Recipe of the Month: Northwest Seafood with Simple Soy Glaze

June 30, 2014

Northwest Wild Salmon

Northwest Seafood with Simple Soy Glaze

Varietal: Off-Dry Riesling

Makes 1/4 cup

I have read that most people cook the same eight basic recipes over and over again. If that’s the case at your house, I hope this recipe will become one of your eight favorites because it’s so delicious, easy to make, and versatile that you can use it on almost any fish or shellfish you choose. Suggested seafood partners with the glaze include salmon, halibut, swordfish, black cod (sablefish), sea scallops, or sustainable shrimp (peeled and deveined). Don’t forget to open a bottle of off-dry Riesling from a top-quality producer, such as Long Shadows, Pacific Rim, or Poet’s Leap, all from Washington State.

1 tablespoon light cooking oil, such as canola or vegetable oil

1 tablespoon soy sauce or low-sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon honey, brown sugar, or maple syrup

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

11/2 teaspoons prepared horseradish

1. In a small bowl, mix together the oil, soy sauce, honey, and mustard. Add the horseradish and blend thoroughly.

2. Lightly oil a broiling pan with a rack or spray the rack with nonstick cooking spray. Place fish fillets or steaks or shellfish on the rack and lightly brush the seafood with the glaze. Broil 3 to 4 inches from the heat source for 3 minutes, then brush the fillets again. If the seafood starts to brown too much, move the pan 4 to 6 inches from the heat source. After 3 minutes, brush once more, then continue broiling until the salmon reaches desired doneness.

Cook’s Hints: Now comes the really fun, creative part of this recipe. If you don’t like horseradish, you can substitute freshly grated ginger, Chinese five-spice powder, Japanese seven-spice seasoning (shichimi togarashi), or hot chili oil for an Asian flair, or Cajun blackening mix for a Southwest touch. Add the alternative seasonings a little at a time, until you reach the level of spiciness or hotness you prefer.

Simple Soy Glaze works well with vegetables, especially asparagus. To prepare fresh asparagus, snap the tough, “woody” white ends off each spear by holding the top half of an asparagus spear in one hand, the bottom half with the thumb and forefinger of your other hand. Bend the spear until it snaps. This will occur naturally where the tough and tender parts meet. Use the bottoms of the stalks to make asparagus stock for soup. Cook the remaining portion as desired. Or, for a more elegant preparation, using a clean, sharp vegetable peeler, peel down from about 2 inches from the ends of the asparagus. Peel all around, then cut off the very end with a small, sharp paring knife.

Fresh asparagus also makes a lovely summer salad when simply grilled with extra virgin olive oil, kosher salt, and black pepper. Cook 8 to 12 minutes, or until just tender. Then transfer to salad plates, drizzle with good-quality balsamic vinegar, and sprinkle with toasted hazelnuts (or walnuts) and plumped dried cherries or cranberries.

To toast small quantities of nuts, heat them in a small, dry skillet over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes, or until they begin to turn light brown and/or give off their aroma (mustard seeds begin to pop), shaking the pan back and forth often so the ingredients do not burn. Remove from heat, cool, and add to your recipe, or grind as directed.

To plump dried fruits, add the fruits to a small saucepan and cover with water, stock, or liqueur (such as Madeira, Port, or cream-style Sherry). Bring to a boil, cover, and remove the pan from the heat. Allow to stand 10 to 20 minutes, or until the fruit is plumped.

To speed the plumping process, put 1/2 cup water into a microwave-safe glass dish. Add the fruit and microwave on HIGH for 30 seconds. Stir and repeat. When the fruit begins to plump, remove from the microwave and cover. Let rest for 5 minutes, drain water, and use the fruit as directed.

Recipe reprinted from the “Pike Place Public Market Seafood Cookbook,” gift edition and e-edition, by Braiden Rex-Johnson, copyright 2005 (print edition) and 2012 (e-edition). Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.

