Archive for the ‘Seafood’ Category

Salmon ceviche

Posted: August 9, 2014 in Appetizer, Miscellaneous, Seafood

Having recently returned from vacations in Brazil, I remember one great dish which I had there from neighboring Peru: ceviche. It’s basically raw fish, marinated in some citrus juice and seasoned with vegetables. It was a great summer dish, so to enjoy the unusually hot Seattle summer, I tried it out with our local salmon.


I got the salmon from my local Costco (good quality for large quantities), and used other ingredients I had at home, from a few recipes I found online. I didn’t have any chili pepper, so ground black pepper had to do. And I had some friends who don’t like cilantro, so parsley it was. For my first attempt, I think it came out good, but came out with the impression that I could add more ingredients for good variations (chopped sweet chili peppers, mango, cilantro per se, among others). Definitely something I’ll try again some other time.

Ingredients (appetizer or a light main entrée, for 6 people)

  • 1.5 lbs. salmon (I used wild sockeye, my favorite), with bones and skin removed, chopped in 1/2” pieces
  • juice of 2 limes
  • juice of 1 orange
  • 1/2 medium onion (I used sweet onions, turned out great), very finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 cup parsley, finely chopped
  • salt & pepper

Mix the chopped salmon, lime / orange juices, the onion, the cumin and salt & pepper in a bowl. Cover with a plastic film and refrigerate for at least 1.5 hours.

About 15 minutes before serving, remove the fish from the refrigerator, strain it to discard the liquid and mix wit the parsley. Let it get closer to the room temperature for 15 minutes then serve either by itself or with thinly-sliced and toasted hard bread (such as Italian or French).



I recently returned from a trip to Brazil, and one typical dish in some restaurants is a fish filet served with a creamy sauce made with passion fruit. I always loved it, but finding that fruit here around Seattle isn’t as easy, so I decided to make a similar version, with limes instead of the more tropical fruit


The sauce itself turned out great (some of the other parts were under-salted, something to be fixed in a future attempt at this recipe), and was fairly quick to be prepared. I used tilapia loins which I can get at my local Costco, but other kinds of fish filet would work as well.

Ingredients (4 people)

  • Fish
    • 4 tilapia loins (about 1/4 lbs. each), thawed if previously frozen
    • juice of 1 lime
    • salt & pepper
    • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • Sauce
    • 2 tbsp. butter
    • 2 tbsp. flour
    • zest + juice of 1 large lime (or 2, if it’s small or not too juicy)
    • 1/3 cup whipping cream
    • 1/3 cup milk
    • 1 tbsp. sugar
    • a little salt & pepper

Prepare the fish: dress it with the lime juice, season it with salt and pepper and reserve for at least 30 minutes. Heat the olive oil in a large pan, then add the fish, cooking for about 3-5 minutes on each side (depending on the thickness of the loins). Transfer to a serving dish and cover with aluminum foil to preserve the heat.

Prepare the sauce: melt the butter and mix in the flour, salt and pepper. Add the lime zest and juice, and mix to dissolve. Add the whipping cream and the milk, mixing well. Add the sugar at the end, and mix to combine. Pour it on top of the fish.

Serve with white rice and vegetables, and enjoy!

“Bobó de camarão”  is a typical dish from the Northeastern state of Bahia, but growing up in the neighboring state of Pernambuco I had that many times, so the influence of that dish has spread around. It’s a shrimp cooked in a sauce based on cassava (yucca root) and oil (usually palm oil – “dendê” – but olive oil is also used when that’s not available). It has never been known for being easy to make, but last time my mother-in-law visited us she prepared one she found and said (her words) that it was really easy. When she returned to Brazil I asked her to send me the recipe, and that’s what we came up with at home. The recipe isn’t exactly the same, since here had amounts listed in technical terms such as “a good amount of”, “a finger of”, “some”, and so on. 🙂


Easy to prepare? Not quite, but definitely not as hard as I thought it would be. And the fact that I found the cassava already peeled and frozen in an Oriental market made my life easier still. It came out really good (although I had to use some tomato paste to get it the same color as the one my MIL had prepared, which wasn’t in her recipe).

Ingredients (for 6 people):

  • 3 lb. large shrimp, cooked, thawed
  • juice of 3 limes (lemons work as well)
  • 1 lb. peeled cassava, thawed if previously frozen, cut in small cubes
  • 1.5 cups milk
  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 3 tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 5 tbsp. tomato sauce
  • 2 tbsp. tomato paste (for color)
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • salt & pepper

Season the shrimp with the lime juice, salt and pepper, and reserve.

Add to a blender the onion, chopped tomatoes, bell pepper and cilantro, with enough water to help the blender go through all the vegetables and turn them into a paste (about 1/4 cup water is enough, depending on the strength of the blender). Add 3 tbsp. olive oil, salt and pepper, then reserve.

