This dish was inspired by the ink raviolis that I had at Gusto, an Italian restaurant in LA. I loved the color contrast between the black pasta, yellow corn and creamy white ricotta filling. However, I was underwhelmed on the umami front. The uni sauce was not “uni” enough. I guess nothing can be too briny or fishy for this Asian. Admittedly uni is expensive and beautiful uni should not be wasted in a sauce. But I did so here just to prove a sick uni point. Again I used dashi stock to punch up the sauce base which included sauteed shallots, scallions (white part), garlic, white wine and cream. The blue crab filling mixed with burrata and seasoned with a touch of white pepper and sea salt made the raviolis simple yet uber decadent.
- 1 cup blue crab claw meat
- 1 Burrata ball, chopped up
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp ground white pepper
- 4 long sheets of very thinly rolled out fresh ink pasta
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 1/2 clove garlic, minced
- 1-2 shallots, thinly sliced
- 1/2 scallion (white part), thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1/2 cup dashi stock
- 1/4 cup cream
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup of freshly shucked corn
- 1/2 scallion (green part), thinly sliced for garnish
- To make filling, mix blue crab, burrata and its chopped up mozzarella “skin”, salt and white pepper in a mixing bowl. Taste and adjust seasoning.
- Watch youtube video on how to make raviolis.
- Use rolled out ink pasta sheets and blue crab filling to make raviolis.
- In a sauce pan, heat up butter.
- When butter bubbles, add shallots, garlic, salt and stir-fry. Do not burn garlic.
- Deglaze pan with white wine. Scrap up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Burn off the alcohol completely.
- Add dashi stock and reduce to a simmer.
- Add cream and do not allow the mixture to boil.
- Taste and adjust seasoning.
- When sauce has cooled slightly, combine mixture with uni in a food processor. Process until uni disappears.
- Pour mixture into a foamer (I used a Nespresso milk foamer) and foam.
- In a separate pan, saute corn with a 1 tsp of olive oil until partially cooked.
- Boil raviolis in heavily salted water for 3 mins.
- Plate raviolis, layer on uni foam sauce and top with corn.
- Garnish with thinly sliced scallions.
With cuttlefish ink, once you go black you cannot go back. Today I made fried baby black balls also known as arancini di riso nero de seppia. I seasoned the ink risotto with a dashi stock base. Chef David Chang of Momofuku catapulted this basic Japanese stock into stardom. Every chef is now all sweaty for the fish cardboard sawdust known as katsubushi. It adds a deep almost smoky fish flavor to a stock. I would almost call it bacon of the sea.
Embarking on an umami binge, I folded grated pecorino romano into the dashi based risotto. Ignore folks who ban mixing cheese with seafood. I then stuffed the risotto balls with a variety of fillings; mozzarella, uni, smoked white fish. Mozzarella because it is a classic. Uni was for decadence which I later regretted because it was simply too rich. Finally I chose smoked white fish because I am a closet Jew. The panko breadcrumbs added an extra crunch, contrasting nicely with the melted gooey mozzarella cheese.
- 4 Cups Ink Risotto
- 1 cup grated pecorino romano
- 2 Eggs, beaten
- 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 cup Japanese panko breadcrumbs
- Mozzarella ball
- Smoked white fish
- Fold pecorino romano cheese into ink risotto. Make sure that the mixture sticks.
- Refrigerate overnight.
- Form risotto patties on palm of hand and fill center with a variety of stuffings. Chef’s choice.
- Shape into balls.
- Chill balls in freezer for ease of handling latter during the drying process.
- Season flour with 1/2 Tbsp salt.
- Place egg wash, flour and panko breadcrumbs in separate plates.
- To coat with batter, dip each risotto ball in flour, egg wash and panko breadcrumbs, following this strict sequence.
- Heat oil in fryer.
- Deep fry each ball until crust turns golden brown.
- Serve immediately while hot.
