Seafood Platter

For New Year’s Eve we decided to have a fish and seafood platter. It was an opportunity to cook and eat some great food. However one problem, as you may recall New Year’s Eve is not only part of Christmas, it’s also a Monday. As a result it was virtually impossible to find any fresh fish or seafood. Generally the fishing fleets don’t go out at weekends and I suspect that they certainly wouldn’t go out over a weekend during the festive season. As a result we went with frozen seafood, not my first choice, but with what we wanted it was better than nothing.

We got some frozen king prawns, scallops and squid from Sainsbury’s as part of their Taste the Difference range. One of the key things to do when using frozen seafood is to defrost and defrost safely. If you cook frozen seafood from frozen, generally what happens is that you overcook it and it becomes very rubbery. You need to take care when defrosting to avoid food poisoning. The best way to defost is in the fridge, but this takes time. If you do defrost at room temperature, make sure you move the seafood to the fridge once it has defrosted.

The prawns I cooked on my griddle, whilst the scallops were cooked very quickly on a hot flat frying pan, as were the squid rings.

scallops, prawns and squid rings

The scallops were perfect and I was really pleased with how I cooked them. They were browned on each side, but were only just done on the inside. As a result they were melt in the mouth tender, and full of flavour. The prawns were very good, and served with some lemon were delicious. I was less impressed with the squid rings. In the past when I have cooked squid, I have bought frozen whole squid from Tesco and cut it into pieces of squid. I much prefer using this way of preparing squid, usually scoring one side to ensure even cooking and browing of the edges. The squid from Sainsbury’s comes ready sliced into rings. It cooked fine, but it lacked the depth of flavour I have had in the past with squid from Tesco. Why didn’t I get my squid from Tesco, well they’ve seemed to have stopped selling it.

Alongside this plate of seafood I also grilled some giant tiger prawns in their shells. These were placed under a really hot grill, after they were fully defrosted and brushed with some olive oil. The main reason for these prawns is twofold, one is the visual impact, secondly was flavour. They were delicious, though of course were quite messy to peel.

Taste the Difference Whole Giant King Tiger Prawns

We also had some dressed crab, these were small crab shells filled with a crab pate and white crab meat. They looked really nice, but lacked the depth of flavour I would liked to have. This was served with some fresh crusty bread.

Dressed Crab


Another successful dish was some clams. I got a pack of frozen Big and Juicy clams from the Big Prawn Company which I mananged to buy at Waitrose.

Big and Juicy clams from the Big Prawn Company

Again the key was to ensue they were properly defrosted before cooking, well they’re cooked already, all they really needed was heating up. I did this in a pan with some freshly chopped garlic and parsley. I thought they were delicious and very good value at £3.29. I think they would also work with linguine if wanted pasta and seafood.

We also cooked some salmon, this was roasted in the oven with a little olive oil.

Overall this was a delicious meal, we served it with some fresh salad and I also made a paella.

I just like Mondays

Every Monday at Yo! Sushi is Blue Plate Monday. What this offer does, is they take fifty of their dishes, put them on blue plates and charge just £2.40 per plate. As a result you can have a nice meal and not spend too much money. There is a really wide and good choice of dishes, including traditional sushi, sashimi as well as salads and hot dishes.

My only criticism is that the conveyor belt appears to be full of sweet dishes and fruit. There was quite a limited choice of cold sushi dishes. So rather than take dishes from the conveyor belt, I decided to order some hot dishes. You can of course order cold dishes too.

I went with one of my favourite dishes the Spicy Pepper Squid. Hot coils of spicy pepper squid topped with red chilli.

Spicy Pepper Squid

I would warn you that the chilli was quite hot and if you aren’t use to that kind of heat avoid it. I do like this dish, the crunch of the coating, the softness and smoothness of the squid, combined with the heat of pepper and chilli. I did very nearly another dish of the squid.

I also had Chicken Katsu this is chicken breast covered in Japanese breadcrumbs and served with a spicy fruity katsu curry sauce.

Chicken Katsu

Sometimes I should read my own blog as I previously wrote.

The best way I can describe it is as a breaded chicken burger, fried, sliced, placed on rice and then covered in curry gravy! It wasn’t a horrible dish, but certainly wasn’t one I would order again or would recommend.

I will say this time I was in the mood for some crunchy spicy chicken, so that’s why I ordered it!

The third dish was Hairy Prawns. You get two prawns wrapped in kadaifi pastry with wasabi mayonnaise.

Hairy Prawns

This was something I hadn’t seen or tried before, also these were really quite messy to eat There was an incredible crunchy sensation as bit into the prawns, finished off with the soft prawn itself. The prawns tasted of prawns (which is not always the case) and the wasabi mayonnaise complemented the dish perfectly.

