…tasty bites to stimulate your taste buds..

Archive for the ‘Seafood’ Category

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Goodbye Summer: Scallop, Mango, and Avocado Salad

Hi everyone! I apologize for my long absence.  It has been a whirlwind since we came back from Chicago.  In June, my husband and I decided to expand our family, so we got a puppy. Our maltipoo, Betsy, has been an absolutely joy.  Potty training has been difficult and continues to be a challenge but we are getting the hang of it.  So is Betsy.  For all you pet parents out there, we understand your pain.  Then my residency ended in July, and it was time to start a new job!  We also moved to a new place.  Before we even had a chance to breathe, summer is over.  To celebrate the end of summer, I am whipping up a salad highlighting some of my favorite ingredients: scallops, mango, and avocado.  So simple, yet absolutely refreshing! If you love scallops, mango, and avocado, you are in for a treat!


3 cups mixed green salad
1 mango
1 avocado, halved, pitted, peeled and cut into ½ inch cubes
9 sea scallops
Sea salt and pepper
½ cup of fresh squeezed orange juice
¼ cup of olive oil
Green onion for garnish


1. To make the vinaigrette, combine the orange juice and olive oil in a small bowl.  Season with salt and pepper.

2. Cut the mango and avocado into ½ inch cubes.

3. Heat a grill pan and brush with a little olive oil.  Season the scallops on both sides with salt and pepper. When very hot, place the scallops on the grill pan and cook for 2 minutes, then flip them over and cook for another minute until lightly golden.

4. In a bowl, toss the salad greens with the vinaigrette and put them on chilled plates.  Scatter the mango and avocado cubes among the greens.  Add the scallops to the plates and garnish with green onions and serve.

And of course, I could not resist sharing a picture of Betsy with you!

Lobster Mac and Cheese

Inspired by an episode of Throwdown with Bobby Flay with a lobster mac and cheese challenge, I decided to test out my own recipe for dinner.  With Vu’s love of mac and cheese and my craving for lobster, it was a perfect combination.  I went the unconventional route and added mascarpone cheese to my recipe.  Yes, mascarpone cheese!  Who says you can only use mascarpone cheese for desserts!  The sauce was creamy and delightful!  The lobster meat was tender and sweet, elevating the dish to a new level.  I would proudly serve this dish at a dinner party.


1 tbsp butter
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
3 lb lobster, should yield 1-1 ½ lb of meat
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp all purpose flour
1 ½ cup heavy cream
1 ½ cup half and half
2 bay leaves
1/2 yellow onion, cut into fourths
a pinch of nutmeg
1 cup of mascarpone cheese
a pinch of salt
a pinch of pepper
½ pound of Barilla medium shells conchiglie
½ cup of panko (Japanese bread crumb)
½ cup of butter
½ cup of shredded Gruyere cheese
Chives for garnish


In a large stockpot, add 1 cup of water, and steam the lobster for 5 minutes.  Let the lobster cool down before you separate the meat from the shell.  Cut the lobster meat into small pieces.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter and add in the garlic.  Sautee the lobster meat and season with a pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper for 5 minutes on medium heat.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 375˚F.  In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the shell pasta until al dente, 6-8 minutes.  Drain and set aside.

For the béchamel sauce, in a small saucepan, melt the butter on low heat and whisk in the flour, stirring constantly for 2-3 minutes until lightly golden brown.  Remove from heat and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine heavy cream, half and half, bay leaves, onion, and nutmeg and bring the mixture to a simmer over 10 minutes.  Strain and discard the solids.

Return the cream mixture to the sauce pan and gently stir in the mascarpone cheese until everything is well blended.  Whisk in the butter and flour mixture and continue cooking for 10 minutes on low heat.  Add in the pasta and lobster meat and season to taste.

In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs and butter and stir to moisten evenly.

In a casserole dish or individual cocotte, add the pasta mixture, top with Gruyere and bread crumbs, then bake for 10 minutes, or until the bread crumbs are golden brown and the cheese has completely melted.

