Watermelon Curry with Pan-Seared Shrimp

The warm heat of Kashmiri chili with fresh ginger, garlic, toasted spices and cooling, fresh watermelon, served with pan-seared, wild Gulf shrimp and aged Basmati rice..

Watermelon Curry with Pan-Seared Shrimp

1/2 pound fresh shrimp, peeled & deveined
2-1/2 cups fresh watermelon, cut into 3/4-inch cubes, divided
1/3 cup diced onion
3 garlic cloves
1-1/2 tablespoons ghee or clarified butter
1-inch piece true cinnamon
1 tablespoon Kashmiri chili powder
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled
1 tablespoon whole coriander seeds, toasted
1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds, toasted
1 teaspoon nigella sativa (charnushka)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
pinch of sugar
sea salt and black pepper to taste
1 fresh lemon

Combine garlic, coriander, cumin, nigella, turmeric, ginger and sugar in a large Molcajete (a mortar made of volcanic stone), using a pestle to grind into a pulp.  Add half of the watermelon and grind into a thin paste.  Scrape contents into a clean bowl, season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.

Heat ghee in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-low heat.  Place cinnamon in hot ghee and cook until it begins to unfurl, about 5 minutes.  Don’t let the butter burn.

Remove cinnamon and discard; increase heat to medium high.  Once the ghee is shimmering, add the onions and shrimp and sear quickly until very lightly-browned, about 2 minutes.  Add watermelon and spice mixture, and let sizzle and fry until thickened, about 3 minutes.

Add remaining chunks of watermelon, stir to combine and heat another 2 minutes.  Squeeze a fresh lemon over the top and serve hot with aged basmati or naan, if you like.

Grilled Wild Grouper with Aged Miso Corn Broth

Wild grouper (Hapu’u, Mero) from the Northwest Hawaiian Islands are briefly marinated in raw coconut and toasted sesame oils, seasoned with sea salt and Shichimi tōgarashi and grilled over a wood fire until slightly crisp on the edges and flaky and moist on the inside.  Served with a broth of roasted corn, aged red miso and scallions,  finished with a knob of cold butter and a touch of fresh lemon..

Grilled Wild Grouper with Aged Miso Corn Broth

The word “grouper” comes from the word for the fish, most widely believed to be from the Portuguese name, garoupa.  The origin of this name in Portuguese is believed to be from an indigenous South American language.

In Australia, the name “groper” is used instead of “grouper” for several species such as the Queensland grouper (Epinephelus lanceolatus).  In the Philippines, it is named lapu-lapu in Luzon, while in the Visayas and Mindanao it goes by the name pugapo.   

There is some research indicating that roving coral groupers (Plectropomus pessuliferus) sometimes cooperate with giant morays in hunting.  –Wikipedia

Orange and Fennel-Roasted Chicken

Orange and Fennel-Roasted Chicken, risotto with green beans, browned pearl onions and fried capicola..

Orange and Fennel-Roasted Chicken

Marinate locally-pastured chicken pieces (I’m using bone-in, skin-on thighs) in a mixture of raw olive oil, freshly-squeezed orange juice, garlic and cracked fennel seeds for 4-8 hours, turning once.

Remove chicken from refrigerator, wipe off excess marinade and season liberally with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper.  Allow to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes, then roast in a 375 degree oven until crisp and the juices run clear, about 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, saute pearl onions and roughly-chopped dry coppa (capicola) in a bit of olive oil until nicely browned and slightly crisp.  Use a slotted spoon to remove the onions & coppa to a plate, then add bomba rice to the pan, stirring to coat each grain with the flavored oil that remains.

Add three times the amount of vegetable stock, chicken stock or water to the pan as you have rice, and allow it to come to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium-low, add cut fresh green beans and allow to simmer, stirring continuously  until the rice is tender, about 20 minutes.  Add the onions and coppa, stir to combine and remove from heat.  Allow to stand 3-5 minutes before spooning onto a serving dish.

Top cooked rice with the roasted chicken and pour the pan juices over the top.  Garnish with fennel fronds and serve immediately.

Hummus with Harissa Oil, Parsley and Toasted Pita

I don’t keep ready-to-eat products at home, but hummus is a high-protein, healthy (and delicious) exception to that rule.  Made from easily-sourced, individually inexpensive ingredients, hummus is nonetheless becoming expensive to buy already made.  My solution of course, is to make it at home to my own taste..

Hummus with Harissa Oil, Parsley and Toasted Pita

1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
3 cups filtered water
2-3 garlic cloves
juice of 1/2 fresh lemon
1 tablespoon harissa (a Tunisian hot chilli sauce, optional)
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 cup organic white sesame seeds
1/3 cup olive oil, divided

Lightly toast the sesame seeds in a dry skillet over medium-low heat (about 15 minutes).  Allow to cool to room temperature, then transfer to the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade.  Pulse repeatedly until broken up, then begin to drizzle in up to 1/4 cup of olive oil while still processing, resulting in a paste with the consistency of thin peanut butter.  This is tahini paste, a component of hummus.  Scrape the tahini into a clean container and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Discard any chickpeas that are floating along with the soaking water.  Place the chickpeas in a saucepan and cover with the fresh, filtered water.  Bring to a full boil, then reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook until just tender, about 1 hour.  Set aside to cool.

Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cooked chickpeas to the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade.  Add the garlic, lemon juice, tahini and remaining olive oil and process until smooth, adding a little of the chickpea cooking liquid along the way.

Transfer the hummus to a serving bow, drizzle with olive oil mixed with harissa and serve with toasted pita bread.  Leftover hummus will keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.  Stir a little olive oil into it if it gets dry.

The earliest known recipes for something similar to hummus bi tahini date to 13th century Egypt as a cold purée of chickpeas with vinegar and pickled lemons with herbs, spices, and oil, but no tahini or garlic…

The earliest known documentation of hummus (حمّص) itself comes from 18th-century Damascus;  it appears that it was unknown elsewhere at that timeHummus is high in iron and vitamin C and also has significant amounts of folate and vitamin B6. The chickpeas make it a good source of protein and dietary fiber; the tahini (طحينه) is an excellent source of the amino acid methionine, complementing the proteins in the chickpeas.  Hummus is useful in vegetarian and vegan diets; like other combinations of grains and pulses, it serves as a complete protein when eaten with bread.  –Wikipedia

Fried Asian Sea Bass with Ginger-Lemongrass Curry, Scallion Scapes and Edamame

Skinless Pla Krapong (Asian sea bass, ปลากระพง) filets are dipped in beaten egg, then dusted in a seasoned mixture of 65% organic rice flour and 35% organic corn flour, then shallow-fried in 1/4-inch of raw coconut oil until light golden brown and flaky.

Served over a curry of coconut milk, lemongrass, fresh ginger, galangal, red and green chilies, kaffir lime peel and coriander seed, with crispy scallion scapes, edamame and fresh Thai basil..

Fried Sea Bass with Ginger Lemongrass Curry, Scallion Scapes and Edamame

Generally mercury and PCP-free, the mild-tasting, high-protein Asian sea bass (barramundi in Australia) contains roughly 800mg of omega-3s per serving.  With a texture similar to wild Alaskan cod, the Asian sea bass is suitable for frying, grilling and broiling.