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It all started when I saw the beautiful tuna steaks in the supermarket. I couldnt resist them so I bought, albeit with eyes half-closed because this fish could get a little pricey. But heck, we’re treating ourselves tonight because all work and no fun makes us dull…. yep, good food is fun, especially the kind that you don’t have to feel guilty about after having wiped out your plate. And this dish fits the bill (no pun intended).


I love fish, and if you’ve read my previous blogs, I grew up in the Philippines having the freshest fish from the Pacific Ocean. (Just an observation, I think the seafood from the Pacific Ocean taste much sweeter than those from the Atlantic… in my opinion). Anyhow, we try to eat fish once or twice a week. First , because I’m not really a big meat eater (Mr. J is, though), and second, because of all the nutrition that you can get from them (Omega 3 acid, most especially).

I have made this dish before, but this time I just dressed up the tuna a little bit with the black and white sesame seeds. Honestly, as much as I love fish — I can’t say which one I love better in this dish- the tuna or the cippolline onions in balsamic reduction. I think they go oh so well together that one cannot be without the other.

I served this this with a Peanut-Ginger Rice (see recipe in my next blog).

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Sesame-Crusted Tuna
(adapted from Cooking Light)

1 tbsp sesame oil
4 (6-oz) Yellowfin tuna steaks*(about 3/4 oz thick)
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup sesame seeds, toasted ( mix black and white sesame seeds if you have them)
pinch of salt
pinch of freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp green onions for garnish

1. Combine tuna , soy sauce and lemon juice in a bowl, tossing gently to coat. Sprinkle tuna with salt and pepper. Go easy on the salt because the soy sauce is already salty. Let tuna marinate for a few minutes.
2. In the meantime, heat oil in a large , non-stick skillet over medium high heat.
3. Dredge the edges of tuna in sesame seeds.
4. Add tuna to pan and cook until desired degree of doneness.
5. Serve tuna with the cippollini onions (recipe follows) and peanut-ginger rice (recipe following this post).

*NOTE: If you want your tuna cooked rare, buy sushi-grade tuna.

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Roasted Cipolline Onions
1 lb cipolline onions (or pearl onions)
2/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the onions and cook for 2 minutes. Drain and cool. Peel the onions and cut off the root ends.
2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
3. Toss the onions, vinegar, oil, honey, salt and pepper in a baking dish.
4. Roast in the oven until the onions are tender and golden, stirring occasionally, about 40 minutes to 1 hour.

GAME PLAN:
1. Get the onions to the oven first as this takes the longest to cook.
2. 20 minutes before the onions are done, get the rice started.
3. 10 minutes later, start on the tuna. By the time tuna gets done, the onions and rice should be done and just waiting to be served.

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I enjoy watching reality TV shows, especially those that have something to do with cooking. I love learning and experiencing vicariously through the contestants on the show. It is interesting to see how they handle the challenges that are being hurled their way.

One of these shows is the famed Top Chef on Bravo Network. They have what they call the quick fire challenges (minor challenges to test their individual skills) where the winner gets the immunity from elimination for the next major (teamwork) challenge. One of the quickfire challenges that they had was to come up with a dish using just 7 ingredients (if I’m not mistaken), excluding oil, salt, pepper and sugar.

Well, our dinner tonight reminds me of that challenge. This dish only requires a total of 6 ingredients… yes, 6 ingredients, not counting the salt, pepper and oil. And what more, it only takes about 30 minutes to prepare.

I have learned all these years that the best dishes are prepared simply. The flavors of this dish do not disappoint, and I am sure you’re going to enjoy this – if you like fish, that is.

I served the fish with a plain couscous and steamed broccoli with lemon.

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Pan Seared Tilapia With Citrus Vinaigrette
(from Cooking Light)
cooking spray
4 (6-oz) tilapia fillets
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1/2 cup white wine
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar

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1. Heat a non-stick skilet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray.
2. Sprinkle fish evenly with 1/4 salt and 1/4 pepper.
3. Add fillets to pan. Cook for 4 minutes per side or until fish flakes easily.
4. Remove from pan. Keep warm. (Repeat procedure if you’re cooking in two batches)
5. Add white wine to pan. Cook 30 seconds or until liquid almost evaporates.
6. Add shallots and remaining ingredients, stirring well with a whisk.
7. Stir in remaining salt and pepper; saute 1 minute or until thoroughly heated, stirring frequently.
8. Top each serving of fillet with about 3 tbsp of sauce.

