Monthly Archives: March 2008

Ceviche Crab Stack

Last weekend I prepared a surf-and-turf dinner for eight with a twist. No steamed lobsters and New York strips this time around, instead a spicy, tangy journey across Central America. First, petit filet mignons with a Mexican-inspired red wine and port reduction infused with the spice and flavor of smoked jalapenos, thyme, mushrooms, and onion. For the starch, I went with fried yucca. The surf came in a stack of rice, a mixture of mango, avocado, lime juice, and jalapeno, and a top-layer mixture of swordfish ceviche and jumbo lump crab meat. Plated, it all came together like this:

(click to crabstackusize)

Building the stack was the biggest challenge of the day, fortunately a make-ahead item for this menu, as it’s served cold. Making the stacks requires a ring mold, or even a short (and, of course, clean!) section of pvc pipe from your local hardware store. I used an adjustable, plunger-style measuring cup to build the stacks, which allowed me to really give them a good squeeze that held them in one piece and keep a uniform size.

I made this for eight, so recipe-wise, I’ve tried to reduce it for four.
The rice:
1 cup jasmine rice
2 cups water
1/2 tsp salt
1/2″ cube of crystalized ginger (optional)
Cook the rice using your preferred method. Let it cool, then refrigerate, as it’s easier to work with cold at assembly time.
The mango mixture middle:
1 1/2 mangoes, diced in 1/4″ chunks
1 avocado, diced
1/2 medium-sized red onion, finely diced
1 jalapeno pepper, finely diced
zest of 1/2 lime
juice from 1/2 lime
1/2 tsp ground coriander seed
Gently combine all ingredients until evenly mixed. Refrigerate. Onwards!
The crab and and swordfish ceviche:
1 lb fresh swordfish, diced in 1/4″ chunks
1 lb fresh jumbo lump crabmeat
juice of 1/2 lime
zest of 1/2 lime
1/2 to 1 tsp Sriracha hot sauce

Combine the lime juice, zest, and hot sauce with the swordfish. Place in refrigerator for about 15 minutes to let the acidic lime juice go to work on the swordfish. Remove from the fridge and combine with the crab meat.
And now, we stack.

(click to crabstackusize)

The first layer, the base, is the rice. Next comes the mango mixture, followed by the seafood. I did everything upside-down in the mixing cup, turned it over, gave it a good press, and then slowly lifted the mixing cup up, while pressing the rest of the plunger out. (Maybe that needs a video or something) Any how…

Measuring it out it’s about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of rice for the base, 1/3 cup of mango mixture, and 1/3 cup of the seafood.
Top it with three thin slices of cucumber and then refrigerate until ready to serve.

Garnish with a spring of fresh cilantro. Consume.

Mussels with Smoked Salmon and Cream Sauce

I saw this recipe in a cook book at my mom’s house and it seemed like it would be good. It was so-so. I’ll be sticking with this one in the future.
The recipe, in case you’re looking for something different:
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 clove chopped garlic
4 lbs mussels
3 oz (1/3 cup) smoked salmon
In a 5qt pot, combine first 3
Bring to a Simmer
Add mussels and salmon and cook over medium heat, uncovered 5-6 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Rosemary Grilled Chicken Thighs

Add this to your “Things-to-keep-on-hand-for-fast-and-excellent-meals” list: Boneless, skinless chicken thighs. This is one item that I try to keep bulk packs of in the freezer. Typically I buy a 16-pack and divide it in half for freezer storage. It’s easy to prepare, forgiving to overcook, has a decent amount of fat-giving flavor (just be sure to trim some off to prevent grill flare-ups), and even the free-range, organic variety is easy on the wallet. A sixteen pack typically gets me two dinners and two lunches of leftovers.
And, oh, is it versatile! Fine Cooking featured a few different recipes this past summer for grilling them and I’ve yet to be disappointed. A couple of weeks ago I tried the Rosemary Grilled recipe and it rocked.

It’s a simple rub featuring minced, fresh rosemary, brown sugar, kosher salt, and some crushed red pepper flakes for some bite. My herb garden from the summer is still kicking out rosemary despite being iced-over a few times, so I snagged a fresh sprig. I also added some chopped green onion that I happened to have on hand. Good move.

On the side is an orange marmalade, rice wine vinegar, and rosemary dipping sauce. Typically not an orange marmalade kind of guy, its sweet and sour accompaniment convinced me otherwise. It’s simple to prepare—one cup of marmalade, ¼ rice wine vinegar, and a teaspoon of minced rosemary all warmed together on the stove.
The chicken itself is easy—combine the rub, toss it with the chicken and a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil and then it’s onto a medium-high grill for about five minutes per side. Done.
I served it with a side of simple jasmine rice. One little cool twist on the rice was dropping in a cube of crystallized ginger to cook with the rice. It added a light hint of ginger flavor to the rice—just enough to make you to say, “what is that?” (in a good way, really.) and proved a nice pairing to the Asian-inspired chicken.
So stock up on the thighs. And make this first. Then, follow it up next weekend with the Grilled Tandoori-Style Chicken Thighs. That was pure, curried bliss.