Category Archives: Fish

Pan Seared Mahi-Mahi with Cucumber Slaw

Life has been hectic over in the Well’s household, our house is getting close to completion — we are aiming to move in at the end of July.  The boys (Collin, Carter and Poppa Wells) have been doing most of the grunt work, putting up sheet rock, dry wall, replacing broken studs while the girls (Me, Momma Wells and Aunt Lori) have been the painters and patchers.  I’ve earned a nickname of “Little Picasso” however I am convinced after this house, I won’t be painting for a very very LONG time.

The changes throughout the home have been amazing.  I will share with you a few “before” photos and once the house is completed I will share the “after”.  This entire experience has been extremely tiring, but very rewarding.  Every day I walk into the house I am constantly seeing the improvements being made, and to know that this house was literally built with our very own hands makes it all the more gratfying.

We’ve torn down walls, scrubbed asbestos off the floors, replaced windows and doors.  We’ve put up dry wall, painted the rooms and closet doors, took down panneling.  We’ve taken nails out of studs, scraped off all the termite damage and patched holes in the wall.  And to be honest, none of this would’ve been possible without the help of  my second family 🙂 they truly are great.

The end is near.  I can almost taste the sweet sweet victory.  I am looking forward to moving in, cooking in my new kitchen and photographing in my very own photography studio/office.  Til then, excuse the lack of posts and replies to all the wonderful comments you all have left me.  I thoroughly appreciate all of y’alls kind words and support!

Since hosting a Raw Food Event for FoodBuzz, I have been incorporating more raw ingredients into my daily diet.  I pan seared some mahi-mahi and made a nice crunchy and bright cucumber slaw (which was raw) to go with it.  I served it alongside a bed of fresh herb salad (raw) and finished it off with a nice generous squeeze of fresh lemon. It was easy to make with minimal cooking time — which I also found as a plus side to eating raw, because minimal cooking=minimal cleaning :)!

Ingredients for Pan Seared Mahi Mahi: (serves 2)

  • 2 6-ounce mahi-mahi fillets (about 1 inch thick)
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon chile powder
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Preheat oven to 400F.

Take mahi fillets and pat dry with a paper towel.  Mix all of the seasonings in a bowl and rub on both sides of fish fillets.  Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium high heat, when the butter is bubbling place the fillets in the pan.  Cook three minutes on each side or until the sides of the fillets are browned and seared.  Place the skillet in the oven and cook for 5 minutes or until fish is flaky and tender (you can test this by inserting a fork into the thickest part of the fillet).

Ingredients for Cucumber Slaw:

  • 1/2 cup fresh corn kernels
  • 1 cup cucumbers, peeled and small diced
  • 1/4 cup red bell pepper, small diced
  • 1/4 cup red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon cilantro, minced
  • 1 tablespoon jalapeno, minced
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon raw honey
  • 1 teaspoon cold pressed olive oil

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl.  Adjust the flavors according to your liking (i.e. add more honey if you’d like it sweeter or vinegar for more tartness)  Allow to marinate for about 10-20 minutes.  Serve on top of mahi-mahi fillets.

Ingredients for Herb Salad:
  • 2 cups herb salad mix
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 teaspoon cold pressed olive oil
  • salt pepper to taste

Plate salad and tomatoes alongside of mahi filets and drizzle with olive oil.  Taste with salt and pepper. Squeeze fresh lemon juice over greens and fish if preferred.

Epic Indian Feast

One of the many beauties in life is friendship, we are able to learn so much from each other when we open our hearts and our homes.  I would like to dedicate this meal to one of Collin and I’s dearest friend, Bijeta Chakraborty! She along with Kumar, Aditya and Sanjay lived in Dallas for a year for an engingeering development program with Collin at Texas Instruments.  Back then Collin and I were living out in Wylie,TX in our trailer (I will reserve that story for another day), and seeing that #1 I lived in a trailer, therefore many friends were hesitant to come over and “hang out” and #2 I lived all the way out in Wylie,TX which to many people who live in the city, is in the middle of no where.  It was lonely out there, it literally was just me, Collin and the cows. (If only I had known you Alta back then!)

