hot, add the shrimp, mushrooms, pepper, onions, garlic, salt, pepper, and garlic powder to the pan. Cook until the shrimp are pink, about 3-5 minutes (the pan I used was a little too small, so the shrimp were crowded. Thus, I used a lid to help keep the steam in to cook them, but it's not necessary.)
  2. Once the shrimp turn pink, add in the tequila shot if you are using it.  Cook for an additional 1-2 minutes, then remove from heat.
  3. Serve in lettuce wraps on top of quinoa or with veggies on the side!

Sweet and Spicy Salmon

Just a normal Wednesday night dinner
Just a normal Wednesday night dinner

Is it weird that I am oddly proud that this is the longest I’ve gone between posts?  I think it’s because I’ve actually been super productive at the office, unlike my usual procrastinatrix self, and have been mentally exhausted when I get home. But anyway, I’m now looking at nice little break from deadlines, so hopefully I can kick the blog writing back into high gear.

On that note, I’ve mentioned before how I thought I was a member of the Salmon Hater Club for a while.  The only time I would consistently enjoy eating salmon was when it was raw  in my sushi, but even then, salmon would be one of my lesser favorites, falling behind tuna, torched escolar (try this at DK Sushi!), red snapper, and scallop.  Hell, if it came down to choosing just one, I’d probably choose a traditional Japanese veggie roll over the salmon.  I liked it; I just didn’t love it.

When it came to cooked salmon, however, I wasn’t even sure I liked it.  It was just…boring to me. I would always order it at restaurants, and I would always be underwhelmed.  It would be too dry or too fishy or too bland.  I would get tired of eating it about halfway through.  Unfortunately for me, Mr. Little Fish felt exactly the opposite, so he would nearly always order salmon (I harbor some suspicions that he did it so I wouldn’t try the food on his plate), and always proclaim how much he loved it, and always leave me wondering how on earth I could not be cooking something he so clearly enjoys.  

But, I remained vigilant in my salmon-hate, until one day when we had my in-laws over for a pool party and they made salmon.  It was so simple–a whole filet, topped with red pepper flakes and a little bit of oil, and with bits of onion stuck into the meat.  They baked it in a covered casserole dish and stuck it in the oven for a little while, and what came out was this wonderfully moist, flaky, flavorful fish.  I was intrigued.

After some experimentation, I finally settled on two go-to salmon recipes: this version, and a simple yet elegant teriyaki version.  This one cooks up in about 10 minutes, and is delightfully easy.  The original recipe called for pan frying it until done, but, in case it makes some of you new cooks feel any better, I started to get a little scared with the smoke and blackened-ness, so I decided to do the hybrid pan sear+oven method that I use for steaks and other meats. The upside is a wonderfully crunchy, blackened exterior with a tender interior.

Sweet and Spicy Salmon
Adapted from Can You Stay For Dinner
Serves 3-4

IMG_6914

Ingredients:

1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 16 oz salmon filet, skin removed and cut into 3-4 smaller filets
1.5 tbsp coconut oil

Directions:

1.  If you are using a traditional oven, preheat it to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Mix together the sugar, chili, salt, and cayenne in a small bowl.
2.  Lay out the salmon filets and sprinkle the spice mixture on all sides.
3.  Melt the coconut oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the filets to the skillet and cook for about 2-3 minutes each side, until blackened.
4.  Transfer the filets to a foil covered pan, and either put in preheated oven or put directly into toaster oven for 10 minutes.
5.  Serve on salad (we once made one with pomegranate arils, celery, and mixed greens that complemented the fish very well!) or roasted veggies!

Sweet and Spicy Salmon
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Fish
Cuisine: American
Serves: 3-4
Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ⅛ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 16 oz salmon filet, skin removed and cut into 3-4 smaller filets
  • 1.5 tbsp coconut oil
Directions
  1. If you are using a traditional oven, preheat it to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix together the sugar, chili, salt, and cayenne in a small bowl.
  2. Lay out the salmon filets and sprinkle the spice mixture on all sides.
  3. Melt the coconut oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the filets to the skillet and cook for about 2-3 minutes each side, until blackened.
  4. Transfer the filets to a foil covered pan, and either put in preheated oven or put directly into toaster oven for 10 minutes.
  5. Serve on salad (we once made one with pomegranate arils, celery, and mixed greens that complemented the fish very well!) or roasted veggies!