In the same blender (no need to wash), add the cassava and the milk and blend it until the cassava doesn’t have any more lumps (more milk may be necessary) – I had to use the pulse option to get this done, even though the cassava wasn’t too hard. Transfer it to a large pan, and cook it for about 10 minutes over low heat, stirring often. Add the reserved vegetables and the tomato sauce and cook for another 20 minutes, still stirring. What I had at that point was more of a greenish color, so I added about 2 tbsp. of tomato paste to get it to the expected color. At this point you can take the pan off the heat.

When close to the serving time, bring the pan back to medium heat, add the coconut milk and cook for 10 minutes, stirring well. Add the shrimp, cook for another 10 minutes. Serve over white rice.



Shrimp in a gorgonzola sauce

Posted: January 12, 2012 in Cheese, Food, Seafood

I love shrimp. It has been one of my favorite foods growing up, both because it tastes really good, and because it used to be quite expensive, so we didn’t have it often and the wait often makes a dish taste better. After moving to the Seattle area and meeting Costco for the first time, with their quite inexpensive (huge) bags of shrimp (already peeled!) it seemed like I found my place to live :), and so far I always have some of the shrimp in my freezer for some special dinner.


My love affair with gorgonzola wasn’t that clear. I know that, like most kids, I didn’t try it at first because I didn’t like its smell. Probably some day (which I don’t really remember) I decided to try it and liked it. Nowadays I really like it, so much that any time me (and my wife, who shares this taste) will order a salad in a restaurant, if they have one with it (or another blue cheese), odds are that we’ll end up choosing that.

One thing which I like about gorgonzola is that its flavor is strong enough that it doesn’t need much to make a very good sauce. I’ve started with about 5 and kept removing ingredients until I decided that, for my taste, you don’t need anything other than this wonderful cheese and some milk. Even salt and pepper aren’t really necessary for the sauce itself (some cooks will likely start browsing out of this page now), as long as the meat it goes with is properly seasoned.

So this was a very quick, and quite delicious dinner which I made in a week day last month. The fingerling potatoes (easy to make) and the quinoa (interesting texture) in the dish are two of the ingredients which I started using recently (somehow I always passed by them in the supermarket), and they ended up going quite well with the shrimp.


  • Shrimp
    • 1lb shrimp, cooked, thawed
    • juice of 1 lime
    • salt & pepper
    • 3 garlic cloves, minced
    • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • Sauce
    • 4oz. gorgonzola cheese
    • 1 cup milk

Mix the shrimp with the lime juice, salt and pepper, then leave for at least 15 minutes. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and add the garlic. Pat the shrimp dry and add it to the pan, frying it for 5 minutes, to get the garlic flavor, then remove the shrimp and reserve.

In the same pan, add the cheese and the milk, then mixing it over low heat until the cheese is dissolved. Add the shrimp back to the pan, mix it to coat with the sauce and serve immediately. I used for side dishes the quinoa salad (both red and white, with chopped tomatoes, olive oil, lime juice, salt and pepper) and roasted fingerling potatoes (drizzled with olive oil, salt and pepper).


Source: I imagined that this was a “traditional” recipe with well-defined ingredients / steps, but as I searched every single recipe had something different, so I can’t pinpoint any specific. So the source is something inside


History: According to Wikipedia, the traditional “Lobster Thermidor” was created in the end of the 19th century by a Parisian restaurant in honor of the eponymous play (which, unlike the recipe, didn’t get much success). I remember my father making this (with shrimp, if I recall correctly) recipe when I was a kid and I loved it. And a few weeks back when I found at my local Costco a bag of langoustine tails, and decided to use the famous recipe of its larger cousin.

Variation from the original: As I mentioned, I can’t tell exactly which one is the “real” original. Some recipes asked for shallots, other onions (I used onions); some asked for cognac, other for wine (I went with cognac); some went with egg yolks, some without (I didn’t use them); most asked for raw lobster (I had a bag of cooked langoustines), and so on.

Ingredients from specialty stores: I don’t remember finding langoustine before, so I think this is a specialty ingredient, but I found it at Costco (not really a specialty store) – and lobster (or even shrimp) could be used for this recipe.


  • Langoustines
    • 2 lb. cooked langoustine tails, thawed
    • 3 tbsp. butter
    • 1 tbsp. olive oil
    • 1/2 cup cognac
    • salt & pepper
  • Sauce:
    • 1 medium onion, finely diced
    • 5 tbsp. butter
    • 5 tbsp. flour
    • 1 tsp. ground mustard
    • 1/2 cup heavy cream
    • 1/2 cup milk
    • salt & pepper
    • gruyere cheese for gratin, about 1/2 cup grated

In one large saucepan, add the butter and when it melts, add the onion and cook until it’s soft, with some salt and pepper. Add the flour and the mustard, mixing well. This can be done ahead of time.