Then one day Collin told me a few of his coworkers had invited us over Saturday for dinner who recently moved here from India. My eyes instantly lit up, I have never had a home cooked Indian meal before — my tummy could hardly wait.  That week the days honestly seem to creep by, I almost felt weary with (Indian food) craving exhaustion but Saturday FINALLY arrived.  I remembered specifically wearing loose fitting pants that night because I had my game face on and I was ready to CHOW DOWN.  I love Indian food for several reasons: the COLORS — the greens, yellows, reds, and the beautiful smells of the SPICES, it’s as if I could just eat forever and ever.  But the best reason that makes Indian food not only fun to eat, but simply an art,  is the beauty of eating the various flavors on your plate using your hands.  I don’t know why Indian food tastes better when you use your hands but I highly recommend that everyone tries it.

Even before arriving at Bijeta’s door, you could already smell the magic brewing half way down the hallway.  And let me tell you what, the food that night was magical indeed — the crispy potato samosas, curried cauliflower, fried fish curry, chicken curry, paneer (from scratch), chutneys, yogurt, perfectly cooked basmati rice, and ending with a deliciously fragrant kheer.  By the time I was done I could hardly breathe,  but boy was I one happy camper! It was nice to experience a part of their culture through food, it’s definitely one of my favorite ways of learning from people of different backgrounds.  Though our native languages may be different, and at times communication can be hard — food will always be universal, a common ground that all cultures share and understand.

It was nice to learn (and taste) from Bijeta, Aditya and Sanjay, we exchanged stories of our families, our backgrounds, and even battled over a few games of Wii Sports.  By the time we were leaving, I felt as if they’ve been my friends for many years — and for the rest of the time they lived in Dallas we hung out with them often.  We had more dinner get togethers, a music concert, and even grabbed some brewskies to check out to the “American bar scene”.  When it was time for them to leave both Collin and I were really sad to see them go, but happy that we’ve made lifelong friends.  Since then, Bijeta and I keep in touch via e-mail and now Facebook and recently she sent me this amazing Fish Gravy recipe.

I told her I would have to dedicate a post to her featuring her amazing Fish Gravy (Hi Bijeta!!) and made an Indian feast in her honor as well as Aditya and Sanjay’s as well.  Though we are thousands of miles apart, while eating this meal both me and Collin decided you guys were there in spirit 🙂 This was also my first attempt in cooking Indian food — there were so many various spices that my head almost started to spin!  But a fun adventure nonetheless and the end result was a glorious complexity of flavors.

Ingredients for Fried Tilapia with Tomato and Onion Gravy:

(serves 4)

  • 4 Tilapia fillets
  • 1/2 white onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons fresh ginger, coarsely chopped
  • 4 green Serrano chiles, tops discarded
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 tablespoon Tumeric powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon Coriander powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon Mustard Paste
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon corn flour

  • 1/2 tablespoon Cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tablespoon Onion seeds
  • 1/2 tablespoon Mustard seeds
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • 3/4 cup of water

Make a smooth paste of the onion, ginger, chiles, lemon juice, tumeric and coriander powder, mustard paste, salt and cornflour in a food processor.  Place paste in a large bowl and marinate the fish pieces for 15-20 minutes. In a small or medium-sized saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of oil at medium high heat.  Sear the Tilapia on both sides, about 3 minutes on each and set aside on a plate.  Remember, you do not want to overfry the fish because it will be cooked further in the gravy mixture.  Next you will make the Tomato and Onion Gravy:

Tomato Gravy:

  • 2 medium-sized Roma tomatoes
  • 1/2 tablespoon Tumeric Powder
  • 1 tablespoon Coriander powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon red chili powder
  • salt to taste

Place ingredients into food processor and blend together.  Place in bowl and set aside.

