Soup for Supper: Weeknight Seafood Chowder

Our recipe for “Quick dinner: Fantastic seafood chowder” (San Jose Mercury News)

This seafood chowder is really pretty quick to make and definitely feels like a little bit of luxury for weeknight dinner. Love that you can use any mix of seafood that you choose (fish, shrimp, clams whatever!). In thinking about this recipe our main goal was to avoid the clump factor that you can sometimes get with some of the traditional chowder recipes that call for a flour-based roux mixture to thicken them. So, this recipe leaves out the roux altogether and results in a chowder that lands on the more brothy side of things (which I personally don’t mind). It’s brothy but it does feel substantial if you keep the pieces fish and potatoes chunky and you’re generous with the amount of seafood that you add. But if you happen to be a chowder fan (like my dad for one) who prefers a texture with a bit more body, you can try this quick trick:  just mash some of the potatoes into the soup once they’re tender.

I absolutely love this with a hunk of good, sourdough bread and a tossed salad — glass of white wine or a beer wouldn’t hurt either 😉 ! Click here for our recipe in the San Jose Mercury News’ “Fast & Furious Weeknight Cooking” column.

Easy Weeknight Cooking: Asian Fish Parcels

asian-fish-parcels_blog-2This super easy recipe is one that our kids can make by themselves in the kitchen.  And easy in this case, doesn’t mean lacking in taste at all.  It’s the perfect combination of French technique (“en papillote) and Asian ingredients.  It’s kind of an origami project for the kids to wrap up the fish in foil or parchment.  The drama of opening the packets table-side always impresses everyone.  You can omit the chile paste if you want to, to make the dish more palatable to little taste buds.  Happy weekend!

Check out the recipe on San Jose’s Mercury’s Quick Dinner Weeknight Cooking section……

Tokyo Fish Market, Berkeley

A trip to Tokyo Fish Market on San Pablo Avenue in Northwest Berkeley will make you want to  run straight home and attempt feats of Japanese culinary greatness.

Like our other fave on our side of the Bay, Nijiya Market in San Francisco’s Japan town, Tokyo Fish Market stocks everything you could ever possibly need to cook up even the most elaborate Japanese recipe — noodles, sake, snacks, sweets, frozen and prepared foods, seasonings and condiments… you name it. But what puts Tokyo fish market way over the top is the absolutely gorgeous fresh fish and produce, the friendly and knowledgeable service and the wonderful selection of take away, ready to eat items. If you have any kind of problem with impulse buying at the grocery store, this place might just be your undoing.

In addition to filling our cart with teriyaki roasted seaweed, ponzu, quick dashi and konbu, we caved to the pleas of our kids  for snacks in super cute packages, ogled the fresh sardines and sushi grade fish and walked out happily munching some tempura-filled onigiri (rice balls) which were so expertly packaged that they included a 3-step instruction guide for unwrapping. The gift store next door is worth a visit, too. You’ll find a nice selection of books to browse, hand painted kokeshi dolls, tea sets, trinkets, gifts and imported goods.

Onigiri that comes with instructions.

You might also like these Japanese recipes and food adventures:

Luca’s Fish Shop

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With Christmas boxes and gear for the new baby (did I mention we have a new baby here at Casa Stacie?), we have boxes upon boxes upon boxes around here. The upside is that we have about as much crafting material as we can handle.

Luca happens to love the aquarium, fishing and eating fish so one of the projects we dreamed up was (surprise surprise) a fishing game. The pole is just a stick with a piece of yarn tied to it and a magnet hot glued to the other end of the yarn. Then we created a school of colorful fish and attached paper clips to them so they would stick to the magnet. Voila, instant fishing derby! These fanciful fish also inspired a pretend fish store and made for some very inventive dinners in Luca’s play kitchen.

We were able to squeeze out several days worth of fun just putting all the pieces together: decorating our fish and making funny things to fish for like Luca’s contribution, a pickle wearing a hat (which happens to be the punchline to most of his jokes these days). I made an old shoe and a tin can because no fishing derby would be complete with out them. Another day we put together our fishing pole and attached paper clips to our fish. This was the perfect activity for a preschooler: gluing, glitter and googly eyes, what more could you want?

Materials:

  • a stick, a magnet, and a piece of yarn
  • hot glue and white school glue
  • cardboard (corrugated is sturdier and easier to work with than thin cardboard from cereal boxes and notepads, but thin cardboard will work in a pinch)
  • whatever decorating supplies you can scavenge such as aluminum foil, party napkins, glitter, wrapping paper, tissue paper and markers

For our sardines, we glued pieces of aluminum foil to both sides of a piece of cardboard and then cut out fish shapes. You can use a sharpie to draw on some details, or “emboss” the details using the back of a ball point pen or a toothpick. Using the same technique, we also got instant pattern and color for our fish by gluing printed party napkins to our cardboard (separate the layers of the napkin and use just the printed layer — or use some colored tissue paper or wrapping paper). If you want, you can seal the surface by watering down some school glue and brushing it over the top.

For those competitive fishers, you can assign points to each fish and make a contest of it. Just scatter the fish in a big shopping bag or a box and fish away!