This dish is my take on a pasta item that I had at Bestia, currently my favorite restaurant in LA. The restaurant ink dyed its bottarga and used dried spaghetti. Not wasting an opportunity to flaunt my home made ink pasta recipe, I used it here. I love this dish because it is an umami powerhouse. Sauteed anchovies, garlic and toasted bottarga hits you with Thor hammer force. The dish may look a bit busy but the flavors work wonderfully together. The lemon zest and shiso threads brighten the dish while the sweet briny flavors of uni adds another layer of umami decadence.
- 1 lb fresh made ink spaghetti
- 3-4 fillets oil packed anchovies (flavor is milder)
- 1-2 gloves garlic, minced
- 2 tsp chili flakes
- 1 cup of raw shelled shrimp, diced
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 1/2 cup fried panko breadcrumbs
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 4 shiso leaves, sliced into thin strips “chiffonade”
- Boil a pot of water, season with salt
- Heat a large saute pan with 2 Tbsp olive oil
- Add anchovies and chili flakes. Stir until anchovies disintegrate and fragrant
- Add shrimp and garlic and cook
- Add 1/2 cup of white wine to deglaze the pan. Scrape brown bits from bottom of pan for flavor
- Turn off heat
- Cook pasta in boiling water for 5 mins.
- In a separate pan, add olive oil and panko breadcrumbs. Fry until golden brown
- Toast bottarga and break into crumbs
- Drain pasta and toss into pan with shrimp mixture
- Add 1 Tbsp of butter to add a silky texture to pasta
- Plate in pasta bowl
- Top with fried breadcrumbs, toasted bottarga and shiso chiffonade
- Layer with pieces of uni
What we see on menus called squid ink is actually cuttlefish ink. Squid and cuttlefish are often used synonymously but are actually different. They are more like cousins with the latter tasting much crunchier. Chefs call it squid ink on menus because it sounds familiar and elegant.
Now that I got my hands on a jar of cuttlefish ink I will play out out all my black fantasies. The first scene starts with ink pasta. I tried Mario Batali’s recipe of mixing 4 cups of flour with 5 eggs but the dough turned out too dry. I needed to add 2-3 Tbps olive oil to smooth it out. The noodles cooked quickly and tasted delicious but lacked bite. Martha Stewart’s recipe calls for a 1:1 ratio of flour to semolina flour. Unfortunately, I thought I was going to develop TMJ. In order to avoid a sore jaw, I proceeded to experiment with the flour to semolina flour ratio. For every 5 large eggs, I used 2 3/4 cups of flour and 3/4 cups of semolina flour. And I added 2 Tbsp of cuttlefish ink and 2-3 Tbps of olive oil.
There is a reason why people buy fresh made pasta. ”Handcrafted” translates into a royal pain in the arm. There will be no smiley year 2050 grandma me rolling out fresh pasta for her grand kids while a wild boar ragu simmers over the stove. I Amazon-ed myself a KitchenAid extruder attachment. And my technical betrayal did not stop here. I confess that I relied on my food processor to form the dough. A much cleaner process without sacrificing texture and my nails.
- 2/ 3/4 unbleached all-purpose flour
- 3/4 semolina flour
- Pinch of salt
- 5 large organic eggs
- 2-3 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 Tbsp cuttlefish ink
- Fit food processor with dough blade
- Pour eggs, cuttlefish ink and olive oil into food processor
- Pulse until combined
- Sift both salt, flour and semolina flour into a bowl
- Add flour in quarter portions into the food processor. Pulsing 2-3 times after each addition.
- Pulse until mixture comes together
- Dump onto a plastic cutting board and knead for 10 mins
- Cover with plastic wrap and rest at room temperature for 30mins to 1hour
Steamed fish is as homey as one gets in Asian home cooking. Living in west LA I have no access to Ranch 99, a big Chinese supermarket chain known for its bubbling tanks of live fish. There is where I play God. I point out the fish that I want and the fishmonger swiftly scoops it out of the tank and kills it. Here I got myself civilization and Costco. Whole Foods and its f&*k you prices for its seafood is not an option. And because I am cheap, like to eat whole fish and consume it in one seating, my imaginary seafood decision tree concludes that rainbow trout is my BFF, “best fish forever”
This is a good vacuum cleaner recipe to use up leftover or wilting herbs. Throw any combination of scallion, cilantro, italian parsley, garlic, tomato in a food processor and you got yourself a sauce. For marketing purposes I am calling any finely minced vegetation combination a pesto. Add a jalapeno or two for heat. Dressing the fish with this pesto and searing it with really hot oil is essential to reducing the sharpness of the herbs and releasing their natural oils.