Onion Gravy:

  • 2 medium-sized White onions
  • 1 tablespoon garlic and ginger paste
  • 1 tablespoon fresh Coriander leaves
  • 1 green serrano chile, top removed

Place ingredients into food processor and blend together.  Place in bowl and set aside.

In a large heavy bottomed pan, heat 2 tablespoons of oil along with the Bay leaf and Cumin, Onion and Mustard seeds.  Add the onion gravy and fry until it becomes brownish in color.  Add the tomato gravy to the mixture and fry until the two gravies become thick and paste like.  If it becomes too dry add a little more oil.  Add 3/4 cup of water and put the fried fish in the gravy and cook, covered for 10-15 minutes.  Add salt to taste.  Remove from heat and serve with Basmati rice.

For the Indian Feast I made the following items, I am not going to post all of them for the recipes are quite lenghthy, however if any of these sound interesting to you, shoot me an e mail and I will be more than happy to send them to you :).

  • Mint Sambol (Srilankan)
  • Fresh Coriander Peanut Chutney (Indian)
  • Spiced Cabbage Salad (Srilankan)
  • Cauliflower Dum (North Indian)
  • Katchhi Village Potato Curry (North Indian)

I found all of these recipes above from Mangoes & Curry Leaves – Culinary Travels through the Great Subcontinent by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid.  A very wonderful book indeed, with captivating pictures of not only food but the regions from where they are from.

Ingredients for Spiced Cabbage Salad:

  • 4 cups shredded green or Savoy cabbage
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped shallots
  • 2 to 3 green cayenne chiles, seeded and minced
  • 6 fresh or frozen curry leaves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons fresh or frozen grated coconut

Wash the cabbage, then put it in a medium heavy pot with the shallots, chiles, curry leaves, salt, turmeric, and cumin.  Place over medium-high heat, cover and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.  Give the pot a quick stir, cover again, and lower the heat to medium.  Simmer until the cabbage is cooked and tender, about another 10 minutes, depending on your cabbage and how finely it is shredded.  Add the lime juice and coconut and stir to mix well.  Let cook for a minute or two, uncovered, then turn out and serve, mounded on a plate.

Ingredients for Katchhi Village Potato Curry:

  • 2 tablespoons raw sesame oil, vegetable oil, or ghee
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic or garlic mashed to a paste
  • 1 pound potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 cup finely chopped shallots
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 2 green cayenne chiles, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon round cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Heat the oil or ghee in a wok or wide pot over medium heat.  Add 1 teaspoon garlic and cook for a minute, then add the potatoes and shallots.  Stir-fry for several minutes, until the shallots have softened, pressing the potato cubes against the surface of the hot pan, then add the chopped tomatoes and chiles and stir to blend.

Add the turmeric, mustard seeds, cumin, coriander, and the remianing 1 teaspoon garlic and stir.  Add the water and salt and bring to a boil.  Cover tightly and simmer vigorously until the potatoes are just tender, about 20 minutes.  Check after 10 or 12 minutes to make sure there is enough liquid and that nothing is sticking; add a little more water if necessary.

I deem my first Indian cooking adventure a success!  Next time I would like to cook with lentils and more vegetarian options, it’s great to have so many delicious vegetarian options in Indian food.  Indian food also seems to taste better the next day and even better the second — the flavors of the spices are slowly drawn out by the oils creating a bolder flavor.  Bijeta, I thank you for your wonderful recipe!  It was Collin and I’s favorite dish, you were– right we loved it! Please send our love to Kumar, Aditya and Sanjay, we miss all of you dearly :).

Let’s do some Food Art!

The End.

Pan Seared Bluefin wrapped in Nori and Avocado

Ya know, this eating light thing isn’t half bad.  I think I fell off the “eating healthy” bandwagon for awhile because that was all my mother told me to do for my entire life.  Even a couple years back when she first met Collin, she made this braised pork belly and numerous side dishes, and as I was reaching for a nice piece of pork belly, immediately my mother blocked my chopsticks — “Xin xin, you cannot eat! It too fat.  You eat steam vegetable!!”