In another pan, heat the butter and the olive oil, and add the langoustines seasoned with salt and pepper, cooking for just 3-5 minutes (they’re already cooked). As the langoustines start losing liquid, remove it with a ladle and move to the other pan. When it’s almost dry, add the cognac on fire and flambé until the fire is extinguished (if there is still too much liquid in the pan it won’t be long). Place the langoustines in an oven-proof, deep dish.

Back to the sauce pan, add the milk and the cream, mixing well. When it’s well combined, add the sauce on top of the langoustines, and grate gruyere cheese on top to cover. Bake in a 350ºF (175ºC) oven for about 15 minutes, until the cheese is golden brown (or use a broiler which can make it faster).

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Easter lunch

Posted: April 24, 2011 in Brazilian, Food, Seafood

Source: Modified from the series “Cozinha Regional Brasileira” (Brazilian Regional Cuisine,, books 5 (Rio de Janeiro) and 6 (Pernambuco)


History: The typical Easter food in most of Brazil is the “bacalhau” (salted cod). It actually originated from the Portuguese cuisine (the recipe I prepared today, listed in the book for the state of Rio de Janeiro, has its origins in Portugal and is considered one of its greatest bacalhau recipes). The side dishes are more “Brazilian” (I think, as I’ve talked from people from other parts of the Brazil who didn’t know them), and I’ve found them in the book for the state of Pernambuco.

The “Bacalhau à Gomes de Sá” is named for the Portuguese who created it in the 19th century. My great-grandparents were Portuguese, so I’ve had it many times while growing up, and it’s great for its simplicity – essentially a casserole of cod, potatoes and onions (with lots of olive oil).

The side dishes, “feijão de coco” (beans with coconut milk) and “quibebe” (pumpkin / onion purée with coconut milk) are typical from the Northeast of Brazil (I’ve talked to people from other parts of the country who didn’t know them). The former I remember since I was a kid, the latter I only knew later, but in my wife’s family it’s been a part of the traditional Easter lunch for a long time.

Variation from the original: The biggest one was that I didn’t find “real” bacalhau (salted cod), I could only find salted pollock. It didn’t taste exactly like the original, but it was close enough (the salting process gives its distinctive flavor). The fish was also in small, thin strips, which limited the number of recipes I could do with it (some recipes ask for a thicker cut of the fish), but it worked out fine for the “Gomes de Sá”. Someday I’ll try to buy fresh cod (which is quite cheap around here) and leave it in salt for a few days to see if I get a better result. For the side dishes, I didn’t use an onion which the recipe asked for the beans (had used what I had for the other dishes), but it didn’t hurt the flavor too much, and I couldn’t find pumpkin at this time of the year for the “quibebe”, so I used a butternut squash instead.

Ingredients from specialty stores: The (fake) “bacalhau”, which I bought in a Brazilian store nearby. The coconut milk I can find in almost all supermarkets, in the Asian (Thai) food section.


  • Bacalhau:
    • 1.5 lb “bacalhau”
    • 6 medium potatoes, peeled, cooked “al dente”
    • 2 medium onions, cut in rings
    • 4 cloves garlic, minced
    • black olives (I only had about 10, which is what I used, but I’d probably add at least 10 more if I had them)
    • 4 hard-boiled eggs, quartered
    • 4 tbsp. olive oil, plus some more for the casserole
  • “Feijão de coco”
    • 2 cups (cooked) beans (I had some leftover beans, which were already seasoned, so I could cut back on the salt and pepper)
    • 1/2 cup coconut milk
    • 1 tbsp. olive oil
    • salt & pepper to taste
  • “Quibebe”
    • 1.5 lb butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut in small cubes
    • 1 medium onion, chopped in small cubes
    • 1 cup coconut milk
    • 1 tbsp. olive oil
    • salt & pepper
    • parsley for decoration

For all bacalhau recipes, the first step is to “unsalt” it, or remove the excess of salt. That can take up to a couple of days, depending on the thickness of the fish. First wash it under cold, running water to clean the salt which covers the fish. Then leave it in a bowl on the refrigerator with cold water and covered with plastic film, changing the water every ~4 hours. For thin strips (what I had), I changed the water 4 times, and it turned out great. After the salt was removed, you can also remove the water and cover it with milk (the fish will be more tender), but I skipped this step.