NOTE: This dish actually calls for sherry vinegar. So if you have it, I’d recommend you use it instead.

Plain Couscous
1 cup couscous
1 cup chicken broth
1 tbsp butter

1. Bring the chicken broth to a boil.
2. Add the butter, followed by the couscous.
3. Turn off heat. Cover. Let stand for 5 minutes.
4. Fluff couscous with fork and serve
.

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One of the advantages of growing up in a tropical island like the Philippines is having access to fresh seafood. I grew up eating fresh seafood. And I mean just-caught-that-day-kinda-fresh, so fresh some were still squiggling and jumping out from the containers! None of those previously frozen stuff…uh,oh.

Tonight’s dinner was pasta with fish. Not from the can but fresh fish. Fortunately, I didn’t have to clean the fish like I learned back in the Philippines, as I already got my fish filleted. I never had pasta with fish before, apart from having tuna casserole (which uses canned tuna), so it doesn’t count for me. And I’m glad I tried this. This is definitely a keeper.

Penne With Swordfish And Eggplant
1 pound penne pasta
1/3 cup olive oil plus 2 tablespoons
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes (plus more to taste)
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley plus 1/3 cup
4 Japanese eggplants, ends trimmed, thinly sliced lengthwise, then cut into squares
1 pound swordfish steaks skin removed, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/3 cup white wine
2 cups halved teardrop or cherry tomatoes (red, yellow or a blend)
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Cook pasta until al dente (firm to the bite), about 8-10 minutes. Drain.
2. Meanwhile, place a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the 1/3 cup olive oil, garlic, red chili flakes, and 1/4 cup parsley. Stir and cook until fragrant, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the eggplant and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Remove the eggplant from the pan and set aside.
3. Season the swordfish cubes with salt and pepper.
4. Using the same pan, over medium-high heat, add the 2 remaining tablespoons of olive oil and cook the swordfish until opaque, about 5 minutes. Add the white wine and cook until almost evaporated, about 2 minutes. Turn off the heat. Add the tomatoes, eggplant, cooked pasta, the remaining 1/3 cup parsley and stir. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
This recipe was adapted from Giada De Laurentiis‘. I rarely follow a recipe to a T as I make my food according to how I prefer them. So for my version, I sauteed onion with my garlic. Also, I used whole grain Penne for my pasta. I used Japanese eggplant as they are not bitter like those large ones, though I’m sure you can still use the bigger varieties. I’d suggest washing them with salt and water first to get the bitterness out of them. I got my Japanese eggplant from the Asian market, as my local grocery store did not have them.

Also, it isn’t suggested in the recipe, but I seasoned the eggplants with salt and pepper when I sauteed them, so the eggplant themselves will have flavor. When I sauteed the fish, I added chopped rosemary and thyme as well. I know that these herbs work well with swordfish.

As you can see, I didn’t have the yellow teardrop tomato but I imagine that the pasta would have looked even more attractive with the yellow tomatoes in it.

I just love parmesan so I grated a bit of the cheese on top when I served the pasta. Italians don’t recommend adding cheese to seafood, and I don’t know why. But then again, I’m not Italian so I will do it the way I love it.

The colors of this pasta are wonderful. And it definitely tastes as good as it looks- no, not fishy at all. Just fabulous!

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One of the advantages of growing up in a tropical island like the Philippines is having access to fresh seafood. I grew up eating fresh seafood. And I mean just-caught-that-day-kinda-fresh, so fresh some were still squiggling and jumping out from the containers! None of those previously frozen stuff…uh,oh.

Tonight’s dinner was pasta with fish. Not from the can but fresh fish. Fortunately, I didn’t have to clean the fish like I learned back in the Philippines, as I already got my fish filleted. I never had pasta with fish before, apart from having tuna casserole (which uses canned tuna), so it doesn’t count for me. And I’m glad I tried this. This is definitely a keeper.