…. whaaaaaaaaaaat???


So so lame.

So the minute I moved out of the house, I had a freaking FIELD DAY — you name it I freakin ate it: pizza, fast food (don’t judge me I was in college!), all the cheese in the world, fried food, the list goes on but my shame is taking over!  My mother meant well, this I am sure of, but to make something completely forbidden to a child only makes them want it more.  So the key to eating is Moderation, its okay to have a little bit of ice cream or pizza here and there — just not every week.

My fiance and I have been trying to eat less meat, for a while we were having it for up to two meals a day.  I have now cut it down to two meals a week, and having red meat 2-3 times a month.  The rest of the time it’s mainly fruits, vegetables and fish.  So far we’re on day 5 and have not felt any cravings for a big juicy steak yet, but I am sure that time will come 🙂

For this recipe, I got the inspiration from one of my favorite rolls — tuna avocado.  I quickly pan seared the tuna and then wrapped it in nori and avocado and served it with a side salad whom I got the recipe from the divine Divina Pei.  She has a beautiful blog called Sense and Serendipity where she showcases a bunch of healthy and easy to make dishes, not to mention her pictures are phenomenal!

I will post her original recipe and include the changes that I made to it — I simply left out the chicken and made it vegetarian and threw in some mango slices.  I also used cooking spray in place of the oil and replaced the soy sauce with mirin.   This salad is also delicious cold and tastes even better the next day!  The green beans really soak up the flavors of the ginger and citrus, very very tasty!

Ingredients for Warm Green Beans, Chicken and Orange Salad:
(Makes 5-6 servings)

  • ¾ lb green beans
  • 2 green onions
  • ¼ cup toasted cashews
  • 3 oranges, peeled and segmented
  • 1 tbsp orange zest
  • 1 tsp ginger, minced (I added this)
  • 2 cups diced chicken (I’m using Hainanese Chicken) (I used 1/2 cup sliced mangoes)
  • ¼ cup light soy sauce, or to taste (I used 1/4 cup mirin)
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil (I omitted this)
  • 2 tbsp rice bran oil or grapeseed oil (I omitted this and used cooking spray)
  • 2 tbsp water

To prepare your mise en place, trim the top and tails of the green beans and sliced thinly on a bias, about 1/8-inch pieces. Trim the root of the onions and finely chop, then roughly chop the cashews. Zest the skin from one orange using a microplane zester, then peel and segment the oranges (see technique below from Rouxbe Online Cooking School). Squeeze out the juice and save.  Next remove the chicken from the bones and cut into bite-sized pieces. Save the bones to make your next batch of chicken stock. Gather the soy sauce and the sesame oil.

To cook the green beans, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, and then add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the green beans and stir until coated with oil, then add the water. Cover and cook for 2 -3 minutes, until the beans are brightly colored and tender but slightly crunchy; shake the pan midway through to ensure even cooking.To serve the salad, remove the pan and transfer the green beans to a large bowl and stir in the green onions, cashews, orange zest and segments and the chicken. Season with soy sauce, sesame oil and some of the orange juice. Toss gently and taste again. Serve warm.

Ingredients for Pan Seared Bluefin wrapped in Nori and Avocado:

(serves 2)

  • 1 x 8oz fillet Bluefin Tuna
  • 2 x nori (seaweed) sheets
  • 1 avocado, pitted and thinly sliced
  • toasted sesame seeds for garnish
  • panko breadcrumbs for garnish

Take a large heavy bottomed saucepan and heat until the pan is very very hot.  Once the pan is thoroughly heated, take your cooking spray and evenly coat the pan.  (I recommend that you use the cooking spray after the pan is heated or else it will cause the oils to burn.)  Make sure your fish fillets are patted dry before you lay them down for searing. Sear each side for 2-3 minutes, the cooking time will vary depending on the thickness of the fillet.  Make sure both sides are well browned and you are unable to see any red on the outside.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Lightly toast the nori sheets and carefully wrap it around the tuna fillet — the technique is like wrapping a burrito or wrap.  Tuck all the edges of nori underneath the fillet.  Layer the thinly sliced avocado on top and garnish with sesame seeds and panko breadcrumbs. Serve with warm green bean salad and wasabi mayo.