Photo by Spencer Johnson 

Recipe of the Month: Crab Veneto

January 31, 2014

Elliott's oyster house spicy-crab nwwd northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

Crab Veneto

Wine Varietal: Lemberger, Gamay, Beaujolais

Serves 2 as an appetizer; 1 as an entrée

On Pier 56 on the Seattle Waterfront, Elliott’s Oyster House offers what many consider the definitive Dungeness crab service in town. Elliott’s starts by cooking the live crabs immediately in small batches to preserve the quality of the meat. Once cooked, the crabs are quickly chilled. Each crab is then cleaned and cracked to order for easy eating. Then you can choose to eat your crab in three different ways—steamed, chilled, or marinated. An extra-large crab bib, cocktail fork, shell bowl, a hot towel and plenty of paper towels, a finger bowl brimming with a mixture of hot tea and lemon water, and a crushed cracker hand wash make cleaning up after the messy job of eating Dungeness crab much more enjoyable. If you can’t make it to Elliott’s, try the recipe below, which was given to me years ago by (then) Elliott’s executive chef Andrew Juhl. It is easy, tasty, and would make the perfect appetizer to share with your sweetheart for Valentine’s Day. . .or any time of the year.

1 clove garlic, minced

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 drops Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon minced parsley

1/2 cup, plus 2 tablespoons, pure olive oil

1 precooked, chilled, Dungeness crab, cracked into pieces suitable for picking (see Cook’s Hint, below)

1. In a large, deep bowl mix together the garlic, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, parsley, and olive oil.

2. Add the crab pieces and toss gently. Let stand 3 minutes before serving.

Cook’s Hint: To prepare a whole, cooked Dungeness crab for picking, hold the crab with one hand from underneath and, with the other hand, pry off the large top shell. Scoop out and save the cream-colored “crab butter,” if desired. Run your thumb along the sides of the body cavity to scrape away the feathery gills. Rinse under cold water to remove any remaining viscera.

Grasp the crab in both hands and break the body in half lengthwise, forming two sections with the legs attached. Remove the legs by breaking off at the joints closest to the body. Separate the claw portion from the leg at the first joint. Bend back and remove the smaller claw pincer, along with the attached claw cartilage. Crack the claw with an aluminum crab cracker, the back of a heavy kitchen knife, or a mallet, being careful not to crush the meat. Repeat with the second claw.

With kitchen shears, cut along each side of the leg shells, or simply crack carefully to open. With the palm of your hand, press the top of the crab body until you feel the interior shells give slightly. Do not press so hard that you smash the top and bottom shells together. Alternatively, ask your favorite fishmonger to prepare your crab for picking, as described above.

You are now ready to eat your crab. Remove the meat from the legs, claws, and body of the crab using your fingers, a crab pick, a seafood fork, or a crab “toe” (the tip of a crab claw)—anything is legal when eating Dungeness crab.

Photo Courtesy of Elliott’s Oyster House. 
Recipe reprinted from the “Pike Place Public Market Seafood Cookbook,” gift edition and e-edition, by Braiden Rex-Johnson, copyright 2005 and 2012. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.


More Tummy-Trimming Tips for the Holidays

December 9, 2013

Wine World Bubbly

In my post of last Monday, I highlighted half a dozen tips to help your tummy appear less puffy, taken from the great new book entitled, “Flat Belly Cookbook for Dummies,” by Erin Palinski-Wade, Tara Gidus, and Kristina LaRue.

This week we cover four more, but these tips specifically related to alcohol consumption (and who doesn’t drink a bit more during the festive holiday season than other times during the year)?

In the new book, the three authors cite alcohol as a belly bloater since it is a source of empty calories. Alcohol can actually increase your appetite, and can be a major source of weight gain and increased belly fat when consumed in excess.

“You don’t need to eliminate alcohol over the holidays; just keep an eye on the quantity you consume,” says Palinski-Wade.

