Eli's Asian Salmon

I’ve made mention of the wonderful restaurant distributor that I have here in my small town right? Sysco? I’m sure you’ve probably heard of them. They have a “cash and carry” shop, where they sell produce, fresh meats, deli items, frozen foods, etc. More often than not they have an order that’s cancelled, overstocked, expiring, slightly damaged, etc – that they’ll then sell for lock, stock, and barrel just to clear up room up in the warehouse. So, to have a friend or neighbor knock on the door with 5 lbs of feta cheese, or say…a gorgeous side of salmon, is pretty much the norm.

So when Stephanie dropped this slab of sustainable protein on me, there was one recipe that immediately popped into my mind…Eli’s Asian Salmon. I remember seeing Ina prepare this ages ago on “Barefoot Contessa”, and had always wanted to give it a go. But, a side of salmon is expensive. And, with all the other fabulous seafood options available to us…I’d just never gotten around to it, until last week.

I’m pleased to report that it’s a winner. Easy to put together and cook, and it the flavor is just wonderful. And, it came out prettier than I’d expected too! This would be perfect on a Sunday brunch buffet, or paired with something like grilled baby bok choy – it would make a lovely, light summer meal.

Crab Rangoons

On the rare occasion that we visit a Chinese buffet, these little guys are probably my favorite item on the menu. They’re savory, while being slightly sweet – and dunked in a sweet chili sauce? Definitely an appetizer worth throwing the calorie count out the window for!

Then Karole, a friend in our book club, bought these to our monthly meeting. She assembled the wontons in advance, then fried them at the meeting. It was so much fun for all of us girls to be chatting, laughing, and munching in the kitchen together! The book for that month had been “The Joy Luck Club“, and we always have a great time planning our menus around the theme of the book. This one was no exception.

Now, let me broach the subject of the imitation crab (or “krab” as I like to call it). You guys know me…I’m fortunate enough to have some form of fresh, locally-caught seafood available to me at all times. Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t touch krab with a 10-foot pole. However, I’ve tried this recipe with hand-picked blue crab before…as I’d assumed it would be better. But sadly, it wasn’t. The fresh crab was just too delicate – absorbed too much grease and fell apart. The krab holds together much better, and it’s what the Chinese restaurants  use – so I’ll go with it. I would like to try it with Opelios (snow crab) or Dungies, though. I think they’d be a happy medium between the two.

Take Out Fake Out: Orange ChickenIt’s been a while since we shared a take out fake-out favorite here on the site – so I thought it was high time! I’ve made this orange chicken several times now over the past couple years, and we always really enjoy it. I hate deep-frying anything. Not that I don’t love fried foods, but it makes a mess, isn’t figure friendly, and the smell lingers in the air for hours. But, once in a blue moon it’s a nice treat that we all look forward to.

At first I was leery of the cornstarch batter. But, I’ll tell you – it’s totally the secret of the Chinese restaurants. Browns and crisps up beautifully, and it stays crispy. Even after spending some time in the oven while I fried the rest of the chicken, and saucing – it was still nice and crunchy.

And the sauce? Fresh orange juice and zest, a little tang from rice wine vinegar, and a spicy kick from cayenne makes for a perfect combination. I actually like to use whole dried small red peppers, but I couldn’t find any – so cayenne works in a pinch (heh, in a pinch – no pun intended). I’m looking forward to trying the sauce in other applications as well. I think it would be a fabulous basting sauce for chicken or pork on the grill – which we’ve been firing up a lot lately.

So let’s give your delivery guy a rest, and make this Chinese favorite in your own kitchen tonight!

Shrimp with Spicy Garlic SauceIf I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times – we eat our fair share of shrimp in this house. In season, they’re cheaper than chicken – so how can you argue with that? I saw this recipe on Pinterest a few months ago, but always passed over it when making my menu plan for the week. Then Tracey posted it, bringing it to my fore thoughts, and I immediately added it to our menu.

I figured it would be super spicy – but it wasn’t, it was just right. We loved it, and so did the boys. I wasn’t sure they’d be able to eat it, but they eat what we eat, and it wasn’t their first time being introduced to something with a little bit of heat. The original recipe calls for chili sauce, which is like Sriracha. But, I used chili paste in a jar – which is like a chunky version of the infamous rooster bottle. I liked the little pieces of chili in the sauce, but Sriracha would work just fine as well.

We will definitely be making this one again, and again. Might throw some veggies in with the shrimp next time around – maybe some snow peas, perhaps? The sauce was so good, I’m looking forward to trying it with other proteins in the future as well. Take heed, and don’t pass this one over for months like I did!