- 1 Rainbow Trout
- A thumb of peeled ginger, sliced
- 2 lemongrass stalk, bruised
- 2-4 kaffir lime leaves
- A handful of italian parsley or cilantro
- 1/2 thumb of ginger
- 10 cherry tomatoes or any tomato you have available
- 1-2 gloves of garlic
- 1 jalapeno
- 2 Tbsp fish sauce
- Clean fish and place on a plate.
- “Score” or make three deep cuts across the thickest part of the flesh on each side.
- Stuff the ginger, lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves into the cavity of the fish.
- Steam fish for 8 minutes.
- Take fish out of steamer and discard 3/4 of liquid produced.
- While fish is steaming, combine all pesto ingredients into a food processor and pulse till finely chopped.
- Pour pesto over steamed fish.
- Heat 4 Tbsp of any unflavored oil with a high smoking point till it is smoking.
- Pour hot oil over the pesto, searing the herbs. You should hear a sizzling sound.
Do not worry if you do not have the harder to find herbs such as lemongrass or kaffir lime leaves. The key is to use ginger and scallion. The fish will taste even with just ginger and scallion. If you do not have fish sauce use soy sauce. Try the Ginger Cilantro Sauce because it is based on the same concept.
My blow torch makes me feel like an iron chef. Armed I am ready to caramelize anything especially fat. Quickly searing sashimi grade salmon belly caramelizes the fat without cooking the fish. My rule of thumb is do not mess around with good ingredients. When you encounter wild white king salmon just bow! This is a recipe where the less steps and ingredients the better.
- Sashimi grade salmon preferably the belly cut
- 1 Tbsp Yuzu
- 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Shiso leaves, finely sliced into long thin strips known as “chiffonard”
- Maldon sea salt
- Slice salmon and lay pieces over a porcelain plate
- Using a blow torch sear the salmon. DO NOT COOK
- Mix Yuzu and olive oil to make vinaigrette, drizzle over seared salmon
- Garnish with sea salt and shiso leaves
- Serve immediately
If you have truffle salt, this dish will go from awesome to divine.
My copy of Ina’s latest cookbook, Barefoot Contessa Foolproof, arrived today. I admit I have all her cookbooks thus the first name basis. Her recipes are delicious but her lifestyle even more so. I love the kitchen, herb garden, gay posse and absentee husband. Browsing through the cookbook I came upon the recipe, Penne Alla Vecchia Bettola. It is a fancier termed Penne Alla Vodka. I like these types of pasta recipes because it tastes great on its own and also serves as a good base to hide leftovers.
And leftovers I have. They have to be used up before my trip to Asia. I have some fresh chicken sausages from Whole Foods, limp looking Italian parsley, dried shell pasta, can of San Marzano whole tomatoes, 3/4 jar of Trader Joe’s organic basil pasta sauce, two somewhat dried up onions and sprouted garlic. Before you give up on me I do have a beautiful block of parmesan reggiano bought from Epicure Imports in LA. With REAL parmesan reggiano I can rescue any pasta dish. Pecorino romano is cheaper and works wonders too.
I executed Ina’s recipe except in the final steps I added to the braised tomato sauce sauteed chicken sausage deglazed with a bit of Trader Joe’s organic chicken broth. The Italian parsley added some brightness and balanced out the heavy cream. I am sure the fresh oregano makes the sauce more herby but this version was great too. The shell pasta was perfect as it scooped up globs of sauce and I like my pasta saucy.