My final and fourth dish was Chicken Firecracker Rice.

Chicken Firecracker Rice

This was a nice dish of stir fried chicken and sushi rice, sticky, savoury, slightly spicy and delicious.

To drink I went with the Green Tea, which is hot and refreshing. You can also have unlimited refills.

Overall for £11.10 I thought this was very good value for money.

Chicken and Prawn Paella

Tonight I took the time to make a paella using a slightly different recipe to the one I normally do.

This time I took some chicken thighs (for flavour, they generally have more flavour then chicken breasts). These I tossed in olive oil and an Italian spicy herb mix. These were browned in a hot frying pan and then removed.

To the hot pan I then added diced onion, red and green pepper and courgette. When these were softened I added the paella rice. Do use paella rice or rice suitable for paella and not the rice at the back of the cupboard. The rice needs to both take on the flavours in the pan, but also soak up the stock and cook. Using other types of rice usually results in a wet paella with undercooked rice.

Having coated the rice in the oil, pepper and onion mix, I added a large splash of white wine and some chicken stock. As the rice cooks I stir the paella and add more stock as required.

After ten minutes of cooking I added the previously browned chicken. Ten minutes after that I added a handful of frozen peas.

Meanwhile in a separate pan I cook off some thick slices of cooking chorizo sausage. If you are using dried chorizo then just add them as they are to the pan when you add the peas. On my griddle I also cooked some large prawns.

Ten minutes after adding the peas, I added the cooked chorizo sausage, the grilled prawns and some slices of lemon.

Paella with chicken and chorizo

I seem to be cooking paella more and more recently.

The key for me is the right kind of rice and saffron. I really do like the way the saffron adds not just colour, but also flavour.

After that you can add many different things to make a really nice paella.

The dish above contains in addition to the rice and saffron, the following, chicken, chorizo, prawns, onions, pepper, pancetta and peas. This is different to the last time I cooked paella.

There is something about paella, the richness, flavours that I really enjoy.

Paella

I seem to be cooking paella more and more recently.

The key for me is the right kind of rice and saffron. I really do like the way the saffron adds not just colour, but also flavour. Some people I know have used tumeric, however that is most certainly not saffron, and though adds a similar colour, the earthiness of tumeric really can ruin an otherwise decent paella.

After that you can add many different things to make a really nice paella.

The dish above contains in addition to the rice and saffron, the following, chorizo, prawns, onions, pepper, pancetta and a small tin of tomatoes.

There is something about paella, the richness, flavours that I really enjoy.

Surf & Turf

A few months ago I visited the Surf & Turf restaurant in St Ives.

I was looking for a nice meal and having had a look round decided on the Surf & Turf. I went with the signature dish as I do quite like surf and turf.

After a very nice complimentary portion of soup…

…it was onto the main course.

It consisted of half a lobster, a rib eye steak and some giant prawns. Served with salad and new potatoes.

It was all very fresh and did taste good. The steak was cooked to my liking. I did have a hunch that the shellfish wasn’t cooked from raw, which was a pity, but overall a nice dish and reasonably priced at £25.

The surroundings were very pleasant and the staff and service were excellent.

More Paella

Took some courgette, onions, pepper and some pancetta, and fried them together in a large heavy pan with a splash of olive oil.

I then added the paella rice, and it always makes sense to use paella rice, and never any other kind of rice.

Ensuring the rice was coated in the onions, pepper and oil, I added a splash of white wine. I then added saffron and chicken stock. The saffron I had infused in hot water. This helps to bring out the traditional yellow colour in the paella.

Simmer for twenty minutes adding more stock if required.

A few minutes before serving I added cooked prawns and slices of chorizo. I was using cooking chorizo which I had cooked separately. A handful of chopped parsley adds flavour and colour.

The dish was the put together and served.

I would have liked to use more shellfish, but all I had was prawns to hand, nice to have used squid and mussels.

I made mine quite dry this time, in the past I have added tinned tomatoes which makes for a more “wet” paella.

Spanish Paella

Made a paella the other day.

I took a large frying pan and added a splash of olive oil. Take some pancetta and add diced onions, aubergine, courgette and soften them in the large frying pan. I then added the paella rice, and it always makes sense to use paella rice, and never any other kind of rice.

I then ensured that the rice was coated and added a splash of white wine. Then I added saffron and chicken stock. The saffron I had infused in hot water. This helps to bring out the traditional yellow colour in the paella.

I didn’t have any chopped tomatoes so I added a squirt of tomato puree instead.

Simmer for twenty minutes adding more stock if required.

I added some sliced chorizo and slices of red pepper.

In a separate pan I pan fried some prawns and squid.

These were then added to the paella and it was served.

Books on Paella and Spanish Cooking.