Ingredients for Wasabi Mayo:

  • 1 tsp wasabi powder
  • 1/4 cup japanese mayo
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper

Mix together thoroughly and serve.

MMMMHMMM — that’s right!  This dish is not only extremely healthy, but flavorful and the wasabi mayo packs a great kick.  The fragrant sesame seeds pairs nicely with the toasted nori and Divina’s phenomenal green bean salad has a nice, bright, citrus note.  Collin polished his plate in a matter of minutes and exclaimed it was my best invention yet — see why I keep him around? 🙂

It is important to not over cook your beautiful bluefin tuna — be sure that the middle is still mostly pink with only the edges being slightly seared.  You may not get it on the first try, but practice makes perfect.  Toasting the nori not only helps bring out the seaweed flavor, but it makes it nice and crispy so it is easy to cut into.  Everything else should be a sinch, it literally took me 30 minutes to make this entire meal — I’m starting to feel like Rachel Ray.  Since the weather is SO DARN cold in Dallas right now, I figure what better thing to do this weekend than Shabu-shabu or others may know it as Hot Pot or “Huo Guo”.  I will be having a few friends over Saturday afternoon before the “Big Game” and together we’ll stay toasty warm with good food and drinks.  Stay tuned, it’s gonna be a good one!

Steamed Black Bean Chilean Sea Bass with Hot Ginger and Scallion Oil

While I was home, my gracious mother sent me back with this beautiful cut of Chilean Sea Bass.  OH the wonders of sea bass, this has got to be my favorite kind of fish.  Everything about it is perfect — the rich buttery flavor and firm texture of the delicate flaky meat are all reasons why I would eat this fish every day if I could.  I hear that it is becoming “over-fished” which breaks my heart because it sure is a delicious piece of fish.  I’ve never tasted anything close to the wonders and perfection of Chilean Sea Bass, so one can only imagine my excitement and joy when my mother gave this to me.

I decided to fix this fish in a traditional Cantonese style by steaming the fish first and right before serving, pouring very hot oil over ginger and scallion pieces.  The hot oil poured ontop makes the flavors of the ginger and scallion SO fragrant, and blends together beautifully with the precious juices from steaming the fish.

Ingredients for Steamed Black Bean Chilean Sea Bass: (serves 3)

  • 3 x 6oz Chilean Sea Bass fillets
  • 3 tablespoons Chinese Black Bean Paste
  • 1/3 cup fish stock (juices from steaming)
  • 3 tablespoons Shao Hsing Rice Cooking wine
  • 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup olive sesame oil mix – 1/2 olive oil 1/2 sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup ginger, matchsticks
  • 1/4 cup green scallion, matchsticks

Place seabass in heat proof bowl and place 1 tablespoon of Black Bean paste on each fillet.  Place bowl on steaming rack in a deep large pot with 6 inches of water for steaming.  Pour cooking wine and soysauce over the fillets and allow the fish to steam at medium high heat for 10-15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillets.  You can test the doneness of the fish by using a toothpick or chopstick to pierce the meat, if it goes through it is done, if there is much resistance continue steaming for an additional 5 minutes, repeat until desired result is reached.

Remove fillets from pot when ready, and set fillets aside.  Retain the liquids from the bowl that the fish was steamed in and transfer to a small saucepan and bring to a simmer.  Pour stock over fillets and place cut ginger and scallions on top.  Meanwhile, heat your oil mixture in another small saucepan and when almost smoking, remove from heat and quickly pour over scallion and ginger mixture ontop of fillets.  Serve immediately.