Penne With Swordfish And Eggplant
1 pound penne pasta
1/3 cup olive oil plus 2 tablespoons
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes (plus more to taste)
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley plus 1/3 cup
4 Japanese eggplants, ends trimmed, thinly sliced lengthwise, then cut into squares
1 pound swordfish steaks skin removed, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/3 cup white wine
2 cups halved teardrop or cherry tomatoes (red, yellow or a blend)
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Cook pasta until al dente (firm to the bite), about 8-10 minutes. Drain.
2. Meanwhile, place a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the 1/3 cup olive oil, garlic, red chili flakes, and 1/4 cup parsley. Stir and cook until fragrant, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the eggplant and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Remove the eggplant from the pan and set aside.
3. Season the swordfish cubes with salt and pepper.
4. Using the same pan, over medium-high heat, add the 2 remaining tablespoons of olive oil and cook the swordfish until opaque, about 5 minutes. Add the white wine and cook until almost evaporated, about 2 minutes. Turn off the heat. Add the tomatoes, eggplant, cooked pasta, the remaining 1/3 cup parsley and stir. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
This recipe was adapted from Giada De Laurentiis‘. I rarely follow a recipe to a T as I make my food according to how I prefer them. So for my version, I sauteed onion with my garlic. Also, I used whole grain Penne for my pasta. I used Japanese eggplant as they are not bitter like those large ones, though I’m sure you can also use the bigger varieties. I’d suggest washing them with salt and water first to get the bitterness out of them. I got my Japanese eggplant from the Asian market, as my local grocery store did not have them.

Also, it isn’t suggested in the recipe, but I seasoned the eggplants with salt and pepper when I sauteed them, so the eggplant themselves will have flavor. When I sauteed the fish, I added chopped rosemary and thyme as well. I know that these herbs work well with swordfish.

As you can see, I didn’t have the yellow teardrop tomato but I imagine that the pasta would have looked even more attractive with the yellow tomatoes in it.

I just love parmesan so I grated a bit of the cheese on top when I served the pasta. Italians don’t recommend adding cheese to seafood, and I don’t know why. But then again, I’m not Italian so I will do it the way I love it.

The colors of this pasta are wonderful. And it definitely tastes as good as it looks- no, not fishy at all. Just fabulous!

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Dinner Impossible?

If you watch Food Network, then my title would ring a bell. It is one of my favorite shows where the Chef, Robert Irvine, is sent on a mission : to see what gourmet dishes he can can come up with given an extremely limited resources and time. The food is usually to be served to a large crowd.Well, I felt like him today — in a microscopic kind of way except that I’m not preparing my food for 300+ guests. I was on a mission when I went to the grocery. Without no idea nor plan on what to prepare, I proceeded to go to the supermarket to look around and see if something will strike my fancy, so to speak.My feet somehow carried me to the fish section where I saw these beautiful, very fresh tilapia filets. I stood by the counter contemplating on what to do with them. With just a second of deliberation, I went home with 2 pieces.

At home, still not knowing what to do, I surveyed what I have on hand. Finally, I decided that tonight’s theme would be: Herbes de Provence.Tilapia is a fresh-water fish, its flesh is firm but bland, so it needs a bit more seasoning for flavor. The idea that I came up with was simple. It is just to bread the fish using Egg Beaters (egg-whites) and store-bought breadcrumbs with a dash of my Herbes de Provence. (You can totally omit the breading for a healthier version).
Then as topping for the fish, I decided to sautee some onion, garlic and grape tomatoes with, of course Herbes de Provence, in extra-virgin olive oil and a tablespoon of butter until the veggies sweat. I then added a splash of white wine and chicken stock to it for reduction, popped the pan into the oven for about 15 minutes or until the tomatoes were roasted and soft, the onions caramelized.

I didn’t have the desire to do rice (I had it for lunch) nor pasta for side dish. I found a pack of store-bought gnocchi in my pantry and so I decided to cook this with a simple alfredo sauce (cheese sauce made with mixed italian cheeses, heavy cream, finished off with parmesan cheese). I wasn’t sure about the combination, but hey, thank God we have food. Hahahah….
So, I’d say this was a successful mission… my Dinner Made Possible……..My husband enjoyed it, especially the roasted grape tomatoes. The fish was tasty and light and to keep it this way, I served only a little bit of the gnocchi on the side (gnocchi, being made from potatoes, can be settle heavily on your tummy).
Note: food was garnished with fresh thyme

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