Remove from the oven and let it cool.  Garnish with chives before serving.


“Banh Canh Cua” Vietnamese Rice Noodle with Crab Soup

I am so happy that crab season lasts longer this year.  I plan on making “banh canh cua” or Vietnamese fat rice noodle with crab soup.  Banh canh cua is one of my favorite soups.  There are two versions, pork soup and crab soup.  I grew up with both but being a seafood fanatic, I enjoy the crab version much more.  The noodles look fat like udon, but are made with rice or tapioca, not wheat.  The tapioca noodles are clear after boiling and taste more chewy compared to the rice noodles.  This dish brings back fond memories of my pharmacy rotation in Vietnam.  My classmates and I would go to Ben Thanh market in Saigon for lunch or dinner and order banh canh from the various food stands.  The atmosphere was always lively, great for eating and people watching.  I hope you find this soup tasty and comforting!


2 Dungeness crabs
10 cups of water
2 lbs of pork neck bones
¼ cup of fish sauce
¼ cup of sugar
2 pkg (15 oz) fat rice noodles (they look like udon)
1 lb of deveined shrimps
chili pepper and pepper to taste (optional)
cilantro and green onions for garnish


Fill a large stockpot with 3 cups of water and bring to a boil.  Place the crabs in the water and steam for 15 minutes.  Save the crab stock.  Remove the meat from the body and claws, and save the juice from the body.  In a separate stockpot, fill 10 cups of water and cook the pork neck bones for 2 hours.  Pour the strained the pork stock, 2 cups of crab stock, and juice from the crabs into a separate stockpot.  Add fish sauce.  Let simmer for 30 minutes and remove any scum at the surface.  Add sugar to taste.

Boil the rice noodles until semi-clear.  Strain and leave the noodles in cold water so they do not expand.

When ready to serve, transfer the noodle to a serving bowl, top with crab meat and shrimps and then add soup.  Garnish with green onions, cilantro, pepper, and chili pepper.  Enjoy!

Homemade Crab Bisque with Saffron

I was out of town for a pharmacy conference in Anaheim for a few days and have not had time to blog.  It felt really nice to be back home and back to my daily routine.  For dinner, I decided to make crab bisque, inspired by a crab dish that I had at Joe’s Crab Shack near our hotel.  French in origin, bisque is a smooth and creamy soup based on a strained broth of crustaceans, usually lobster, crab, shrimp, and even crayfish.  I paired the bisque with toasted baguettes and a glass of white wine.  If you are entertaining guests this holiday, this bisque would be a perfect start to your dinner party.


2 (1 1/2-pound) crabs
1/2 cup coarsely chopped shallots or onions
1 cup coarsely chopped leeks
1 cup coarsely chopped carrots
1 cup of chopped tomatoes
1 clove of garlic
1/2 tsp saffron
1 tbsp of olive oil
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup white wine
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsps cornstarch
1 tbsp sugar
chives for garnish


Fill a large stockpot with 3 cups of water and bring to a boil.  Place the crabs in the water and steam for 15 minutes.  Discard the water. (you can also save 1-2 cups of this original stock if you want a stronger crab taste)

Remove crab meats from the body and claws.  Save the shells.

Place 5 cups of water in a clean stockpot and turn on high heat.  Put the shells in the stockpot and cook for 30 minutes.  This should yield 4 cups of crab stock.

Add olive oil to a large sauté pan and turn on medium heat.  Add the garlic, shallots, leeks, carrots, tomatoes, and saffron and sauté for 20 minutes.

Add 4 cups of strained crab stock to the sautéed vegetables. Turn down heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Press entire contents of sautéed pan through sieve into a clean sauté pan.

To finish the bisque, add heavy cream slowly, using whisk to blend.  Add white wine. Simmer on low heat for 15 minutes; bisque will thicken slightly.