 

Spicy Tuna Steak

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True story: Mr. Little Fish is a cannibal. Not because he eats other humans (that I know of), but because he eats fish. A lot. I can’t be sure but I think his favorite protein in the whole world might be salmon. I’m not sure because I haven’t asked because he refuses to indulge my attempts to get him to commit to some superlative (Would you say Nutella is your favorite thing ever? No. Top 2? Ehh….), but I’m just gonna go ahead and presume that it is.

Unfortunately for him, I am awfully picky about my salmon. Whenever I ordered it in restaurants, I always found it dry and overly fishy. Salmon has a very distinct flavor to me, and I haven’t quite found a pattern to when I find it tolerable and when I don’t, although I suspect cooking it at home might have something to do with it (recipes to come!).

The only consistent way that I like salmon is in sushi. I like raw fish. I even made ceviche once (it was delicious). So, when I recently bought Alton Brown’s I’m Just Here for the Food (which is a great food-nerd book by the way!), and he featured a blackened tuna steak in his “Searing” section, I thought that we’d found an acceptable compromise.  And indeed we did, despite Mr. LF’s unending paranoia about eating raw foods.  It’s like he came from a Third World country or something (spoiler alert: he did).

The spice mix on the fish is perfect–spicy, salty, tangy, delicious.  I stuck to the original recipe for the spice mix, even though it only called for one tuna steak, and it has been plenty.  In fact, I decided that, rather than throwing it out, I have put the spice mix in a little ziplock baggie and stuck it in the fridge for future tuna-coating purposes.  This will make an already fabulously quick recipe even quicker!

Also, because I think there is something primal about seeing the grill marks on food, I invested in an inexpensive cast-iron grill pan awhile back that has been great for all kinds of steaks (but particularly for a delicious ribeye I made the other day!).  If you are only interested in buying one cast iron pan, I would suggest going with a regular skillet over this grill pan because it’s slightly less versatile.  But for the price, you could easily get them both!  I am sure, however, that you could probably sear this tuna on a regular non-stick pan, but make sure to put a good coating of oil so that it actually does not stick.

Blackened Tuna Steak
Adapted from I’m Just Here for the Food by Alton Brown
Serves 2

Deliciously pink on the insde

Deliciously pink on the insde

Ingredients:

2 tbsp paprika
2 tbsp salt
2 tsp onion powder
3 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp dried ginger
2 tsp ground cumin
Coconut oil
2 tuna steaks, about 1-inch thick
1 half lemon

Directions:

1.  Mix the spices together in a small baggie.  Then, put your cast iron skillet on the burner over medium high heat.  This gives the cast iron some time to heat up before putting the food on it.
2.  Put the tuna steaks on your cutting board, and use a pastry brush, or your fingers, to rub the melted coconut oil on to the surface of the steaks.  Sprinkle enough of the spice mix on the fish to cover all sides of it.
3.    Drizzle a tiny bit of the coconut oil over the pan, and then place your tuna steaks in the pan.  It will sizzle and sear and might get kind of smoky, so turn your oven hood on.  Leave the tuna steaks completely alone for 3 minutes.
4.  If, at the end of the three minutes, the fish is sticking to the pan, let it sit for one more minute.  If not, flip it over to the other side and cook for another three minutes.
5.  Take the steaks out of the pan, and squeeze a little lemon juice over them.  Serve with roasted veggies or on top of salad!

What’s your favorite way to cook fish?

Spicy Tuna Steak
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: American
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp paprika
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 3 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 tsp dried ginger
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • Coconut oil
  • 2 tuna steaks, about 1-inch thick
  • 1 half lemon
Directions
  1. Mix the spices together in a small baggie. Then, put your cast iron skillet on the burner over medium high heat. This gives the cast iron some time to heat up before putting the food on it.
  2. Put the tuna steaks on your cutting board, and use a pastry brush, or your fingers, to rub the melted coconut oil on to the surface of the steaks. Sprinkle enough of the spice mix on the fish to cover all sides of it.
  3. Drizzle a tiny bit of the coconut oil over the pan, and then place your tuna steaks in the pan. It will sizzle and sear and might get kind of smoky, so turn your oven hood on. Leave the tuna steaks completely alone for 3 minutes.
  4. If, at the end of the three minutes, the fish is sticking to the pan, let it sit for one more minute. If not, flip it over to the other side and cook for another three minutes.
  5. Take the steaks out of the pan, and squeeze a little lemon juice over them. Serve with roasted veggies or on top of salad!