In addition to limiting the amount of alcohol you drink, the co-authors suggest that you follow these simple guidelines:

• Your best choice for alcohol is red or white wine, a wine spritzer, or light beer. Some alcohol can have health benefits. Red wine, for instance, is a great source of resveratrol, which has anti-inflammatory properties and may be beneficial to heart health.

• If you have a mixed drink, avoid high-calorie mixers such as a sugar-laden soft drink. Instead, try mixing your drink with club soda or seltzer with a splash of juice for flavor.

• Drink alcohol at the end of the meal instead of before eating. Alcohol can stimulate appetite and lower inhibitions, resulting in your making less healthy food choices or eating larger portions.




Dynamic Dishes That Made My Day

September 9, 2013

In the movie “Dirty Harry,” beloved actor Clint Eastwood said, “Go ahead, make my day.”

Here are half a dozen dishes I’ve sampled in Seattle; on a car trip to Bow, Washington; and even as far afield as Winter Park, Florida, that have all “made my day.” Enjoy!

Andaluca eggplant appetizer


Beginning with appetizers, here is a beauty we enjoyed at Andaluca in the Mayflower Park Hotel in downtown Seattle: Grilled Petite Eggplant. Brushed with a light balsamic vinaigrette, grilled, and topped with alder-smoked tomatoes and fresh house-made ricotta, it was a soulful and hearty bite!

It paired perfectly with one of Andaluca’s by-the-glass pours–Fontaynes Argentinian Malbec Rosé.

Palace kitchen whole baked idaho trout

The Roasted Whole Idaho Trout at Palace Kitchen is always a winner, but tasted especially clean and fresh–perfectly cooked–on a recent visit. House pours of one of our favorite white blends from Washington State–Southard White–paired nicely with both the trout and the Fire-Roasted Mussels I enjoyed as my entrée.

Place pigalle oysters on the half shell

I downed my first-of-the-season raw oysters on the half shell at Place Pigalle in the heart of the Pike Place Market. They were Stellar Bay beauties from British Columbia waters, grown in the same bay as another one of my favorite oyster varieties–Kusshi. Our pairing that evening was a bottle of DeLille Cellars Chaleur Estate Blanc, as good (and consistent) as ever. Thanks to our friend and winemaker Chris Upchurch!

Rhodendron cafe fried oyster caesar salad

The next day, still jones-ing for oysters, we drove to Bow, Washington and the venerable Rhododendron Cafe for a Fried Oyster Caesar Salad. It was a dish I’d enjoyed there several years ago and never forgotten. And even though it was no longer on the menu, Fried Oysters still were, so the chef was kind enough to accommodate my special request.

It was a fortuitous trip (very impromptu!) as the Rhododendron will close end of the month as the owners retire after 30 years!!! A few down days, then the young owners of the Farm to Market Bakery in Edison, Washington, will take over and make the Rhody Too Gallery (right next door) into a bakery and reopen the restaurant. So stay tuned!

And, as you can see, at lunch we stick to Iced Tea for our beverage pairing.  🙂

Cask & Larder ribeye hotdog

Late last month, we were in Winter Park, Florida, to help my father celebrate his 91st birthday. Although Dad doesn’t get out much any more, my brother, sister-in-law, Spencer, and I made our way to Cask & Larder: Southern Public House, a recently opened, very-popular gastropub and craft brewery in Winter Park, the sister restaurant to award-winning The Ravenous Pig, where we’ve enjoyed many a meal over the years.

Here is the Ribeye Hotdog with sweet Vidalia onion relish, Cask & Larder ketchup, and beer mustard on a celery-seed bun my brother enjoyed along with a house-made Whiskey Stout (which was cask-conditioned in a Jack Daniel’s barrel, aged for five months, and tasted of coffee and chocolate!).