Mix cornstarch with 1/4 cup water and slowly add to bisque with whisk.  Simmer on low heat for another 15 minutes.  Add pepper and sugar (more if you like a sweeter taste).

Place pieces of previous cleaned crab meat in bowl and add 1 cup of bisque.

Crab Tower with Avocado and Mango Salsas

I looked in the fridge this morning and found leftover crabmeat from making crab cakes yesterday.  I also had mangoes and avocadoes and decided to combine all my favorite ingredients into something fun, a crab tower!  Many years ago, I watched an episode from America’s Test Kitchen featuring crab tower, consisting of crabmeat with avocado and gazpacho salsas and was inspired by the idea but forgot about it.  Today’s the day to test it out.

Crabmeat Salad

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tbsp white wine (Pinot Grigio or Riesling)
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp mayonnaise
8 oz lump crabmeat

Whisk the olive oil, white wine, mustard, and mayonnaise in a small bowl.  Add the crabmeat to the mayonnaise mixture and toss to coat.

Mango Salsa Ingredients

1 ½ cup mango, peeled and diced
½ cup peeled, diced cucumber
¼ cup tomato
2 tbsps diced red onion
2 tbsps lime juice
2 tbsps roughly chopped cilantro leaves
Salt and pepper

Combine the mango, cucumber, tomato, red onion, lime juice and cilantro leaves and mix well. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Avocado Salsa

1 Hass avocados (ripe), cut into ¼-inch dice
¼ tsp ground coriander
1 tbsp lime juice

Toss the avocado, coriander, and lime juice in a medium bowl and set aside.

To Assemble

Place a 3-inch-wide round biscuit cutter in the center of an individual plate. Press 1/4 cup of the Avocado Salsa into the bottom of the cutter using the back of a spoon.

Stack a second cutter on top of the first one and press1/4 cup of the crabmeat on top of the avocado.

Press 1/4 cup of the Mango Salsa evenly on top of the crabmeat.

Gently lift the cutters up and away from the plate to reveal the crab tower.

You can also serve your crab tower in a martini glass, much easier to put together compared to the tower.  This appetizer pairs well with tortilla chips.

Homemade Crab Cakes

November is the beginning of Dungeness crab season.  I like my crabs steamed with beer and dipped in a mixture of salt, pepper, and lemon juice.  Unfortunately, fresh crabs are still expensive in San Diego at this time of the year ranging from $5.99 to $8.99 a pound.  You can get crabs from northern California for a lot cheaper, $1.99 at its cheapest and $3.99 most of the time.  Seattle is another place to get fresh Dungeness crab for a decent price.  Dungeness crabs are abundant in the Pacific Northwest.  I heard rave review from my Seattle friends about the annual Dungeness Crab and Seafood Festival in Port Angeles held each October, but have not had the luxury of going.  It is on my must do list!  Until then, I was content with buying a jar of crab meat from Costco to satisfy my craving for crab cakes.  This will probably be your most simple recipe for crab cakes.

Crab Cakes Ingredients

3 tbsps light mayonnaise
1 tbsp lemon juice, plus wedges for serving
1 small egg
1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tbsp Old Bay Seasoning
Coarse salt and ground pepper
8 oz crabmeat, fresh would be best but you can get the Costco Chicken of the Sea super lump crabmeat
1 cup of fine Ritz cracker crumbs
1 green onion
3 tbsps of chopped bell pepper
olive oil for frying


In a large bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, lemon juice, egg, mustard, Old Bay, teaspoon coarse salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Add bell peppers, green onions, cracker crumbs, and crabmeat to mayonnaise mixture.

Mix well and leave in fridge for 15-30 minutes so the crabmeat can absorb all the flavors.  Form the mixture into patties, about ½-1 inch thick.

Pour 1 tbsp of olive oil into a skillet and gently lay the cakes in the oil.  Fry for 3-4 minutes on each side or until golden brown.

Remove the cakes from the oil and drain on a paperlined plate.  Serve with lemon wedges and tartar sauce or your sauce of choice.

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