It is important to make sure that your oil is very hot before pouring over the fish, or else the ginger and scallion flavors will not be released into the broth.  This is such a simple way to prepare a good quality fish because the flavors are not over powering and compliments the sea bass’ flavors, allowing it to stand on its own.

I also prepared a fish soup to go along with this dish — I couldn’t bear to throw away any scraps of the sea bass and in my opinion, fish stock is probably one of the most rich and intoxicating stocks there is! It is rich in “umami” flavors and always soothing to the belly.  Oh..and did I also mention that my heater is currently broken in my apartment?  Cold fingers = sad panda. So having this soup not only warmed up my tum but my hands and body as well 🙂

Ingredients for Fish Soup:

  • Fish bones and scraps
  • 2 large slices of ginger
  • 2 shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 yucca, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 cup tofu
  • chopped green scallions for garnish
  • salt to taste

In a medium pot, place the fish scraps and bones along with the ginger and shiitake mushrooms and fill to the top with water.  Allow stock to simmer for at least 30 minutes.  Add the yucca and tofu last and cook for an additional 15 minutes, or until yucca is soft.  Add salt to taste and garnish with green scallions.

You can choose to strain the soup, or when eating it just be aware of the bones!

Salmon En Papillote With Herb Sauce and Brown Rice

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I bought a beautiful cut of wild-caught Alaskan King salmon from the grocery store this week at a great price and my fiance automatically assumed something must be wrong with it.  Fortunately that was NOT the case, it was of great quality and absolutely delicious!! I always buy wild-caught fish, though it can be pricier, the flavor is usually better and it is much healthier for you too.  Now and days a lot of fish are “farm-raised” and my step-dad who is a toxicology specialist, has done numerous studies on the dangers of farm-raised fish.  Now I’m not saying all farm-raised fish are bred in horrible conditions and contain  cancer causing pollutants, but a lot are.  So if possible, limit your farm-raised fish intake to once a month.

A few things to remember when picking a good quality fish or fish fillet:

  • Look at the skin for a bright metallic sheen with smooth scales and color.
  • Ask to smell the fish, there should be no odor.  If it smells very “fishy”, it probably is old and was not kept in proper conditions.
  • Look at the eyes, they should be clear, shiny and bright.
  • Check underneath the gills for a rich bright red color, if they look gray or drab it’s definitely not fresh!
  • Touch the fillets to see how firm they are.  Press down on the fish to see if it has resiliency, it will bounce back if it is of good quality or sink down from the pressure.


Ingredients for Salmon:

  • 4 – 13″x13″pieces of parchment paper cut into hearts
  • 4 – 8 oz salmon fillets
  • 16 – thin slices of lemon halved
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Ingredients for Herb Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup dry white wine (like Chardonnay)
  • 1 cup fish broth
  • 2 shallots, finely minced
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1/3 cup chopped herbs (chevril, basil, dill, tarragon)
  • salt pepper to taste


Preheat the oven to 400F.

For the salmon, place a fillet on one side of your heart-shaped parchment paper and fold the other side over to enclose the fish.  Begin folding the edges of the parchment paper together, starting towards the small end and ending at the big end, forming a pouch or “Papillote” as the French would say :).  Put on a baking tray and bake for 10-15 minutes, depending on how thick the fillets are.  You can test the doneness by the firmness of the fillet.

To make the herb sauce, saute the shallots with the wine, about 2-3 minutes.  Add the stock and simmer until the mixture has reduced by half, about 8-10 minutes.  Add the cream and allow the mixture to thicken slightly.  Season with salt and pepper and stir in the chopped herbs.

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You can serve each person with a parcel to unwrap at the table and place the herb sauce in a seperate bowl.  The reason for a “papillote” is so each guest can enjoy a fresh whiff of the aromas and flavors trapped inside the packet while cooking in the oven.  I hope you enjoy unwrapping this tasty treasure!