Galician-style octopus, or pulpo á galega, is a traditional tapas dish from the Northwest of Spain. The key to dish is to tenderize the octopus - the actual cooking is very simple. For best results, use frozen octopus (the freezing process helps break down the meat) and defrost in the fridge the night before. Before cooking, beat and rub the octopus to further tenderize it.
Skate is often overlooked by home cooks but when fresh, it tastes really sweet and slight nutty with soft, meaty flesh. This a classic French preparation - sauteed whole and “on-the-bone” (figuratively speaking because like sharks, skates have no bones, only cartilage) with brown butter, capers, lemon juice and parsley. So simple and delicious that it had me wondering why I don’t cook skate more often.
This is real comfort food - rich beef and mushroom filling slowly braised in red wine and topped with silky mashed potatoes and a cheesy crust. If shepherd’s pie and beef bourguignon had a baby, this dish would be it!
Swordfish is very meaty and un-fishy, which is perfect for meat lovers looking to mix it up every now and then. It’s also firm enough to chuck onto the grill without falling apart, but be careful not to overcook it - swordfish can dry out very quickly. Here I’ve marinated the fish in ginger, soy and lime before pan frying (personally, I like my swordfish cooked to medium rare).
I love dumplings. Little parcels of meaty goodness. Bite into them and all the delicious juices inside spill out. Dip them into a little bit of vingear, pair with a few strands of ginger, and maybe even add a touch of chilli. I could eat dumplings for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
This is a super simple way to serve fresh seafood. You can use almost any kind of shellfish you can get your hands on - lobster, scallops, mussels - just make sure it’s fresh. Here I’ve used little neck clams, wild gulf shrimp and squid. Make sure you serve this with some good crusty bread to mop up the delicious juices from the shellfish.
Ma Po Tofu is one of my favourite Chinese dishes; it’s super spicy and perfect with steamed rice. So when I was challenged to cook a vegetarian meal, I decided to make a version of Ma Po Tofu with mushrooms instead of pork. The mushrooms have a meaty quality and the spicy sauce adds so much flavour that you almost forget that it’s vegetarian. Almost.
Sardines get a bad name because most people think of the canned type. But when fresh, they’re absolutely delicious and rich with omega-3 fatty acids. I like to simply grill them with some salt & pepper and serve with a fresh tomato sauce made with heirloom tomatoes, caper berries, green olives and basil. A very fresh and healthy Mediterranean meal!
Most food stalls in Vietnam specialize in only one dish and they cook that one dish very well. It might sound strange but there’s something poetic about perfecting a signature dish and serving it everyday to the best of your ability. Cha ca la vong is a legendary dish that has been cooked by the same single-dish restaurant for over 100 years - it even has a street in Hanoi named after it. Bite size pieces of fish are marinated in turmeric, then fried with generous amounts of spring onion and dill, and served with rice noodles, herbs, peanuts, chilli and a special sauce.
Being right next to the sea, we have access to amazingly fresh seafood in Boston all year round. I came across these wild mahogany littleneck clams from Maine. When fresh they can be eaten raw with just a squeeze of lemon, simply steamed and dipped in butter, or used as the star ingredient in a New England classic; clam chowder. Here I’ve used them in an Italian classic; spaghetti alle vongole or spaghetti with clams.
Traditionally, there are 2 types of spaghetti alle vongole; in bianco or white, where spaghetti and clams are cooked with just olive oil, garlic and parsley, and in rosso or red, where tomatoes are also added. My preference is somewhere in between - I like adding a few cherry tomatoes to give pops of sweet acidity, but not as many tomatoes as in the traditional in rosso which can overwhelm the delicate clams.
This Vietnamese appetizer is a delicious way to cook squid. The outside is fried or grilled until golden brown, while the stuffing inside is kept juicy and moist. Here I’ve used a traditional pork stuffing but you can fill the squid with any meat, fish or vege mixture. Serve with nuoc cham - a sweet, sour, salty and spicy Vietnamese dipping sauce.
This truly delicious pappardelle dish with beef short ribs braised in red wine and sautéed chanterelle mushrooms is courtesy of my other half. Nick loves to cook just as much as I do. We used to have heated discussions over who cooks on special occasions and there would invariably be a lot of “backseat cooking” from the one who loses out. Now we alternate the cooking duties and the other person knows better than to step into the kitchen or offer “constructive” cooking advice.