Cask & Larder fried chicken bibb lettuce salad

Spencer enjoyed the Bibb Lettuce Salad with Pickled Watermelon Radish, Candied Squash, Spiced Pecans, and Buttermilk Dressing with an extra side of Southern Fried Chicken (spicy and good). The ladies had the same salad, but with an extraordinary side of smoked chicken. It was so good, the next day for lunch at Dad’s condo, we ordered in the very same salads!

Northwest Wining and Dining’s Dishes of the Day

July 22, 2013

Palomino Seattle Scallops with Pernod Beurre Blanc

Hard to believe it’s been three months since we chose a proper Dish of the Day (last one was The Capital Grille’s stupendous Seafood Tower), so today I’ve chosen not one, but three for your viewing pleasure.

Above behold the glorious Asiago-Almond Crusted Scallops with Pernod Butter Sauce and first-of-the-season grilled asparagus,  which we enjoyed a few weeks ago at the Palomino Restaurant & Bar location in downtown Seattle (truth be known, it is in the CityCentre Building, where Spencer used to go to work at Callison Architecture every day!).

How the chef got the perfect crispy crust and still managed to leave the scallops rare in the middle is beyond me. I tried to figure out how to replicate the dish at home, but just figured I’d eat it at Palomino as often as possible.

Just last weekend, when the temperatures were high (close to 90!) in Seattle, we were lucky to score an outside seat at Le Pichet, right on First Avenue in the Pike Place Market.

Le Pichet Pike Place Market Salmon

The Seared Salmon with baby garlic tops, flageolet beans, carrots, and asparagus was like summer on a plate, the salmon perfectly cooked to rare and the garlic tops more green than garlicky. A very light white broth brought the dish together so perfectly that I lapped up every last drop with the soup spoon thoughtfully provided!

Gordon Biersch Blackened Tuna Salad

Not so politically correct, but still very well executed, is the (blackened) Ahi and Greens salad at Gordon Biersch. I feel a deep twinge every time I order Ahi, since it  (in fact, most species of tuna, except for albacore) is on the endangered list, but every so often it serves as a special treat. This one was served with a well-made miso dressing and wasn’t overly charred or spicy. A Cajun remoulade sauce was also offered, and went surprisingly well with the fish and greens.


Dish of the Day: RN74’s Ahi Tuna Tartare

November 23, 2012

For the past couple of weeks, we’ve been reprinting some of our favorite Dishes of the Day from the last year or so while we enjoy some time out of the office.

Here is an amazing dish from our neighbor, RN74.

I’ve been having a ball researching an article on Michael Mina’s RN74 downtown Seattle restaurant for Wine Press Northwest’s Spring issue. The restaurant opened last June, and is the sister restaurant to the first RN74 in San Francisco.

The Ahi Tuna Tartare is one of Michael Mina’s signature dishes among his 19 restaurants in major cities spread across the country–Las Vegas, Washington, D.C., Miami, and Detroit, among others.

Served tableside, the waiter gently massages a quail egg yolk into a mass of the most perfect Ahi tuna chunks studded with toasted pine nuts, very finely diced Scotch Bonnet peppers and Asian pear, a hint of fresh mint, and the dense, unmistakable aroma and flavor of Asian sesame oil.

As chef Mina says, “The right tableside preparation creates a memory. For example, we deconstructed the Ahi Tuna Tartare years ago, and it has become one of our signature dishes. We mix the tuna, pear, Scotch bonnet peppers, sesame oil, and a quail’s egg yolk tableside. However, you can’t overdo this–you can’t do too many things tableside if it means other guests’ food is getting cold or if it interferes with the larger experience. Remember, it’s all about balance.”

“Balance” is important as Mina devises his dishes with “four basic elements: spice, sweetness, acidity, and richness.”

For creating such a perfect balance, and such a memorable appetizer, RN74’s Ahi Tuna Tartare more than deserves our Dish of the Day.