With the “unsalted” bacalhau, heat up 2 tbsp. olive oil in a large frying pan, then lightly fry the fish, until it starts becoming flaky, then remove and reserve. Cook the potatoes until they’re still a little firm, then cut in 1/2”-thick slices. Heat up 2 tbsp. oil on the same pan, then cook the onions until they soften. Add the olives and the garlic and cook about 5 more minutes, stirring often.

Add some oil to the bottom of a glass casserole, then add the potatoes, onions / garlic / olives and fish. Add the eggs on top and drizzle some more oil on top. About 15 minutes prior to serving, heat the oven to 350º and add the casserole inside for about 10 minutes.


For the “feijão de coco”: blend together 2 cups of (cooked) beans, 1 tbsp. olive oil and 1/2 cup of coconut milk. Put it on a medium pan and cook for about 15 minutes over medium heat, stirring constantly. Adjust the salt and pepper to taste.

For the “quibebe”: cook the squash and the onion covered with water until the squash is soft. Drain it and put in a blender, along with 1 cup of coconut milk. Blend them together, then move back to a pan, and cook it for about 15 minutes over medium heat, stirring often. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve with white rice.

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Source: Modified from the series “Cozinha Regional Brasileira” (Brazilian Regional Cuisine,, book 6 (Pernambuco)


History: “Peixada” is a very common dish in the state of Pernambuco, and growing up there I had it a lot. Usually made in large quantities for a big family reunion, it consists basically in a large fish stew with lots, lots of vegetables, and a hard-boiled egg. It’s always served with white rice and “pirão”, a creamy side dish made with the liquid from the stew and yucca flour (another typical ingredient in Brazilian cooking). The fish mostly used is called “cavala” (similar to Spanish mackerel), cut in steaks with the bone in.

Variation from the original: I couldn’t find the mackerel, and the only fish in steaks with bone I could find was salmon (I had to buy a whole one and ask for the person in the counter to chop it for me), so salmon it was (with the added advantage that salmon is one of the cheapest fishes around here). It tasted really good, and the only problem was that the fish bones didn’t come out quite easily, so we had more work than usual to eat it. Other things were that I didn’t find fish heads to make the stock (I only went to one supermarket, and they didn’t have any kind of fish heads), so I used a few pieces from the tail. I also couldn’t find all the vegetables listed in the recipe (okra and “maxixe”, which I don’t know the translation to English). I also changed some of the amounts of the ingredients to match what I had at home.

Ingredients from specialty stores: I got the “farinha” (toasted ground yucca root) from a Brazilian store. Everything else was found in my local Fred Meyer.


  • For the fish stock:
    • 1/2 lb fish tail / meat (as I mentioned, fish heads would be better, and in larger amount – the recipe asked for 1Kg, ~2lb)
    • 1 onion, chopped in large chunks
    • 2 tomatoes, chopped
    • 1 green bell pepper, chopped in large chunks
    • 1 cup of chopped cilantro
    • 1 cup of chopped green onions
    • 6 minced garlic cloves
    • 4 bay leaves
    • 3 quarts of water
    • salt & pepper
  • For the fish:
    • 1 medium salmon (about 3lb), chopped in 1”-thick steaks
    • 6 garlic cloves
    • juice of 1 lime
    • salt & pepper
    • 2 tomatoes, cut in half
    • 1 red bell pepper, cut in 4 quarters
    • 1 green bell pepper, cut in 4 quarters
    • 1 red onion
    • 1 yellow onion
    • 4 medium potatoes
    • 4 carrots, chopped in 2-3” pieces
    • 1 chayote squash, cut in 4 quarters (seed removed)
    • 1 head of cabbage, cut in 4 quarters
    • 1/2 lb. of green beans, ends trimmed
    • 4 hard-boiled eggs
  • For the “pirão”:
    • 5 cups of the liquid from the stew
    • 1/2 to 1 cup of “farinha”

Prepare the stock: put all ingredients in a large pot and start cooking; when it starts boiling, cook for another 30 minutes, then reserve.

Season the fish with the lime juice, salt and pepper, then reserve. Strain the stock, removing all the vegetables and the fish, and return it to the (large) pot in the stove. When it starts boiling again, start adding the vegetables, in reverse order of their time to cook: first carrots, chayote and cabbage, then potatoes, onions and green beans, then bell peppers. The last thing to go to the pan is the fish, since it cooks quite fast (it took about 10 minutes for the salmon), being careful not to overcook.

When the fish is done, remove 4-5 cups of the liquid to another pan to prepare the “pirão”: with the stove at medium heat, stirring constantly, slowly add the “farinha” until it starts to thicken (careful not to add too much of it, since after you take it out of the stove it will thicken a little more) – for me it’s usually after a little more of 1/2 cup of “farinha”.

Arrange the vegetables in a serving dish with the steaks, some of the stock and the eggs cut in half. Serve with the “pirão” and white rice.