Dish of the Day: Mexico Cantina’s Butter Lettuce Wraps

November 13, 2012

Mexico Restaurant’s Butter Lettuce Wraps with Chicken

For the past couple of weeks, we’ve been reprinting some of our favorite Dishes of the Day from the last year or so while we enjoy some time out of the office.

Here’s a dish I order often at Mexico Cantina y Cocina–Butter Lettuce Wraps. 

After a busy morning of shopping or before an early-afternoon movie, one of our favorite places for a Saturday or Sunday lunch is at Mexico Cantina y Cocina in downtown Seattle’s Pacific Place shopping center.

I almost always order the low-carb, high-protein appetizer–Butter Lettuce Wraps with Chicken. You can also get them with shrimp, Ahi tuna, or salmon, but the perfectly grilled chicken continues to call me like a siren’s song.

It’s served with a plethora of fresh, raw vegetables, including jicama sticks (yummy crunch!), carrot slivers, cucumber slices, watercress leaves (with their peppery bite!), and bean sprouts (which I don’t eat because I’m scared of possible contamination no matter how much the kitchen rinses them!).

And don’t forget the smooth and oh-so-satisfying guacamole, the fresh and bracing salsa verde, plus the two dipping sauces–tomatillo and mango!

There’s also a slightly thick in texture, dense in flavor salsa that is served with the complimentary basket of chips. Although we now forego chips and tortillas due to our low-carb/high-protein lifestyle, Spencer still asks for the salsa and pours a hefty amount onto whatever he’s having (often the Tijuana Chicken Caesar).

I’ve written about other favorites on Mexico’s menu in my Northwest Notes blog. In fact, the restaurant’s Ensalada à la Evelyne–fresh organic greens with pepita-crusted provolone, roasted artichoke hearts , fire-grilled chicken, sliced plum tomatoes, cotija cheese, and sliced avocado–won Dish of the Day in 2009.

For continuing to offer fresh, clean, well-prepared food, especially my current favorite–Butter Lettuce Wraps–I award Mexico Cantina y Cocina my Dish of the Day.

Fado Fried Chicken Salad and Pickleback!

October 19, 2012

During our recent birthdays, Spencr and I let down our guards just a little bit while still trying to remain on our low-carb/high-protein diet.

One Sunday last month, after a rather unsuccessful morning trying to tour Pioneer Square galleries for inspiration (most were closed on Sundays), we decided to treat ourselves to lunch at Fadó Irish Pub & Restaurant, about midway between Pioneer Square and our condo.

We’d eaten at Fado before, and knew that the Pub has yummy main-dish salads. And although we’d normally go for the grilled chicken as our protein addition, this day (again, to celebrate our birthdays, and with the urging of our server) we opted for fried-chicken tenders.

My salad–augmented with sliced pears, mandarin oranges, spicy nuts, and blue cheese–was a lovely combo of sweet, salty, and pungent flavors. The crispy, perfectly fried chicken contrasted nicely with soft, super-fresh local baby lettuces.

I had to laugh when I perused the seasonal beverage menu and discovered under the Shots section both Pickleback (Irish Whiskey with a pickle-brine chaser) and Irish Breakfast (Irish Whiskey and Butterscotch Schnapps with an orange-juice chaser and bacon garnish.

Although my father’s side of the family is Irish, and I do love my wine, neither of these tickles my palate, although imbibing one or the other would make me or anyone want to do an Irish jig.

A New Seafood Café Along the Seattle Waterfront

August 14, 2012

Elliott’s Seafood Café during construction

Over the past several months, we’ve enjoyed watching the old, outdated Steamer’s Cafe space on the Seattle Waterfront transform into the sleek, new Elliott’s Seafood Café.

Designed as an energetic sidewalk oyster bar, the new Café offers a casual complement to Elliott’s Oyster House.

Elliott’s Seafood Cafe Oyster Bar

Elliott’s Seafood Cafe features an outdoor oyster bar where guests can sit or stand, a full-service bar, and happy-hour offerings. The menu comprises casual and fun seafood dishes; table service is available all day. Take-out food and retail items are also for sale.

Interior of the new Elliott’s Seafood Cafe

The restaurant’s interior features copper and wood with a “warm pier look.” Outside, guests can enjoy patio dining with a view of waterfront boating activity.

“Elliott’s Seafood Café brings a new look and culinary offering to the Seattle waterfront neighborhood. We’re especially eager to introduce the outside oyster bar, which we believe is a first of its kind in Seattle for guests to enjoy the freshest, local seafood at the peak of the season,” said Robert Spaulding, Executive Chef at Elliott’s Oyster House, who will oversee the Elliott’s Seafood Café kitchen as well.

Chop Chop Salad

A sample of menu items featured at Elliott’s Seafood Café includes:

*A rotating selection of fresh Washington Oysters: Penn Cove | Calm Cove | Eld | Mystery Bay with Horseradish, cocktail sauce, mignonette.

*Fresh Shucked Clams | Cape Cod little neck.

*Shellfish Ceviche I Bay scallops and shrimp, calamari, citrus marinade.

*Surf and Turf Slider | Seared scallop, root beer braised beef, preserved lemon cream.

*Halibut Tostadas | Grilled halibut, avocado, pancetta, tomatillo salsa, flour tortilla.

*Smoked Apple and Bacon Oysters | House alder smoked apple, bacon, red onion.

*Fried Oyster Wilted Spinach Salad | Yearling oysters, spinach, hot bacon-potato dressing, red onion, mushroom.

*Seafood Salad Brioche Rolls | Dungeness and Jonah crab, bay scallops, Oregon shrimp, celery, onion, mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato, waffle-cut fries.

We’ll weigh in with our thoughts on the new Seafood Café just as soon as we can get down there to sample these delicious-sounding items. May be time for another spin on the Seattle Great Wheel, the café’s cool neighbor.

Construction photo by Braiden Rex-Johnson; other photos courtesy of Darren LaMarr

Dish of the Day: Shuckers Whole Roasted Dungeness Crab

August 7, 2012

Every now and then I get a hankering for Dungeness crab. And one of my favorite places to indulge my craving is at Shuckers in The Fairmont Olympic Hotel in downtown Seattle.

I love the restaurant’s ambience, the kind of bustling, clubby sort of place place you’d want to claim as your own personal watering hole. Rather surprising to learn that the space–all beautifully carved oak paneling and pressed-tin ceiling–served as a haberdashery in the 1930s.

Shuckers is a good choice for just about any type of seafood–oysters on the half shell, the superlative Lusciously Loaded Louis Salad with shrimp or crab, daily-changing catches of the day that are simply, but perfectly, grilled. (Ruby trout and steelhead are two of our particular favorites).

But the Whole Roasted Dungeness Crab with Rosemary Potatoes and Grilled Asparagus truly stands apart from any other seafood dish in town.

The thing that sets this crab apart is the use of fresh sprigs of rosemary in the roasting process. It’s a truly brilliant use of this aromatic, pine-y herb that works a particular magic, making the crab more hearty and savory tasting than it usually is.

A bit of butter gives the dish richness, but not enough to overwhelm the crab. The dish usually comes beautifully roasted potatoes; since I’ve been trying to follow a low-carb diet lately, I asked for extra asparagus and was entirely sated (and even took half my and asparagus crab home for next-day nibbling).

Whole Roasted Dungeness Crab is a Fairmont Lifestyle Cuisine option–“dishes created using fresh and nutritionally balanced ingredients that are natural and organic so that they contribute to optimal health and wellness”–so you can feel good about eating it while you pick and pile the sweet crab nubbins.

For all of these reasons, Shuckers Whole Roasted Dungeness Crab more than merits our Dish of the Day.

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